Monday, March 30, 2015

#36: Sentinels of the Multiverse (Mark's 100 - 2014)


Sentinels of the Multiverse

Mark's Ranking
  • 2014: 36th
  • 2012: did not appear
  • 2010: prior to publication
  • 2005: prior to publication
  • rank: 120
  • rating: 7.52
Print Status
  • in print
Why It's On The List
  • A cooperative comic book game that uses multiple card decks (heroes, villain, environment) to tell the story of a "battle royale". It's enhanced by a well-developed mythos and a plethora of sly references to various "real" (read: DC/Marvel) superheroes.
Tips & Tricks:
    • Some games have the potential to divide gaming groups into "wow - love that! let's play again" and "I'm pretty much done with that one after one play" - Sentinels is defintely one of those. I get to play a lot because both of my boys and one of my best friends LOVE the game.
    • When teaching new players, you MUST let them get to know their hero decks on their own. Avoid the temptation to tell them which cards to play - it will kill their enjoyment of the game... and shortchange them of the joy of "discovering their superpowers".
    • Building a good superhero team is a little like building a good D&D party - you need a variety of skills to take on different situations.
    • One of the skills that is difficult to master is creating a challenging but not impossible game - the right combination of heroes, villain & environment. There's a resource that can make that a whole lot easier - Matthew Gray's Sentinels of the Multiverse Difficulty Score System.
    Extras
    • There are a LOT of expansions for this game system - we own pretty much everything that has been published because part of the fun is getting to take on a new challenge each time. However, the game out of the box is quite enjoyable.
    • I've heard great things about the Sidekick app (that tracks hits & statuses) and the actual iOS/Steam app that plays the game - but I haven't sprung for either of them. Yet.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Mental Health & the Church


    One of the most important ministry topics... and one of the least talked about. And you have the opportunity to attend this online event (put on by Leadership Network) for free.

    My pastor will be part of the discussion - speaking in his role as the head of Lifeway Research. (He's also a funny, thoughtful & caring guy who just happens to be a statistics nerd.)
    • Tuesday, April 14th
    • beginning at 1 pm EST
    For free registration (and more information), visit Leadership Network.


    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    #37: Agricola (Mark's 100 - 2014)


    Agricola

    Mark's Ranking
    • 2014: 37th
    • 2012: 31st
    • 2010: 8th
    • 2005: prior to publication
    • rank: 5
    • rating: 8.14
    Print Status
    • in print
    Why It's On The List
    • The theme - farming in medieval times - shouldn't be terrifically compelling (why do I care about the travails of a farmer?)... and yet the game system makes you sweat every purchase, every family member you send out to collect wood or stone or to get a job...
    Tips & Tricks:
      • I don't pretend to have a decent grasp on Agricola strategy - particularly when playing with 4-5 players. At the same time, it's important to remember that you don't have to do well at everything - but blowing off a scoring category completely must be compensated by complete success in other categories.
      • There's a long-winded diatribe in me waiting to get out on this next tip: don't be "super-gamer" and dismiss the badly named "family game" (the 'simpler' version of Agricola). I don't care how experienced you are as a gamer, there's so much going on that it's worth playing this version multiple times for two reasons: (a) it's a good game w/out the cards!, and (b) you'll play the version with Minor Improvements & Occupations much better if you understand how everything works together..
      Extras
      • This is a game where adding players to the mix adds substantially to the length of play - so, while the game works very well with five players (and even has cards that are specific to that number), I like it best with two or three players. 
      • The Farmers of the Moor expansion is enjoyable, but does increase the complexity of the game another step. On the other hand, I'm not sold on the extra decks - I find the oddball humor to be jarring & some of the cards to have some serious power creep...
      • I like Caverna - but I don't need both of them.
      • The iOS app is splendid... both for the solo game and for multi-player.

      Monday, March 23, 2015

      #38: Galaxy Trucker (Mark's 100 - 2014)



      Galaxy Trucker

      Mark's Ranking
      • 2014: 38th
      • 2012: did not appear
      • 2010: did not appear
      • 2005: prior to publication
      • rank: 78
      • rating: 7.52
      Print Status
      • in print
      Why It's On The List
      • Another Vlaada design, ripe with humor and clever game play. A real-time scramble/spatial puzzle (building your starship) is followed by Dungeonquest-like run-in with the game system, which is conspiring to keep anything good from happening to you. 
      Tips & Tricks:
      • Clean starships don't only win you points, they save lives. And starships. And cargo.
      • The rulebook is a work of comic genius. (This is not unusual for CGE games - which is probably one of the reasons I tend to love them.)
      • It is tempting to teach players this game with all of the expansions (there are TWO big boxes plus an extra set of starship boards)... this is bad. The game has enough going on that newbies should learn on the base game.
      Extras
      • I wrote a mini-review of the The Latest Models for the Opinionated Gamers website.
      • The iOS app is fantastic - especially the campaign mode.

      Friday, March 20, 2015

      #39: Thebes (Mark's 100 - 2014)



      Thebes

      Mark's Ranking
      • 2014: 39th
      • 2012: 22nd
      • 2010: 5th
      • 2005: prior to publication
      • rank: 254
      • rating: 7.21
      Print Status
      • out of print... for now (Kickstarted reprint should arrive this year)
      Why It's On The List
      • One of the best example of a game design integrating theme & mechanics - drawing tiles from the bag "feels" like archaeology. As well, the use of the "time cost" mechanic makes the game fluid & gives each player a plethora of tactical options. 
      Tips & Tricks:
      • The tile bags are a marked improvement over the card decks from the original version of this game, Jenseit von Thebes.
      • If you're not going to collect the lecture series cards, just make sure no other person hoards them - that's some big points out there on the rubber chicken circuit.
      • I like to jump out with one or two quick expeditions to harvest a few easy artifacts (and have a variety of colors for the various exhibitions) - but there's something to be said for making sure you have a couple of assistants & shovels before you do any serious digging.
      • Don't forget about the bonuses for highest level of research into each site!
      Extras

      Thursday, March 19, 2015

      #40: Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit (Mark's 100 - 2014)



      Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit

      Mark's Ranking
      • 2014: 40th
      • 2012: 29th
      • 2010: 25th
      • 2005: 45th
      • appeared on all four lists
      • rank: 317
      • rating: 7.54
      Print Status
      • VERY out of print
      Why It's On The List
      • This is possibly the best licensed game out there... based on the weakest film in the Star Wars franchise. It manages to capture the best parts of a bad film and make a splendid game.
      Tips & Tricks:
      • The Trade Federation is slightly easier to play... but with two experienced players, the game is pretty well balanced.
      • If you're playing the Naboo side, you MUST use every Anakin card possible to push the timer. (This is really the only "can't miss" bit of strategic advice I can give you.)
      Extras
      • This is not the only good Star Wars game (I also like Star Wars: Epic Duels & X-Wing Miniatures) but it's certainly the best. (Note: I have not yet played Imperial Assault or the upcoming Armada...)
      • Here's what I wrote about The Queen's Gambit for The One Hundred

      Wednesday, March 18, 2015

      Catan Con 2015

      So, there are many things to look forward to in the next month or so:
      • my wife enjoys her birthday (March 31st)
      • I mark the end of my first year here at TDOE (April 1st - yes, I started work here on April Fool's Day.. go figure)
      • this blog celebrates a decade of publication - since it was started right around the birth of my youngest son (April 1st)
      • speaking of that, Collin turns 10 years old (April 12th)
      • Catan Con 2015 comes to Nashville - yep, about 20 minutes from my house! (April 24-26)
      No, Catan Con is not more important than my wife's birthday. (And she didn't make me write that.)

      But it's pretty darn cool that this first Catan-focused event is happening literally just down the road from us!

      It's the 20th anniversary this year of Klaus Teuber's innovative game design, The Settlers of Catan... and Mayfair Games is throwing a shindig/hoedown/birthday party/gaming convention at the Opryland Hotel in late April. 

      I'm really looking forward to:
      • mammoth versions of Catan, Downfall of Pompeii & Catan Junior
      • the giant tabletop version of Lords of Vegas
      • playing some of the oddball Catan versions I haven't played before
      • "The Big Game" - a taste of the world record-setting Catan game
      I'm not as excited about the tournaments/qualifiers - but you may be. The winner gets sent on to the Nationals at GenCon this summer.

      I'll be there, both as a reporter/photographer for the Opinionated Gamers blog and as a long-time fan of Catan. It would be great to see some of you there!

      If you're interested, just scoot on over to the Catan Con Facebook page for more information & tickets.

      Battlelore (1st edition)... For Sale

      I am offering my COMPLETE Battlelore set (1st edition) up for sale... as much as I enjoy it, I'm more likely to play Memoir '44 (if I want to do Command & Colors) or Descent or Claustrophobia (if I want to do fantasy combat).

      Here's what the lot consists of (with price estimate from BGG following):
      • Battlelore base game (first printing) - $50
      • Call to Arms expansion - $10
      • The Hundred Years' War – Crossbows & Polearms - $75
      • Epic Battlelore (extra board) - $10
      • Scottish Wars - $25
      • Dwarven Battalion Specialist Pack - $40
      • Heroes expansion - $50
      • Goblin Marauders Specialist Pack - $25
      • Goblin Skirmishers Specialist Pack - $20
      • Dragons expansion - $50
      • Creatures expansion - $45
      • For Troll & Country - $5
      • Hill Giant promo - $15
      • Code of Chivalry - $55
      • Horrific Horde - $60
      • Earth Elemental promo - $15
      • Bearded Brave - $25
      • Battlelore Collected Rulebook (Lulu.com printed & bound - no longer available) - $25
      • 3 Plano boxes to contain figures - $30
      So, it's roughly $600 worth of fantasy toy soldier plastic & game. (Actually $630, but who's counting?)

      All of the sets are complete and in excellent condition. The only remaining box is the base game - the rest of the figures are in multiple Plano boxes (which are part of the deal - unless you want to save on shipping by taking them out and having me bag the figures to ship.)

      I will not sell isolated pieces of the set - it's all or nothing.

      I'm willing to sell it all for $300 + shipping (which, unfortunately, won't be inexpensive). I won't jack up the shipping costs - just charge what it actually costs to get to you. (And apologies to my foreign readers - due to the hassles of dealing with customs & exchange rates, I'm going to stick with U.S. only.) If you live near middle Tennessee, we can probably arrange a no-ship exchange to save $ & time.

      This offer is going out first to my loyal readers... strike while it's hot!