Posted on October 5, 2016
Whut? Where am I? Did I fall asleep?
Jesus Christ, was it really that long ago? Was it really just after I got Descent? Had we only tested the waters with Mansions of Madness? Woo boy.
Well, that last post is kind of appropriate because with a few additions, that’s what we’ve been playing. There’ll be plenty of time to get into most of the games we’ve been playing in greater detail, because Matt and Bryce have conspired to make this thing work again. Also, I have ideas, all the time; and if I don’t write them down somewhere, I’ll… I’ll…
Phew. Glad to see that works.
We tried Descent out and it turned out to be a ton of fun. It’s a rules-light, story-light, effortless dungeon-bash, with just enough going on that you have an idea what you are doing and who you are week to week. I kind of love the model that Descent provides, so I also bought Mansions of Madness and Imperial Assault, which are tangentially related to Descent. They’re all games-in-one-box by Fantasy Flight, with a bunch of map tiles, really pretty great miniatures and cards. You can’t say you don’t get your money’s worth, even if it is a chunk of change to buy any of them.
Imperial Assault came out after Mansions and Descent and it’s interesting to see how finely tuned they managed to make Imperial Assault. Mansions is pretty chaotic, with the game swinging between being fairly easy and being impossibly difficult based on a few choices the players don’t even know they are making. The key difference in Mansions is that you are discovering the story and it’s rules as you go. Descent is a romp – there are a few tough scenarios, but in general the players will have fun stomping the maps and shitty dice rolling is more likely to upset the game than player choices. You know what is going on (for the most part) from the start with Descent – bad guys over there, heroes over here, these special rules apply, this is what you have to do, let’s get ready to rumble.
Imperial Assault is a lot more tight than that. Almost all the games of Imperial Assault we’ve played have come down to the last turn, or a few last rolls of the dice. You really can’t put many feet wrong in IA without losing. And, like in Mansions, you don’t know the rules of the board and usually have to discover what they are as you go. There are little tweaks to how other parts of the game work too. Weapons are customizable, the Dark Side gets to intervene in more intrusive ways, and skill tests are a little more complex, but nothing is so different that someone familiar with Descent couldn’t immediately sit down get started with Imperial Assault.
I like all three of those games. Imperial Assault is great for tense games, Descent is great for larking around and Mansions is a great rare treat, I wouldn’t want to play it all the time. Descent and IA both have campaigns and we’ve managed to fit in about two whole campaigns: the starter campaign for Descent, The Shadow Rune, most of the starter campaign for Imperial Assault, and we’re not too far into the Labyrinth of Ruin campaign for Descent.
Expansions for the games are numerous, from simple scenarios, to NPC packs (with new miniatures, scenarios and sometimes small rules expansions) to full campaigns in boxes with more heroes, NPCs, map tiles and cards to suit the new campaign setting. So there’s a good chance I’ll keep adding stuff.
The miniatures are pretty great too. If this had been any other time in my life I’d have had most of those fuckers painted by now… but it isn’t and I haven’t. On a related note, I’m curious to find out if this kind of game does well specifically because they are selling it to aging roleplayers, who now have families and commitments and want something they don’t have to spend much time prepping for…. That’s exactly what is working for me and I sort of don’t think that’s an accident. We’re also, I hope we all realise, spoiled for choice. There are so many good games we could be playing, that making something that is immediately fun makes a lot of sense.
I’ll get back to our current campaign – Labyrinth of Ruin – in a few days.
In the mean time, Merchants and Marauders turned out to be a solid favourite. After a few halting starts, we got good enough at it that it’s flowing and fast game. It still has a few areas that slow it down, but I’ve enjoyed it.
Other games we’ve played since then….
Quantum – An unexpected hit from Jonathan and Steven’s visit last October. Every game of Quantum you play is going to be substantially different, despite the simplicity of the core rules, so I think it has a lot of replay to it.
Firefly – There are three copies of Firefly floating around the Twin Cities group; Sean, Bryce and the Tallens all have a copy. That was another one that had a slow (ahem) start, but that was eased by the top notch production of the really beautiful cards. The art for the game is so good it actually makes me resent the TV show stills the cards often feature.
Pandemic Legacy Season 1 – Pandemic Legacy is the kind of game that gets Boardgamegeek guys super excited and it is totally deserved. A relatively simple game, that is naturally tense (being basically whack-a-mole with extinction-level plagues), the way the game twists and turns as new elements are revealed is pretty cool. It could have been organised better – it has many more surprises than Risk Legacy, but still, not for people looking for a lark.
Valeria: Card Kingdoms – A find of Sean’s, this is a tableau-building card game, apparently. You aren’t building a deck, but you purchase cards that provide you with resources that allow you to purchase cards. It’s a simple premise and easy to pick up, and makes for a great beer and pretzel type game. You can’t actively fuck each other over, but you can ruin other people’s plans, a la Agricola and other priority purchase games.
Ah, another Dodecaheathens blog post: another I-don’t-know-how-to-end-this feeling. Yay, it’s good to be back.