Monday, May 18, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: the Boardgame

So at DoG I got to play my first session of Battlestar Galactica. I bought this game a few weeks ago and I've had my eye on it for long time. Search Google/Youtube for video reviews of the game, there are many and they will probably give you a better idea of the game. I wanted to talk about this specific game session on the blog. In a nutshell, I loved it.
Players select characters to play at start up. I went with Giaus Baltar. I was 4th pick. Giaus' special ability is to draw a skill card of any type during a "crisis". This is handy as it guarantees that during my turn I can at least help a little (or hurt). The crisis phase of each player turn is really where all the action is and makes or breaks the final victory. One per game, Giaus can look at any player's loyalty cards to see if they are a Cylon. Giaus gets two of these cards, but in this session, I was not a Cylon.
The game was wicked cool and did a lot to capture the feel of the series. The pilots kicked cylon butt in space. The other characters threw in support in most respects just like their counter-parts in the series would. I even ended up in the Brig for while. The Cylon attacks were probably the most gripping. Attacks don't end at the end of that player's turn. So the next player draws a new crisis that must be dealt with in the midst of the attack. Sometimes second attacks occur on top of the first. The intensity starts to build. The Humans struggle even in the most cooperative game.
In our game the President (Laura) and Starbuck turned out to be Cylons. I actually turned out to be a "Sympathizer" but since the Humans were already fairing poorly, the "sympathizer" doesn't have further negative effect. Having the President turn out to be a Cylon is a pretty rough blow to the Humans. But as it turned out, the Humans just barely squeeked out a victory. We lost a ton of population and morale, but we made the final jump.
We had 6 players in this session. I think the game would play best 4-5. But 6 is quite doable. Really I think you could do even more. 3 players would make it really hard on the Humans. The challenges don't get any easier with 3 and that means the total contribution each player makes must be higher.
The game complexity overall is not too bad. It is far less complex than say Axis and Allies, but certainly several steps above your average boardgame. Avid fans of the series may really like the game, but they will have to absorb some moderately complex rules. Game lovers should have no issue at all. It is a longish game--running 3-4 hours. But unlike other long games that seem "forgone" for the last 30% of the game, BSG is gripping right to the end.
For those Wellington readers... We should plan a game-my house--I may even provide pizza. Game On!

Day of Games (DoG) May 2009

I have several posts mentally queued up. But I'll get this one out first. I went to a mini-con in Wellington (Turnbull House) last Saturday simply dubbed "Day of Games" hosted by Sophie (on those blog links in the side bar).

The format of this con was simply to break up the day in multiple 2-hour sessions and lets players and GM's cut loose on anything they wanted to join. It seemed to work out pretty well. I was happy to show up and just go with it.

My first session was playing 3:16 with Sophie and 2 other americans--oddly enough. We had a good time with this simple format game. 3:16 contains about 5 game mechanics total and so plays very quickly, but still captures the feel of a good roleplay experience. I was Tech SGT "Wrench" Turner. We shot lizards in our first "deployment" and then played drug crazed soldiers in training for the 2nd deployment. It was a lot of fun.

In the second session I got to play the game that I really wanted to try, Battlestar Galactica (boardgame). I'll do a separate post on this game. It was very satisfying.

I also got to try another Final Flight game called "Cosmic Encounter". It was good to squeeze this one in to try it. It probably would not make it in to my collection, but I can see how it would have appeal for some play groups. The central theme of CE is negotiation between players. I would see this game being best played between folks that knew each other at least casually. We only had 3 players and that made the negotiation triangle not all that interesting. It would be best with about 5.

Overall, I think the event was a good success. I was happy to see the gamer crowd in Wellington again and happy to get table time with folks.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Free Willy

Okay, so my major game play has still been Eve Online the last few weeks. One thing that keeps pulling me back to Eve is that it is fairly easy to "play" even when you're not logged in. That is... you can do a lot of things with it offline... I shall dub this Eve Offline. What I'm talking about here are the things that happen with out much online involvement like selling goods, making goods, and skill training.

The market system in Eve is without equal. It easily rivals global economics. There are hundreds of individual markets spread across dozens of regions. Many players make all their in-game credits by simply buying and selling goods without ever moving them. Some buy bulk quantities in one region and then move them to another region at a mark-up.

All the player driven manufacturing is done from stations and complete over time. These "jobs" continue even while you're logged off. Often I'll assemby the materials for a multi-day job and then just kick it off to run. I can wait a couple of days and then go back and fetch the job. Presumably, I then post it on the market and wait for the ISK to roll in.

While I'm logged in for 5 minutes to fetch jobs and post goods to the market, I can also queue up skills to train. Thus while logged off, my characters can happily be making stuff, making ISK, and training for new ships or abilities. I can go off and play WoW or watch TV.

My latest achievement is the Orca. I bought one off a corp-mate who named it "Free Willy"--thus the name of this post. This is a relatively new ship in Eve--offically called an "Industrial Command Ship". It is not a combat vessel in any fashion, but it is a great toy for goofing around in Empire space. The mining bonuses it provides are exceptional. It's hauling capacity is second only to Freighters. But while a Freighter can do nothing beyond haul giant cargo's, the Orca can haul very, very large cargo's, fit various modules, loot cans/wrecks from space, contains a ship maintenance bay, and a corp hanger bay. I am extremely pleased with the ship. In fact, I'm fairly certain that CCP will have to do something to buff up the Freighter now since it is such a complete dog of a ship... dog ship, I say.

I think next I will work on getting better at dealing EM damage--probably T2 Praetor drones. This will allow me to cut through missions for Khanid Royal Navy quicker. Quicker missions means quicker ISK. After this I'm not sure. Maybe I'll work on T2 Rails for more direct damage dealing.

Game On!