About Tyler

In the wilds of Vermont.

Board Games on Vermont Public Radio

Ben is super-excited to talk into a big yellow windscreen.

Ben is super-excited to talk into a big yellow windscreen. Photo by Benjamin Higgins (@flopcardboard) / https://www.instagram.com/p/BJf1ueHgqiO/. Used with permission.

Vermont Public Radio’s live noontime show, Vermont Edition, discussed the board game renaissance of the 21st century with some locals in the Vermont tabletop community: Benjamin Higgins, manager of the venerable Quarterstaff Games in Burlington, and Andrew Liptak, co-founder of Geek Mountain State. Also popping in to comment were Matt Golec and Robert Dijkman-Dulkes, designers of Penny Press and the prototypical Westmonster Kennel Club games.

My favorite part of the conversation is how everyone in the mix reaffirmed that board games — and all tabletop games — are about building relationships and community. People get together to play board games. Tabletop games need someone else to be in the room. Game stores become hubs of community- and relation-building. Robert puts in a nice pitch for Green Mountain Gamers providing venues all around the state for people to meet their neighbors and find new people with whom to enjoy excellent games. Carnage also gets a tip of the hat as Vermont’s premiere board and tabletop game event.

When tabletop games make it to something as mainstream a media outlet as public radio, I feel like we’ve reached a new peak in terms of making the hobby more visible. Web shows like Tabletop are great, but over the air terrestrial media is a new tier of reach altogether.

Ghosts of Gift-Mas Past

Victory screen of Sentinels of the Multiverse: Gloomweaver defeated by Argent Adept, America's Greatest Legacy and Guise.

Going into this one-shot, the accounts were it was a long slog due to no high damage dealers on the team, so I opted against recording it. As it happened, the game went on for so long that I paused it overnight and came back to finish during lunch the next day.

Too much of the early game was spent playing defensively. I had the Adept using Counterpoint Bulwark repeatedly to make everyone resistant to zombies, or having Legacy double-tap Next Evolution to ward off the most common forms of villain damage, cycling among melee, toxic and infernal.

Guise was doing most of the damage, largely the plinky sort. Somewhere I got off track from defending effectively and things spiraled downward for Guise after that. Once the team was down to the Adept and Legacy, I spent a lot of time turtling by letting the Adept take the hits and heal back up with Inspiring Supertonic, or getting Backfist Strikes back from the trash.

My big takeaway from this game is having experimented with bouncing power uses between America’s Greatest Legacy and the Adept effectively. Send a power use over to Legacy with the Supertonic and have him send it right back with Gung Ho for a free hit point. Also, have Legacy use Gung Ho on himself when he’s low on health, too!

This was probably the first game I used Cedistic Dissonant repeatedly. With Instrumental Conjurations to burn, it hurt a lot less to give up an instrument, especially when the reward is removing any destructible card from play, such as Anubis or any number of environmental annoyances pouring out from the god’s tomb.

Decked! #35: Freedom Isn’t Free

Mad Bomber Blade is on the loose in this week’s Sentinels of the Multiverse weekly one-shot. Two-thirds of the Freedom Six  happen to be on hand in Insula Primalis to thwart Blade’s scheme to trigger a super volcano eruption. Hit play and find out what happens!

As an aside, this might be the first or second time I’ve had both occasion and opportunity to use Bunker: Engine of War’s Locomotion power.

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube for more Sentinels of the Multiverse and whatever other games catch our fancy.

Decked! Bonus: Gotta Catch Em All, Maximum Capture Edition

After the Gotta Catch Em All one-shot ended so abruptly, I decided to go back for a playthrough where Haka got every available target in the match-up under Savage Mana. It took a couple playthroughs to get it right. First, Unforgiving Wasteland took a minion out of the game before Haka could. On the second playthrough, I forgot that Haka needed to deal non-melee damage to eat Voss’ two starships. Thanks to Captain Cosmic passing out energy weapons, the third play was the charm. Naturally, the coup de grace was delivered with Haka using Savage Mana. Could it end any other way?

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube for more Sentinels of the Multiverse and whatever other games catch our fancy.

Unlocking Infinitor, Tormented Ally

heroic_infinitor

Despite being rated difficulty 2, Infinitor is more than kind of a pain to play against. He’ll spam manifestations, many of which have their own unique challenges — Twisted Miscreation will only take one damage per hit, no matter how many bonuses you pile up –enjoy constant damage reduction, and do an end run around typical villain deck management techniques, because so much of his deck involves putting yet more cards into play.

So I put off unlocking Infinitor’s variant, Tormented Ally — or “Heroic Infinitor,” depending on to whom you’re speaking — because I thought it would be a pain. In fact, it only took two tries, in part because I lucked out with Dark Visionary almost always being able to put a manifestation on top, rather than one of his spammy one-shots.

The trick to unlocking Heroic Infinitor is getting a construct to deal the final points of damage. The two main options are Autonomous Blade and Wounding Buffer. Wounding Buffer is tricky because it needs to take enough damage to trigger without being knocked out of play completely. By the end of the game, compulsory damage bonuses can be high enough to take out a 4 HP target immediately. Autonomous Blade on Ra is how I wound up going. Once Infinitor was low enough, Ra did the penultimate wound and Autonomous Blade finished it off.

Now I’m caught up on character variant achievements, for now.

Decked! #34: Gotta Catch Em All

We have what you might call a “target rich environment” this week on Decked!: Grand Warlord menaces Earth with marauding minions. Captain Cosmic commands a cadre of constructs. Unity brandishes a battalion of bots. The Final Wasteland harbors a horde of horrible cryptids. That is, by most accounts, a grand total of 71 targets in the mix. Can we get them all safely tucked away under Haka’s Savage Mana? Find out!

I haven’t any new OBS or post-production cleverness to report this week. My idle tinkering time has gone to incorporating the YouTube Gaming chat box into a livestream. I’m not sure I have the time capacity or breadth of interesting games to cultivate a streaming audience, but it entertains me to go through the steps and figure out how to implement these things.

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube for more Sentinels of the Multiverse and whatever other games catch our fancy.

Announcing Arkham Horror: The Card Game

WithArkham Horror: The Card Game box cover. Investigators fight mythos monsters under a looming full moon.Fantasy Flight Games made an official announcement: they are publishing a cooperative Lovecraft-themed game called Arkham Horror: The Card Game.

There’s currently a handful of information wrapped up in marketing copy, but the nut of the game seems to be players choose one of five characters and build a deck around them, drawing from cards suited to a character’s classes. Roland Banks, for instance, can use Guardian cards of all levels, and Seeker cards up to level 2. Each character has some cards that are automatically included, both good things and bad things; to continue the example, Roland always has his .38 firearm and a strong dose of paranoia.

A sample layout of Arkham Horror: The Card Game shows two investigators' tableaus and the locations they will explore.

A sample layout of Arkham Horror: The Card Game shows two investigators’ tableaus and the locations they will explore.

Characters work together to defeat a series of scenarios, it seems, much like in Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, but with a persistent, legacy-style campaign structure. The campaign log sheet shows characters track the traumas, assets and weaknesses earned in each scenario. Furthermore, as characters advance through scenarios, they level up and gain access to new cards. It’s an interesting concept that brings in the character advancement portion of a role-playing game with the deck evolution aspect of something like the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

When I first saw the news yesterday, I was immediately psyched, and not just because it was confirmation of rumors that started back in May. A cooperative card game with the Cthulhu mythos theme was exactly what I’ve been wanting. As much as I enjoyed playing Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, my least favorite part of it was the head to head competition. I’ve enjoyed cooperative games since I first found them with the 2005 revision of Arkham Horror and later Pandemic, and I especially like the theme of investigators struggling against the unknown forces of a universe far vaster and more inexplicable than they could have imagined.

This game will attract a different crowd of players to some extent. It’s not head to head competition, so people who enjoy that play style will continue looking elsewhere. The emphasis here seems to be on developing a narrative over the course of a campaign. This feels like an “experience game,” as my friend Rod likes to say, where years later, you’re still chuckling over the time the deputy of Arkham and his buddy Earl pulled up outside the general store, realized how many monsters were prowling around and immediately roared off again in the patrol wagon. I really hope this new card game follows suit, letting stories like that emerge from game play.

It’s been a delight to see how quickly the discussion for Arkham Horror gets moving over the last day. There’s a Boardgamegeek listing — and I am tickled to see people already trying to surmise an expansion release schedule — a subreddit, a Facebook group, a section on the Living Card Games community on Google+, and so on. It was a matter of two hours and change before someone said, “Hey, let’s make a podcast!” And I, of course, have been trying to visualize how to capture a four player game on camera for Decked!

With the impending end of the Sentinels of the Multiverse line, I was already missing having an ongoing game line to follow and get excited about. With luck, the Arkham LCG will be exactly what I’m looking for.

Decked! #33: Elementalist

Decked! welcomes back Matt to the show, whose voice astute viewers may recognize from Learn to Play Penny Press, where he and his co-designer Robert explained how to play their board game of newspaper publishing magnates in turn of the century New York City. This week, however, we are making news, instead of reporting it, in Sentinels of the Multiverse‘s weekly one-shot. Akash’buta has awoken from slumber and an elementally-themed team of heroes has stepped up to save the world.

This was the first time I got to bring a friend in to play Sentinels on Decked!, and I think it worked out pretty well. I settled on a routing diagram that let me record Matt, myself and the game’s audio on separate tracks, allowing for more sophisticated editing in post-production — namely automatically ducking the game audio when someone is speaking. It’s a little thing, but I think I’ve got the technique down now, thanks to practicing on this and Rifftrax commentaries.

Subscribe to Decked! on YouTube for more Sentinels of the Multiverse and whatever other games catch our fancy.

On the Skids in Eldritch Horror

A painted miniature of a male in a peacoat and cap, standing on a game board designed to resemble an archaic map of the world.
Last week, I carved out time to play the new Eldritch Horror expansion, Signs of Carcosa, with Alex, Rachel and Tom. Tom kindly hosted, meaning we got to enjoy his game table, previously seen here and now fully mounted on wonderfully sturdy legs. We also swapped out the cardboard standees for painted miniatures. Above is the figure I used for Skids O’Toole.

Seeing as he is the star of this new expansion, we played against Hastur. With two mysteries to win and a starting doom of 11, he seemed like he was meant to be a relatively short game, one way or another. The first mystery we solved fairly readily, and were well on our way to completing the second when we fell into that magical zone of the game taking away the one last thing we needed to win, over and over again.

I don’t know how Eldritch Horror manages it, but that game is really, really good at targeting just the right resource to make the players scramble and come up with a new strategy for getting their ducks lined up. In the end, it came down to the wire between solving the second mystery and doom advancing to zero. We shuffled some assets around to satisfy the mystery’s requirements and held our breath all the way through the mythos phase, waiting for that one last thing to snatch victory from our grasp again. Amazingly, the investigators managed to hold back the darkness a little while longer.