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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Ave Talisman Movement Variant

During last week’s Talisman session, I was reminded of a thread I’d recently read on Boardgamegeek.com proposing a movement variant for the game where each player has a stack of cards numbered one through six. Each turn for their movement, a player chooses one of those cards, moves that many spaces and discards the card. Once they’ve exhausted their supply of cards, they pick up the discards and shuffle up to draw again. It’s essentially how I recall the movement in Ave Caesar working.

Being able to strategically ration and utilize movement values instead of moving at the mercy of the die means players could gun for each other much more easily. And as Aswin Agastya points out in the thread, the level of control over movement provided by even the limited choice of “this number or that number” reduces the opportunity for the fun of a character stuck between two impossible choices.

Then during the game, Hunter mentioned an initiative variant for Dungeons & Dragons where players draw playing cards for their place in the turn order — which rather reminded me of Savage Worlds‘ own initiative system. Then I thought, “Playing cards would work, but there are only four suits, so that’s kind of a bummer, since no one could have their own suit.” That put me onto the idea of alternate suits of playing cards.

And lo, there is at least one deck with eight suits cards, the additional four being clovers, droplets, moons and stars. $16 is pricy for a single-use game component like that, but if I can come up with more uses for that many suits of cards, maybe I’ll snag a deck.

And I Queried: How to Spend Some Amazon Points

I have one of those Amazon credit cards that racks up points one can spend in lieu of cash on stuff there. The balance is rapidly approaching a sum amenable to a number of game-related products I’d like to buy.

Express your opinion, o readers of Held Action. What do you think I should get? I make no promises, but I am open to suggestions of things I hadn’t considered.

The Acquisition Imperative

Periodically, I get a yen to buy a board game or role-playing game. It’s a strong enough yen that I’ll fixate on it for some time. A couple years ago, for reasons I still can’t fathom, it was a general impulse to buy HERO System books. I gave in to that one and wound up with two or three feet of shelf space given over to books pushing a system I wasn’t entirely sold on. I think I’ve run precisely one session of role-playing using HERO, the sole session of an ersatz Spelljammer campaign I called Known Spheres. That game actually died for scheduling reasons rather than a dislike for HERO, just for the record.

Anyway, I get on these “want it all” or “I want that so much” kicks. For the most part, I keep on top of them, mostly by waiting myself out. Sometimes I will actually get to try the game without buying, usually discovering it’s not something I want. And there are the times I make mistakes.

Lately, the game I’ve fixed on is Talisman, the old fantasy adventure offering from Games Workshop. I will admit that Talisman is not a good game by any means. You roll a die, move your character and, most often, draw at least one card. Even the direction you move along the board doesn’t always matter, as you’ll draw the same card regardless of whether you go right or left. Nevertheless, I do find the game entertaining. The art evokes a simple, parochial sort of fantasy world that’s miles closer to how I envisioned The Hobbit on first reading than the design of Middle-earth in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films or the dungeonpunk aesthete that’s percolated through role-playing games since the launch of Dungeons & Dragons‘ third edition.

Right now, I get to play Talisman once every couple of months whenever Nonny happens to bring it to Tuesday night at Quarterstaff Games, which is probably just enough to keep me from getting tired of the game. But I do find myself thinking “I could easily pick up Fantasy Flight’s new edition of the game, which is widely available and has a steady stream of new content coming out.” (This sets aside the question of whether I need a steady stream of new content; being disappointed by weak Arkham Horror expansions contributed to the lessening of my ardor for that game.)

Recently, the promotion of the new Gamma World happening on Twitter has gotten to me. I really would like to try this, because it sounds like a goofy good time, which is about the only way I want to deal with the premise of “after the Mega-Whoops.” It’d also be a chance to take a good, long look at the rules underlying Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, on which this iteration of Gamma World is based.

Here’s my conundrum: I’ve always — more often than, fairly frequently, a bit, when it suits me — said it’s better to use the stuff you’ve got than buy yet another set of rules for role-playing that are ultimately only slightly different from the dozens one already owns. But the point of trying the new Gamma World is one’s trying the new Gamma World, not mimicking it with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or whatever else. So the usual tactic of “use what you’ve got” doesn’t work, partly for the system involved, but also because I don’t have any role-playing materials about a wacky post-apocalypse.

My first tactic is to mitigate the risk of a non-utilized purchase. If I actually play this one, unlike the many, shamefully unplayed role-playing games on my shelves, I can better rationalize the purchase — which is probably still a logical fallacy given past behavior and the extent by which similar decisions have changed notably in their outcomes. To this end, I’m trying to find some people to commit to playing Gamma World at Winter Weirdness on January 8th.

At what point does a $40 box set become worth it? One play? Two? Six? A dozen? In dollars per hour, if we play a four hour session at Winter Weirdness, that’s $10 per hour of play, not counting tax. If one considers preparation time entertaining and it takes ten hours to absorb everything in the box, it’s less than $3 per hour, but I don’t really hold with that perspective.

Again, though, I think this is an expression of my recurring “Ooh, new. Want!” impulse. I could just ignore it, stick with Ghostbusters and Fiasco for Winter Weirdness and go on my way. That honestly makes the most sense and saying “We’ll have Gamma World to play!” isn’t really going to make a difference in who turns out, will it?

What would you do?

[Fletcher Free Library Gaming] High Speed Car Wrecks, Dragon-Slaying and More at the Library

Brennan, Sasha, Matt and Chad (left to right) scrounge for one more ticket of the right color.

This past Saturday was the kick-off to a series of twice monthly game days hosted by the Fletcher Free Library here in Burlington, Vermont. Organized by the dauntless Brennan Martin, these Saturday game days came from the desire to give the opportunity to play games to people who couldn’t necessarily work Quarterstaff GamesTuesday evenings into their schedule, because of geography, other commitments or what have you. So Brennan took the initiative to organize the initial test events, schedule the use of library space and twist the arm of all his game-playing friends. After two successful Saturdays, the Fletcher decided to make board games a regular part of their programming, which meant it could happen more than once a month, by their rules for community members using library space.

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[Tuesday Night Board Games] Holiday Treats

Board games this Tuesday at Quarterstaff took a rules-light turn this week. I mean “rules-light” in the sense that we didn’t follow the rules as rigorously as we normally might, rather than as a description of how complicated they were.

Arkham Ho-Ho-Horror

First was the session of One with Everything Arkham Horror I wrote about earlier this week. In addition to the rules I concocted, we changed our usual start-up process. Not only did players choose one of three randomly drawn investigators, but we did the same for the Ancient One, as well. Usually I’m not one to cherry-pick our doom, but given it was already a hodge-podge game, so I had little hope of finishing the game, and at the time I thought it would be a small game because of the holidays, I rolled with it. John and Chris eventually settled on Nyarlathotep. We also decided everyone had a free train pass, otherwise we would haven’t sufficiently mobility to get around as necessary.

Amazingly, by the time we got all the boards laid out, tokens placed and characters and items dealt, we had a full table of eight players, with three newcomers to Arkham and five long-time residents, as it were. I spent most of the game on my feet, answering questions and directing the flow of play. Joe Diamond, my private eye, spent most of his time in the streets trying first to get to the Bank to use his safety deposit key — only got two clue tokens from that — and then trying to get up to Kingsport to start investigating rift activity. I only ever got as far as the train depot, as we had rough luck with monster surges on Devil Reef in Innsmouth, which packed the Deep Ones Rising track to full in about three or four turns.

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[Tuesday Night Board Games] Quest for the Talisman

Mega City Carcassonne completed, thanks to Cedric.

Tonight at Quarterstaff, I got two games in. The first was intended as a “quick” game of Carcassonne while we waited for other folks to turn up. To that end, we declared there wouldn’t be any farmers. Unfortunately, that was more than counteracted by the unknown number of expansions mixed in with the store’s copy of the game. In addition to enough extra river tiles for a whole second branch, the store copy also has bits from Inns & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders and King & Scout, if not more.

Thanks at least in part to players not tying up meeples in farming, it turned out to be a city-intensive game. The megalopolis you see to the right came about of at least four of the five players working to either score points, screw others over by making the thing difficult to complete or just see how big we could get the thing — which was my own goal.

It was touch and go for a while as the tile bag emptied out and all the pieces we needed to finish the city were pulled by players more interested in maximizing their own scores than just fooling around. Cedric drew the final tile to complete the city and placed it, despite having only two meeples of his own in the city. Without really thinking about it, I wound up with a majority on the feature, mostly due to placing my pieces on cities that at the time seemed separate, but eventually became part of the urban sprawl. The thing was worth 130 plus points in the end, I think. It doesn’t seem fair to claim it as a personal best though, because we were mostly just fooling around. I was, anyway.

By the time we finished that “short” game, another group had blown through an entire play of Ticket to Ride: Europe, which surprised me when I looked up from the table. Next to us, Brennan was drawing Sascha, John and Nonnie into a demo of Megacorps while the usual suspects clustered together for another round of Le Havre. Luke pounced on Nonnie’s vintage copy of Talisman — printed 1985, going by the copyright on the box — and I eagerly followed along. Until tonight, I had only heard other peoples’ reactions to the quest game, usually polarized into camps of “simple and boring” to “flavorful and fun.” So I was eager to have some experiences of my own to draw on in making an opinion.

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