NAGATl Episode 9 – Too hot edition

Dave and I have been handling the nonsense that is a British summer by having a few bevs and talking about the games we played, as well as a bit of board game related news. All of this assisted by some excellent and thoughtful questions.

This week we played/talked about:
Splendor
Hey that’s my fish
Istanbul
Black fleet
Food chain magnate
Sagrada
Netrunner ending
Age of Sigmar 2.0
Karmaka

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NAGATL Episode 8 – Just some chat for a bit

It’s lovely summer now, but Dave and I have still been inside playing board games. In this episode Dave has contentious opinions and I drink a lot of wine.

 

Games/things discussed include:

Fog of Love
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Nerds fetishising everything
Photosynthesis
Into the Breach
Age of Sigmar 2.0
Ricochet Robots
Monopoly playing AI

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NAGATL Episode 7 : Ethics corner

Dave joins me again for another round up of games we’ve been playing or are interested in. This time because we’ve been a little light on the table front some video games make an appearance.

Games discussed include:

Into the breach
Baern Park
Bolt action
Cosmic Encounter
Hearts of Iron
PUBG
Power grid
Iron Harvest

Plus adequate questions from adequate listeners

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Flamme Rouge – Cycling is hard work

Some of my favourite games are deep, grand affairs that can take a whole afternoon. Scythe, Dungeon Pets and Concordia to name a few. But I’ve also got a lot of time for a game which is quick and snappy, which has people ready to play again immediately.
In this case the game is Flamme Rouge, with it’s wonderfully straight forward premise, managing a team of two cyclists in the press of a long distance cycle race.

startline

On your marks, get set, go.

 

Flamme Rouge is a card driven racing game and each rider will play a numbered card to determine how far they go each turn. This has the potential to end like a lot of similar roll and move games where luck would determine the winner, but Flamme Rouge adds elements that make selection of your speed a little more difficult.

The most interesting feature is the way packs of cyclists form, roaming the roads of France stripping towns of all their isotonic drink. But actually packs are merely clumps of cyclists that will build up on the board. Manipulating your position within these packs will provide you with different challenges throughout the game. Packs that are close together can merge, taking advantage of the leaders’ slipstream and cheating out some free movement. Also, while cyclists can move through each other they can’t end on the same space so dense packs can be used to block opponents and waste their movement. Finally, in any race obviously people want to be first, but there is plenty of advantage in hanging back as those leading the packs are getting tired faster, and picking up exhaustion cards.

opening

These exhaustion cards feed into the decks of each rider, making them less efficient, compounded by the fact that each card is only used once, then removed for the game. huge bursts at the start of the game will lead to limping across the line. Both of a players riders also have slightly different decks, with the sprinteurs capable of greater top speed but rouleurs more consistent. So over the game you want to be trading off which rider is at the front of the pack, ideally someone else’s until right at the finish where you break out. This is made extra difficult since each player chooses their movement cards simultaneously, so requires a certain amount of bluff.
The last element to consider which relates to riders’ speed is hills, as you might imagine going uphill is hard and downhill is easy, so positioning yourself to start on downhill sections is desirable.

finishing

playerboard

Look at these handsome devils

On a gameplay front I think Flamme Rouge is basically what i want this kind of game to be, some thinking required but not a lot so games play fast and you can get in 2 or 3 rounds before moving on, but on the components side it’s a bit more hit and miss. The art on the box and player tiles is great but the bike models are a little flimsy and the track sections could go together better, but none of these are deal breakers.

Flamme Rouge is a dramatic half hour with plenty of back and forth, and highs and lows so is certainly worth your attention.

NAGATL Episode 6: Where did 2017 go?

Sorry to all of you for being away for so long, but with almost a year between episodes it does mean we’ve played a lot of games. But we have also accumulated a lot of nonsense to talk about.

Somehow the first 10 minutes is about Robot Wars and Bake off, but in the rest of the show we discuss:

Colt Express
Viticulture
Concordia
Fallout
The Expanse
Monikers
Captain Sonar
7 Wonders Duel
Seige
Specter Ops

So much Warhammer, including this incredible video:

And of course your wonderful questions.

 

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Eldritch Horror – Oh god it’s monstrous

The Cthulu Mythos. It’s huge, it’s weird and it hasn’t ever really grabbed me. However, this hasn’t stopped its tentacles infesting nearly every facet of pop culture, even co-operative misery simulator Pandemic has been co-opted by the unknowable madness.
The game that I’ve been playing is Eldritch Horror, the globe trotting sequel to Arkham horror, which sees paranormal investigators working together to stop world ending catastrophes.

eh08_preview4

The giant tentacle is approximately 1/2 the size of the game.

Now right out of the gate I’m going to say this game is big, really big. The main game board will take up most of the table and then yet more space is needed for the frankly ludicrous array of decks, tokens and even whole extra boards. However this extravagance definitely helps rather than hinders the game, less is not more in this case.

Eldritch Horror can broadly be divided into two parts, preparing for stuff to happen to you and then playing that stuff out. Both on the small scale where your movement and actions on your turn prepare you for your encounters and on the large scale where the encounters you aim for early on will hopefully prepare you for the encounters you will need to solve the mysteries of your unknowable foe. So with so much of the game being taken up with random encounters as well as spells to be learned, traits and equipment to be acquired and so on then the game will live or die on variety so more can only really be a good thing. One particular place this variety shows up is in the characters, colorful magicians and actors contrast with dour mercenaries, each coming with their own little story of why they took up the call of a paranormal investigator and a sad farewell if they should become too injured or mad to carry on. This will happen more than you’d expect, after all it’s a hard life out there in the apocalypse

EH01-card-leo-bio.png

These encounters that make up probably more than half of the game represent everything that’s good and bad about the game. On the good front they contain the best story elements in a very story driven game, these vignettes are where you spend most of your time and also how you actually make progress and good story is important to keep you immersed in the game rather than just rolling dice. Whether my friends were sneaking past a street gang in Shanghai, or riding an otherworldly beast out of a portal, I was invested in their success no matter the actual in game consequences. In fact, particularly when failing, these encounters can be quite funny. However, the problems arise when you see what the encounters ask you to do in game. The vast majority of the time you will face a story choice, but that just leads you to take a characteristic test (rolling a number of dice and looking for 5+s that signify success) and either passing or failing. The fact that you won’t know what characteristics you’ll need to be good in or how good is good enough really limits your ability to plan in the other half of the game.

This other half is where what strategy there is in Eldritch Horror, meeting up to exchange items or combine buffs for particular encounters, and deciding what problems require immediate attention, and how to get there. Beyond the mysteries of the main scenario there are a thousand and one things tugging at your attention, closing inter-dimensional gates, stopping roving monstrosities all over the world, or dealing with persistent rumors that threaten to make life very difficult for your investigators. Keeping a lid on things tends to mean you make very little progress on the main story, although the increasing chaos that you just let happen in the later stages of the game ends up being both dramatic and funny. As San Francisco is ravaged by shambling horrors but you really don’t care as you only care about defeating the big bad.
One problem for the map portion of the game is that the world is a big place, and this makes moving around it quite time consuming and ultimately annoying. Sure this makes the game world feel big, but that doesn’t really make up for me having to sit through 3 encounters in the middle of the ocean that I don’t care about so I can get where I need to be. And this slow movement contributes to the main problem I have with the game, it takes forever.

eh04-syzygyart

Watch out around Stonehenge, traffic is a nightmare.

The task of uncovering the nature of a vast unknowable entity should feel epic of course, but I will draw the line at it taking over four hours, in which time I could play 2 or 3 other games, I feel like the game is in something of a no win situation though as if it were shorter it would be in great danger of being anticlimactic. And a lot of this time is spent with stuff just happening to you, it’s incredibly flavourful and entertaining stuff happening, but mechanically all you end up doing is taking a series of characteristic tests. Sure there are plans to be had, using the whole team to get the right things to the right people in the right place can sometimes be very satisfying. However, the game is by no means the methodical puzzle seen in co-op or semi co-op games like Pandemic or Samurai Spirit.

Looking back on Eldritch Horror, I can absolutely see the appeal in a game that is more about storytelling. In fact, a lot of the aimlessness and time wasting that I criticize can be seen in Battlestar Galactica and Betrayal at the House on the Hill, which I do generally like playing. The sheer length of the game though, and the quite high buy in if you want to get the game to a place where it shines push it over the edge for me. If you really like your Lovecraft and want something that doesn’t require too much effort to play then you can certainly do worse, but I won’t be coming back to it for quite a while.

 

Bolt Action road to the nationals 2 – Ready for battle

The Student wargaming nationals are upon us and so is my Bulgarian army. The stakes have never been higher since I’m returning to defend my crown in a new edition with a new nation. So without further ado I’ll go straight into the list and try to explain some of my choices.

Army: Bulgaria – Occupation force theatre selector

Headquarters
1st Lieutenant +1 attendant (Regular) 85pts
Infantry squads:
Infantry section (Regular) 10 men with rifles 100pts
Infantry section (Regular) 8 men, 6 rifles 1 LMG 100pts
Infantry section (Regular) 8 men, 6 rifles 1 LMG 100pts
Mounted section (Veteran) 6 men 90pts
Sniper team (regular) 50pts

Field artillery:
Medium artillery (Regular) + spotter 85pts

Tanks:
PzIV G (Regular) 235pts (Axis vehicles in Bulgarian service)

Axis Support
PzIII G (Regular) 155pts

I chose Bulgaria for a few reasons, one was stinginess since a Romanian army would require an extra howitzer, and the other was restricting enemy outflankers and forward setup which is great in the Demolition mission.

The core of the army is its infantry squads, 2 smaller ones with LMGs to hold the line and get pins down on the enemy, with a larger rifle only squad to push forward and maybe make some cheeky charges. These infantry squads are all regulars since Bulgaria doesn’t have any veteran infantry but even so, I’ve spent far too much on toys as I usually do to afford substantial numbers of veteran infantry. In general though outside of America and Germany I don’t like veterans all that much as I can’t deck them out with assault rifles/BARs to really improve their firepower. In addition to the infantry squads are a small cavalry squad and a sniper. The cavalry are essential for missions like top secret and demolition, able to get to enemy objectives quickly and relatively intact. The sniper is mainly just to finish off points, he can harass officers, place sneaky pin markers and gives an extra order die to an army that is not flush with them.

In the heavy firepower department I included a medium howitzer, still the best bang for your buck in my option, terrifying to infantry of all kinds and a nice back up anti tank weapon. The effectiveness of this will largely depend on how good my rolls are so I expect much disappointment.
This finally brings me to the tanks, the ability to take 2 tanks was the main reason I eyed up both Romania and Bulgaria. Both vehicles have a healthy 2 MMGs allowing them so gradually move forward spitting out up to 4 pins. The PzIV is my main hitter, a medium tank so hopefully able to take a few knocks and sporting the fantastic tiger fear rule which should lock down a fair few units allowing the rest of my army to advance. The PzIII on the other hand was mainly chosen for its cheapness, 155 pts for the model G which makes it a light tank with a medium anti tank gun, as long as it avoids enemy attention it should do ok.

So, the army as a whole. Only 9 order dice is definitely fewer than is ideal and what little testing I’ve done has shown the army has a problem dealing with veteran infantry, while its own regular infantry suffer much worse attrition. I think against similar armies of regular infantry then the good number of pins it can get out along with the PzIVs tiger fear should paralyze a nice slice of the enemy, allowing my tanks to close on the enemy objectives. However against veteran troops, concentrating fire will be the aim of the game. If I can get some luck slightly above average I should make it through to the other side, so expect me to report I came dead last.

Game of thrones Store championship: Travelling man Leeds

Some more Game of Thrones commentary from the small store champs in Leeds, supposed to be featuring friend of the show Callum but unfortunately due to my incompetence you’ll have to make do with just me.

The deck definitely had some weaknesses but I’ll pop the deck list up here:
https://thronesdb.com/decklist/view/8218/wombo-combo-3rd-place-leeds-sc-1.0

The last stop for me in the store champs season will be Chesterfield on March 18th for Netrunner so hopefully I will have some more content from that event.

 

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Wargames Emporium Netrunner Store Championship

The second batch of casted games has been released into the wild. This time some Netrunner from my local meta in Sheffield, and aided by friend of the show Will.

Dave and I also chatted a bit about the store champs in the last episode of out podcast which you can check out here:

https://notasgrumpyashelooks.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/nagatl-episode-5-oh-god-its-2017/

Stay tuned for more video content here or on YouTube.

NAGATL Episode 5: Oh God it’s 2017

Dave and I return to bring you unfocused board game chat. This week covering our Ireland adventures as well as some games we’ve been playing a bit closer to home.

Games covered:
Deep Sea Adventure
Mysterium
Codenames Pictures
Netrunner
Eldritch Horror
Eketorp
Concordia
Arctic Scavengers
Chrononauts
Dead of Winter

Check out the Assassin’s Kittens
http://purrtacular.com/assassins-kittens-the-fluffy-hazard-of-the-assassins-creed/

Some Terminal Directive Spoilers
https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2017/2/13/your-clearance-has-been-granted/

 

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