Friday 13 March 2015

What We Leave Behind

Going back into the digital realm today's piece, I want to talk about a relatively new game that has taken the video game realm by story. Appropriately, I feel it would also make an excellent board game with the right mechanics. It's roguishly good, and all about what you leave behind; I am talking about Rogue Legacy.

This a game in the vein of the games of old; side-scrolling dungeon-crawling action. The premise is that the King has been mortally injured and his kids go off to find a flower that can cure him. It is locked away in the castle and they must defeat four bosses to get the keys. You play as one of these siblings to try and save dear old dad, or at least you try, until the game reminds you quickly that it isn't that easy an gets you killed. This is where Rogue Legacy comes into its own.

When you die, instead of going back to a past continue or save, your heir takes over. You must re-enter the castle with a brand new character, using the spoils of your past adventure to level up and bulk up with gear and upgrades. And a devious doorman charges you for re-entry to the castle so you can't just stockpile your gold. The game levels with you to a point, to keep itself consistently challenging, pushing you slowly to move toward the more difficult areas above, below, and beyond the castle. Each of these heirs will also have silly traits with surprising effects, such a vertigo which turns the screen upside down, or IBS which causes the controller to vibrate violently every time you are hit. It's quirky, it's unique, it needs to made into a board game. It has very little tact, and that's what makes it so damn entertaining.

It is a challenge of perseverance, patience, and a sense of humour that I highly recommend everyone to try out.


Based on what i think could be done with this game tabletop wise, my question for today is what video game or other media do you think would make an excellent board game?


Friday 6 March 2015

Marvel: Rollin' Through the Ages

Well, I'm back. I got locked out of Google for a few days and so could not update the blog. A few sugary bribes and things are easily sorted though, but it was looking dicey for awhile. It is appropriate then that I am here today to discuss a new craze sweeping the gaming world, or is it an old one? I am talking about a game of dice, appropriately named Dice Masters. Now Dice Masters has a rake of different IPs it works under, including DC, Yu-Gi-Oh and D&D, but the one I will be focusing on, as it is the one I play, is Marvel Dice Masters.

Dice Masters runs on simple mechanics that do surprisingly complicated things. The ideas seem fine; draw dice from your bag, roll them, roll them again if you want, use what you get. It's later on when you deal with a Magic style combat mechanic and dice management system that dictates different dice are moved to different areas based on what they were used for that gets interesting, and within those two things lies the trick to the game (I think). But let me explain.

Players take it in turns to draw four dice from their bag and roll them. Your bag starts with 8 Sidekick dice in it; generic dice with varying kinds of energy (mana) and very small minions called Sidekicks. On front of you, you will have 6-8 cards of some of your favourite Marvel heroes and villains. Each of them have their own effects and abilities to make the team work, and on each of them is a number of dice which need to be bought with energy. There are also various action cards with their own effects that both players can buy dice from. In either case, once bought they go into you bag and join the fray. The aim is to roll 'character faces' on your dice, which are then fielded and work almost exactly like creatures in Magic do. Each one has a cost, an attack value, and a defense value. At the end of your turn, you may assign attackers, and the opponent blockers. The trick in the game comes from what happens next.

Any characters that get knocked out go to a Prep Area, and get rolled in the player's next turn along with the four dice they draw, leaving inconsistency in what characters they had fielded, but giving much bigger opportunities on their dice and what they can buy, so not all is in vain. Characters that are blocked and not killed stay fielded. However, any characters that are not blocked attack the opposing player themself, who will have 15-20 life to begin with. As you may guess at this point, the aim of the game is to reduce your opponent to 0 life. The crux of the matter however is any unblocked heroes go to your Used Pile after dealing damage, where they lie dormant until your bag empties. What this creates is a power dynamic in the combat system where every action has a balancing consequence, and it develops a complexity in the game that you would not expect from a game of dice. If you can get your head around this element, you are good to go.

It is fast paced (most of the time), ever changing, and very cheap. It takes time to master (I'm still getting there), but anyone can pick it up and have fun with it.


My question for today is simple; what is your favourite dice game?


Also, if you are in the Limerick area and are interested in trying Dice Masters out, it will be running at both upcoming events BrOccasion and Knavecon, so why not come down and have a go to see what you think?

Stay tuned.

Monday 2 March 2015

Booking face time

So I mentioned in my last post that Tabled would be coming to Facebook , and so it has. Social media is the way of the future, and there is no escaping it.

I am working on getting the page to auto-update when there are updates here at the blog, and I will start doing competitions on the page in due time also. Hopefully with luck it will help bring more people to the community.

As for the blog, BroCon's teaser event BrOccasion will be at the end of this month, and Knavecon at the start of next so there will be plenty of coverage from those events and plenty of content on the games played. On the technological side of things there is plenty out in the next three months with coverage to be had on those also.

Next post will be coming soon, on a certain game that has become very popular very fast, with almost a drug like quality and addictiveness to it. Stay tuned to find out.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Golden Gaming

I mentioned in my 2014 series that I was then only talking about games from that year that I had actually gotten to play. Funny then that come 2015 I should get to play what for me at least has become the best 2014 had to offer, and it only came around toward the end of the year at that. I am talking of Alchemists, and as the name might suggest, this game is absolute gold.

This is a clever little game, as clever as any game I have played in a long time. The first quirky thing about it is that unless you want a dedicated GM to run it for you, one person will require the Alchemists app. This is downloadable from the Google Play store for free, and though you could run without it using a GM, I highly recommend using the app. But to explain how the app works, I need first explain the premise of the game.

Every player is a budding alchemist, trying to figure out the alchemical formula for eight different ingredients. Each formula is represented by three symbols, each one red, green or blue and with a plus or minus symbol attached. There is basic math involved here in that you are always looking a positive when you combine elements, such two matching colours with the same symbol with create a potion, but a negative result will yield nothing (or soup if every symbol is opposite). The trick is that nobody knows what formula is attached the what ingredient, and so we test.  Whether you want to feed the concoction to the student or try it yourself, this is where the app comes in, as it uses your phone's camera to grab the images of the two ingredients you are testing in secret and tells you the result; everyone will know in the end what you have made, but only you will know how to make it.

The mechanics of the game are basic worker placement with a little bit of resource management as you try and make sure you have picked the right ingredients for your experiments and having enough left over for any opportunities that might arise. Each round starts with a bid for player order which simply equates to how early you get up in the morning. The earlier you get up the sooner you will act but the less bonus cards you will draw, so it balances in a way. You also secure favours from the villagers and played at the right time can give you an edge, be it automatically going first or getting more worker. And it wouldn't a game called alchemists unless you could transmute something, and there is a an action just for that.

It is a game of secrecy and deduction, and as with any world of science, a huge deal of bragging and showing off. This is represented in game by placing theories on the formula of an ingredient in order to claim grants, and debunking those that others put down. There can be a bluffing element added also in a bid to get others to endorse theories that you have made. At the end of every second round a convention will come to town to see who has the most theories and the final convention will include and exhibition where each alchemist can mix potions to show that they know best. Exacerbate all of this madness with magical artifacts that can be bought throughout the game and a range of adventurers showing up at the shops looking for potions, and you have a game that is as fun and whacky as it is clever and cunning.


As I mentioned at the start of the column, the app mechanics are a unique little gem with Alchemists. My question for today is what games do you like that have a quirk or mechanic that you find out of the ordinary?


Also in news, Tabled is coming to Facebook, so keep an eye out there and please be sure to like and subscribe to the page once it opens for more reviews and some competitions. Until then however, you have been Tabled.

Thursday 29 January 2015

The Broken Knaves Gathered for Gaelcon

It's been awhile in the waiting, but the last segment of my 2014 series is here; my favourite events of 2014. As a gamer, the highlight of the year can easily be a good gaming event, but the best way to get the most out of your games in my opinion is to go to several. I went to 5 events in 2014. I enjoyed 4 of them. They are all fairly distinct from each other too, so I will talk about these 4 events and shamelessly plug them as I go. And I'm not going to lie; I have a personal interest in two of these so I may just plug them even more.

The first is technically two; Knavecon is actual a biannual event but both were just fantastic. The first was in March so I am going to start with this event. Knavecon is unique in that it is the only board game focused convention in the country; it doesn't hurt either that I'm now a member of the team. It could certainly be described as a family-friendly event, but I certainly wouldn't describe it for the faint of heart either, as this affair kicks off at a timely 10am and extends until the last person falls asleep, usually at about 5am. Don't get me wrong though; there is no pressure to go the whole nine yards, in fact what makes the event access the most is the nonrestrictive, open, and overall relaxing nature of the whole thing. Also, free coffee. It is the perfect event to try a new game, player with new people, or just simply get in that long day gaming session that you and your friends don't always have time for. Highly suggested, the next one is on April 11th in the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick; be there!

Moving on in time, the next of these events hits home in June in the grand venue of Thomond Park, also here in Limerick. I am of course talking about Conclave, one of the oldest events in the country, and run by the Gathering gaming store. While Conclave tries its hand at a bit of everything gaming wise, in my opinion the biggest strengths of the weekend have always been the wargaming and the card games. Over the years various pre-releases and national/international qualifiers have taken place at the event for card games, while several national championships for several war games have been given a home at the event also. Competition is fierce but friendly, and there is a level of prestige that can be boasted about the place. The event has grown over the years and continues to do so while continuing the attempt to push the boundaries of what a gaming convention is all about. The next Conclave will be on this June, so stay tuned to the Gathering's page for exact dates.

Also in the summer, and also in Limerick, is BroCon. Now I won't lie, I may or may not run it, so I may or may not say it is awesome. It may or may not be for that reason alone. But in all seriousness, BroCon has found a unique place amongst conventions down south as the only dual gaming and anime convention in Limerick, setting it apart in its own way. BroCon is still a young con, but this has given rise to an enthusiasm to deliver that goes with a younger generation. This is not to say this is an event for only young people; much like the cons above the attendees each year range from families with their kids, to some veteran gamers along for the craic. And whatever the reason to attend, there is something for everyone. Despite the duality with anime in this event, BroCon sports all types of gaming, from the wargames, RPGs, cards and board games you see at most gaming conventions, to other gaming such as consoles and LANs. As part of the package with being not solely focused on gaming, many special guests attend each year, ranging from voice actors to game designers. The weekend is topped off by a generous trade hall with plenty to see and buy so you are sure to leave your adventure with plenty of loot. Not to be missed, BroCon VI hits us this year on July 10th-12th.

The last event on the list, and the biggest also, is Gaelcon. Gaelcon is one of the largest events in the country, as well as one of the longest going. Run by the IGA this is a titan con for all things gaming. Competitive war games, board games galore, demos running everywhere, and unique events like a full-on Artemis simulator set-up are just some of the highlights Gaelcon have to show.
Always on the long weekend at the end of October, the event also boasts something very unique with being the only 4 day gaming event in the country. The event also boasts one of the toughest pub quizzes of all the conventions in the country, perfectly suited to the largely more mature crowd that make up the majority of the attendance. But we are all nerds in the end, and I would definitely recommend it for a weekend away gaming. This one is in Dublin unlike the rest, and takes place from October 23rd-26th this year. Don't miss out on a great long weekend.


So that's it for 2014. It was a great year, and to finish out, I ask you as always: what was your favourite gaming event of 2014 and why? And to move on to 2015, what gaming events are you planning on going to this year?


Got some more games coming up next time. Until then, you've been Tabled.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

The Dawn Will Come

When I started this blog I mentioned that I would like to look at video games sporadically throughout my interests in the world of tabletop gaming. This is as an opening to explore the topic of games being played in person versus games being played online. As such, when doing my look back on 2014, I felt it only fair to also look at my favourite video game of 2014, and while there were some amazing games out last year, one stands out a mile above the rest for me personally. And you will never see it coming.

Yup, see what I did there?! Anyway, Dragon Age Inquisition, Bioware's grand attempt to get back on track in the world of RPG's, and boy did they. For those fans of the previous Dragon Age games, you will know of the triumphs of Origins' throwback to the RPG's of old, and 2's failings at streamlining them. Inquisition, however, takes the best of both games and throws them into one. This is exacerbated by Bioware's new foray into open world gaming. To play host to the bold new run at character driven gaming, the game boasts 10 large open world regions for you to adventure in, each as large as the majority of the maps of its predecessors put together. And in the majority of cases there is enough activity to fill those spaces too.

On top of that are other new features; an in depth crafting system both for equipment and potions, dynamic events within the world itself, mounts, and of course the Inquisition itself. The organisation actually has a function within the gameplay and not just the story, as you do various quests and acquire various upgrades to build it from the ground up. Recruit new agents, forge alliances, and use your war table to spread your ever-growing influence across the continent in an attempt to save the world from itself.

But while the new world spanning both Fereldan and Orlais is the new and shiny of the game, the heart of Dragon Age has always been the characters, and this is no different. This time around we are led by a survivor of a cataclysm that tears open the sky, a character that comes to be known as, you guessed it, the Inquisitor.

Surviving a magical explosion the tears open the veil between worlds, the Inquisitor is found to have power over these tears, being able to both open and close them. Naturally, this initially leads to suspicion that he/she is behind it all, and as expected, they go from prime suspect, to larger-than-life hero. Throughout this all, a cult from an old foreign super-power rises up in credit to the disaster, led by a mysterious being that turns out to be an old enemy. And in the background to all of this is the ongoing Mage/Templar war that started with the tragic ending of DA2. It may sound very samey and mundane, but it is truly riveting to see, and twists and turns at every junction, keeping you guessing at what happens next.

And if the protagonist and villain don't make you believe, one of the many from a vibrant cast of characters ought to do it. We see new faces and old, and indeed some old and very familiar faces will prove pivotal to how you move forward. There is a pious element to it, and the whole story does raise an interesting debate at every corner through a number of characters including both the protagonist and antagonist, and that is the whole controversial aspect to divinity and worship. While in the world of Thedas belief has created all the current problems of that world, belief now is also what seemingly brings it back together. And in a way it makes you believe in it too; that's the sort of writing we are looking at here. Should you ever doubt, just watch the video below, that shows a scene after the Inquisition suffers a significant loss, and how their unity and belief in the protagonist can bring a powerful following that can overcome it. It is truly powerful stuff, and the sort of stuff that will bring Bioware into the future on a positive note, should they manage to keep the momentum.


Above you can see shots of the journey of my own Inquisitor, so for today's request, I ask you what your favourite moments of this game were, and to show us pictures of your own Inquisitor? If this was not a game you played, what was your favourite game of 2014?


Friday 2 January 2015

A Year of Gaming

2015 is upon us, and that means something very important; it's another year of opportunity to play more games. I mentioned in my last post that 2014 was a fantastic year for gaming however, and promised to touch more on this. Over the next few days, I will talk about this, including my favourite board games, favourite video games, and best events of the year.

Today I am going to start by talking about the best board games of the year. Just to note, when I say best board games of the year, I am of course referring to games that were released this year. To further clarify, I can only accurately discuss games that I have managed to play, so while there are some clear hits out there from 2014 like Dead of Winter and Zombie 15, my game of the year based on my own experiences has to be Camel Up.

Camel Up has a rather clever blend of game mechanics going on to create what could only be described as a 'manic masterpiece'. The premise of the game is that we are all gamblers watching a camel race somewhere arid and no doubt stuck in a hump (yes I did that). However, in a tradition not at all different to that of something bizzare such as Wacky Races, we also have the ability to sabotage and influence the race, not content to just sit and watch from the sidelines.

Each player can take one of four given actions in their turn, and play continues until each 'leg' of the race has finished. This happens once each of the camels has moved. One of the four action is to move a camel. Now the key thing to understand in this game is that nobody owns or controls any given camel. Instead, a pyramid full of D3's whose colours correspond to each camel sits looming in the center of the racetrack until a player decides to get the ball rolling. They are paid a coin for their trouble, and a die is randomly ejected from the top of the pyramid. The colour and number tell us which camel moves and how far. In a similar vein to Ribbit, the camels will climb on each others' backs if they land in the same space, and the bottom one will carry the others with him. This can create a very unpredictable finish as you may imagine.

The other actions are to bet on the winner of the leg, bet on the winner or the loser of the overall race, and to set traps on the board. These traps can either slow down or accelerate a camel stack that lands on them, and pay the owner of the piece when they trigger. The bets are all about order, and the sooner you bet, the more you will get paid if you are right. Finding the balance in timing and surety is the key to the game.

The picture on the front of the box really says it all, and Camel Up is a bizarre and wonderfully unpredictable game that keeps us playing over and over. It won Spiel des Jahres for a reason, and here at Tabled it has won my game of the year also. Well played.


Today's question is rather simple and follows the example of the post above exactly; what was your favourite game to be released in 2014, and why?


Next time I will be discussing my favourite video game of 2014; nobody will ever expect it.