Episode 14: Midnight Casts are a Bad Idea

You can listen to Episode 14 by clicking here, or you can find us on iTunes or Stitcher. Don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher and throw us some hearts on Board Game Links!

In Episode 14, Craig and Dave gear up for another midnight recording in an attempt to live like children again. They had an amazing week of games and picked four to discuss this week: Diamonds from Stronghold Games, Yardmaster from Crash Games, Elder Sign from Fantasy Flight, and Scoville from Tasty Minstrel. Craig tracks down the etymological roots of the word Meeple in their “What the What” segment. In their Kickstarter discussion they look at the final numbers of Conan and talk about Epic Dice Tower Defense. They hype up X-men Mutant Revolution from Wizkids and GF9 and Uncharted Seas from Spartan Games. Lastly, they dive into their main topic which is going in depth with a few expansions which completely change the rules of a game, but not in a good way.

Show Times:

Diamonds (Stronghold): 5:00

Yardmaster (Crash Games): 12:00

Elder Sign (Fantasy Flight): 22:00

Scoville (Tasty Minstrel Games): 29:45

What the What?! Meeple Etymology: 39:45

Conan Kickstarter: 44:15

Epic Dice Tower Defense Kickstarter: 48:00

X-Men Mutant Revolution (Wizkids, GF9): 52:15

Uncharted Seas (Spartan Games): 54:00

Antidote (Bellwether Games): 56:00

Main Theme: Step Sideways Expansions: 57:15

Blog Review: Patchwork from Uwe Rosenberg and Mayfair Games

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Patchwork from Uwe Rosenberg is a two player (only two players) game where you are working on sewing a quilt using Tetroid shaped pieces to fill as much of your board as possible and generate the most income from your pieces. I promise you, this is no quilt show, my friends.

Players, in turn choose pieces from around the board in order to fill their player board and make a quilt which generates a ton of money, which will win them the game.

How it works:

Each player takes a player board and places their matching color tokens (the boards are shaded a bit) at the start space of the dual-sided turn board. Spread out the patchwork quilt around the board in a crazy oval shape. Place the patches (1×1 squares) on the game board. Place the pawn to the left of the 1×2 piece around turn board. Take a few buttons each. That’s it, the game is set up, nothing to it.

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Now what begins to happen in your mind is the Tetris music begins playing (you know the tune) and you find yourself scratching your brain in an attempt to make the best darn, fully-filled quilt you possible can.

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Not only are the quilt pieces the way to fill up your work space, they are also the machine you’re working on building to generate more income. On all of the pieces, you’ll see two icons in a box. These represent two things: first, how many buttons it takes to buy the piece and add it in to your quilt, and a time icon which shows how many spaces you move your pawn on the time board. On many of the pieces there are also button icons which is how many buttons you gain when your pawn crosses a button icon on the time board  Buy a piece (that is one, two or, three spaces ahead of the pawn), move the purchase pawn to the left of the piece you just bought, pay your buttons, place your piece, move your token on the time board. Still simple, right?

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A player can take one of two actions on their turn, either buying a quilt piece and moving their token the number of spaces listed on the quilt piece, or moving your pawn one space ahead of the other player, collecting one button for every space the moved. It should also be noted that turn order is based on who is furthest behind on the time board (time, duh). As you’re moving uacross the time board, you’ll encounter two things, either a button icon which generates you buttons based on how many buttons icons are in your quilt, and 1×1 patch pieces which are immediately taken from the board and placed in your own quilt, in case you need to plug up some holes.

Play continues like this until both players have reached the end of the time board and then you count buttons on hand for victory points, but subtract two points for every space you haven’t filled on your game board. Lastly, during the game, whoever completely fills a 7×7 grid on their quilt gains a special 7 point victory token, which is a game changer. Whoever has the most victory points wins. Still totally simple.

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What I Think

Every part of the long explanation of game play above sounds 100% simple and straight forward, but therein lies the complexity. Each turn you have only three pieces you can select to fit into your quilt which presents you with the task of figuring out which piece best fits, which piece your opponent will benefit from, which piece way down the road you need and how to get there without you opponent screwing it up for you, and weighing the time factor to ensure you can buy when you most need to. For a game about building a quilt, the game has you scratching your head as you doubt your ability to form a simple square grid in the most effective way possible. It’s a puzzle within a puzzle, influenced by another person continually grabbing the pieces you were hoping to buy.

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Add to this brain hurt the patches on the board, which you obviously need more than your opponent to fix your shambled Picasso quilt, and the elusive 7×7 victory token, and you’re faced with a game played on a hope and a prayer that the pieces you need to get your machine up, make your quilt more productive than your opponent, and fill every hole you see on your board. It’s a work of art of a game, one I enjoy playing every time just to see how much closer my decisions will take me to solving this puzzle and completing my darn quilt.

Botch Plays: But Wait, There’s More! Round Two

You can listen to our special episode by clicking here, or by finding us on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

In our second special episode of Botch Plays, we bring But Wait, There’s More (Toyvault, Bamboozle Bros.) back to the Table, but this time with a different cast of characters. Join Craig, our sound editor Chuck, Craig’s 12 year old son, Tyler, and our group staple, Brandon, as we once again try to pitch products that will change the world!

Episode 11: Quilt Playing Games With My Heart/Campaign Games

You can listen to our newest episode by clicking the direct link here, or by finding us on iTunes or Stitcher. Also don’t forget to give us some hearts on Board Game Links!

In Episode 11, Craig and Dave discuss the Uwe Rosenburg 2 Player game, Patchwork, Viticulture from Stonemaier games, and Stone Age from Rio Grande. They dig in depth into Campaign games such as Mordheim, Gorkamorka, Arcadia Quest, and Pathfinder the Card Game. They take time to define the gaming term AP (Analysis Paralysis), talk some kickstarter games, discuss a new gaming pub opening up in their home state of Ohio, and get hyped over hanging with BotchNation at Origins and Gen Con. Lastly they look at two gaming websites: Gameshelf.se and the Humble Card Game Bundle.

 Show Times:

Malted Meeple: 4:00

Shadows of Brimstone (Flying Frog): 7:00

Gen Con/Origins: 11:00

Exploding Kittens (Elan Lee): 16:00

Patchwork (Mayfair): 17:30

Viticulture (Stonemaier): 24:00

Stone Age (Rio Grande): 27:30

Botch Definitions–AP: 34:00

Campaign Games: 42:30

Humble Card Game Bundle: 1:08:00

Gameshelf: 1:11:00

Conan Kickstarter (Monolith): 1:13:00

Epic PVP Kickstarter (Fun to 11): 1:16:00

Blog Review: Mars Attacks The Dice Game

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Mars Attacks The Dice Game from Steve Jackson Games is a small box 2-6 player dice game based in the Mars Attack Universe from the 1980’s. There’s been a recent revival of the movie setting, first from the miniatures game and now through this wonderful dice mechanic. Steve Jackson Games is no stranger to dice games as they’ve previously released the timeless Zombie Dice and more recently Chupacabra: Survive the Night. This game, however, takes a step past their save, score, and pass style with the ability to save scores on location cards as players fight to have their martians control the most victory points value from location at the end of the game.

How it Works:

At the beginning of the game, the difficulty location is placed on the table and the locations are dealt into four face down piles above it. The top card of each location is flipped face-up. These are the locations that the players will be fighting for when the game begins. Each player receives a stack of tokens of one color which are used to track their progress on the face-up locations.

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During a turn, players first choose which location they are attempting to capture, then roll the entire collection of dice, which have three sides: ray guns, martians, and nukes. The ray guns are used on the majority of the locations as you capture the cities cards by…OK, I’ll say it, by killing the humans there. Martians are used to capture monuments which plays homage to the campiness of the movie; the martians want to see cool attractions while invading Earth. The nuke side is akin to shotgun blasts in Zombie Dice. When a nuke side is rolled, the die is placed on the side of the cards, bottom up, covering the nuke symbols on each card. If all the nuke symbols are covered, you have nuked out and your turn is over. If you haven’t nuked out, you may continue the attack, which means you pick up all the MARTIANS and re-roll the dice, ray guns and nukes are locked.

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When you have finished rolling, you count the symbols on the card matching the location you chose and place your scoring marker on the number of faces showing. So for example if you are attempting to capture Memphis and you rolled three ray guns, you place your colored marker on the 3 space on the card. If you have met the highest number on the card, you have captured that location and take it into your victory pile, flipping up the top card of that stack to reveal a new location. Play continues until one stack of locations is empty and the player with the most victory points wins.  Simple, right?

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What I Think: 

While save and score dice games can feel pretty solitary and get boring rather quickly, the added location mechanic of Mars Attacks absolutely makes this game. By scoring over multiple turns and “holding” locations it forces players to pay attention to the rolls of fellow players and keeps some friendly banter around the table while also adding a strategic element to the game in choosing locations with reasonable score lines or by trying to edge out other players in those troublesome monument locations.

The varying location types also means that many games play completely different. Sometimes you’ll see mostly cities and the games becomes a race for ray guns, often times locations will be the hot spot for capture as martian dice lock when their rolled so it’s a one roll and score turn. There are ever nuke locations which only score the number of nuked results you have rolled which leaves you in the dangerous place of re-rolling martians for nukes but trying not to roll too many so you don’t nuke out. The starting card also has two sides, one with two nuke slots and the other with one which gives differing difficulties to the game. You wouldn’t believe the difference one absent nuke space leaves.

Some locations even contain special rules which become a player’s special ability when that location is claimed, like changing a die face or re-rolling if you nuke out on your first roll. These special locations are game changing and highly sought after as a capture point.

I absolutely love this game as a warm-up game for the night, the extra element of multiple turn scoring adds so many levels to the game, a place where so many dice games fall short. The components are well put together, the art feels like the original cards and movie looks, and the play of the game is light, fun, and interactive. I highly suggest giving this one a look.

Episode 9: Rebirth of the Phoenix (Reintegrating Older Games)

Episode 9 is now available for your earholes! Find it by clicking here, on iTunes, or now on Stitcher!

In Episode 9, Craig and Dave discuss lots of games they’ve been playing such as Dead of Winter from Plaid Hat Games, and Warhammer 40k Conquest from Fantasy Flight. Also they finally played and have a battle report for Robotech Tactics from Palladium using the cityfight terrain from Dropzone Commander. They go in depth talking of ways to reincorporate older games back into your play rotation. Lastly, the both admit their kickstarter spending problem and realize they need to walk away from their computers.

 Show Times:

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game (Plaid Hat Games): 2:30

Warhammer 40,000 Conquest (Fantasy Flight): 11:15

Slap 45 (Gnarwhal Studios): 24:30

Pairs (ChaepAssGames): 27:00

Robotech Tactics (Palladium) and Cityfight Terrain (Hawk Wargames): 32:00

Craig’s Definition: Ameritrash: 47:45

In Depth: Getting Older Games Back to Table: 51:30

Pixel Tactics Kickstarter (Lvl 99 Games): 1:08:00

Rum and Bones Kickstarter (CoolMiniorNot): 1:09:45

Spyfall (Cryptozoic): 1:10:15

Spyfall Online: 1:11:15

Blog Review: Pandemic: The Cure

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Sadly, I will be the first to admit that I never played the original Pandemic. When it came out, co-op games were of no interest to me. Later in my gaming life, it was a game you could buy at Target which also turned me off.

Apparently that makes me a monster. The original game by Matt Leacock and Z-Man Games is a beloved board game, played by many, and I never bought into it, nor have I ever played it.

Feel free to leave now as apparently I have no taste in games.

In today’s day, I have a deep appreciation (and love/hate) for co-op games (see podcast 5 for more info on that note). Flashpoint, Sentinels of the Multiverse, and Ghost Stories all see constant rotation in my house, all if us working together to complete some world changing event.

Pandemic: The Cure follows suit as you play as a team of specialists working to cure four deadly diseases before they get out of control and wipe out humanity. The difference, however, is that P:TC focuses on rolling dice as it’s main mechanic as the means of saving the day. Sure there are some pawns and circular locations on which to move those pawns around on, but the main focus is rolling dice.

How it works:

In the center of the board is a two piece heavy plastic circular piece which serves as the treatment center. In this central piece are two syringe tokens which track the progress (or downfall) of the game, one syringe tracks your outbreaks and the other tracks the infection rate, which influences how many dice are rolled each turn, and during epidemics. Surrounding this board are six disks which represent sections of the world and also conveniently are number 1-6 which corresponds to the faces of the die. The die themselves are focused to certain numbers by color, so like black die only have 3, 4, and 5 faces, while red has 1, 4, and 6 faces which directs certain disease types towards certain regions of the world. Each die color also has a plus sign side which sends that die to the CDC which is then used to purchase special action cards.

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On a players turn they roll their dice and then take actions based on which face of the die is showing, they can choose to keep any die they wish, except Biohazard faces which lock, and re-roll the rest to achieve desired die faces. For example if a boat is showing, a player can move their pawn to an adjacent region, or a syringe which lets a player move a die to the treatment center or from the center back to the bag.

How do you cure the diseases and save the world though? By rolling a bottle symbol, collecting a die from inside the treatment center and then on your turn rolling all the die of one color. If you roll a 13 or higher you have cured that color of disease. Curing all four disease colors wins the game. Each player also has a specialized character which adds special actions (and die faces) to the game, such as the medic who can more easily treat diseases or the scientist who adds two to their cure disease roll.

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As with any cooperative game, there’s also a lose condition, well in this case there are three. First, when placing rolled disease die on their respective regions, each region can only hold three die of each color, any more trickle to the next clockwise region and progresses the outbreak syringe on the treatment center circle; eight outbreaks loses the game. Secondly, the players lose if the infection syringe reaches the end of the infection track which progresses one space for each Biohazard die showing when a player rolls their own dice (which should be again noted locks that die from re-rolling). Lastly, the players lose if there are no more dice left in the infection bag when dice need to be drawn to roll.

What we Think

As I stated before, I have a love/hate relationship with cooperative games, and this one is no different. I love the mechanics in their dice form as I lean more towards dice/card games than board movement, I’m also especially fond of the unique dice for each of the player choices in the game. It makes each character feel completely different in their play style and also allows for a lot of replayability as the different classes offer unique combos with each other.

The game scales pretty well at differing player counts, which can get tricky in cooperative games. The end step of a player’s turn is pulling new dice out of the bag, rolling them, and adding them to the board corresponding to the number rolled. At every player count this end step in balanced by the frequency of player turns, there’s no real shortage of events in larger counts and also not the overrun of board control in smaller player counts.

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The components are wonderful especially the heavy plastic treatment center and the unique die of the character classes. It’s a solidly packaged game.

The only real gripe I have about the gameplay of P:TC is the coherency of character skills. This is definitely a game where you will have to pick and choose which characters to bring to the table, as certain picks definitely work better with certain others, but characters like the contingency planner must have an exact focus to validate choosing it. Also, the game steamrolls very quickly if dice are left unchecked, or a player has an unfortunate roll (which has happened twice now). Once the chain of infection begins, it’s it quite often to late to try to come back and you can only just sit there and watch the world devolve into chaos around you. Now I’m not saying that coop games should be solvable, and I’m not even saying the steamroll is a problem, but it’s definitely something to be aware of. Conversely, after the game kicking your butt so many times in a row, it’s amazingly gratifying when you have beaten it, together. Everyone standing at the table, high fiving, mocking the game, having an experience.

And the experience of Pandemic: The Cure is worth the price of admission.