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The Convention Man

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Yesterday a friend of mine said the title above. It’s a foreign word and I was hardly understand him at first, though in the end I think I get what He meant by it. We were talking about playing board games while we’re in a board game event. The topic of the discussion was about our time to play games within the event, as we tried our best to play as many games as we can during the event. Sadly we usually not satisfied with the result, we still think our plays are lacking. Need to play more, and more and more, but there’s so little time. What’s the difference between playing in an event and playing in a private group? Well, one thing for sure is the privacy. What I mean with privacy here is that in private group you can focus to the game 1000%, no hindrance, no distraction and other things. While in an event or convention sometimes people come and go, we meet some people have a little chat here and there, need to do some errands for a second or two, loud and noisy, hard to focus, playing with the staff or something else.

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Time is the constraint, which we cannot do time travel in reality.

So in that time, we had a set back in play time because there were several things got in the way of our session and the game that should last 2-3 hrs, tool 5 hrs to finish. That practically almost a day, or half. So when talking about this issue, my friend mentioned that we are no longer a convention man. Funny, it sounds that way at first, as well as cool at the same time. When I think it over again, it is true, that we (my friend and I and maybe some of you guys) are no longer them convention men. Who have time to play all day, play freely and there’s nothing in the way. Sadly we are becoming men that need to make schedule to any of our plan or action. Who need to prioritize what to do or get gaming as a privilege. We now put more variables in our gaming life, such as family, couple, work, job, relax, rest and other things. Which in fact could sink gaming to the bottom of our ocean.

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Go for a whole day!

Funny as it was, in the past we can spend the entire full day playing in a gathering event or play day with no worry through anything. We can sit there on the table for hours, not eating even we’re hungry. We play non-stop without breaks between heavy games. That’s us, convention men.

Hence we’re not really suitable to get what we want in conventions, but we should be more satisfied with private group gaming session. There we can maximize our playing time to the fullest. But of course the vibe, the ambiance of a convention is not something that can be replaced and it is truly one of a kind. So I hope not just me, but all of us can still do both.

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Teaching board games is always something I look forward to.

Time to play!

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Events

 

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Back From the Dead in Tabletop Day

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Holla, I am back, writing. It’s been what, months since my last post? Dunno for sure but, here I am with another post (not sure there’s someone really anticipating my post or even read it like a big of a deal. So what happened in the past few months? Well many or not many, but one thing for sure I am (and we are) celebrating International Tabletop Day (Sat, 29th April 2017), which is a topic worth my fingers numbing. So how’s your Tabletop day? Playing and celebrating with some friends? Mine wasn’t heavy into gaming, just stay home with my wife and luckily our friends came over from out of town and we did play some games, good ones.

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The Name of The Rose to celebrate International Tabletop Day

Lately I’ve been resting with the usual gaming sessions, and instead taking the fast non-stop train of Gloomhaven campaign. Do you know it? It’s on Kickstarter right now for it’s second printing and it’s spectacularly on fire right now by surpassing 3 million dollars pledge level. Congrats Isaac Childres (it’s game designer), keep up the good work. In case some of you want to know more or back, there’s still time, just go ahead to the project page and find out yourself about the awesomeness of the game. Find the link here.

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Its just unusual to me to put hold all the gaming sessions and play this game in rows instead, well there’s always the first for everything. I played the campaign with my wife, each of us handle 2 characters. It’s been a joyride, we love it, we cannot wait to find out what scenario we will take and what it has in store for us. Though I might say that the game took hours to play and we consumed our nights just like seconds burned through our delighted and enthusiastic characters. I think it’s safe to say that we are addicted to this game right now, which is completely amazing feat, since my wife is known to be not really a fan of this kind of games, and I also do not have history and experience in such games. But hey, whatever makes us happy is worth our time. And I will be doing another write (review) about this specific game in the next post but I still stand at zero. Hope things can be smooth and I can start writing them to the upcoming post.

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Starting the Campaign

So let’s take a loot (oh, I mean “look”) at another general matter. I also starting to introduce heavier meatier game to my gaming group at office, they’re complete noobs and to be honest this is something that kinda risky, but I can always tune it down when I think it’s necessary. From Camel Up to Takenoko, Codenames to La Isla, Parade to Potion Explosions and Grand Slam to 7 Wonders. And they seemed fine with it, a good sign. So let’s just wait how the ordeal goes in the next future. Hope to bring more meat after this. Maybe The Name of The Rose, El Gaucho or even The Castles of Burgundy.

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Also I just came back from our seventh gaming camp couple’s week back. It’s fun, though there’s just a few of us, but the spirit still the same, play games and have fun. We started up late and got many friends caught up with something can couldn’t join. It’s definitely our fault not to broadcast it sooner. We played a good deal of quality games, like The Colonists, Adrenaline, Anachrony, Kanban, Food Chain Magnate and such. This year was different because we changed the days, from Saturday to Monday, to avoid the post holiday rush on our way back, so we can actually relax and save time in the trip home. This was very good and everyone agree with the idea, and that surely will be implemented in the subsequent annual camps.

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The 7th IBG Gaming Camp, 2017

Here are some event photos you can check out.

Still strong on the gaming camp hype, our team sat down to talk some ambitious project regarding convention, first big convention for our community, to help gamers get to together and play games as well as to keep our community alive well and strong. Though we have some problems and limitations, we did have a good discussion and planned to get something going whatever it is. So all we have to do first is to pull some strings. Let’s hope there’s something good and big come out from it. Crossing fingers.

Apparently Roxley games launched it’s rework of Brass in 17th April and this was something I highly anticipated since a long long time ago. Goodbye EGG version, it’s a good decision not to get that version and waited long enough for such a masterpiece from the legend, Martin Wallace. So, a bit of a note, I dislike EGG business model and I do have personal vendetta against them due to my experience on backing The Gallerist which totally made up my mind not to back any games in KS from them. And the other thing was because the Brass ordeal. You sir, just make up into my shit list.
Okay so how’s the next Brass is going to be? So friggin’ awesome. I opened the KS page, check what they have to offer, read the pledge levels and “click” I backed the bundle pledge. Roxley has overdone it with this one, great revamp on the artworks, omitting the dull tone (though based on the theme, it seems reasonable but not expected) to a high contrast and beautiful art style from Mr. Cuddington, they’re so talented and they’ve made Brass into a work of art. And  not only Roxley revamps the game, they also create another version of Brass, with different game play and rules so in short, they make 2 games in this project, Brass Lancashire (the old and classic one with revamped art and streamlined rules) and Brass Birminghamp (same revamped art but different game play and rules). And guess what, Roxley even offers the bundle package with same cost shipping (USD 19 to Indonesia for both games, so sick cheap). I can’t wait for the games to arrive, though the custom fee for them will hurt my wallet.
Find the KS link here.

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Ain’t this beautiful?

Let’s move on to another topic, with Gloomhaven on my play list, I kinda short list my acquisitions lately. Well can’t say lately since I just starting this month. But for what it’s worth, I usually posting my loot monthly, so each month I will take a group photo of my newly acquired games all in the same month, and then post it on my facebook or instagram. And for April, there is none! Yeaaay… isn’t that something? Though I must say that I cannot do the same in the next month, since right at this moment a friend of mine is hand carrying Cottage Garden from Netherlands, weee…. Okay it’s been something that we (my wife and I) have been looking for, cannot find it here. So I hope Gloomhaven will occupy my gaming time in the near future and keep my purchase into a tight belt, there are good and bad sides to that, sadly.

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Time to go back into Gloomhaven

Okay, though it’s already 30th April and Tabletop day is passed, but not the spirit, we’re going to play some more and tomorrow I will attend a small event near my place held by my FLGS, Monopolis Wonder. Will demo one or two good heavy Euro games, hopefully things go smooth. In case you interested to join me, check here.
See ya and happy gaming!

 

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That Rush of Blood Up to Your Head

pic2439223_mdBlood Rage Review
Eric M. Lang is a great designer, no doubt about that. He has his own fans, to say the least. One notorious work He had done is Chaos in The Old World and damn, its so friggin’ amazing. I love it, not just because the theme, but the asymmetrical aspect of the game, the clever plays, interactions and full of conflict. “No offense, you’re just in my way” is something you recall it often when playing this.

So years after He designed Chaos in The Old World, He announced a new title that He claimed, shares the same concept but better than Chaos in The Old World. He even meant that it’s what Chaos should be. The game is Blood Rage, not published under Fantasy Flight banner but Cool Mini or Not, which was a potential publisher to be reckon with. The game was on Kickstarter and managed to amassed a great deal of pledges. So let’s join me to see what Blood Rage really is.
A reminder that what I talk about here is the Kickstarter edition, not retail, so expect some differences in components.

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What you get: Kickstarter Exclusives

The Theme
Blood Rage is a bloody game (you probably could guess it by its title). It sets in a Norse Mythology where Vikings believe in. Vikings go to battle, to win wars, come out victorious, plunder the glory or die in Valhalla in the name of Odin, their God. In this game, players take control over a Viking Clan (Raven, Wolf, Bear, Serpent) and try to appease the Gods so they will reward them with glory. The game takes place in the nine realms with Yggdrasil or The Tree of Life located in the center connecting those realms.

The Artworks
As you might already see, this game has many particular reasons why it’s so appealing, and one of them is the artworks, created by Adrian Smith. Smith is definitely one talented artist that could bring the illustrations and imaginations to life. His drawings are simply amazing, really evoking with the theme, setting and tone of it. Each character here is drawn very detailed and has its own persona or characteristic. Given by the theme and the clear visual cue about the game, I remind those who do not like images with horror and terrible looks, gruesome, dark, bloody and a bit of nudity, so not really a good choice for kids underage.

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Unboxing

The Game Components
This is for The KS version, with KS exclusive monsters. The most eye candy of all are of course its miniatures, with the total more than 50 miniatures.  Thanks to Kickstarter, each clan has 2 different poses for the warrior figures, so a bit of flavor and variant there. The monsters are excellently sculpted, they’re the ones that draw many attentions on top of the table, like Sea Serpent, Fire Giant or Fenrir (they’re big). And considering this is CMoN collaboration with Studio McVey, no surprise the quality is top notch. The board and cards are okay, wished that the player boards weren’t too flimsy but if they were thicker  the box wouldn’t able to fit them all. And speaking of the box, it’s just like the usual square box with more depth, due to the many components inside. The cover art is evoking, though upon close inspection, I did find the figure posed quite off. Aside from the box, there are two separate kraft-boxes inside the game box. These boxes are used to store all the miniatures inside. One for monsters, and one for units with plastic insert inside. Pretty cool to get things organized but unfortunately this also means more effort on setup and clean up. There are differences between retail and Kickstarter editions, which really shown in the components. Kickstarter editions have more monsters, plastic tokens instead of cardboard and also plastic figures for first player marker and the phase tracker, pretty neat things.

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The Monsters from Base Game

The Game Play
When you get a first look on Blood Rage, the visual presentation, some of you might think that this game is about hack and slash your opponents down to nothing. Just kill and destroy to win the game. This is where you are wrong. Aside from the visual, this game is pure Euro with a shot of direct conflict, not a regular Ameritrash (AT). The theme is strong, but when you strip them down, it has remarkable Euro feats such as drafting, area control and tableau building.
The game lasts for 3 ages (rounds), each age is broken down to several phases: God’s Gifts Phase – Action Phase – Quest Phase – Ragnarok Phase – Release Valhalla
God’s Gifts
The game is mainly divided into 2 major parts, this is the first. In this phase, players are given 8 cards, where they will draft until they have 6 cards. Discard the leftover cards and go to the next phase.
Action Phase
In this phase, from the first player and continues clockwise, players will take turns to do one of the possible actions (Invade, March, Upgrade, Commit Quest and Pillage). Before getting into the actions in detail, each player has a player board which contains spaces for upgrade cards, tracks for Rage, Glory and Honor points. Players will play upgrade cards to improve their factions, advance in Rage track to do more actions in each age, advance in Glory track to score more points  when winning battle and also advance in Honor track to increase their unit limit in the board. OK let’s back to Actions.
Invade – This is the basic action how to place units into the game board. In a single turn, player can take this action to place a unit (exactly one) into any unoccupied slot on the outer province (not in Yggdrasil, which cannot be invaded through basic action). Each province has different (and limited) amount of slots and once it’s occupied, no unit may occupy the slot. Invade with a unit costs rage points (the amount is usually based on the unit Strength,shown in the left top corner of the card / image) except if it’s a leader unit (the rest being warrior or monster units), which is free to invade.
March – If Invade is about adding units inside the game board, March is about moving units from one province to another. This is the basic way to move your units on the board. The cost is cheap, only 1 Rage to do a March, in which you can choose more than one unit in one province to move into another province (Yggdrasil also counts, so this is the basic way to move units into Yggdrasil). Yggdrasil is an area that is located in the center of the map / board (surrounded by all provinces), and it doesn’t have slots for units, there’s no limit in this place.
Upgrade – This action requires players to play an upgrade card from their hand. Upgrade cards are divided into several types such as warrior, leader, clan, monster and ship upgrades. Players play these cards into their board by spending Rage points shown in the left top corner of the cards. These cards is the core mechanic that make players have asymmetric powers one from another along the game progresses.
Commit Quest – Quest is one out of many ways to gain points. To complete a quest, players not only to do / achieve some sorts of condition or tasks but also they have to commit on the quest first. To do this, they have to have a quest card (from the drafting) and play it when taking this action (by committing the quest) and only then they can gain the rewards from completing the quest. But no worry, even if you cannot complete the quest, there is no penalty at all (aside from failing to get points), kinda weird huh? Well, the interesting part doesn’t lies in that reason. There are many things going on in this action, at first I thought there’s not enough incentives not to play quests or why not if there’s no penalty. The twist here lies on timing and situation, which in this kind of game, are very important things.
Pillage – One last action is Pillage. With pillage, players try to conquer provinces, and sometimes if there are other factions join in, it turns to battle. It doesn’t cost players rage point to do it, but the trick is the player must still have rage points. Pillage can only be done when the player has at least a unit in the questioned province and it’s still not successfully pillaged yet. When doing Pillage, other players in clockwise order from the pillager have the opportunity to jump in if, there’s still unoccupied slot in that province and They have a unit in adjacent province to spare. After that, battle happens (if there are 2 or more factions in the disputed province). The battle is simple, pillaging players must play a card (if they have any) from hand and reveal it simultaneously. They sum the strength of their unit and the strength value listed on the battle card played (only battle cards are counted), don’t forget to resolve the effect in the card if any. Player with the most strength wins the battle, gain the reward listed in the province, glory points and discard his played card. The losers, may keep their card and all their units are moved into Valhalla (destroyed).
This phase ends when all players have passed their turn. Then players must discard their hands down to 1 card.
Quest Phase
Now players check their committed quests, whether they fulfill the quest or not. If they fulfilled their quests, they receive the points listed and have to advance one step from one of the three tracks. Luckily, if you cannot complete the quest, no harm’s done.
Ragnarok Phase
During this phase, Ragnarok happens in the province shown in the progress board. All the units in that province are destroyed and sent to Valhalla. Seems bad, right? Well, not entirely bad if you want it, at least it compensates you with glory points for each unit dying in Ragnarok. This could be profitable for players, since the points for each unit dying because of it increase over age. So this could be a strategy to keep in mind, especially in the last age because there is no point of having units at the end of the game, why not make them give you points.

The game ends after the third age, which players tally up their scores based on their tracks (each track gives +10 or +20 points when reached the last or second to last place in its track. Player with most glory points, wins the game.

The game core mechanic is drafting, which is essential because the cards drafted will determine players’ actions and strategy. Players will build their factions by the cards they played, adding monsters into their faction and improve their clan or units. The cards in each age are different, they’re progressing in strength and also reward. This drafting requires players to know the cards first, what they can do and how they works with other cards to make better combos. So for new players, this could be a disadvantage but since everything will  be easier in the subsequent plays, I suggest do not worry about this, consider the first play as learning session.
The cards (or you can say faction progression / improvements) provide the strategy aspect of the game, meanwhile the deployment of units represents the tactical side of the game. This game is very tactical in nature, where you deploy units and when, really affecting the outcome of the game in a very big way. Even a small decision can make or break your plan. Units deployment is very important because it affects a lot more than you can imagine, the slots are limited, so first one get dibs. Players also has limitation of unit on the board and also rage points strictly limiting your options. Timing also takes a great part in this game, since placing units and pillaging will relate heavily on your opponents’ plans.

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Miniatures with plastic insert

My Thoughts on The Game
The game is great from many aspects, components, theme, the artworks and also the game play. At first this game had been compared with Chaos in The Old World, another game the designer made in the past (which also one of the greatest game ever made), even at some point the designer himself said that Blood Rage is the kind of game where He wanted Chaos in The Old World to become, this statement was really intriguing, but after experience it in person, I must admit that this don’t have that material to be on the same level as Chaos in The Old World, but make no mistake, it doesn’t  mean it’s bad and it doesn’t have better things than Chaos in The Old World itself. It’s a whole different kind of game. Chaos relies heavily in the asymmetrical aspect of each factions and this brings issue in the player count that leaves unbalance play. Chaos has such deep and clever play of cards and units throughout the map. Blood Rage has simple rules and easy game play and of course with shorter game length. The miniatures are top notch, better than Chaos, obviously.
While it presents with direct conflicts, Blood Rage doesn’t place the winning strategy winning battles, players may also pursue different strategies, this leads the game to have another interesting aspect, which is bluffing in the card play. “Sometimes losing is the best way” phrase really plays its part in this game.

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Aside from many goodness of the game, the game also has bad sides, which in my defense aren’t many. I thought the box quality is too thin given the weight of the components, the player boards and Age tracker are too flimsy thin, the cards aren’t in linen finish but that’s okay. The only big disappointment for me is the box is already too full to accommodate the expansions and fifth player expansions (you can put it all but need certain modification to the insert which already good enough for me and wanted to keep it that way).

Replay Value
To be honest, there’s not much replay value in the game, aside the different card plays and combinations. There is no variable player powers, the boards always the same, monsters in play can offers good variables but that’s also limited. All the cards are almost used in the game, so not many variability involved. Of course there are expansions, the God of Asgard and Mystics of Midgard which add game play variants. The rest lies in the player interactions and how they play.

dav

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2017 in Board Games, Euro Games, Kickstarters, Reviews

 

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