Updated: Sep 19, 2019
With the craziness that was the UK Games Expo behind us what did I get up to this weekend?
A Place In The Sun - Preview
So I managed to get A Place in the Sun to the table again this week (full review coming on Wednesday) in order to get the other two races in play. I do feel this game has a lot of depth to it.
Each race has a distinct style and flavour. The Rhea, a tree-like race spread themselves across the galaxy, they have strong orbital cards, giving them a good defence. They don’t have a lot of attacking power but that which they do have is potent, especially the Triffids, which go into the opponent's hand, if they have to play them they gain a small benefit, however the Rhea player can trigger the Flowers of Doom card to inflict 6 damage for each Triffid in play.
Meanwhile the Mothership Theta deck is an enormous spaceship. The deck features more orbital cards than any other faction but lacks the dial control and healing of the other factions. That said the deck features some awesome damage potential, although it is curbed by the need to pay power (health) to use it. By playing generators you can reduce the power costs for your weapons so getting them out early is vital.
As I said two weeks ago, this game has real potential, but there are definitely some clarity issues that need to be addressed. Having spoken to the designer a lot via email I am glad that he has finally decided to include the optional victory cards into the main rules. These cards offer an alternate victory route, you no longer just need to destroy each other and can instead collect influence to win. With these cards in the main game, there is usually something you can achieve on your turn, even if you are hamstrung by “lack of good cards”.
TMNT: Shadows of the Past
I’ve been wanting to get Turtles to the table with my war gaming buddy since before it arrived. I’ve played the game with my family a little but as it is more of a tactical miniatures game rather than a story driven experience it doesn’t hit the table as much as I’d like.
We played the opening scenario twice which teaches the rules without using all the complexity (no spawning points and fewer special powers). I won the first game which was to be expected, although it was close. Michelangelo in particular did himself proud, taking out most of the gunners with a single round of attacks. Once we felt comfortable with the mechanics we moved on to scenario two.
TMNT features a unique dice sharing mechanic which becomes intuitive quickly but does allow for teamwork amongst the players. For example in the second scenario Mikey took a serious beating in round 1 so in round two the players to his left and right made sure to share their defensive dice with him, saving his life when otherwise Old Hob would have finished him off.
I wasn’t totally sold on TMNT: Shadows of the Past when I first played it, it’s a highly tactical game (reminiscent of Descent 1st Edition without the rules complexity) but with a few huge flaws. The first and largest is the player count. The game plays five, but the turns can last a long time.
Typically I’ve not had a game last more than two or three rounds, each of which consist of four turtle turns and four villain turns. However the turtles can activate in any order, meaning if, say, Raph goes first in round 1 and last in round 2 there would be 12 turns before Raph activated again, that’s a lot of downtime. For this reason I don’t think I would recommend playing turtles with more than 3, two players controlling two turtles and a villain player.
The second issue, which I admit has not been a massive problem is that you set your action dice at the start of the round, if you act last the villain player has had 3 turns by the time your turn rolls around and the board could look completely different, the actions you set could now be completely useless. Of course choosing your activation order helps with this, as does having a good variety of options open to you.
Overall TMNT: Shadows of the Past is a great fun game and I had a blast, even if I lost two out of three games!
City of Zombies
This was a new game for the weekend. I decided it’s time to push numeracy with my little brother. We know he is capable of adding and subtracting but it's still not a skill that is second nature to him yet.
City of Zombies, as a gamers game, is probably a little lacking (and a little long). You roll dice and add them together, or perhaps multiply them, or divide them or even square them. You must use all your dice to kill one or more zombies on the board, if you can’t use all your dice you can’t use any.
It’s pretty simple and a bit repetitive but that’s what makes it a good numeracy game, kids learn by repetition so continually getting them to repeat the same task will help cement the ideas in their minds. If I were to play this with actual gamers I would definitely want to incorporate the apocalypse mode rules which give all the zombies special abilities but for what I was playing it for, it worked beautifully.
Legendary - Zombie Green Goblin
And finally we have the obligatory Legendary play. This week we faced off against Green Goblin as he attempted to Weave a Web of Lies. In this scheme you must have at least as many bystanders in your victory pile as Goblin has scheme twists. However as the scheme allows you to buy a bystander every time you kill a villain in the city we were never short of them.
Goblin himself proved to be a tough adversary with 12 health, however I managed to get some good turns with Apocalyptic Kitty Pryde, who powered up to 7 attack due to there being 5 tech heroes in the HQ. It came down to the wire though and Goblin was killed by a hyped up Hercules right before the last scheme twist was revealed.