Every Monday I take a look back at my last week in gaming. I do this on Monday to be part of Geeky Goodies’ #WhatDidYouPlayMonday.
The big thing that happened this past week is that Sean and I attended Queen City Conquest, where we both got in a ton of gaming. In addition, talking about tech in games got me itching to get XCOM off of my pile of shame. Lastly, I’m still playing 7 Wonders and Race for the Galaxy on Board Game Arena.
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Let’s talk about XCOM, take two. I say take two because I got a bit carried away when I first started writing this section. Instead of a nice quick summary of XCOM and what I thought of it, I found that I had written nine paragraphs about the game, including my history with the franchise. It’s good stuff, but it’s something that is better suited to a full on review. Like the one I did last Friday for Gaia Project, rather than some quick thoughts which are the kind of thing I think fits better here in my Week in Review post. So I’ve saved all that and you can expect to see a full XCOM review in the coming week. For now here are some quick thoughts about the game.
XCOM sat on my pile of shame for over two years. When I bought it I was expecting more of a squad-based combat game, something based on the action point based missions from the video game series. That’s not what this is. It’s pretty much every other part of XCOM but the actual combat.
In XCOM: The Board Game, four players each take on a role as part of the XCOM team. One player is responsible for science and researching new technologies. Another player controls the troops. A third player is in charge of satellites and comms. Lastly, the commander runs the budget. Each game round starts by running the app. This is a timed deal where the app will indicate one of the four roles and give that player something they need to do under some really tight time constraints. This continues for about five minutes or so with each player having two or three things to do. After this timed phase is done, you then go through and figure out how well all that planning went in the resolution phase.
The resolution phase uses a push your luck style dice mechanic that gets all the players on the edge of their seats. The overall feel is some stress and slight panic during the planning phase moving onto much more intense stress where you hope you planned things well and did enough to mitigate the dice’s randomness. All of this is being done under very tight budget constraints, which mean there’s no way you have all the resources to do everything you want or even need to do.
It’s very solid. The app integration is excellent and there’s no way you can play the game without it. I don’t think they could’ve replaced the app with cards and dice. While it wasn’t the XCOM game I initially thought it was, it is a great XCOM game.
Now as for that action point based squad combat game, what are you waiting for Fantasy Flight?
Besides XCOM the only other home gaming I got in was through Board Game Arena. Right now I constantly have two games going. Race for the Galaxy and 7 Wonders. wheevern one of them ends we set up a rematch and play again. I’ve been having quite a bit of fun doing this. I expect that every week for the foreseeable future I will be saying: yep, still playing Race and 7 on BGA.
On to Queen City Conquest (or QCC for short). What a great weekend.
Sean, my wife and I attended this three-day tabletop gaming convention in Buffalo, New York this past weekend. D and I got in Thursday and Sean joined us Friday morning. We all had a great time.
There is so much to say about QCC that Sean and I will be recording a special episode of Tabletop Bellhop Live, this Wednesday, September 12th at 9:30pm EDT. I welcome all of you to join us in the Lobby, our Twitch chatroom, for that special show. Find us on Twitch at: https://www.twitch.tv/tabletopbellhop. We will be releasing the edited audio from that chat as a special podcast episode sometime next week.
For this week’s Week in Review, I would just like to mention and say a few words about the games I got to play at the Con.
When I tell people that I have yet to actually try 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons they are always shocked and surprised and I think a little bit disappointed. As of Friday afternoon at QCC I no longer have to worry about this being a problem.
My first game of Queen City Conquest was a game of 5e Dungeons & Dragons run by Andi from She’s A Super Geek (a fantastic actual play podcast featuring women as GMs) and set in their homebrew campaign world: Avanti. It was called Masque of the Mages. It was a mystery set during a mages convention that also included a masked ball. It involved a lot of investigation and all of us getting dressed up in silly costumes. In this game, I played Fallot Bitterjuice, a rather slow-witted halfling barbarian.
Andi’s game was pretty over the top and a bit gonzo. I wouldn’t say it was a traditional D&D Game, but all of us had a ton of fun. Most of this fell on the awesome players and Andi’s GM skills. It was a great pleasure to play with some people I have only interacted with online like Angela Murray and John Arcadian from the Ennie award winning Gnome Stew gaming blog.
The second game I got to play at Queen City Conquest was Hydro Hacker Operatives (H2O). This is a Powered By The Apocalypse roleplaying game that is being written by Phil Vecchione. Actually, Phil released the print ashcan for his game at QCC with plans to Kickstarter the full game later this year. I managed to snag one of the ten copies of the ashcan and got Phil to sign it.
I first got to play H2O at Breakout Con and instantly fell in love with the setting and system. This session at QCC was just as fun and fulfilling. Phil has a great game on his hands here.
In Hydro Hacker Operatives players are playing Hydro-punk Robin Hoods stealing water from Corporations in order to keep their neighborhood alive. Phil has created a fascinating dystopia here, where there is no clean water left on earth and all the water that is left is controlled by The Water Authority. Only the rich get “Blue Water”, while the rest of us live off “Green Water” and never even have enough of that. It’s a fantastic new take on the cyberpunk genre.
Saturday morning at QCC had me at Phil’s table again. This time he was running Rockerboys & Vending Machines a light cyberpunk RPG. Rockerboys & Vending Machines is Phil’s love letter to Cyberpunk using the Lasers & Feelings system as a base. Both games are micro RPGs, each using a single sheet of paper (The Rockerboys rule sheet is two-sided). Whereas Lasers & Feelings recreates an episode of Star Trek. Rockerboys & Vending Machines runs the players through a cyberpunk mission.
In this game, I played White Lion, a Rockerboy who was part of a team sent to extract the world’s hottest new pop star. It was a fantastic romp filled with just as many thrilling victories as hilarious defeats. The system is excellent and perfect for a quick, no prep, game. I strongly suggest checking it out, especially since it’s free.
After Rockerboys & Vending Machines, I had some time to kill. So I met up with D and Sean and we played a couple games of Drop It.
I’ve been wanting to try Drop It since getting home from Origins. While I saw the game at Origins it never really fully caught my attention. It wasn’t until after I got home and started hearing lots of buzz on the board game podcast network that I regretted not trying it while at the con. So when I spotted Drop It on the “play to win” table at QCC I knew I had to try it.
The first game between the three of us we played the eXtreme version. Of course. After a re-read of the rules (which are basically like 2 pages) we figured out what we were doing wrong and started over. Drop It is a very solid dexterity game. There’s way more thought to choosing the right piece and trying to get it to land in the right spot than you would expect when you first look at the game. Someone watching us play commented that it was like connect four for geeks, and I can’t say they were wrong.
Sadly we didn’t win this play to win copy, as I now feel the need to own Drop It. I think it will be great for a start of the night or end of the night game and also great for bringing out to public play events.
I didn’t know much about Tales from the Loop except for the fact that it’s based on the amazing Tales from the Loop art book by Simon Stalenhag and that it’s inspired by the show Stranger Things and movies like ET. Being a child of the 80s, I’m totally into the genre.
To keep things short I will just say that before we left the con I had a shiny new copy of the $50 US hardcover rulebook for Tales from the Loop in my Handy Haversack. It’s a very solid game with a great setting. My regular group is in the right age range to really dig this game.
Saturday night ended with a game of One Child’s Heart. This is a very unique game being developed by Camdon Wright. In it the players play child care professionals who travel back into a disturbed child’s memories and attempt to course correct the child’s thought process to help them deal with past trauma. As I’m sure you can tell just from that description this is an intense game. A very intense game.
Camdon’s game is way outside my wheelhouse. “The Feels” is not usually something I’m looking for in an RPG but I wanted to challenge myself and I did. I made it through the game. It was the most emotional gaming experience of my life. It was intense. It was not fun. It’s something even now I’m not sure I’m comfortable talking about.
More so than any other game, or any other time I’ve said this, I mean it when I say: this game is not for everyone.
I also have to say, there’s nothing else out there like it and it will appeal to some people. So watch for the Kickstarter coming next year.
The last official con game I got into was Iron Edda Accelerated. This was also being run by the amazing designer themselves, in this case Tracy Barnett.
Iron Edda Accelerated just funded on Kickstarter last month and is an update to the original Iron Edda which was released under the Fate Core system. This update moves the system to Fate Accelerated and is based quite a bit on the Dresden Files Accelerated game from Evil Hat. The setting is Pacific Rim meets Norse Heroes with metal Dwarven Kaiju facing off against the Bonebonded, humans who can summon the bones of long-dead giants. It’s over the top, very metal, and very epic.
This was my first time actually playing a Fate game. I’ve owned a handful of games set in this system and just never gotten them to click in my head reading them. So I was very happy to finally get to try the system under an experienced GM. Tracy ran a great game, though it wasn’t quite what I expected from the setting. This was no fault of the GM. I think it had a lot to do with being in the last time slot of the con and having a very mixed table of players, each with different expectations of what to expect from their games.
Overall the system seemed fantastic and I really like the epic setting Tracy has created for Iron Edda. I now regret not backing the Kickstarter.
In addition to the scheduled games, we also managed a couple pickup games, mostly after hours while enjoying some of Buffalo’s great craft beer scene.
We got in games of The Climbers, part of a game of Lazer Ryderz and I tried to teach Sean Race for the Galaxy. That didn’t go as well as I hoped. I was hoping to find a new opponent on Board Game Arena. Curse all those icons! We also got in one game of Azul. I actually expected to play a lot more Azul but we found that most people hanging out at night had played in two to four roleplaying games during the day and just wanted to chat by the end of the night.
Overall it was a fantastic con. I got in more roleplaying at this con than I’ve gotten in in the past two years combined and that was awesome. I forgot how much I enjoyed being a player in RPGs and it’s inspiring me to push harder to get my local group back together and sling some dice together.
So I had a rather busy week, what about you?