Thursday, February 17, 2011

Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943

Rather than me talking about Byron's excellent Spearpoint 1943 card game, I thought I would just link to some of the excellent video reviews that are out there.

The first is from Marcowargamer - Marco has some great videos about games, and this one doesn't disappoint.

Next up we hear from Lance with Getting Board - another good review.

Finally, although this should have (perhaps) been first, we have an Unboxing from Chance of Gaming Podcast

The Chief Bottle Scrubber here at Gaming with Chuck HQ thinks that Spearpoint 1943 is a great game.  There is strategy, metagame considerations, tactical decisions, cards and dice - all coming together in a nice little simulation of a 1943 meeting engagement between a few German and American forces in Europe.  What's not to like? Now if I can only talk Byron into doing an Eastern Front edition . . . T-34s and Russian Combat Dogs!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Those Whacky Supplements

No, gentle readers, the Staff at "Gaming with Chuck" did not begin selling vitamins or other Dietary Additives. What I am talking about in this article are Add-Ons to games - expansions, kits, supplements - whatever you like. In particular, I am going to give a quick review of three that really stretch the theme of the original game that they were added on to. But, at least for some, that doesn't mean they are a bad add-on!

First up - the new (and very welcome) supplement of Alvin and Dexter for Ticket to Ride.
What do you get? Well, in the small box, you get two great figurines (for Alvin the Alien, and Dexter the Dinosaur), and a small deck of 42 cards. You also get a small rules brochure, with the rules printed in a handful of languages.

What does it do? After the initial set-up of a Ticket to Ride game (any board, apparently, works for this supplement), the last player then places one of the new Monster figurines on a city on the board. Then the next-to-last player places the other Monster figurine on another city. There are two decks of 20 Monster cards (one for each figurine), and two Monster Bonus cards for the end of the game - these all get placed near the board. Then play commences as usual. During the game, you may (in addition to your normal turn) play a locomotive card to move a monster figurine up to 3 cities, following network lines. You may play two cards to move the figurine up to 6 cities. You may only move the same monster twice with two cards, not each monster once. When you do this extra action (either one or two cards) you select one of the Monster Cards of the type you moved (either Alvin or Dexter) and place it in front of you until your next turn. While there is a monster card in front of someone, that monster may not be activated by someone else. Once your turn comes around again, you turn the card face down, but you keep it. While a monster is in a city, nobody can claim (build) routes into or out of that city. At end of the game, the player with the most Monster Cards of each critter gets the monster bonus for that critter. Tickets, at the end of the game, with a Monster on one of their cities, are only worth half. Uncompleted tickets with a monster on one of their cities, only cost half(!) as much.
Opinion Yes, Great!

Second up - the recent (2010) Agricola Legen*Dairy Forest Deck, which is a follow-up to the X-Deck.
What do you get?You get a small box with 24 cards in it, and a small rules folder.

What does it do? More cards for Agricola. This includes the Event deck, first from the X-Deck supplement. The cards here are all from a light hearted fantasy/fairy-tale motif. Quite a few have some Monty Python and the Holy Grail DNA injected into them (which is a good thing.
Opinion Yes, Great!

Third Up - the 2008 Carcassonne: The Catapult add-on for Carcassonne.
What do you get?You get a wooden catapult for launching(!) round cardboard tokens. You get a bunch of cardboard tokens that are to be launched with the catapult, and you get a handful of new tiles all with the "Faire" symbol on them.

What does it do?Whenever you pull and play a tile with a Faire symbol on it, that starts a Catapult round. The player who just played the Faire symbol gets to shoot a token from the edge of the board towards the middle of the layout of tiles. Depending on the token chosen (each player starts with one of each type), several actions are possible: Knock out tokens try to remove meeples; Seduction tokens try to swap meeples; Target tokens try to hit the faire tile; Catch tokens must be caught for points.
Opinion Nope, give it a miss!

Okay, so why did the "Gaming with Chuck" staff like the first two add-ons and not the third one? I think the reason is simple - framework. The first two listed are within the framework of the game they add on to - in the case of Alvin and Dexter, you are still just drawing and playing cards. Now you get to move an alien piece, but its effects mesh into the structure very well. In the second case there are just more cards to choose from - whether they are events (introduced in X-Deck), or new occupations or minor improvements. Each, in some way, adds to the Agricola experience by introducing new rules and/or actions - but each is essentially a basic Agricola component. In the third case, you are taking the basic structure of the game (decision-based tile placement and scoring) and adding in a wonky dexterity based shoot-it-up mechanic that is very different from the framework of the game. The faire tiles work within the framework, but the actual catapulting does not (again, according to the opinions of management, workers, and elves at Gaming with Chuck).


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Steam - An excellent session at Williamsburg Muster

Williamsburg Muster (our next convention will be Guns of August, Aug 12-14) was last weekend, in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was an excellent time!  We had over 200 gamers come to the convention, in addition to the 70 staff and vendor bodies that were there (but hey - we all get to play at the Muster)!

One of the things I got to do (more later some of the other stuff I was part of) was play a great game of Steam on Friday night with some old friends and some new friends.  Steam is a relatively new re-implementation of Age of Steam, from the genius of Martin Wallace.  Great game, with turns (in the basic game) consisting of (1) choosing roles (which grant special privileges through the turn; (2) building tracks and city improvements; (3) moving cargoes; and (4) adjusting income.  In the advance game, rather than choose roles, they are auctioned off.  It adds a good deal more strategy, but with the addition of an auction and also a money sink.

Around the table were Jeremy C (Black), Bob W (Natural), Byron C (White), Jake DT (Green) and myself (Orange).  We played (since I only had the base set, and we had 5 players) the Germany map.
{Not actually our game}
The game was great.  The thing I love about Steam (other than role selection, building, and TRAINS!!!) is that there are several paths to victory.  We played the basic version, which allows for money borrowing at any time, and also allows for role selection in order (vs. bidding for it each turn, which makes the game economy harder by creating a resource sink, but I digress into game theory).
{Actually our game}

Anyway, at the end of the game, the four of us other than Jake were pretty closely grouped together.  Jake, on the other hand, had over 10 points more than any of us.  Fun, but disgruntling.  I definitely want to play more!

When I got Steam, I was definitely interested in a tile based train game.  The other options open to me would be to find a used copy of Railroad Tycoon, a copy of Age of Steam, Railways of the World or some other tile based railroad game (less popular than those).  Age of Steam has a zillion supplements available for it, many of which seem to be compatible with Steam.  But between those two Steam wins, because it is (1) more casual gamer friendly, and (2) has more attractive components.  Railroad Tycoon is based on one of my favorite computer game franchises, is ALSO a Martin Wallace design (albeit with development by Glenn Drover of Eagle Games), and has AWESOME plastic bits for the towns.  However . . . the board is HUGE (3 feet by almost 4 feet), and won't fit on most tables.  It has been replaced by Railways of the World - which was the serious contender against Steam.  In the end, I think I chose Steam because of all the Age of Steam variants that could be accessed.  However, there are already several nice new boards, etc out for Railways of the world. From talking with some TAGS guys (Jake, who played, and David) it appears as if there are enough differences to possibly warrant also getting Railways of the World, one day when I'm rich and famous.
The Good Fellows playing at Williamsburg Muster