Rivet Wars Wok

Rivet 7The Allied march continues on, although opposition has gotten tougher. Another day of unpacking and playing Rivet Wars. And, the first Woking. Not bad for another day of moving and settling in. There was a brief setback when I discovered that the kids had not unpacked as asked, but instead had “unpacked” the toys they wanted to play with and dump the rest around the room. Think, giant box of Cracker Jacks, where the Cracker Jacks are Legos and the toy prize is whatever the kids thought was cool or fun. Suffice to say, time was spent unpacking for them.

Rivet 1I promised the kids more games of Rivet Wars, so they could get “revenge” on me for winning. This time instead of working as a “team” they decided to play me one at a time using the same scenario. Whoops of joy from them when they learned they were getting 6 deployment points and a rivet a turn (a rivet is a special resource used to purchase heroes and larger units, like tanks). The last game they had six deployment points and a rivet, they as a “team” attempted to overwhelm me with Dragoons (mono-wheel things) and infantry until they could deploy their tank and forgot to play for the objectives.

Rivet 3This time our boy played for one objective and played well for it, but that left the other two mostly unopposed which netted me the win. I cannot take complete credit for the win as this was our first game with secret mission cards. Secret Mission cards are a way to score victory points by completing tasks during the game. The net effect, to make an already quick game quicker. Half of my victory points came from secret mission cards. End score 3 to 10.

Rivet 4Our girl had a plan and if not for a few lucky rolls might have done a lot better. She flooded one half of the board with infantry and followed that up with a blitz of mono-wheel Dragoons. Caught me off guard as I deployed to take as many objectives as I could. This worked out for me in the end, but for a few turns it was touch and go. I had to abandon one-third of the map to her tank (yes, every game both of them save up to drop a tank), Dragoons, and masses of infantry. End score 7 to 10.

Rivet 6Two games down, back to work unpacking and organizing. Laundry is coming along…although if you listen to Barb, laundry will never get done unless we all stop wearing clothes for a week. While I do not have a problem with this, other people might.

Drum roll please….and I wokked last night and it felt great. Read that how you want. Cut up some chicken, bell pepper, and onion into the wok. Add some hoisin, soy, sugar, Sichuan peppercorns and first wok meal in at least a few years. Did I mention how much fun I had tossing ingredients around in the wok? No, I did. Years of cooking Chinese in a pan pay off in a wok big time. Quick mix, quicker cook, equals delicious.


Shadowrun Crossfire, Familiar & Fun

CrossfireWe finally played Shadowrun Crossfire. First impressions are that the game feels very familiar. If you have played just about any deckbuilding game, such as DC Deckbuilding, then you will have that same familiar feeling. The one thing that stood out was where many games say they are co-operative and turn out not to be, Shadowrun Crossfire is extremely co-operative. Win or Lose as a team.

Players pick a race: Dwarf, Elf, Human, Ork, or Troll. The differences between the races is amount of Health, Starting Handsize and Starting Money; Troll has 7 health, 3 starting handsize, and 2 dollars (nuyen) vs Human with 5 health, 4 starting handsize, and 3 dollars.

Players pick or are randomly given one of four classes: Decker, Face, Mage, or Street Samurai. The only difference between the four classes is the amount of class card they get. A decker has 4 decker cards (green) where a street samurai had 4 street samurai cards (black). Other than that all four starting decks have the same number of cards and at least one of each color: Decker Green; Face Red; Mage Blue: and Samurai Black.

Decks of cards representing the Black Market or shop, where players can purchase new cards at the end of their turns, Obstacles that confront the players in two decks-normal and hard, and the Crossfire deck or events that help and hinder the players throughout the game.

Turn order is: Play Cards resolving all non-damage effects; Resolve damage’; Take damage from an undefeated Obstacle; Draw & Purchase cards; and End the Turn.

Play cards is easy, play as many cards from your hand, one at a time. Set cards next to the obstacles you want to affect. Each player will start with at least one obstacle in front of them, but players can play cards on ANY obstacles. There were plenty of times when it made more sense to take out someone else’s than my own due to an effect that obstacle had, such as the obstacle that ignored all generic damage. If a card does damage wait to resolve. If a card has an effect, resolve that effect.

Resolving Damage is a matter of looking at the damage line of an Obstacle and defeating each damage icon in order. Example: 2 generic/1 red/2 black/ 4 generic. To defeat the obstacle each of those levels of damage has to be defeated. This can be done at one time or over several turns. A player has to be able to inflict enough damage to defeat a level on their turn. So I could not inflict one generic damage, end my turn, and Barb does another generic damage to complete the first level of damage. I have to do 2 generic damage on my turn. Reads more complicated than it is. In fact, damage was one of the easier parts of the game and working together to defeat obstacles was a lot of fun. Defeated obstacles give money to all players.

Take damage was easy, if there is an undefeated obstacle in front of you, you take damage (listed on each obstacle).

Draw and Purchase cards seems easy, but for whatever reason whenever this came up someone would get excited by the ability to purchase something and forget to draw. If you have 3 or less cards, draw two. THEN spend any money you have on cards in the Black Market.

The scenario determines victory conditions and how long a game is. Crossfire, the scenario we choose, consisted of three scenes representing different waves of enemies and obstacles. Each scene was more difficult that the last. Each new scene increased the number of obstacles and because of the event deck increased the difficulty of the obstacles.

At the start of each turn a new event card is drawn, the event affects all players for the turn. At the end of the turn the event is discarded and a new card drawn. The discard pile becomes a modifier to cards. Many cards will check the number of event cards in the discard pile and if there is enough have an effect. Completing a scene fast is better for the team.

That is a good overview of Shadowrun Crossfire. As you play through a scenario you build your deck which you modify through purchasing Black Market cards, you get money by defeating Obstacles, you win by defeating all of the Obstacles or Boss (no boss in our scenario) AND after you win you get Karma (experience) points that you can spend in increments of 5 to permanently modify your character.

Each game starts with the same base deck, so the modifications allow you to be different. We haven’t gotten that far. Shadowrun Crossfire is a mid-level of difficulty to learn, I think the primary hurdle will be players learning and understanding that they can and should work together.

Melonheads and Machi Koro Millionaire’s Row

Jon Alderink is awesome. For those not in the know, he is an artist. We met him in person at Cherry Capital Comic Con. We stopped at his table because we recognized his artwork from several books on our shelves. Today, on dropbox he is giving away a digital copy of his Melonheads comic book. He said share, so I am.


Over two hours long. Two very long hours. Millionaire’s Row for Machi Koro did change the game, but not in the way we expected. Millionaire’s Row is the latest expansion for Machi Koro. Added to the game are some new establishments of all colors and a new mechanic, renovation. Renovation allows a player to put renovation tokens on the establishments of other players. While an establishment has a renovation token it cannot be collected. Renovation tokens are removed when the establishment is activated. Essentially, a one turn bump in the money making machine.

Renovation sounds and reads like a game changing mechanic. In reality, it is not. In our two hour game, I shut down four prosperities. Short of everyone being able to add renovation tokens every turn, at most renovation tokens is an annoyance.

What is new are establishments that allow you to trade properties with other players. Trade sounds like everyone gets a say, they do not. Trading properties IS game changing. Barb shut me down with a few trades and put a hurt on our boy. There are a lot of properties that work best with other properties, take the cheese factory: 3 coins for each pig property you have. When you have no pig properties, the cheese factory is useless.

Zero cost properties are also new. These properties have a cost of zero and there is a reason why. Loan office, gives you five coins, AWESOME. However, each time you roll a 5 or 6 you have to pay 2 back to the bank, SUCK!

There are properties that check to see how much of your city you have built. If your city has too much or not enough an effect kicks in. Cornfields is a great example: if you have 2 or less monuments/city built you collect 1 coin anytime a 3 or 4 is rolled. When you flip over that 3rd city card, the cornfield sits there. Which if you can give away to someone else is great especially when part of a trade.

Our long game suffered from a poor deck draw leaving us at times with properties that nobody could afford or want or needed. That did add to the increase in play time. However, what really added to the length is the new and improved Tax Office called the Park. The Park takes EVERYONES money and divides all of the money equally among all of the players.

You read that right, when the Park is activated, all of the money is piled together and divided equally. This is great for players, like me, who were running behind, but players on the cusp of doing something suddenly find themselves with less money.

We like the interactivity between players that Millionaire’s Row allows and some of the new ideas are fun. Renovation is a bump in the road instead of game changing, trading is a powerful ability, and zero cost properties change how people play. Not bad for a new expansion.

A Pirate Life For Us

Oh Skulls and Shackles, you are wily game. It was talk like a pirate day yesterday, which is why we played Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Skulls and Shackles. Okay, that’s not why, but it was a happy coincidence. Unless you are at the table with two children who add “argh,” “avast,” and “swarthy” to everything. Fine, that was pretty fun too.

We started out with Lini the druid (or Doctor Doolittle), Lirianne the gunslinger (Clint Eastwood), Seltyiel the warlock (Spell Stabber), and Oloch the warpriest (Smash Priest). Not exactly the first pirate crew you would imagine. And it turned out, not the best pirate crew for us. Lirianne was fine, I should know she is my character and I blasted foes apart with glee. A paper version of Destiny if you will. Oloch was also fine. Odd, but fine. What else do you call a character that can bash, buff, and heal, but not do any of them great.

Lini was our first problem. Our girl loves animals and loves playing Lini because Lini gets animals and that would have been fine with us, except the Skulls and Shackles version of Lini does not do the same things with animals as her Rise of the Runelords version. Skulls and Shackles Lini does not get a 1d4 just for having an animal. She gets nothing other than what the animal provides and often that was not what we needed. Lini became Jirelle the Swashbuckling Pirate Queen and life has been better, at least our ship doesn’t have as huge of a hole.

Next problem was Seltyiel. Nothing wrong with the warlock. Except that Barb who played Damiel through Rise of the Runelords where was a drought of alchemical gear was drooling over all of the alchemical gear in Skulls and Shackles. Now we have an alchemist and a lot of potions.

And all of this happened while we were playing through the adventure from the base set. Where we encountered more problems than we expected. Doors, locks, going overboard, bucket brigades, and barroom brawls to name a few problems. But all of these problems paled in comparison to the Charisma check.

I don’t know what else to say; we may be pirates with jolly nicknames, but as a whole we are ugly socially maladjusted people and it is no wonder that anything with a Charisma check was greeted with a round of groans. Need that ally, burn a blessing. Need to talk to the Pirate Council, everyone burn a blessing and pray for a good roll to boot.

Dragons, an indestructible giant turtle, enemy ships, undead, and more were cake. Make any of us have to talk and behave all nice-like to get something done and we were screwed. I worry that Charisma checks may become enough of an issue that another character is replaced with someone with a high Charisma and if you remember A-Team Face did nothing other than mug for the camera. There is no time to mug for the camera.


How I Spent My Summer: Games

And here we are, tomorrow is the first day of the LAST year of college for me. There is no more after. No PHD or what have you. I am done. Barb is done. I can resume my life, with a degree is technical-professional communications, meaning I should be able to write anything you need in a manner that is professional and approachable (not that this blog shows that). The countdown to the end is up and crossing my fingers all goes by fast with as little hassle and as much fun as possible.

With Reading, Food, and Travel out of the way (see links at the bottom) the only other thing is games. We are a gamer family. All of us play games and we like to play games together. So what games did we play this summer?

The fan favorite for most desired and fastest amount of fun was EXPLODING KITTENS. We pull out EXPLODING KITTENS when we want a fast and fun game to play.

The family favorite, play once a day game, has been Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. We started the summer playing Wrath of the Righteous, but ran into some problems-mostly trying to teach our girl how to play with the hardest set-and moved to Rise of the Runelords. Since that time, our girl has become a proficient player. Together we have played our way to the last adventure deck and have plans to start Skulls and Shackles. No matter how many times Barb, our boy, and I have played Rise of the Runelords the game is always different. Greatest replay of any game we have ever owned and if you check out Games We Play you have an idea of how many games we own.

EXPLODING KITTENS had replaced Machi Koro as our “need a break” game. Machi Koro is/was a family a favorite game to play. Unfortunately for us, our boy came up with a strategy that works well enough to suck the fun out of the game for us. However and thankfully, the latest expansion, Millionaires Row was released and has new mechanics that address some of his strategy in ways other than us removing cards from play.

Normally I do not write about video games. Far too often I am one of the last people to the “Hey this is a cool video game party,” to bother writing about something that most of you already know. However, this time because of how much time the game has occupied over the summer, I feel compelled to mention that we played a lot of Destiny. When I say we, I mean we; our boy, our girl, and myself-Barb was playing Elder Scrolls Online, but ran into bad gamer behavior and found something else to do for now.

Destiny started out as a free to play, “Let’s see what this is about.” Quickly became a must have and has replaced all other games that I play. I know there are “love it” and “hate it” sides, I don’t care. Having played a ton of Halo, a bunch of Defiance, more Call of Duty than I care, and finding a home in Battlefield, I did not think I would find another first person shooter that addressed my wants/needs.

I don’t have to do anything. I can play the story. I can play cooperative missions. I can play against other players as part of a team or solo. I do not have to do any of those things. I have found myself enjoying the scenery-traveling from one place to another, finding a spot to watch the sun set, the clouds pass, satellite flyby, or whatever. I do take part in all of the activities and I enjoy the pace of action quite a bit. The variety of things to do and when they become available really appeals to me. The tons of items to find speaks to the collector in me. No, I did not need to spend a week working on a series of quests just so I could have that armor shader, but I did.

There you have the games we played the most over the summer and if you read the other How I Spent My Summer post you have a pretty complete picture of our summer. Next up, 16 weeks of the next to last semester I will ever be part of…

How I Spent My Summer: Reading

How I Spent My Summer: Food

How I Spent My Summer: Travel

Silly Hats and Chess

I like playing chess.

I do not get to play chess that often.

I’m not great at chess, I think the problem is that chess is a slow game and many people do not want to devote the time to play, let alone learn.

Which is funny because I teach how to play chess more often than I play. People want to learn to play or at least start out wanting to learn to play. I’m a pretty easy teacher, I want you to want to play, thus I do not go all Full Metal Jacket Drill Sergeant on you. I teach, step-by-step how to play and play well.

Silly HatsHowever, after a few lessons people move on. Move onto faster games with an easier learning curve. All is not lost though, meet my latest pupil…our girl. She likes wearing silly hats that come in bags of “food” and rolling her eyes A LOT. So try to imagine my surprise when she asked if I would teach her chess…using my glass chess set. Ah, she wants to see the chess set, touch it, and then she will be done.

And that was true, up to a point. She was very excited to see the chess set unpacked and set up. She was disappointed that the set did not look like the one on the box. The difference is we were playing on a brown floor and the photo is on a red floor…stupid box photo. Once the board was set up we went over the pieces.

ChessPleasant surprise, she knew the names of the pawn, rookie-her name, king, queen, horseguy, and I don’t know. Off to a better start than I expected. She knew that the pawn moved one space at a time, attacked diagonally, and on the first turn could move two spaces. And that was the extent of her knowledge of chess.

Lesson one, how the pieces move.

“A rook move…”

“You mean rookie?”

“What? Yes, rookie moves in straight lines.”

“And the horseguy?”

“The easiest way is to count two space in a line and then one space over. Watch.”

“Can we play now?”

“Sure. Learn by doing.”

Check was a difficult concept. She thought she could use any piece to knock out the piece threatening her king. Sort of super piece with one purpose, save the king. It was cute, at first. Slowly, but surely we played through her first game of chess. Her brother wants me to point out that they have played chess before. I want to point out to all of you, that his version of chess only bears a resemblance to chess because he uses chess pieces. And while I am a fan of alternative chess games, such as Nightmare Chess, his version was…off.

By the end of our game our girl knew how to move all of the pieces and how to capture with most of them. The horseguy and bishop (formerly “I don’t know”) were tougher for her. The horseguy I understand. The bishop I did not until she pointed out that because of the brown floor the tiles looked similar, thus she could not tell the difference. Next time on a white or red background. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, she wants to play again tomorrow.


Keep On Exploding Kittens


Kitten NopeYesterday, pretenders to the throne attempted to usurp my benevolent reign and FAILED! Rather spectacularly. In a change of pace, the children attacked me instead of each other. How did they attack me? Every Favor card and pair of cards turned was aimed at me. Their goal to remove any Diffuse cards in my hand. And like a poor marksmen they missed their target. Six times! Six times they went after my hand of cards and came away with nothing.

Barb went out first and on her way out took out the boy who gloating because his “master plan” of putting the EXPLODING KITTEN ontop of the deck worked, except he did not know about the EXPLODING KITTEN card underneath that one…BOOM…BOOM.

Our girl played turn ending card after turn ending card, forcing me to draw and then she went after my hand. Laughing with glee because she took my Tacocat (its a palindrome), which gave her a pair, took another card of mine and continued laughing as she played the skip. I drew card after card, constantly shuffling my hand to keep the Diffuse card moving. Her end arrived after a turn where she pulled all but three cards from my hand-Diffuse, Attack, and Cattermelon. I knew she did not have a Diffuse. One Attack card later-she is forced to take two turns in a row-and BOOM!


For my Facebook friends who keep asking questions, yet inexplicably have not read the post (s) about EXPLODING KITTENS…which is odd given Facebook as my number one referrer-although Board Game Geek is rapidly catching up, here are some answers to the questions.

Yes, it is a game.

No, I do not know where you can get it in stores yet, mine is from Kickstarter. If EXPLODING KITTENS is in stores let me know so I can let my friends know.

No deck building at all. One deck of cards shared by all.

Goal, to NOT explode. Think of EXPLODING KITTENS like Russian Roulette, you don’t want to be the one who draws the EXPLODING KITTEN card or like Hot Potato, once an EXPLODING KITTEN card has been drawn invariably it ends up on the top of the deck for the next person and you don’t want it.

Playing time: 10 to 15 minutes depending on luck or bad luck of draw.

Kitten 2Easy to play: Yes, read the rule sheet, laugh a few times, and one or two games and the rules are yours!

Depth of play: Yes, it may not seem like it, but learning how best to use See The Future not to avoid an EXPLODING KITTEN, but to set up another play is awesome.

EXPLODING KITTENS is awesome for ages 7+ when you can get a copy and spread the word…that I am the reigning CHAMPION! 🙂