I’m going to try a new format of posting about my gaming. I’m not sure if it’s going to work out, but let’s do a test post or two. Instead of writing about all of the games in a Plays of the Week post, I’m going to write about the games the day I play them. Let’s try it out.
The first game I was able to play was Eaten By Zombies!, a deck-building game with zombies and a couple of neat mechanics.
Players are the Survivors, fending off the undead hordes in a passive-competitive struggle. On his turn a player will face one or more zombies, and he must choose: Fight or Flee. This choice is based on the cards in hand, and will change each turn depending on the card draw and how many, and what kind of zombies have come out. Some zombies are hard to kill but easy to run away from, while others are the opposite. Either way, if you are successful you get to Scavange, which is how you gain new cards. If you are not successful, or you have fled, you will suffer Attrition and lose cards from your hand, discard pile or deck, which go back to the table to be Scavanged again. Once you run out of cards to lose, you become a zombie yourself, and start influencing the game as one of the undead, making it harder for the other Survivors.
As far as deck-building games go, this one is pretty fun due to its theme. It also has some neat mechanics, like the choice to Fight or Flee, which is similar to having two types of currency but with different ramifications for using either. Sort of reminds me of the Penny Arcade: Gamers vs. Evil deck-building game, in that regard. There is also player elimination, which you don’t see regularly in these types of games, but like other similarly-themed games, it’s cool that you become a zombie when you die, putting the hurt on your former comrades. The only other type of interaction comes when zombies are being drawn for a player, after which other players have the opportunity to add zombies from their hands (which they had previously killed) to the horde. This is still pretty passive compared to some other PvP mechanics in games like this.
My single-play verdict is that this game is definitely replayable, and I’d love to give it another shot. I’m not sure how deep it can get, if there is any way to gear towards one strategy or another, which is fine by me as that is not how I tend to play. It makes a relatively-quick, heavily-themed filler-type game
Speaking of filler-type games, my second game of the night was Cambria, apparently formerly a print-and-play game now professionally published.
First off, the logo of the publisher, Closet Nerd Games, has a kooky robot head in it. That’s already bonus points, in my books.
This is an area-control/influence game where players are barbarians encircling and capturing Roman forts in the Britannian hinterland (I think). Actually, I guess it’s a road-control/influence game, as you are actually laying your cubes on the roads between the forts. The forts range from ‘2’ to ‘6’, which is both their points value and how many roads are connected to them. These numbers also determine how you place your cubes, as on your turn you roll 2d6, then place one of your cubes on a road connected to a fort with that number. Once all of the roads leading to a fort have been claimed, the fort token goes to the player with the clear majority for end-game scoring. If there is no clear majority, no one gets the token. A roll of non-1 doubles allows a player to replace an opponents cube with his own, which is how stalemates are dealt with. The only other factor in the game is the Legion pawn, who can be moved if you roll one or more 1s. He’s got his own rules, as do ships, but I won’t talk about them here. Once 6 or fewer forts are left on the board, the game is over and points are scored.
Now, I’m going to both compliment and complain when I say that this game is small. The board is small, there are only 6 cubes in your pool (although you do reuse them once they are on the board), and the game finishes quickly. This is a compliment because it’s portable, inexpensive and makes for a great filler. One of those lunch-break games, you know? But it’s a complaint because it’s so simplistically enjoyable, and uses just enough brain-power, that you want to play the game longer. You want the board to be massive, with dozens of forts, almost a wargame! It’s over before you know it.
My single-play verdict is that this neat little filler deserves more attention. Heck, I think I might even pick it up myself. It reminds me of the 2-player Kahuna, but for more players, and with a better theme. Sure, the theme is not necessary for the gameplay, but it does make sense. It promotes spatial awareness, and I’m sure other things. I like this game.
And lastly came a 2-player game, The Ares Project, a sci-fi RTS in card game format.
Each player chooses a race (humans, bugs, psychics or giant robot) that has unique cards, abilities, units, play-style, etc. Each race is different, and I only played the Terrans, so I don’t know what the other races are like, so this explanation will be based on them. You’ve got your deck of cards, a race sheet, and a screen to hide everything you do. On your turn you play one card, either as a new building or as a resource (on a factory/facility to create a unit, your race sheet to make a worker, or towards building a new building). Then you draw. That’s all you do. You do this, back and forth, preparing your forces (secretly, behind your screen, remember) until someone plays an Attack card. This starts a battle. Among other little steps, both players Construct, turning the resources they played previously into workers, units, or other buildings. Next a Battle Line is formed, as players go back and forth matching their units to each other. Each unit has a stat for attacking opposing forces (Infantry, Armour, Air and Building). You want to maximize a unit’s damage potential by placing it in front of a target they are good at fighting, while hopefully that target is not as good at fighting your unit. These stats go from 0 and up, and represent the number or lower the unit needs to roll to inflict damage on the specified unit type. There a bunch of modifiers and special abilities and other rules about combat here, but generally you want to line up your forces well, roll low, and kill the opponent or make them flee. The winner of the first battle gains contol of the Frontier, and can then attack the opponent’s base. This is also the only way to score points, as you can ‘save’ Attacks cards as VP only if you control the Frontier. This is sort of like King of Tokyo. But different.
This game does really well to take the RTS genre and pop it into a card game format. Even though it is turn-based, you still get the sense of racing with your opponent to amass enough forces to attack, never knowing when they will attack you. And you can’t just let your opponent keep the Frontier, as they’ll be scoring points as often as they can. The way they implemented the factories is both good and bad. Good because you only need four types of tokens to represent a large variety of units (there is one type of token for each unit type, and remains on the factory card to denote what it actually is). But also bad because each factory card (and tech card, in the case of the Terrans) is two-sided, top and bottom, so that you either use one version, or rotate it and use the other version. This can get confusing with so much going on on the one card, especially when in Battle Lines and you’re looking at your opponents factories upside down. While interesting in theory, I think in practice they should have just had one card per factory.
Anyway, my single-play verdict is that this game is fun and does well to represent an RTS game. I just have to give it another try or two or three to use the other races. They are all different, and clearly are based on the Starcraft races, which is cheap-yet-awesome, because that game was awesome.
Oh, and there’s a giant robot. Need I say more?