The Games of 2012

What did I play in 2012? Well, according to my log over at Boardgamegeek/RPGGeek.com, in 2012 I played:

  • Role-Playing Games
    • 36 sessions of Carrion Crown
    • 11 sessions of Skull & Shackles
    • 1 session of Fiasco
    • 2 session of Call of Cthulhu
    • 1 session of Qalidar / True 20
    • GMed 1 session of GURPS Ghostbusters
  • Board Games
    • 9 rounds of Betrayal at House on the Hill
    • 6 rounds of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
    • 9 rounds of Dominion — with attendant expansions I will not list
    • 4 rounds of Android: Netrunner
    • 4 rounds of Give Me the Brain!
    • 3 rounds of Pandemic
    • 2 rounds of 7 Wonders
    • 2 rounds of Arkham Horror — with attendant expansions I will not list
    • 2 rounds of Carcassonne
    • 2 rounds of Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers
    • 1 round of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
    • 1 round of Castellan
    • 1 round of Chrononauts
    • 1 round of Chupacabra: Survive the Night
    • 1 round of Clue: Harry Potter Edition
    • 1 round of Cthulhu Fluxx
    • 1 round of Dungeon Petz
    • 1 round of Fealty
    • 1 round of Frag
    • 1 round of Guillotine
    • 1 round of IceDice
    • 1 round of Jungle Speed
    • 1 round of King of Tokyo
    • 1 round of Ligretto
    • 1 round of The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game
    • 1 round of Lords of Waterdeep
    • 1 round of Monty Python Fluxx
    • 1 round of Nefarious
    • 1 round of Small World Underground
    • 1 round of Smash Up
    • 1 round of Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase
    • 1 round of Tales of the Arabian Nights
    • 1 round of Talisman
    • 1 round of Tobago
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Spring Meltdown Gaming Recap

Last weekend was all travel and bustle for me. Saturday, I made it out to Lyndonville for the Green Mountain Gamers’ Spring Meltdown. It was a full, full day of gaming for a lot of people. I got in more than I expected, to be honest. My enjoyment of board games has been on the wane for the last six months or so. Still, I found myself sucked into the enthusiasm and wound up trying three games new to me.

We recorded an extrasode of Carnagecast on the ride home. Check out A Dark and Stormy Night — which it was — to hear what people thought about games like Power Grid: The First Sparks, the utterable elements of a Fiasco game using The Ice playset, the inevitable bouts of Battlestar Galactica and Prêt-à-Porter.

Additionally, here are some more recent thoughts on the new games I played during Spring Meltdown. I’ve had a little more time to consider things since the ride home, so the opinions are a little riper, though still based on those initial plays.

  • Nefarious is a game by Donald Vaccarino about mad scientists crafting inventions. It’s about choosing among actions to design things, generate cash and realize the inventions, thus earning victory points. There’s a whole speculation element I didn’t really get that involves placing minions on action types, which earns money based on the actions in a turn that one’s neighbors choose. I got how it works, but I didn’t see how it tied into the mad scientist theme; minions go spy on rival inventors, maybe?
  • Lords of Waterdeep was probably the break-out hit of the day, as it has been everywhere it appears, going by the chatter in the social media spheres. I didn’t expect to like a worker placement game at all, but somehow this one worked for me. It has a satisfactory level of complexity among the different parts — meaning it’s pretty light in others’ view, probably — and I enjoyed the high fantasy adventure theme. The mechanics have very, very little to do with Waterdeep or the Forgotten Realms, but adding the theme prompted me to give the game a shot.
  • Tobago I’d sort of played in the past — or been taught how to play, at least. After narrowing down the location of treasures by playing cards that specify where on an tropical island they might be — “next to the biggest forest,” “not in a river valley,” and so on — then tear around to claim the treasure before anyone else. It wasn’t an unpleasant way to spend the end of the night while waiting for my ride to wrap up her game of Prêt-à-Porter.

[Geek Week] The Fiasco at Langdon Street

The news Langdon Street Cafe will close its doors at the end of May puts my recounting of the Geek Week Game Con in a less cheery light. Unsurprisingly, the game con has been the highlight of Geek Week for since I first attended three or four years ago. Geek Week was the reason I first visited Langdon Street Cafe at all. Since then, the cafe became a natural place to meet and talk with friends in the Montpelier area — and beyond. Being right in the middle of the state was hugely handy when meeting up with other members of Green Mountain Gamers. We even had our first meeting there.

Fiasco was the name of the game for me that night. Elsewhere in the cafe, it was all board games. I saw people playing Forbidden Island, Last Night on Earth, Travel Blokus and Carcassonne, as well as taking advantage of the stand-up arcade machine-style MAME set-up.

Two friends and a mother-daughter duo that Ben Matchstick brought to us maxed out the group. I had a couple playsets printed out, The Ice from the book and Mark Meredith’s Toil and Trouble. We settled on the second, which places the game at a wizarding school.

Choosing from the relationships, we wound up with Professors Ash (herbology), Dingledorf (divinations) and Trojent (Defense Against the Dark Arts), shining star student Horatio Lemonsnoggle and Munge, sketchy townie. Horatio and Professor Dingledorf were both members of the brotherhood SAP (Secret, Arcane Pancakes, I think they settled on). Trojent and Dingledorf were bitter enemies, Trojent having failed initiation into the secret order. Professor Ash has a knack for getting his colleague Trojent into trouble. Horatio and Munge were estranged cousins, at least partly due to Munge’s involvement in the disappearance of Horatio’s brother Klaus. And Munge received secret lessons in dark, unspeakable magic — controlling the growth of plants with disco music — from Professor Ash.

So it was a wacky, absurd game from the start, you see; one in which maple syrup played a surprisingly large role. Horatio and Dingledorf found themselves tasked with learning what was happening to the local maple trees, which was heavily implied to be Professor Ash’s experiments in making them minions to aid in his world domination scheme. It didn’t go so well for him — nor anyone else for that matter.

While acts one and two were pretty light stuff, things got really dark during the aftermath; probably because the aftermath tables lay out the sort of stuff in store for a character for any given result. There were plenty of deaths, some decline into obscurity and arson. Poor, beleaguered Professor Trojent, whose player took great delight in concocting the most unsavory results for her character — here was the covering in maple sap, the ants, the possessing spirit bound up in a venus fly trap plant; the list goes on — actually came out the best. Funny how that works.

In Fiasco, players collect black or white dice over the course of the game. The more of one color, either one, a player collects, the better their odds of the character having a “happy” aftermath montage. Someone rolling mostly black dice will probably have a higher result than someone rolling matching amounts of white and black dice. It motivates players to engineer situations that allow them to choose the color of the dice they collect.

Then again, sometimes the dice roll funny. I think we all rolled mostly even sets of black and white dice. It was only Laci, Professor Trojent’s player, who had an at all decent epilogue. But that fit with her character type in the sort of story that Fiasco emulates.

Prepare for the Coming of Geek Week Game Night

Brennan barters games for a ride back to Burlington from Langdon Street.

Once again, Langdon Street Cafe in Montpelier throws its doors open to the nerdly set for Geek Week 5.0, a five day celebration of all things geeky. The Geek Week Game Con, an fixture of the event, takes place Wednesday, April 27th.

There will be a board game library, of course. As Ben Matchstick tells us over at Green Mountain Gamers: “There will be a lot of goodies for RPGs and board gamers. Dominion, Catan, Bananagrams, Agricola, and tons of others. You got it, bring it! There’s also an arcade machine emulator that will play over 4000 old school arcade games, just for that throw-back feel.”

As for role-playing games, Ben himself is planning a Gamma World adventure. I’m going down with Fiasco and InSpectres in hand. I don’t know if we can gin up characters and finish a game in three or so hours, but I’d like to give a shot. I know enough role-playing-friendly folks in Montpelier that we should be able to reach critical mass easily enough.

Spring Meltdown Game Day in Middlebury, Vermont

March 19th in Middlebury, Vermont.

I can’t believe it’s already less than a month until Spring Meltdown, the Green Mountain Gamers’ spring game day. We only started talking about seasonal traveling game days about a year ago at Langdon Street Cafe. Since then, we’ve put on three successful game days, each larger than the last, in Burlington, Lyndonville and Barre, Vermont.

On March 19th, we’re coming to Middlebury to round out a year of tabletop games, good people and a lot of laughs. It’s bound to be a great time with the awesome folks who have been in attendance so far. Most of what happens at these days has been open board game play. We wind up with tables groaning under the weight of games everyone’s brought to share. People divvy themselves up, either because  there’s a game that’s caught their eye or they’d like to learn, or they brought some in particular they’re eager to have the opportunity to teach and play. I know the new Lovecraftian board game Mansions of Madness is going to be one of those; Carlo participated in the preview event this past weekend at his local game store in Quebec and is bringing it down to Spring Meltdown.

On the role-playing side, we’re working on growing that. We’ve got some old school first edition Dungeons & Dragons in both Middle-earth and a classic TSR published module. I’ll have the goods for GURPS Ghostbusters: Pumpkin Jack and something for Fiasco, either my still untested science fiction playset or one that caught my eye, like Toil and Trouble.

It’s gonna be a fun day! I hope to meet some new faces there.