Gary’s Top Three 2-Player Games

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The dreaded top 3 list! They are difficult for anyone to write, particularly when the subject is something they are passionate about. I was toying for ages with this one. 2-player games are something of a precise art form. It needs to be engaging enough to keep both players hooked. With more than 2 players you tend to get the banter between the other participants while one person decides what they are going to do. With 2-player games you don’t get that grace. So with a lot of thought, here are my top 3 in reverse order:

3. Cube Quest

This is a perfect little game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. In a nutshell, two waring armies made up of cubes are secretly set up on opposite sides of these nifty mouse mat battlefields. Then the generals – you and a friend – take it in turns to flick the warriors (cubes) at each other to try and knock the other player’s king off the table. How are the glorious kings represented you ask? Well…they are just other cubes…with a crown sticker on.

2. X-Wing

Is it a board game or a miniatures game? Well it says miniatures game in the title but it’s made by one of the biggest board game publishers around, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). Ether way I don’t care, it’s awesome! Do you want to be looking up one of a hundred possible manoeuvres then cross referencing it with your opponent’s? No, of course not. You want be snapping necks and cashing cheques! X-Wing uses an innovative manoeuvre dial system so your opponent’s move is a secret to you and your’s are to him. They’re then revealed in order of who has the best piloting skill. I highly recommend picking up the core set. It is futile to resist.

1. Netrunner

Yes yes I know it’s a card game but I still think it counts. Netrunner has exceeded all expectations I had. Also published by FFG, it will have you pulling your best poker face all game. It’s an LCG (living card game) not a CCG (collectible card game) like Magic: The Gathering. Which means you won’t be spending lots of money trying to find that illusive rare. You can just find the card you want from the expansion it’s in.

I very much consider this game a combo of risk management and high-powered bluffing. If you read easier than a Beatrix Potter book then it’s time to get practicing, as you’ll have nowhere to hide. One player represents the “runner”, a cyberpunk hacker who wants to show the corporation as the dirty, lying, stealing thugs they are, while taking a few credits for themselves along the way. The other player represents the aforementioned dirty, lying, stealing “corporation”, trying to secretly score “agenda” points.

This, to me, is the best card game on the market and I can’t get enough of it. You can pick up the core set for around £30. Well worth it in my opinion. I have two! I wanted three of each card – I know, I know, WHAT A NERD!

Well that’s my top three 2-player board games, though none of them really uses a board. Oh well they are all awesome anyhow. X-Wing and the Netrunner core game can both be picked up from Element Games.

See ya soon, cockers!

Gary

What are your top three 2-player games?

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 1 – Statement of Intent

Hi there folks, and welcome to the first episode of The Weekly Rapture, the weekly podcast brought to you by The Lost Lighthouse.

This being our inaugural episode, it is just a short one really just to explain what we are planning to do with the podcast and what the site (which you can find at thelostlighthouse.com since you asked) is all about. Those familiar with our old podcast probably won’t be surprised at how quickly we stray off topic and ramble a lot.

Next episode’s topic will be the next gen consoles. We will chat about the systems and how well they seem to be doing, which we are more likely to go for and why, and the games we are looking forward to the most.
Please send us any questions you guys have, opinions on the games, and if any of you have already got a PS4 or Xbox One, let us know how your experiences have been with it so far!
You can get in touch through Facebook, via email (thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk), on Twitter @lost_lighthouse or drop us a reply on the podcast page of the website.
Enjoy

Download this episode (right click and save)

Help! I’m Too Good At Games!

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Do you feel that you’re breezing through games on hardcore and insanity? Pwning all the N00bs a bit too easily? Then this is the random assortment of words for you! The following will show you a number of ways to make your games harder so you can feel the challenge of a real difficulty curve once again! I mean, you could play blindfolded with one arm tied behind your back but where’s the fun in that?

Play Vegan

Does your game require you to eat meat etc to regain stamina? Well no more! Playing Vegan means that you can only eat items that have been lovingly given to you by the Earth/Moon/Wherever the hell you are. No meat, no cheese, no milk, no honey, no leather, no wool. This applies particularly well to Minecraft though don’t go around celebrating the fact that you finished Resident Evil playing Vegan. All they eat is Herbs. Apparently Oregano is the perfect accompaniment to zombie slaying.

The Blacksmith screwed my wife

And he over charges! I never want to see him again! Only take the weapons that the game forces upon you and never upgrade them. This means you could be taking on the final boss with the equivalent of a toothpick and you may kill it simply by making it laugh to death but at least you never have to give that Jerk Blacksmith any money.

I spent my bill money on games

Due to rising game prices and my own lack of budgeting we can now no longer afford electricity! Better play your games at minimum brightness because you don’t need to see to shoot things right? Anyone who does this playing Dead Space I want photos of your traumatised little face when playing it even darker. I need them for science (disclaimer: science may actually be my own personal collection).

 He’s ‘armless!

No really, there was a chainsaw accident. This mainly applies to Beat ‘em ups. Never use your arms in combat! Kicks and head butts only! No cheating and playing Mortal Kombat either as that has a mode that does all the hard work and removes the arms for you. Cheats!

Glass Cannon

Armour? I barely wear clothes! Go through the entire game relying on your own muscular prowess and don’t buy a single defensive item. It’s alright so long as you beat the boss to death before it breathes on you. Chain mail really chafes and helmets are for losers anyways.

 

Kii

Why the Hell Haven’t You Played This Yet? – Doom

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Every few weeks I will write an article on what I believe to be the best games you need to play before you die. These are games from all platforms and all differing in genre and gameplay, whether you play them or not is completely up to you, but I’d recommend it – Nath

Doom

Before we get started, let it be known that Doom is not the granddad of first-person shooters. Wolfenstein 3D was released over a year before Doom so this game should be considered the first first-person shooter, albeit Doom was more popular and more successful.

I can understand that most people who read this will have already played Doom or the other sequels/spin-offs that the game has spawned, however it goes on this list as I have replayed this game so many times and I still don’t get bored. It may look primitive compared to the first-person shooters of today, but you still need skill and perseverance in order to successfully navigate the levels filled with the spawn of hell.

You play a character known as “Doomguy” and his only objective is to kill all the enemies he sees in front of him and stop the invasion. Seems simple, but it is not unless you’re a pussy and playing it on the easier difficulties, and if you are, shame on you, you should play this on “hurt me plenty” or higher.

The game starts off in a room with a pistol and a bloody corpse and your aim is to find the exit whilst battling numerous monsters with a variety of weapons. New weapons can be picked up from monsters, but most of them are just lying about the levels, mainly in secret areas. They vary from shotguns to rocket launchers to chainsaws to the legendary BFG 9000. Now if you don’t know what the BFG is, it is a weapon that fires a large green plasma shot and deals large damage to the monster it hits, as well damage to other monsters you can see in view. It is considered one of the best weapons ever created.

I can imagine most of you are thinking “why should I bother playing this 90’s game”, but trust me, it is worth it. I love this game, it brings me enjoyment when I play it as well the deep satisfaction I get when completing a level on Nightmare, the hardest difficulty on the game. This difficulty doesn’t even allow you to enter cheat codes so basically you are in for a rough time. You take more damage and the monsters are faster and they respawn, a lot, like seriously loads, its ridiculous. Good news is you get double the ammo when you play on this difficulty, not that it matters because you’ll be dead before you fire the gun.

In the end, this is a game you have to play for numerous reasons, the difficulty of nightmare, the fun and simplicity of the game and a history lesson in gaming. It is one of the first first-person shooters to grace the gaming world and it made a huge impact. Also if you play the game and/or the brilliant sequel Doom 2, you will have a massive appreciation for it’s reboot Doom 3 and it’s expansion packs. On a side note, don’t watch movie based on the game. I know it has Karl Urban and The Rock in it, but it is awful, except for the 4 minutes where the film enters first person mode. Actually watch that bit, not the rest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueKhVcqQBtg

Hope you enjoyed the review, happy fragging. Also, roll on Doom 4!

Nath

Seven Seas Of R’lyeh

I walked down the aisle, as casual as a person being watched could. How long had it been? 3 maybe 4 aisles. His eyes burning into the back of my head. I reached for the tome. I’d spent my last few pounds buying an intolerable hog dog from a portable vendor, trying to hide the urgency of my mission from my pursuer. It hadn’t worked. I swiftly placed the book in my jacket and began exiting. Had I done it? Was the stalker just a physical manifestation of my paranoia? I could see the door. I had done it. That’s what I thought until a strong, authoritative hand grabbed my shoulder and asked me to come to the security office. Well, I thought to myself, that’s the last time I try to steal a book from Waterstones.

I arrived late to the Cthulhu mythos party, and hadn’t even brought a bottle of wine! But I haven’t looked back since. I love everything from the 1920s setting to the themes of mind-shattering paranoia. H.P. Lovecraft had been sold to me by a different medium – board games! I love Eldritch Horror and Elder Sign and that’s why I decided I must read some Lovecraft immediately.

After a small amount of research I found the best item to start with was “The Call Of Cthulhu”, a short story with only 32 pages. Now I love short stories and this has become one of my favourites. It’s based on the diary of an ill-fated professor and his grand nephew, who’s the narrator of the tale. He finds out as much as he can about the ancient one Cthulhu and the place he slumbers, the corpse city of R’lyeh. I won’t spoil anything but it’s a great nighttime read!

Second up was “The Dunwich Horror”. I purchased the Penguin publication edition, which had a collection of other Lovecraft stories included. This tale is of the long forgotten hamlet of Dunwich and its rather backwards inhabitants. There are many old families based in this region, with even older secrets. It introduces another of the ancient ones with their own macabre way of forcing their will upon Dunwich. This story is amazing but the other stories included match up to it incredibly well.

Classic horror fans should really give these books a go! The language is challenging at times but it’s worth persevering with. I highly recommend both.

If you’re a fan of Cthulhu already, what stories would you recommend to our readers?

Malifaux: An Introduction

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Our own wargaming expert Ben is here to introduce the exciting world of Malifaux

Malifaux is a tabletop miniatures game you may have heard of, if not, it’s a game done by Wyrd games, you can check those guys out here

A very simple summary for those that don’t know of Malifaux, it’s a skirmish based, objective driven, strange steam-punk themed game without the use of dice.

For those of you that do know about the game, you may know about me from the various Malifaux things I’m associated with.

So let’s get to the point shall we?

Actually Skirmish

A major issue a lot of people have with tabletop wargames, is the sheer amount of space it takes up.
Now admittedly Malifaux still needs a 3 foot square table to play on typically, maybe even a little more space to keep your stat cards and all those things.
This however is less than the 8*4 that some mass wargames require.

I say “actually” skirmish in reference to the amount of miniatures you need to play a game (note, you’ll want more in your collection, geeks tend to be kleptomaniacs too).

A typical “crew” (what us Malifaux folks refer to our forces as) will have around 8-10 miniatures tops in a standard game, there is the possibility to fit in around 15 miniatures, but I am yet to see it and it probably isn’t advisable.

Now 8-10 miniatures, that is probably obvious to anyone who’s seen Warhammer and the like that it’s a lot less than those games (8-10 doesn’t even make much of a unit in some cases) but actually, even in comparison to a few other skirmish games this is still the low end.

What does that mean?
Well if you’re really into the painting you have a lot less models to paint, but it means you have a lot more time you can realistically spend on them, doing your best work.
I currently am running a painting competition on twitter, each month the category has a theme but has always been single miniature(so far), now even if you only painted for this, you could get a crew done in half a year.
If you dislike painting, then the lack of models you have to bother with is great or cheaper if you’re paying someone else to do it.

Transporting your crew is far simpler, no giant suit cases, smaller ones, that you can even ride the bus with, is possible.
If you don’t mind the larger cases, it’s something you are used to, then you can easily bring a lot of your collection, gives you more options and chances to show other friends.

Investment, when I say this, I don’t mean financially, but emotionally.
Each single miniature will become more important to you, the characters will have a much greater chance for you to be emotionally invested in them, growing in your mind, but that’s the next bit.

The themes and background

Now in the quick intro, I threw out “steam punk”, now where this is the strongest of themes in Malifaux and sets the time period, the characters and themes span a lot more than that.

Steam punk is your thing? Well it may be your bag, we have steam powered robots, clockwork guns, goggles and all.
You like animals? There’s a beast master, who almost has a menagerie rather than a crew, there’s hounds, there is even a master of pigs!

What about Cthulu? I know there’s a lot of geeks out there who love it, well, Malifaux has tentacle monsters like “The Nothing Beast” or even strange amphibious guys like “Silurids”.

Military? Outcasts have the Freikorps.

Ninjas? There’s an Asian themed faction the Ten Thunders.

Zombies? The Resurrectionists.

Little goblin like guys? Well there is the Gremlins.

If that wasn’t enough for you take a look, each of these factions have 7 masters.
Each with their own rich backgrounds and themes, each with their own style and minions that fit better with them.

The stories are so rich in this game, that I would even recommend buying the older books just for background.

It really is very engaging.

Back to the gaming side.

Look ma, no dice!

One of the big things you may already know about Malifaux, or are still taken back by from the intro to this blog, is that the game forgoes the use of dice completely.

Instead of dice, the game uses a deck of cards 4 full suits and 2 jokers for 54 cards.

In the briefest possible way to explain this, rather than having to roll a value on a dice to succeed in an action, the Space Marine needs a 3 or higher to hit his target, you need to flip a card.
Sometimes this is to get a certain number, but more often it’s in addition to your relevant stat vs. your opponents and their deck.
I flip an 8 with my shooting value of 6, my opponent flipped a 2 with their defense of 5.

I hit!

Well, it’s not quite that simple.

First off, the deck has 4 suits (face cards are 11-13), sometimes a more difficult action may require you to flip a specific one of these. Sometimes, flipping a certain suit may give you an additional bonus (a trigger we call it) and not just while attacking.

However, it isn’t just flipping cards, Malifaux, allows you to somewhat control your own fate, with the “control hand”.
Typically you start a turn with 6 cards in your hand, what these cards do is allow you to “cheat fate”.
Mechanically what this means is you can replace the card you flipped with one in your hand.
This is an important resource to use carefully, as you don’t draw a new hand until the next turn in most cases.
What “cheating” can mean though, is you can pass that test you failed, try and out do your opponent in a duel and many more things.
The totals you make matter as the degree of success or failure can sometimes effect further things, like the amount of damage you may be dishing out.

Controlling fate, simply gives you more control in the game.
You can plan a head further (strategy) or mess up your opponents plans on the fly.
Having 4 lots of 1-13 which you are drawing through, also allows you to predict luck a little, rather than just cross fingers and get superstitious.
You can’t have the game where you get only aces (which are ones, which is bad) as there is only 4.

However luck is still a factor, variance can make games fun.

Also, you still have your equivalents to criticals in the form of the Jokers.
Red is good, you will learn to love this card as it is whatever suit you want it to be and counts as a 14 plus a few more benefits, but as quick as you will learn to love the red joker, you will soon despise the Black Joker.
The Black Joker, is zero, no suit, nothing, you can’t cheat fate when it appears and at the wrong time it can mess everything up.
But hey, variance is fun right? Right?

Using cards over dice actually creates a lot more interesting mechanical interactions, but that could do with it’s own blog post one day.

Strategies, Schemes and a whole load of bluffing.

You’ll hear some Malifaux players tell you that you can win the game even if you get tabled, which to the typical wargamer would sound crazy.
I can lose all my figures yet win the game?
The reason for this madness, is actually one of Malifaux is biggest strengths.

It’s scenarios, or Strategies and Schemes.
These are randomized like many other games and give you a lot of variation regardless of how many different opponents or crews you may get to use.

The “strategies” are what you would typically see as the main mission of the game.
The big difference is only 1 of the 5 are solely about killing your opponents crew, the rest are about vying for power of areas, either quarters of the tables, the centre of the board, the typical objective based type things you may see in other games.
This is something both you and your opponent are going for, to score a maximum of 4 points from.

The “schemes” is where everything gets very cool.
First a pool of 5 schemes gets determined at the beginning of the game.
These range from, Assassinating your opponents leader, to framing your one of your opponents models for killing yours, to giving your opponents a cursed object, to planting some evidence, to
Ok I could go on for ages, there is after all, 19 different schemes.

What makes these even cooler and more exciting is two things.
First is the fact that you may have generated 5 schemes, but you are only picking 2, your opponent does not need to pick the same which gives the game some asymmetry to it.
You can pick what you think is easiest, more fun, more thematic, it is entirely up to you.
The second, is that some of the schemes are hidden, only once they are scored are they revealed to your opponent.
This means, your opponent may have to be playing a guessing game and the best bit of that.
You can bluff.

Not only in Malifaux can you bluff powerful cards in your ìcontrol handî but you can pretend to be going for one scheme you actually have no interest in at all.

The schemes themselves are worth up to 3 victory points each, meaning you can score 10 total in a game and the schemes take up the greater part of that.
Some schemes that can be hidden can achieve these higher scores by being revealed, but then, there is no bluffing that.

All in all, the way this mission system is set up, makes the game so diverse and so interesting in comparison to a lot of straight forward and kill games we have out there.

Now this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it definitely makes it possible, that Malifaux is the best miniatures game out there and more importantly, maybe the right one for you.

Thank you for reading, what is a fairly lengthy “sales pitch” as such.
Malifaux is a fantastic game that has been growing immensely over the past couple of years.
It’s recently had a second edition launch and this has seen the game become even better and even more beginner friendly.

One part I did not mention, was how great the community is for this game.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a group of war gamers more friendly and welcoming than the Malifaux scene.

All I hope is this gives you a spark of interest, maybe just to find out more, maybe to go find your local “Henchman” to run you a demo or maybe even, just to buy some figures and try out the game with some friends.

BYEEEEE
-Ben (@psientologist)

You can find more from Ben at the Malibros or Malifools sites.

Would You Kindly Get Me Into The Gaming Industry?

Today our good friend Nathan introduces us to his first steps on the road to games design.

Since I was young enough to use a mouse and keyboard, I have always enjoyed video games. I can remember playing Doom with my dad when I was very young even though my mother didn’t approve of it. I can still remember the cheat codes and for those of you who don’t know, all weapons, ammo and keys is IDKFA, god mode is IDDQD and level select is IDCLEV (no I didn’t just look them up).I purchased my first Sony Playstation when I was 11, much to the annoyance of my mother, she thought it would be a bad idea and at the time she was probably right. What followed for the next 15 years was the usual cycle of playing games, buying new consoles, LAN parties etc. however all of the above adds up to my love of gaming, whether I am shooting down aliens, jumping across buildings or with friends beating the crap out of each other.

Eventually my love of gaming would lead me into the industry, but it didn’t happen straight away as I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to Loughborough university and studied a science and engineering foundation degree that lead me on to a a degree in mechanical engineering. Unfortunately I dropped out after the first few months as I couldn’t handle the work load and started at Loughborough college studying video game design. When I left, I had a pretty awful portfolio so made it impossible to get into the industry. I started a job as a telecommunications engineer and worked there for around 2 and a half years before I realized I wanted to leave and work in the gaming industry. I stumbled upon an article regarding a company called Train2Game and how they get people into the industry. I went to their website and read the articles and testimonials and decided to apply. I didn’t hear anything for 6 months.

I started contemplating going into Cisco networking until I received a telephone call from Train2Game and to be honest, I tried to fob them off at first but then agreed to a telephone interview. I then had a face-to-face interview with a representative from Train2Game and I explained my reservations upon starting the course. He explained that in the surrounding area, 250 people were interviewed over the phone, 15 people were selected for face-to-face interviews and 5 were selected to start the course. He explained that their greatest advertisement were the students that complete the course and obtain a job within the industry. It would’ve been stupid of me not to sign up. So here I am, studying to be a video game producer.

My first assignment was an introduction into a game engine called GameMaker. Here I created a total of 5 different games in order to further my understanding of programming, a point-and-click game, a basic scrolling shooter, a more advanced scrolling shooter, a puzzle/maze game and finally a 2D platform game. All of these allowed me to understand the basic concept of coding as well as problem solving and debugging as to why the game may not work on the first try.

My second assignment was a brief history of video games. Luckily I studied this at college and I had recently watched Charlie Brooker: Videogames Changed the World so I could skim over this chapter quickly. At the end I had a multiple choice test to complete and I am waiting on the results at the moment. When I receive them I will let you all know and hopefully continue on the path that will lead me into the industry and hopefully become one of the best video game producers in the industry.

Nathan