surrealcouchuniverse

"You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." – Dean Martin


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Why I Love: 7 Wonders

7 Wonders is one of my favorite card games to play with large groups and small. There are some good reasons why I continue to like this game and continues to be played regularly.

The first is the card-drafting. This game plays with simultaneous card drafting. That means that the only downtime you have is when you are waiting for other players to draft cards. As you pass cards around and draft the cards for your benefit, you also have to keep an eye on what your neighbors are doing. This is done over three ages.

And speaking of ages, the purpose you are drafting cards is so that you can build your tableau. 7 Wonders isn’t just card drafting. It also has a sense of escalation as you go through the 3 ages. Each age has different cards that achieve different things, and learning how to balance the competing demands is key. It is a game that uses an escalating-tableau in order to get points.

That isn’t to say the game is perfect. With a large number of players, it can be easy to get locked out of resources and hamstrung just from the luck of what people draw to draft from. Also, it is a beast to learn, especially concepts like ‘spotting’ resources instead of paying them or the large number of symbols.

Despite this, this is a game that plays quick, has some depth and goes to large number of players. There are not many of these games around, and 7 Wonders is a game that does all these things well and is a good game to boot,

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Origin Game One: Preview Thoughts

So Origin One is here. It has been a weird build-up for Origin, with Queensland firmly going in as underdogs. So here are my quick thoughts on the State of Origin.

Queensland are definitely underdogs. The reasons are a bit weird. Queensland are claimed to be too old, not enough experience, or having a new ‘spine’. New South Wales have most these things as well. However, Queensland are still underdogs (in my opinion) because they have such a disrupted build-up and allot of out-of-form players.

This will be the test of Queensland’s coaching, as well. There is no legacy of great Queensland players to rely on anymore. Both teams seem pretty even. However, the Queensland coaching staff seems to content to play games. Choosing players out of position, last minute changes, etc. seem to be the order of the day. In contrast, the Blues seem to want to highlight their unorthodox coaching methods.

I think the Blues will win. It might even be a blowout. However, the real test for them is how they take the accolades after this game. Last year, the team collapsed and were dominated on the field (and once on the actual scorecard) when they were called the new legacy of Blues players. How Fittler handles his teams ego will be just as important as any coaching drills he may run.


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Solo Board Gaming Thoughts: AI

So I have some quick thoughts on what makes a good solo game AI. Solo games I like when they have a solid win/loss condition. So what makes a good AI for a games solo mode.

The obvious thing is that it actually effects a player and forces them to adapt. Taking away some options is good. This is normally the most basic, with dummy workers being placed to reduce players options. Games like Viticulture or Russian Railroads do this, blocking spaces at the beginning of a round passively.

However, what is better is forcing the player to try blocking the AI. This might mean that the AI has its own objectives, and the player has to more actively choose to prevent the ai getting resources on its turn. For example, Outlive’s AI is great as it has its own objectives (get population normally) and blocking the AI makes you more vulnerable to having the AI steal your resources. The only downside is there aren’t multiple AI systems to vary the games.

So that is a quick comparison of different solo board game AI systems. Both work, but one is a bit better to play against. One forced you to adopt your overall strategy rather than just how you react each turn. Having multiple AI opponents with goals also helps keep this all fresh.


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Playing This Weekend

So another weekend is nearly upon us and I am looking at what I want to play this weekend.

Outlive: I want to play a solo game to get a feel for the game. It seems pretty simple so shouldn’t be too hard.

Barbarians The Invasion: I really enjoyed my first game of this so I am hoping that the I get to play this again. It just takes up allot of space so a bit hard to setup.

Fantasy Defense; I want to continue my campaign to the end. It seems fun but have hit a speed bump.

Anachrony: I am planning to bring this out with friends so also need to learn it. The rulebook isn’t the most inviting.

Terraforming Mars: A sandbox engine builder that I am hoping to try out again. Hoping to play with Anachrony but don’t mind Solo.


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Origin Teams Announced

So the new State of Origin teams have been announced. Both sides have seen a changing of the guard, although for different reasons.

Queensland have changed a few due to retirements. There is also a bit of a flow on from injuries sustained last year, with some veterans unable to keep their spots over their replacements. To be fair, there was very little surprises. I am glad they didn’t go for Daly Chery Evans, as he has had multiple chances and never stood up in the origin arena.

New South Wales is a bit more interesting. They have faced the reality that they are 12/13, and have finally left some losing campaigners out. Say what you will about their form, but the stench on defeat definitely followed a Gallen-led Blues outfit. With some new debutants, maybe they can excise the past nightmare.

So a couple of weeks until game one. I have little doubt it will be here in no time. The excitement, however, isn’t quite there yet for me.


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Why It’s on My Shelf: Cthulhu Wars

So to continue the why I love series about board games that are on my shelf, I will delve into Cthulhu Wars and why I always enjoy bringing it out.

The best and biggest thing is definitely the aesthetic and table presence. Although it doesn’t help the price tag or shelf space requirements, this game definitely pops on the table. Big models are stomping around the world and laying into each other.

And laying into each other is what they do. This is a dudes on a map game where it can escalate quickly. No-one is ever too far away as they hope to sneak in some hurt to you while they earn some points and abilities. You have to try to protect everything while also being aggressive and building your economy.

It isn’t perfect. It is a Dice based combat system where, although combat isn’t very deadly (forcing retreats more than deaths), if you get a bad roll or given your opponent the opportunity to cripple you with a good roll, it can be difficult to recover. In fact, with some faction goals, you may even become a target. The game is relatively quick so your recovery chances may be slim.

Also the Onslaught 1 stuff is probably best. There is allot of variety with neutral monsters and maps you can use to vary the gameplay. However, some of the later expansions introduce some pretty bad balancing issues that are slowly being worked on (Tcho Tcho comes to mind).

So although not a horror game, Cthulhu Wars plays quickly and has a good theme. I really love the feel of the game and the assymetry. It does have its flaws, but it is far more fun than it has any right to be. And that is why I love Cthulhu Wars.


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Hitting The Table: 19/5

So what board games am I hoping hit the table from my collection this weekend. In no particular order, they are:

City of Kings- This is like Legends of Andor but more open-world. I find myself enjoying it, and it has some neat systems. As I work out the system more and more I am also getting more accomplished. Still, I wish there was a little less randomness in it.

Barbarians The Invasion: A cool rondel-like mechanic giving card play mixed with track progression and some area control, I am hoping to get a first play in this weekend to see if it hold up to the promise.

Outlive: I just want to play this worker displacement game. Who would have thought the best Fallout game wouldn’t be Fallout, but a game about keeping your shelter alive.

Mythos Tales: I want to play a scenario in this system to see how it goes. I keep zoning on the rulebook for some reason, though.

Seasons: I want to make a new engine. It will be even more broken and wild than my last engine. Then I will be making it rain points.