Saturday, 17 April 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die

Going crazy makes you stronger, but go too crazy and you die!

This miniature heavy box includes six missions that you can play against either Cthulhu or Hastur, who each add their own flavor to the tasks at hand - and in all cases it is too late to stop the ritual that is summoning them. Instead the goal of up to five cooperative (and already unhinged) investigators is to disrupt the proceedings so the big bads are summoned in a vulnerable state and then kill them.

It's a big box with lots of nice figurines.

Each investigator has three abilities, one of which being unique to them only, which level up as you go more and more insane. All of them also have stress tracker they can use to reroll dice, and there is A LOT of dice rolling here. Enemy movement is also simple: either a card moves or summons them or, more frequently, they just chase anyone who leaves their board space.

This can result in an army of cultists and monsters standing with you in a tiny pantry, which would be much easier to do if the board tiles were of a decent size. I think this is the biggest complaint of the game: the board pieces are too small. My only other complaint is one of the insanities handed out at the start is way harder to deal with than the rest. Other than that, it is a truly fun cooperative dice throwing romp that we greatly enjoy. Recommended! I give it three and a half tentacles out of five.

Stay tuned as coming up next are write ups or our play throughs through the each mission!

Insight: To track the health of monsters, I use a similar method used in Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. I just put the markers on a piece of paper listing the monster names rather than following the figures as they shamble around the board. You only really need to track the non-unique big ones.

Friday, 16 April 2021

In the Heart of the Sea

Call me Ishmael.

Chris Hemsworth leads the talented cast as one of many Nantucket whalers in a voyage of adventure and survival. It's a pretty interesting story which features a few good action scenes. Indeed, the only thing that detracts for me is everyone trying to do the Nantucket accent with makes Chris sound like a Nantucket Australian, and possibly one poorly done CGI shot.

A whaling do they go...

Not necessarily a film for action fans but its nice enough to watch just for the story - especially if you are in a sea faring mood. I give it three harpoons out of five and would definitely watch it again.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Castle Panic (and Wizard's Tower, Dark Titan and Engines of War)

Where boulders are missiles.

Your castle is under attack by goblins, orcs and trolls and it is up to six stalwart defenders to cooperatively fight them off by playing cards! The only way to lose is if all your inner keep towers are destroyed, and the only way to win is to defeat all the monsters.

A turn is pretty simple - first draw up to your maximum card limit, and replace one if you want. Then you can also opt to trade one with another player. Afterwards, play as many as you can then draw two new monsters - some of which aren't monsters at all. They could be plagues, bosses, extra monster moves, or simply MORE monsters than you initially thought.

Feels good to clear the field.

Definitely a lighter game thinking wise, but one that is still very fun and plays really fast. Easy to set up, easy to play, and easy to take down - each game will be around an hour. I give it three and boulders out of five. Note that playing with more players and more expansions (the three below) does add to everyone's downtime, which is a weakness of the game.

The other big weakness is quarter backing - though somewhat mitigated in that you don't show each other your cards, some card counting people with good memory (*cough* my mother *cough*) might push other players for an optimal move.

Insight: Always check if the next person to play has a good trade before players further on to lessen the chance of the monsters dodging you plans.

Castle Panic: Engines of War

This expansion adds a resource deck to the game and removes the random brick and mortar cards from the usual selection. Now you can order your engineer to build weapons, traps and repair walls. Functionally though, you will only want to build that catapult to fight against the new threat of enemy siege engines which are the highlight of this expansion. They are doubly nasty in that destroying one simply lets the two orcs hiding underneath pop out.

Definitely different from the other two expansions but one that seems mostly under utilized (outside the catapult) in our games - except in the instances where someone has a turn with no enemies in range.

Insight: Build the catapult as a priority.

Castle Panic: The Dark Titan

While this adds annoying elite monsters that require dice rolls to kill, it also brings the super handy support and cavalier tokens (friendlies) that make an awesome change to the steady swarm of enemies. The titular Dark Titan Agranok, an 8 hit point enemy, is awesome too as he comes with five levels of difficulty (so far we've beaten the first three). Of all the expansions this is my favorite as it can really pile on the difficulty but doesn't change much else in the game.

In fact if you only play with Dark Titan you don't need to do the extra setups at the start with the other two expansions: no extra decks to shuffle (new cards go in existing deck) and no extra enemies to keep outside the pile (other than six starters as per normal).

Insight: Try hold the barbarian and nice shot to deal with Agranok.

Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower

Having a friendly wizard in the castle is not only amazing, it is almost mandatory against the new enemies he brings - some of which breathe fire! This expansion includes a nice monster bag for tokens, some ok new enemies, and the super handy wizard deck which you can slowly draw cards from as long as the wizard's tower (which replaces one of your usual towers) remains standing.

While its definitely cool I feel it suffers from being "too cool" in that the only correct move is to draw wizard cards when you can - anything else being sub-optimal. Why pull a color limited, one point of damage archer when you could get something that deals one damage to everything on the board, or sets them on fire (1 damage every time they move) or simply insta kills everything in an arc (provided you sacrifice your own corresponding tower)?

Still fun when you want to see everything / most things wiped from the board in a single move.

Insight: As mentioned, always draw wizard cards when you can. Not all are winners - just most.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Lost Pirate Kingdom

Sailing away with a mercury injector...

We've had Romans, we've had Ottomans, and now we have a Pirate based documentary/drama based around Nasau and the golden age of piracy. Time flies fast in this six episode series but you can tell the budget is a definite constraint based on the sets, computer graphics, and the reusing on footage to the extent that its like one pirate kept robbing the same ship... using the same moves... hmm.

Anne as the mandatory eye candy.

While I found it entertaining enough, it is definitely lower quality than the previous docu-dramas mentioned here. Recommended only if you have an interest in pirate history, or are a fan of Black Sails. I give it one an a half fire ships out of five.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Sequence (Board Game)

Connect 5.

In this competitive game, up to 12 players in either two or three teams (whatever divides equally) are given four cards and on a players turn they play one card which often just lets them put one of their tokens on the matching space and draw one from the deck. 

A light an easy party game.

The only specials are that the corners of the board can be filled using any card, single eye Jacks let you remove enemy tokens and two eye Jacks let you put a token anywhere. The first team to place five tokens in a line horizontally, vertically or diagonally TWICE wins the round.

While there is some strategy involved, luck plays a major factor. Not only are you at the mercy of your cards but you also cannot communicate with your team (or sit beside them). It is very fun though, and there is very little down time which keeps everyone engaged (and I played with eight)!

A light and fun game, perfect for parties and easily recommended. I give it three sequences out of five.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

The law is different for undercover cops.

Wei Shen (voiced by Will Yun Lee) is an undercover cop trying to take down a triad in Hong Kong, and to do this he must do criminal acts as a gangster to keep his cover intact while also balancing out doing criminal acts as a cop because... its fun? And that's the important bit: FUN!

The multitude of activities in the open world map of Hong Kong range from the mundane to the hilariously out there. You have street racing, fight clubs, karaoke, chop shop thefts, debt collection, and for collectors lots of lock boxes and shrines to discover and vehicles and clothes to purchase. Yep, different sets of clothes provide different bonuses and I cannot think of another game where I changed attire so frequently. It's so easy to get engrossed in this one, even if Wei tends to inexplicably lose firearms all the time.

Occasionally, cars are made of explodium!

Losing guns doesn't matter though as guns are actually a "rarity" in the game (yeah, not so much later) making gun play one of the weakest aspects of Sleeping Dogs. Still serviceable, but just OK. Most of your fighting will instead be ye olde school martial arts with a system similar to Batman: Arkham Asylum but more robust. I cannot stress how brilliant the systems all work so well together. Also, if you get the Definitive Edition you have the additional content of the DLCs!

Nightmare at North Point sees Wei take on supernatural beings (which features a rarity - the Chinese hopping zombie / Jiangshi), Year of the Snake deals with an end of the world cult who have way too many explosives, and the Zodiac Tournament is where you are invited to a remote island to fight against the other best fighters in the region. An easy one to recommend I give this game four and a half DZS-90s out of five. Yes, even with the random bugs. It's just so much fun!

Insight: Always get massages. If you are going to fight, also drink some Dragon Kick and eat some street food before hand. Also, remember car-fu is stronger than any kung-fu so feel free to run over any criminal scum when you can.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Last Bastion

Can you defeat the warlord(s) of the Baleful Queen's army?

With an monstrous army laying siege, up to four heroes can cooperatively defend the castle and will achieve victory if they can defeat the warlord (or warlords on harder difficulties) leading them before the town falls under the grasp of evil (three grasps of evil to be precise).

It's a colorful board, and one that packs away nicely in the box.

On your turn your monster board activates first - any already there use their "I'm already here" ability, and if you have space you draw a new monster who uses its "I've appeared" ability while if you don't have space you suffer a penalty. Then, in any order, you can move and do an action - which could be move again, use the ability of the castle tile you are standing on (which move around per game), or fight something that is adjacent to you (for most heroes) so corner tiles are great for dual fighting.

Fighting involves rolling three custom D6's which each usually give you a 33% chance to score a hit which you can then improve by using the matching colored equipment (discard for insta hits) and a few other tricks. The number of hits required depends on the monster you are attacking, and if you beat the required number it dies. If you fail, nothing happens.

It's pretty simple to learn and pretty fast once you get the sequence down with games going around an hour. It is also challenging - more so if you play with less than four people. Component quality is great, and the game play is really engaging too so its one I definitely recommend and give it four bomb carts out of five.

Caveat: This is a remake/reskin of a game called Ghost Stories though, so if you already have that one there might not be too much here that is different, other than the theme.

Don't waste turns fighting (rolling dice) until you have favorable odds.