surrealcouchuniverse

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


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DICE TOWER AWARDS 2017: QUICK THOUGHTS

So the Dice Tower awards have been announced. This was definitely the year of Gloomhaven, winning 5 of the 14 awards. Overall I thought that the games were deserving winners, and the nominees were also quite good. Out of the winners, I have played 6 and own 5.

Gloomhaven for me was a deserving winner, although the nomination for Strategy game definitely felt like a stretch. By that definition, most modern games are strategy so anything could be nominated. Also, I felt there are better pure strategy games out there, and the main strength of the game is everything that happens outside combat. However, it is a game that has slowly won me over and is now into my top 10 of all time somewhere. Every game I play makes me want to play the next game more.

The nominees are great as they are all good looking games. There isn’t a bunch of semi-boring euro games or weird games. Where the Spiel nominations seemed to fall down this year with boring and generic looking games, the Dice Tower Awards proved that great and interesting games came out. And Theme Matters.

 

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Kickstarter Quick Thoughts- 16 June 2018

So another big month of Kickstarters with some big ones launching now. Here are my thoughts:

Solomon Kane- A miniature story game that has players trying to guide a protagonist through a horde of enemies. Characters collectively control a single character. Seems interesting and the campaign is well run but also potentially annoying with a single characters actions being split over multiple people. Did not back.

Neta Tanka- A worker placement game from the company that made Outlive. It has a similar interesting take on semi-coop mechanics. A good track record makes this an easy choice to back. Backed.

Solar City- A solar punk games that seems interesting. However, it looks like games can easily become frustrating because of the blocking mechanics. Quadropolis looks like a better version of the same mechanic, although with a less interesting theme. Passed.

Creatures and Cupcakes- A cute little racing game about pushing your luck and racing to the finish line. Seems swingy and a bit too light. Also the lacklustre campaign isn’t helping matters. Pass.

Kung Fu Panda- A Kung-fu Panda game using the Escape mechanics. Seems fun. Backed.

So a few projects have launched. A few bigger ones have also finished up. Maybe I will post about them soon.


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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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The Dark Knight: Getting Batman Right

Batman has become a bit of a joke recently. Just look at Justice League or BvS, where Batman can apparently stand toe-to-toe with people because of preparation. For me, the best Batman movie has been The Dark Knight. The following is some quick thoughts on why that is (outside of the great performances, action scenes, etc.).

Bruce Wayne the Detective: Batman Begins or Dark Knight Rises never bothered to show Bruce Wayne doing detective stuff. Batman is the world’s greatest detective. So showing him come up with ways to extract a Chinese citizen or getting fingerprints from a shell casing is great. We got to see him doing detective stuff and having ideas about how to get things done instead of a stupid placing a spear in a random building.

Batman the Human: On the other side, we have Batman. He isn’t a perfect person and makes mistakes. He gets beaten up and wounded but still gets the job done. And this isn’t where he is seconds away from death. For example, he gets bitten by dogs. This isn’t a life-threatening thing, but makes him not an all invincible machine.

Joker the Underestimated: Falling into the top two, The Joker is constantly under-estimated. Everyone’s focus is on the mob, including believing The Joker is a dog of the mob. By the time people realise he is doing his own thing, he has caused so much damage.

Everyone is Human: Everyone is human and makes mistakes. This is something the Joker constantly takes advantage off. However, you never feel like these are just for the plot (mostly). You can feel where they are coming from, how they have been manipulated, and why their decisions are justified.

Cliffhanger Ending With Closure: I know they made Dark Knight Rises, an overblown snore-fest. But this had an ending setting up consequences but still closing off the main story. You didn’t feel cheated but started theorising about what happens next.


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Some Quick Thoughts on Some Recent Board Games

So just thought I would share some quick thoughts on some recent games I have played.

Great Western Trail was an interesting game. A mixture of route building, deck building and engine building, I thought it was okay. It is really held back in how they balanced the hand mechanic and opponents buildings, which may be one of the worst mechanics I have come across in an otherwise good game.

Master of Orion The Board Game is also a really good game. You are balancing the resources, card plays and actions. I really enjoyed it, although attacking mechanic feels a bit too constricting in direct interaction. A system like Vikings Gone Wild May have worked better. A really good game.

Kemet is a game like Scythe. But where Scythe reward VP for economy, this is pure control and fighting. Everything is so close it is a knife fight in a phone booth. And tough choices with future battles vs current make it stand out.

So there are some recent games and my quick thoughts on them.


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Avengers: Infinity War Thoughts (Spoilers)

Marvel movies have gotten quite allot of ribbing lately for the lack of consequences in them. They are often ridiculed as movies where death has no real consequences. People ignore that DC did the exact same thing with Superman.

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Spoilers

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Infinity War asks a very important question here: can you make death meaningful even when you know it is meaningless. The answer is a resounding yes. You know that these characters are coming back. Some movies are already in shooting. The McGuffin can rewrite reality. But it makes you care.

Most the sadness of the final act comes from knowing the characters. They are like real people you know. And when they feel loss, you feel loss. When Iron Man is forlorn with Parker dying in his arms, you know the characters and what it means to them.

So Marvel did something extremely difficult. They made a movie that ended with a bunch of meaningless deaths, and made them meaningful. Regardless of how Part 2 ends up, that is a big feather in their cap.


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Kickstarter Retrospective: Tiny Epic Galaxies and Rise of Cthulhu

So now onto a couple of smaller Games as part of my Kickstarter Retrospective:

Tiny Epic Galaxies by Gamelyn Games:¬† This is a game that I thought was quite good. However, after playing about 10 times, it was a bit played out for me. I wasn’t really too excited to play it and it also played quite slowly for what it was with more than 3. It wasn’t hitting the table too much and I felt I saw everything it had to offer (and a friend has a copy for when I want to play) so it was sold on.

Rise of Cthulhu by Chuck D’ Yaeger: A 2 player game where it was kind-of like Smash-up, in that you are fighting over locations. There are also investigators foiling your plan. I played it a few times but similarly, it was played out pretty quickly. So it was sold on.

So there are two games that lacked the repeated play discovery or excitement, so were sold on. They were good while they lasted, but ultimately reached their lifespan for me.