Monday, April 13, 2015

New Train Titles - pt 1

So, a few new games were acquired late last year.  Some of these were discussed in the posting about Thanksgiving gaming, and some were mentioned in the post about the Christmas break gaming.  But, a few of the titles were train related, and as train related gaming is something of a high interest theme here at Gaming with Chuck, it felt right to do a short blog post about it.

First, a word about Train games.  These are not all what purists would call Railroad games.  To some, that includes the 18xx series.  To others, that includes the Martin Wallace masterpieces, Steam, Age of Steam, and the various derivative titles (Railroad Tycoon and Railways of the World).  Still others include railroad themed route building games (which tend to be lighter, such as Ticket to Ride, or TransAmerica).  To some it is the family of crayon based games, such as Empire Builder (and Dampfross, and many others).  It might include railroad theme games such as Russian Railroads.  And strange combinations of these, like Chicago Express.  Finally, to some it even includes games that have mechanics that are typically Railroad game mechanics, but for non-railroad themes like Elfenland, or Poseidon.

To me, all of those are Train games.  It can be a train related mechanic (pick up and deliver, stock manipulation, network building, travel), or it can be theme (Russian Railroads, Express).

So, what were some of the train titles acquired last year here at GwC headquarters?
  • Boxcars
  • Isle of Trains
  • Continental Express
  • Paris Connection
  • Russian Railroads
  • Ticket to Ride 10 Year Anniversary Set
  • Trains: Rising Sun
  • Yardmaster
  • Yardmaster Express
A few words about these . . .

Boxcars, of course, is the Rio Grande Games re-issue of the Avalon Hill classic, Rail Baron.  But wait!  Rail Baron was a reissue of the game Boxcars.  So we are now back to the original.  Except, it has a new board (the UK) and some adjusted rules.  This is a game of pick up and delivery.  The routes are all developed.  What players can do, other than receiving a constant stream of pickup and delivery points, is to purchase railroads, which are cheaper for them to run on, but more expensive for the competition. The game is a simple race to develop a pile of money ($200K) and then return to home base (starting position).  Very fun, and now made even better because the one tedious part of the game was using the charts to roll up cities for delivery.  This can be done, now, with a very nice App for iPad and iPhone - available for free from iTunes.  What a great thing!

Isle of Trains is a great little card game, from the Dice Hate Me games series of 54 card games called the Rabbits.  This was the result of a kickstarter, the ended up with six published titles.  The series includes:
Yep - Seth Jaffee of Eminent Domain fame is the (co) designer of this great little card game.  The game is one of building your train (using mechanisms familiar to deck builder game players - cars have costs, and you pay that cost with other cards from your hand), and then loading cargo on your own, and others', trains.  Why load on another player's train?  Well, because you are rewarded with special actions - and they make all the difference.  Once you have a train, and some cargo, you can complete contracts - of which there are six, each corresponding to one of the main cities on the Island of Sodor Isle that is the namesake of the game.  We have played this a few times, and the decision making and action planning is great - especially for a small format game.  It takes about an hour to play, and it is an hour well spent.  One of the best things about the game, is that the great card art (by Daniel Guidera and Christopher Kirkman) is fantastic, and very reminiscent of a Little Golden Book (especially The Train to Timbuctoo and The Little Red Caboose).

Continental Express is also a small format card game. This one is from Asmodee, and is packed in a really nice tin box, similar to another of their titles, The Builders: Middle Ages.  They have several other titles in this same format of small tin box (Noah, Souk, Cardline: Animals, Cardline Dinosaurs, and Cardline: Globetrotter), however The Builders and Continental Express seem to be the most mature of these.  In this game, as in Isle of Trains, you are constructing a train.  However, that is the goal of this one - building the train.  You collect sets of cards, drawn from a pool of available cards each turn, and then turn them in for new cars on your train.  Each new car card has a train line symbol, and there are bonus point categories for those symbols.  Not a bad little game, and set collection is always a good mechanism.  The artwork is gorgeous, although closer to the Ticket to Ride artwork, than it is to other styles.

More coming on other titles, but this is enough for now. . . .

Assorted gaming projects and activities - an update

Several things have been going on lately, in the Gaming sphere of life at GwC headquarters.  Here is a rundown...

Cold Wars - I attended Cold Wars last month - it was a touch and go decision up until the last minute, and it wasn't helped by the fact that there was a dreadful blizzard on the day I was supposed to leave.  I left the next day, and still had a great time.
I met up with Chris and a bunch of the folks from Maryland, and further north, who game together at the HMGS shows - I have played with them a bunch in the past, but mostly it was Warhammer Ancients.  Patrick, of course, was there - as were Mike and Gil and some others.
I got to participate, as a viewer/heckler and Referee's assistant (glorified title for flipping a few initiative cards) in some really compelling games of Muskets and Tomahawks from Studio Tomahawk (the fine folks who publish SAGA).  I bought a copy of the rules, and the cards, etc, from Steve at Age of Glory- a great fellow to deal with.

Painting - I have begun collecting some new paints.  I have wanted, for some time, to experiment with using artist acrylics, entirely, for a project - and then assessing what the finished look is like, compared to using gamer paints (like Vallejo or Reaper), or craft paints (like Folk Art or Apple Barrel).  The brand I have selected is Liquitex.  I went with the Basics line, rather than the Heavy Pigment line.  I have used some of the colors from their Heavy Pigment artist line before - notably Titanium White and Cadmium Red (for 19th century Egyptians and British Red Coats, respectively, because I wanted bold bright colors, and I wasn't getting that from the craft paints I was using at the time).  The results for me were excellent, and so I wanted to follow up by purchasing a full palette of colors to use for an upcoming project.  I went ahead and got the 24 color starter set - the additional colors in the 36 color and 48 color sets did not really inspire me too much as being necessary for an experiment in a new medium.  I did wander outside of the Liquitex range for some other colors I will need - notably, I picked a light terracotta color from the Winsor & Newton line, to use as a basis for flesh.  I plan to try this out on a unit or two of Vikings, either for SAGA, or Lionheart, or both.

Boardgames - Many new card games and board games over the past few months, since Christmas, mostly from Kickstarter rewards and a few trades and purchases.  I have begun writing an article about new Train titles at GwC headquarters, and will publish that shortly.  Played a few titles on the week leading up to Tabletop Day, but did not participate in any activities this year (we were on a spring break trip, and returned too late to host a game day, or attend the activities at the local game shop).  Some of the titles played recently included Salmon Run, On the Underground, and Valley of the Kings.  Loads of boardgames on the iPad, but hey - that don't count.

Wargaming - There has been, of late, a resurgence in interest in Wargaming in the Department of Defense, and a number of professional developments for me are underway, where I am participating in wargaming design, the re-purposing of models and simulators for wargaming, and also teaching my Combat Modeling class.  Not really hobby oriented, but hey - steel sharpens steel.

Roleplaying - I have taken up the flung gauntlet from John, in following on his Village of Hommlet game, in the World of Greyhawk.  I have the players investigating the circumstances (which, of course, includes a DUNGEON) around the mysterious deaths of three brothers, who were Knights from Veluna, who came with Prince Thrommel to fight the army of evil at the battle of Emridy Meadows.  The Knights, distracted by the youngest one who fell in love with a Village girl near Nulb, disappeared before the battle of Emridy Meadows took place.  Now, ten years later, the players were traveling through the region, on their way north from Hommlet, and they came across tales and rumors.  The game so far has focused on the upper level of the Dungeon they uncovered in the forest glade where the Brothers were laid to rest - but who killed them?  What happened to the girl?  How come two of the three graves are empty?  The game is going well, although we only play about 1-2 times a month. 

Conventions - I have been helping, and will continue to help with the ODMS conventions in Williamsburg.  Some of the Staff have had medical problems and the remaining crew needs the help.  Also, I plan to attend Fall In next November (I can't wait).  I don't know about Historicon (family travel the week before, and the week after, will leave that weekend pretty tied up), but have been thinking about "The Weekend".  Does that event's name sound like an M Night Shyamalan movie to anyone but me?  Also, planning on attending Congregate in Greensboro NC this summer, working staff for the Con Suite.  Plan to do some heavy gaming while there, as well.

That is all, for now, will report back soon, and hopefully the Train Game article will come around quickly.