KiiGX: Part One

Adam and Kii went to EGX in London on Friday. Here is Kii’s coverage.

So Adam and I were cheeky enough to request press passes from EGX (Formerly known as Euro Gamer Expo) and they were silly enough to give us entry for the Friday!

My overall impression of the event was jeez, it was big. EGX ran from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th and it filled Earl’s Court One. I was expecting the Friday to be lighter on people since generally attendees would be in work or school but no! For Kii forgot that this was London and what passes for busy in the frozen north of her homeland is nothing to London! Honestly though, it was nice to see a gaming event get such good attention, there was a massive industry showing with ‘The Big Three’ each having an area to show off their goods and numerous indie teams in the Rezzed section. The main show floor was open to everyone whilst there was an over 18s area upstairs with demos for games like The Evil Within and unrestricted demos of games like Mortal Kombat X which had toned down versions at the console booths. We ran around and queued with the best of them and hopefully I can put into words the awesome and exhaustion that we experienced.

Bayonetta 2
I am currently lording it over Adam by being the only Lighthouse Keeper (That’s what we’re called now, I’ve decided) who actually owns a Wii-U. This means that I get to own Bayonetta 2! Which we managed to get our hands on at the Nintendo stand and I’m super glad that I’ve already preordered it. It is everything that Bayonetta is meant to be, flashy and accessible game play with over the top tongue in cheek humour. As someone who has already ordered it, I won’t go too far into a description as I’m likely to do a full game review but it looks pretty and is so enjoyable to play.

Alien Isolation
I played this for you guys. That’s how much I love you. I don’t do survival horror, I just don’t enjoy being scared witless and losing years from my life. At EGX I lost years from my life for the sake of journalism. I haven’t played any previous Alien games but I know that a lot of people were disappointed by Colonial Marines for going too Call of Duty with the Alien franchise. Isolation has distanced itself so much from its predecessor that Colonial Marines has filed a missing person’s report. Needless to say I was fucking terrified, you have a real sense of being prey and I would suggest playing with headphones or surround sound if you wish to genuinely shit yourself.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
After going through a series of scary and gory games I ran back to the joyous colour of the Nintendo area where I got my grubby little hands on Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. As you may have noticed from my previous articles, I really love Monster Hunter so I was pretty damn excited. You played the demo on an individual 3DS as part of a four person team. You could select between all of the available weapons with preset armour and had your hunters pouch stuffed full of useful goodies. Whilst I did want to try out the new insect staff, I went back to my trusty dual blades to make sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front of the Nintendo gods. Prepared, we set out to fight the challenge monster that was a cross between a giant lizard and a water balloon which showed off Monster Hunter’s odd ability to make ridiculous creatures somehow plausible.

After running around the new desert map we took down the tits-hard WaterLizardBalloonBomb in a time that won every member of my team a T-shirt! My impressions of the game play were that it wasn’t dissimilar from Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, however, changing how you play has never seemed of importance in previous games. The key changes to the new incarnations tend to be in the weapons, armour and monsters because if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it! There is a new climbing mechanic but the monster that we fought didn’t lend itself for that mechanic to be shown off. In conclusion, I’m looking forward to seeing what other varieties of monsters that my team and I can set forth and destroy for its pretty headgear! Sadly, we have to wait until early 2015 to get hold of a European copy whereas the Japanese get to play in October this year. Whilst I’m upset that I have to wait, this is no where near as disjointed a release as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and thus I have more hope for the franchise gaining strength in the west.

Poncho

Poncho
I would have loved the extra time and energy to really explore the indie area a lot more but I did come across Poncho. It’s beautiful and if you love 8-bit style games like Fez then this is the perfect game for you! The utterly charming platform exploration game begins as an adorable robot in a dystopian/post- apocalyptic future who needs to gather things his creator has left for him so he can save humanity. I immediately fell in love with this game and got to chat to one of the developers, this is where I found out that the game was only in Alpha and the full game development was still being funded via Kickstarter. A Kickstarter which runs out shockingly soon! So here’s the plug, please visit HERE and pledge anything. Not only because it’s an awesome game but I really really want to play the full thing and I am not above using my power here for my own means. Go forth and stick it to the man by funding a nice indie game! (Note, funding may not actually stick it to the man).

Kii

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Nagash – The End Of Times Books 1 & 2

The true lord of the undead has returned, and he’s fucking massive!

This compendium, combined with the new models released with it, have the be the most shit hot products released by GW in a while.

Wargaming veterans will know of the past campaigns that GW have hosted. Including Isle of Albion and Storm Of Chaos. They have all been fun while they’ve lasted but afterwards they’ve tended to leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

They always seem to claim that the Warhammer world will be changed forever, then afterwards the ‘big outcome’ seems to be forgotten completely, all fluff written for it passes like a a ship in the night. For the most of it, people don’t seem to care. I do. I always do. The Storm Of Chaos in particular was disappointing, as the supplement book had some great themed army builds but as soon as the campaign was over those lists we illegal. Of course most gracious opponents will still let you use them. But that’s not always the case, and I know a lot of people built expenses army’s only for then be disallowed a few months later.

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So, is the ‘End Of Times’ any difference? For me, I feel it is. The set itself is two books. Book one is all narrative about the great lord Nagash’s plan to be resurrected buy his, mostly, faithful Montarchs. I won’t go into great detail here as I don’t want to spoil anything for people intending to read it but I must say it’s a great read! It’s the best bit of fiction I’ve read in a long time. It really got me buzzed for starting a new army. It has a short round up of what’s going on with each of the races at the beginning of the book and then chapter one starts. Those hoping that every race will turn up in this tome, will be disappointed as it mainly focuses on the vampire counts, elves, the empire, the tomb kings and a little bit of Brets. I’d rather this than every race get shoe-horned in with an attempted to make everyone happy. If the rumours are true, and to me it seems likely, then there will be more books to follow in this series and these are only the first two.

Book two is the rules for the set. This includes a new army composition table which allows your army to be made up of 50% lord and hero choices! It’s also creates the Legion Of The Undead list. Which is basically Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings combined. The book allows everyone to use the ‘lore of undeath’. At this time in the warhammer history desperate times come for desperate measures, lots of wizards have decided it’s better to break the rules and raise their fallen comrades then allow the forces of darkness to take over their lands.

I really like this set, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come. If you have a basic knowledge, and enjoyment, of Warhammer fiction then i’d highly recommend this!

Gary

HYAAH!: A Hyrule Warriors Review

Our resident Nintendian Kii gives us her verdict on the new Hyrule Warriors game on the Wii U.

I know what you’re thinking, how can Kii possibly be reviewing a game within a year of the release date? Well I’ll tell you. Hyrule Warriors. That’s it. Hyrule Warriors, Kii’s wet dream of a Legend of Zelda game. When Nintendo first announced that they were going to be giving third party companies access to their core franchises I was unsure what to think. Were they giving up on their in-house developers or trying to breathe new life into potentially stale game formats? Whatever the reasoning for their choices I am so friggin happy. Not only did the Tekken team get hold of the new Smash Bros but Koei gleefully ran off with the Legend of Zelda to squirrel it away in the insanity house that births Samurai and Dynasty Warriors.

Omega Force (ω-Force) are famous for the 1 vs 1000 style of game that they have perfected. This is a format that is often repeated by other companies but in my opinion none can hold a candle to Omega Force so it’s understandable that if Nintendo wanted a company to display an outright war in Hyrule, Omega Force were the perfect choice. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a childhood Zelda fan, Twilight Princess was my first hands-on experience with the series and I instantly fell head over heels. Since then I’ve worked my way through the DS games, Minish Cap and the fabled Ocarina of Time. Ocarina was where I met Sheik. In Hyrule Warriors you can play as Sheik. Can you see where this is going?

YOU CAN PLAY AS SHEIK. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT? Actually you can play as a fantastic selection of characters and use a myriad of weapons from all over the Zelda universe which not only makes the game really interesting but great for long term fans. Nintendo, as always, build games with the ability to enjoy them with more people whether that be via the Miiverse or in your own living room. Hyrule Warriors has taken my household by storm, myself, my partner and our housemate all have our favourites and rotate the Game Pad when levels with those characters appear. There’s also co-op using the Wiimote or Wii-U Pro Controller where one player uses the TV and the other exclusively the screen on the game pad.

ImpaandSheik

But I’m not so blinded with love that I can’t critique the game. The Wiimote controls don’t feel very natural when you’ve been using the game pad and I feel that you’re at a disadvantage if your player 2 doesn’t have the Wii-U Pro Controller. Swinging your arm to do your standard attacks works in the normal Legend of Zelda games, however when your attacks are extremely combo based as Omega Force love to do, it’s hard to know where you are in your inputs. It’s also exhausting with the amount of enemies around. My other issue is a bit of a catch-22, Hyrule Warriors has stayed true to the Zelda standard of nobody having voice actors, solely relying on screen text to display dialogue (including a literal ‘Proxie’ fairy for Link’s speech). Whilst I’m happy that they’ve stuck with the formula, this has reduced the game’s accessibility if you’re playing with someone impaired or a younger child who can’t read as fast. The story is great and it saddens me that some people will miss out on it or even miss in-game instructions through no fault of their own.

On a less in-depth note, it’s beautiful. The character designs are elaborately stunning and the updates to older characters like Impa brought them immediately on par with the newer guys. The other game modes are also fantastic including Adventure Mode where you play to acquire segments of the original Legend of Zelda map. According to the DLC release schedule on the Nintendo e-shop future releases will include Adventure Mode maps for Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess as well as new playable characters, weapons, costumes and game modes. Why yes, I have already bought it.

Hyrule Adventure Mode

With the, quite frankly, ‘iffy’ response to Skyward Sword I feel that Hyrule Warriors has been the adrenaline injection that the Zelda franchise needed. No longer is it a series locked to outsiders who don’t know what a Cucco is and why you NEVER EVER HIT ONE. People who like the Dynasty Warriors style of game are wandering over to see what all the fuss is about and without the prerequisite of having to spend five hours in the water temple utterly lost, less marathon style players are having a look too.

So my final words on Hyrule Warriors are this; If you like The Legend of Zelda, bloody well play it. If you don’t, bloody well play it anyway. Borrow someone else’s, be someone’s Player 2 (but ask to use the Game Pad) or watch a Let’s Play and then just buy it, I guarantee that you’ll have fun.

Now I’m off to stare at Sheik’s butt. I mean, play as a kick-ass ninja who gets 100 KOs in one move (whilst staring at ninja butt).

Kii

Video Game Reviews – Destiny (Xbox One)

Nath sometimes reviews games. This is one of those reviews.

So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you may have heard of Bungie’s new video game called Destiny. I managed to get my hands on a copy after a bit of trading with a stupid sales assistant, went home and began playing the game.

So first things first, I did not read the instruction manual and I’ve only seen trailers of the game so I didn’t really no what to expect. The first thing you do is pick your race and there are 3 options: Human (lame), Awoken (Human’s with blueish skin and white eyes, also lame) and Exo (not really sure, some sort of robot with a soul). With Exo being the most interesting I went for that. Next was the class and again I only had 3 choices and they all explain themselves: Titan (Warrior) Hunter (Hunter) and Warlock (Totally Wizard). I opted for Titan as I’m impatient and can’t be bothered to stalk enemies or waste my time doing spells. So I got started the game, I will try my best not to reveal any storyline, but that may be a bit difficult.

You start off wandering Earth and you’re making your way back to a city, pretty simple really. You get a gun, learn how to shoot it and then you’re back home. Easy start. There a then tutorials throughout the first few levels to get you acquainted with the weapons (3 types, primary, special and heavy) grenades, melee, powers etc. You then start running around killing enemies in the usual fashion of trying to shoot them to death or blowing them up. Very easy and simple concept to the game.

The leveling up system and the character customisation has made it a very interesting mix of FPS and RPG. Also the social aspect of the game is brilliant. You are matched with other guardians trying to do the same quests as you and providing they aren’t complete retards, you should be able to complete certain objectives together in a fun and controlled way.

The multiplayer is pretty good. The character you have in game is the character you take to the multiplayer arena. Everyone is evenly matched so it makes the game fairer. You can also use the weapons you have picked up in game so if by chance you have a badass sniper rifle on you, you can use it in the arena.

The leveling up system is also pretty good, however you can level yourself up in the arena and then go straight into the storyline and play it as a high level. People do do it but why would you want to, give yourself a challenge.

Now the problem I had as I was playing it was the similarities to the Halo franchise. You have an AI like Cortana, the Master Chief and the Guardians health bars are very similar, the enemies hierarchy and class system is also similar as are the weapons and vehicles used in the game. I did think have Bungie just been lazy and given Halo a fresh lick of paint?

The honest answer is yes, there are some big similarities but I won’t give too much away. There is one major storyline arc that is hugely similar and I imagine if you play it, you will pick up on it too. Also I am finding the weapon and armour system too easy. There isn’t really any reason to purchase any armour or weapon upgrades as you constantly pick up weapons armour in the game.

The enemies bother me as well, there’s no real fight in most of them, it’s only when you reach the end of a mission where you meet an enemy who might be a bit harder to kill. So far I’ve only met 2 or 3 enemies that are different from the rest and put up a decent fight.

In conclusion, I can safely say Destiny is living up to the hype it has generated about being the next big thing. Is it the next big thing? Well I have been playing it for about a week and I am actually struggling to put the controller down. I haven’t played a game I’ve been so engrossed with since I played Skyrim, and that came out in 2011. It truly is a brilliant game, gameplay is simple yet fun, the storyline is excellent, not too complicated and not boring. Graphically it is brilliant, certainly the first game I’ve seen on Xbox One that looks amazing and the multiplayer (social and arena) is lots of fun. In total I would give this game 9 out of 10 fists of havoc kills.

 

PS. This is for those people online that are criticising Peter Dinklage’s performance in the game. You’re saying he is very monotone and boring, he’s playing an AI. Not every freaking AI in video games has to be GLaDOS or Cortana, sometimes they are just going to be an AI.

So it’s All Come Down to This… Redbrands, Skeletons and Barmaids

Adam has started playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends in London. Here is his account of their first epic (drunken) journey.

Continuing our epic adventure where we left off (part 1 here!), following a level up at the end of the last dungeon, we finally arrived at the town of Phandalin, our goal for dropping off the cart and oxen (our original mission, still not really our priority) and essentially a quest hub. For this leg of the adventure, our companions Lordy and Samuel went off on their own  quest temporarily. However, we were joined by the human cleric (training to be a paladin) Rick, and the elven wizard Varm. They had longer names. I do not remember them.

We elected first to check out the Stonehill Inn to find out some information about the town. After a couple of failed attempts to question the proprietor, King Roberto decided to mug, at knife point, a farmer who was trying to have a quiet drink. Terrified, he tells us the town is plagued by Redbrands, human bandits who burned his crops. Bubbles discovered some secret Thieves’ cant writing supporting this, and a warning to beware of ‘The Sleeping Giant, another pub in the area. Deano, helpfully, then attempted to hook up with the barmaid, but a bad roll meant all he got was a polite smile and half a free beer. Immediately after Deano struck out, Roberto attempted the same and definitively did not strike out, disappearing up to the innkeeper’s chambers for an encounter with Elsa the barmaid.

After one or two turns of passion with Elsa (one turn is approximately 6 seconds apparently), King Roberto then took Rick and Deano to investigate the woodcarver’s house, who had been killed by the bandits and his wife and children kidnapped. Deano and Rick blundered into the dark house through its open door, failing to light a lantern to see where they are going. Roberto decided to light one of his javelins, the pointy end, to illuminate the room. There wasn’t much in the house, but the commotion made brought attention in the form of the sound of footsteps and drawn swords outside. Deano called out and used his silver tongue to convince the approaching red brands that we were also Redbrands (specifically a Redbrand named Tim), and that they weren’t needed here, so they returned to Tresendar Manor. Which we decided to call Trent Reznor Manor.

On the other side of town, Tiny, Bubbles and Varm left to scope out The Sleeping Giant, a dank and raucous pub. Bubbles is specifically looking for Glass-Staff the Wizard, the possible leader of the Redbrands who previously tried to kill Tiny and probably gave Bubbles herpes. Bubbles entered the inn and was confronted by 4 Redbrands inside. Varm burst in and set them on fire, while Bubbles fired an arrow through the eye of the biggest bandit.. Tiny, having climbed in the 1st floor window, crept down the stairs, saw another one off. King Roberto then charged through the open door, without surveying what was going on, ramming the still-flaming javelin through the face of the Redbrand advancing towards the halflings, exploding his head.

The final man ran, and Varm attempted to freeze his legs to stop him warning the others and to allow the party to question him. Unfortunately the spell wasn’t accurate enough, and the forward momentum caused the legs to freeze to the ground but crack off at the knees, leaving the stumps behind and killing him in seconds through shock and blood loss. It turns out that this was the real Tim, now dead in the mud, with a pocket watch from his lover, the barmaid Elsa (plot twist!) congratulating him on his first day. The proprietor informed us that Glass-Staff was holed up in the ruins under Trent Reznor Manor, and Tiny found a note in Thieves’ cant stating ‘Beware the wizard Glass-Staff. He is not what he seems. The Black Spider controls all.’. The party then headed back to their inn for bed. Roberto attempted to get back into bed with Elsa the bar maid, but apparently being covered head to toe in the blood and brains of his enemies is a deal breaker for some reason, and  she left him to the comfiest room in the  inn.

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The next morning, the group went through some Lionshield chests from the caves last time, containing standard adventurer gear including a shiny rope. Lying to the woman working at the Lionshield Coster that we only found one of their crates, and all it contained was random gear, we find out that it is called the Rope of Light, and that it was for a very important person overseas. We then headed to Barthen’s, the trader for whom we were supposed to deliver the cart to, who only gave us half the gold each we were due because we drank all the ale, used the oil and got one of the oxen killed. What a dick.

We decided to head to Trent Reznor Manor. With nothing of note outside, the group headed down some stone steps beneath. Deano went down a corridor on his own, falling down a trap. Rick used the rope of light to pull him back up, but when gripped at both ends the rope created spider’s webs, trapping Deano further. Letting go dissipated the webs, allowing Bubbles to use a normal rope to pull Deano up. The three of them proceeded to jump across the hole, heading down the corridor into a new room containing three sarcophagi and three skeletons crumpled up against them. The skeletons came to life, and the 3 companions quickly came up with a plan – Deano would run to the end of the room, Rick would throw him the other end of the Rope of Light, trapping the skeletons, whereupon Bubbles would jump on Rick’s shoulders to shoot the trapped skeletons. What actually happened was Deano tripped, fumbling the plan somewhat, setting a small fire nearby in the process and trapping himself with the skeletons. Together, Bubbles and Rick killed one skeleton. Two remained, slowly breaking free of the spider webs and moving towards them.

Meanwhile Tiny, Varm and Roberto venture into another room at the bottom of the stairs. There they found 3 Redbrands in bunk beds, two asleep and one awake reading a letter. Varm put the last one asleep with a spell, allowing Roberto  read the letter, addressed to Francis. It is from Elsa (the same barmaid who Roberto slept with), who turns out to be pregnant with Francis’s baby (further plot twist!). Francis was tied up and woken for questioning. He tells them that Black Spider hired the Redbrands, Tiny left to join the other group, but fell down the same trap hole that Deano set off. Then, for reasons that he himself doesn’t quite remember, King Roberto decided to tell Elsa’s baby daddy that not only was she unfaithful to him with a man named Tim, but she was also unfaithful with Roberto himself the previous night. Enraged, Francis tried to escape his bonds, vowing to kill this ‘Tim’ (who is already dead). Roberto then murdered him horribly, for more reasons he can’t quite remember.

And then it was late, and we all needed to make it to the last tube, so we called it a night. Picking up mid-dungeon and mid-combat next time!

Adam

 

Check out part 3 here!

 

The Tabletop Project Ep.2 We’ve Created a Monster

In this mini-cast, myself (Gary) and fan favourite Jan Proudley create Jan’s character for The Tabletop Project’s upcoming Through The Breach adventure. You can find my first thoughts on TTB here. As always you can email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk and please visit our Facebook page and follow us on twitter @lost_lighthouse.

See ya later fuckers.
[audio http://welcometorapture.podbean.com/mf/web/7yqhif/charactercreationTTP.mp3]

Download this episode (right click and save)

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Blueprints

Hello again board gamers or bored gamers, see what I did there, ahaha…

So, I’m back doing a review for The Lost Lighthouse and a one I promise will be more positive than Takenoko.

“What is Blueprints then?” I hear you ask so inquisitively. Blueprints is a little dice game where you put yourself in the roll of an architect crossed with a builder using the games namesake, Blueprints.
The interesting thing right off the bat with this game is that many people hearing “dice game” may be thinking that it’s all about the rolling of them like in Yahtzee and so many other games.

Dice are rolled, but in this each die has another different and quite interesting purpose, to make a building. How many of us have sat there stacking our dice, making little forts in between opponents’ turns in a long game? Well Blueprints takes that silliness and uses it as nifty little mechanic.

Before we delve into the mechanics of Blueprints with any detail and trust me there is very little in the sense of details you need to know, let’s do that typical review examination of what you get for your money.
For around the twenty quid mark, Blueprints is a small game box containing 32 dice all of which are reasonably chunky and of good quality. Not to complain about other games specifically but there are a few games out there that use dice as an important part and the quality is just not there, poorly printed pips, bad material, well don’t worry about any of that, this game has not gone one of those issues and is fantastic. You can see where your cash is going and this is good being the main component.

Four little card screens with good thickness and nice print are inside which having the scoring rules on the inside is a useful reminder for the players. Next are the actual blueprints and points cards, these are slightly smaller than typical playing cards but are clear and again well printed.
The final piece of card is a scoring board, which is that lovely thick stuff with the slight texture to it that nice board games tend to have, again this is well printed and again totally fits within the aesthetic.

After that there is not much else, bar your typical rules manual, which for Blueprints is a quad fold piece of paper with great diagrams and keeps into the aesthetic of the game itself.
Finally, there is a blue felt dice bag that isn’t as soft as I would like but really does not matter. The bag too seems sturdy and of a good quality, great for sausage fingers.
All in all some dice, some screens, some cards and some scoring bits.
Blueprints uses its tiny box very well, not hard to pack away but a full box and each component is very nice so much so, you can feel and see the quality.

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Green Dice Are Green Material, Transparent Are Glass and Orange Are…Wood. Maybe They Should Of Been Brown

Back from the contents and into the rules.
We all know what comes in this box and the concept of it, but how does it play?
Blueprints is quick and simple, but like the best board games it also has great depth and fits a lot different gaming styles the people you are playing with might have.
First, after each player of which the game plays from two to four, grabs their screen and every dice is poured into the bag.
Between the 32 dice Blueprints gives you they are divided into four groups of eight.
These four groups represent building materials, black dice are stone, clear dice are glass, green dice are recyclable materials and lastly orange, which I assumed they really wanted as brown, is wood.

Each player gets a blueprint that they hide behind the screen, which has a top down and three-dimensional picture to show what they (might) aim to build with six dice they will eventually get.

Two of these are then randomly pulled out and rolled (it doesn‘t matter who does this) and go onto the scoreboard, if a pair of the same colour are rolled, another die is picked until you get something different.
What these represent by being on the board is the most in-demand materials, what this is in the actual game is the tie-breaker and instantly a clever mechanic as now the in-demand dice are harder to come by with only 7 of each left in the bag.

After the in-demand materials are decided a handful (the number is according to the amount of players) of dice is rolled, each of them is then picked, replaced by a new one and the bag is passed on around the table.

At this point is where I should explain the scoring briefly.
Each of the four colours has a different scoring mechanic, green are better in mass to show your commitment to saving the planet a single die scores barely anything where as a building completely built from this is worth fifteen times more (or each single one is 2.5 times more for the pendants like me out there).
Wood seems to represent a frame; it is worth more the more dice that are touching it.
Stone, the black dice, are worth more the higher they are in the building and lastly glass is the simplest of understanding the scoring, the top face of the die is how much it is worth, easy.
When each die is grabbed it stays the face it was showing and is placed anywhere within the blueprints two by three boundary and once all six dice are placed and their totals added up the last little bonus you can get is fulfilling your Blueprint.

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Blueprint Cards Help Score You Points But Don’t Have To Follow It.

However, as I say, this is a bonus and not something you have to do.

This in itself is clever. Do you make the blueprint for that bonus or should just start stacking the black dice that keep turning up.
Again, maybe you could finish the Blueprint but hey, that Orange die fits snugly between things including another orange that your score will skyrocket.

This as a mechanic is great, for the beginner there is no need for trying to think too hard early on about the maths, following the blueprint is simple, grabbing those glass sixes is safe and all is good.

Maybe “the comedian” of the group has decided to stack all six in a tower; if the stone dice keep coming up, they actually might win with it. However, maybe they are “extra funny” and they just made their building shaped like a phallus.

The one issue I know many people will see here with the hidden scoring is the fact that turning a die isn’t hard to do in a small space and therefore cheating could be easy unless someone has kept track of each colour and number picked.
To that, I say the problem here is not the game but the players. If you have people you play with who you think will cheat, why are you playing them? So do not worry.

Anyway, once each player’s score is totalled up the gold, silver and bronze cards get handed out with any ties in points dictated by those “in-demand” ones rolled earlier.
This is not it though as were the Gold to Bronze cards award points that will determine an overall winner after three rounds there are also four other cards that can be awarded to one player each round.
First off, an award that is perfect for that comedian named the “Skyscraper prize” where they need to stack five or more.
Along with these are using five of the same material (colour), four of the same number face and lastly having your dice show from one to six.

This scoring mechanic is where sneakiness comes in, the “griefer”, the backstabber this is their playground.
The quiet genius, this is also perfect for them.

For the latter player, they can quietly pick their die each round, possibly acting that the reason they keep taking sixes is just that they are the colour they need, “well this glass is worth the most”, secretly attempting to score the “Structural Integrity” prize for having four of the same by the end.

The former, the cheeky git sees the player to his left has been taking black dice all game and notices that supplies are running dry so cuts them off stopping them from getting the “materials prize”.

This is where the game keeps you hooked, has you wanting to play again and gives this extremely simplistic piece of fun a huge amount of depth.

As I hinted earlier, your building score gets you these victory and bonus cards and there is not just one round played but three.
This itself does a couple of things, first it cuts the variance down a little as the first round “loser” is the person to go first next so is less likely to be screwed over by bad rolls or those colours they wanted never coming around to them.
Also it means for the newer player maybe their initial building is poorly made, worth very little but after seeing what scored high they can both understand and plan next round better all the while not having to play a ridiculous amount of catch up.

Three rounds takes twenty to thirty minutes to play, you never get confused whether it’s time to finish or if you are on round two as there is only three of each victory card so if any pile has run dry you know what has happened.
Twenty minutes gone and you just want to play again; you shake your fist as your opponent piped you on ties with that one extra in-demand die.
You realise now where you went wrong and you know you can do better.
Maybe, just maybe, you want to see some more blueprints and roll some more dice.

This game for twenty good old British pounds sterling is a bargain a brilliant short, fast, beautiful, simple yet deep game that can fill a gap on a board games evening, be a good opener for some less board game savvy friends or just a really good chance to play something when you are strapped for time.

Thanks again for reading, hope you enjoy Blueprints too.

Ben

The Lost Lighthouse First Thoughts Review: Through The Breach RPG

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Gary checks out Wyrds first pen and paper RPG

After almost a years extra wait, my Through The Breech (TTB) Kickstarter has arrived! Now I’m not going to go on a rant about Wyrd not delivering on time etc etc because of one simple thing, they communicated! Because of the tardiness backers also got a free Arcane fate deck and a Lilith crew. Thank you very much!

In this article I will make reference to the fictional world and the actual miniature game ‘Malifaux’. If you are unaware of this amazing game and story then it’s probably worth check out Ben’s article here before continuing with this one.

I’m a massive fan of pen and paper RPGs, and when I found out that Wyrd were releasing one for Malifaux I got very excited! I was even more excited when I learnt that Mack Martin was the lead designer.

For me the two most important elements to a great RPG are mechanics and character creation. The mechanics should be smooth but not so simple that it’s not worth going through the motions, and they should never NEVER stop the story from being the star role. Character creation should be fun and get you excited about playing him/her. It’s should be clear as it’s normally new players doing it and should explain, in-game, what the stats and skills you’re choosing relate to.

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The Cross Road Tarot helps build your character

So, does Wyrds new baby cut the mustard? Well, in my humble opinion, yes but with a few caveats. Character creation is very close to being perfect but it slips up on some very basic things. To me, it’s written as if you already know how to do it and the steps are just a simple summary of what you need to do. A little more detail here is sorely needed. In the pursuits section, your started talent isn’t even labeled as such. Basic stuff like this can be confusing to a new player.

Mechanics in mind, to put it very simply, if you know how to play Malifaux you can learn this very quickly. Which is fantastic! It’s exactly as any Malifaux fan would want it. They do add some extra actions to make ‘dramatic time’ more interesting. The other thing you need to know is you use cards from a communal ‘fate deck’, rather than dice like most RPGs. At times though, constant flipping of cards slows down the story and at other points the cards seem a bit shoehorned in. But these are very rare occasions, and I think the design team have done a great job. I think it must have been difficult to build the mechanics around the cards but it’s turned out very nicely indeed. Personally, I’d still rather roll some dice, but I do love dice.

Should you buy into this system? If you love Malifaux and want to get into pen and paper RPGs then this is a perfect gateway game but hopefully Wyrd will release some sort of ‘helper’ PDF for character creation. If you are already into pen and paper RPGs, don’t over look this one as it has some cool new takes on the genre. If you’re not at all into Malifaux then maybe give it miss but if there’s even a hint of steam punk love in your pneumatic bones then give it a go!

On friday we shall be releasing a mini-cast where ‘The Tabletop Project’s own Jan Proudley creates his character with Gary.

Love to your mothers

Gary.

Gaming For The Busy: Why Tournaments Are The Answer

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Our old ‘friend’ and Avenger fanboy Jan Novak runs us through his favourite game for a busy lifestyle

I am a very busy person, I have a full time job, I keep a house and a young family to contend with. Gone are the days of me spending hours painting up little figures ready for a whole weekend of pushing them round and making ‘pew pew’ noises. Sadly, I simply don’t have the time to dedicate myself to this sort of endeavour anymore.

Having taken some time off after the birth of my first child, I decided the time was right for me to get back into gaming. I needed a good dose of geek, surrounded by like-minded, socially awkward brethren. My first task in this new chapter of my life was to find a game that I wanted to play which would be suitable. I immediately wrote off playing a game such as Warhammer, where I would need to paint up a whole army before I could jump in and get involved. I’d never really played card games like Magic the Gathering, so this was also pushed to the back of the queue. After much deliberation I settled on X-Wing, the miniatures game by Fantasy Flight Games which has been reviewed briefly by Gary on this very site.

I played a few games at home with some friends on evenings after work, really enjoyed myself but came to the realisation that this really wasn’t scratching the itch I had for some hardcore geekery. Then, I did it, I plunged myself in at the deep end and signed myself up for a tournament. It was this decision that changed my gaming life forever. I nervously went along to the event, a whole hour drive away from my home, horrendously underprepared and expecting the worse.

What happened? I got absolutely smashed in my first two games but actually learned how to play the bloody game, taught by a couple of lovely and friendly opponents. My third game was a bit closer and the last two games I actually won! None of this really matters though because I had experienced the shot in the arm I needed, the itch had been scratched and I was whole again.

In essence, what I had achieved was finding a way to play geeky games within the context of my normal life. I was able to fit a whole five games of X-Wing in one day which I wouldn’t ordinarily get to do in a whole month! All of this was also achieved with near-zero preparation which is a massive draw for me as a busy person. I’m not advocating this as a ‘one show fits all’ solution to gaming for the busy but it has definitely worked for me. I now regularly attend X-Wing tournaments and am loving it. I’m finding that the short, concentrated burst of gaming events provide fit perfectly into my lifestyle.

Jan

So it’s All Come Down to This… A Dungeon, and Dragons

Adam has started playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends in London. Here is his account of their first epic (drunken) journey.

So I’ve finally done it. I figured there was a geeky stereotype I hadn’t tried yet. I read comics, play a crapload of video games, watch anime (and was the treasurer of an anime society at uni), have cosplayed more than once, and even have a superhero tattoo. And I’ve loved every single second of all of it. But D&D? Never tried it. It isn’t that I was ever opposed to it, I just never got around to it or had the opportunity. A year or so ago, after a night of drinking with some old friends in Bristol, I sat and watched (lets assume I was still drinking and probably eating bacon) as they started character creation before a new session of D&D. I had to leave to get back to the big smoke before they finished, so didn’t get to see any of the actual game played, but it looked to be far more fun than I had previously thought. Even the character creation was entertaining, mainly because of some shitty dice rolling that left my good chum James with a shockingly terrible starting character. But with all the people I knew that would play games like D&D either in Bristol and Bournemouth, and me being trapped in the grey hell that is our glorious capital, I figured my chances of trying it out were slim.

Cut to a couple of months ago, and a London based friend checked my interest in playing as a preliminary before seeing if other (less nerdy) friends would be into it. Not long after (really not long after), he informed us that he had ordered the new 5th Edition Starter Set (out last month) and we started organising our first game, to introduce it to everyone and see if it was something people were into and wanted to carry on with. We had a brief discussion at the pub early last week, convinced the unconvinced into trying it out, and set for later in the week to go through our first try. We elected to use preset characters to save a night of rolling for stats, choosing independently what we each wanted to go for, coming up with names and altering back story, personality traits, flaws, bonds etc. to make things a bit more interesting. Snacks were bought, food was ordered, drinks were drunk, and we were ready to start.

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Our Dungeon Master started us off on the ‘Lost Mine of Phandelver’ campaign which, for reasons I don’t really remember, we decided to call the ‘Lost Mine of Fandango’. In our first night we ran through the first part, being ‘Goblin Arrows’. We introduced our characters to each other, I based my character concept on Futurama’s insane robot Roberto, specifically from the version from the heavily D&D influenced film ‘Bender’s Game’. A human(oid robot) nobleman-turned fighter, recently escaped from an asylum. My character trait was simply ‘crazy’, which freed me up to do very stupid things all night. Some worked out, some didn’t. ‘King Roberto’ as I insisted on going by, along with fellow noble ‘Deano’, the halfling rogues ‘Tiny’ and ‘Bubbles’, the high elf wizard Lordy and the homeopathic cleric Samuel, were tasked with guarding a cart along a route between towns, containing various things including oil and ale.

We came across the dead horses of the dwarf paying us for our job, and our cleric then decided to run us straight into a goblin trap, immediately killing one of the two oxen pulling the cart. I tried to attack, missed and then spent the rest of the encounter ‘practicing my stabbing’ on the dead ox. Through some teamwork (and luck) we got through the situation. We then proceeded to waste about an hour by splitting up. The halflings went ahead with the cleric to scout the area (something they were shockingly bad at, the group setting off more traps), the wizard Lordy decided to set off on her/his own quest southwards, and I suggested to the noble Deano that we should drink all the ale. To lighten the load of the surviving ox, obviously. This all turned into a bit of a mess, and we decided to press on to some caves that the goblin trail led to. Along the way, I kept trying to mug my comrades at knifepoint to stay in character. We entered the caves, and found a side room with some angry chained up wolves. Deano calmed them down. Samuel decided they weren’t calm enough, so tried to sing to them. They got angry again and tried to get loose. Lordy threw iron spikes in their eyes, previously covered in blood, shit and gin, This made them blind, but even more pissed off. I then mercy-killed them. I feel pretty bad about that, even if they weren’t real.

While in the cave we set some goblins on fire, Tiny decided to sneakily steal a load of gold and our characters were none the wiser (the cheeky fucker), and after we convinced the second-in-command goblin to turn against the Bugbear leader, Deano rather masterfully revealed this to the leader, selling out the second in command and striking a deal that got us all paid much more than the original job. He did this so out of the blue that I was relatively convinced he was about to sell us out too. He didn’t, but I’m not so sure I trust Deano that much now, the sly New World bastard… Through all this we got some information of where to go next and some of the wider story to come. I even made a few helpful notes.

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And that concluded our first session. I was expecting it to be fun, maybe a bit awkward, but fun all the same in the end. It was much better than I expected, probably in part thanks to a Dungeon Master who managed to roll with a lot of the stupid shit we pulled, and some ingenious and entertaining thinking that pulled us through without it ever being boring. I’m even fairly sure (and hopeful) that the possible skeptics in the group were into it, especially seeing as we are all keen on carrying on. It remains to be decided if we want to carry on with these originally preset characters, or start from scratch, rolling for stats and coming up with new backgrounds.

Ultimately, D&D has always perpetuated as one of the core nerdy stereotypes not just in the media, but in the general social construct of the nerd. The reason why people continue to play it, now 40 years since the original came out, is because it is damn fun. So much fun that we are all going to keep playing. Haven’t given it a try? Check it out! Now is a great time, with the 5th Edition Starter Set just having come out and more on the way, such as the Player’s Handbook next week and the Monster Manual next month. As long as you go in with an open mind (and a full glass, preferably of whisky) and a decent group of like-minded friends, you’ll do fine.

Adam

 

Check out the next part here!