Monday, 29 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #27: Dark Dealings - Games #1 & #2

Going back to my list of games that I had selected for the 10 x 10 Challenge; I decided that next up would be Dark Dealings by Nevermore Games. A game that I had been really looking forward to playing for a few months now..

So much so that I didn't pay much attention to the notes that I should have been making for my write ups during the first couple of games. I also wasn't really too sure about what information I needed to be capturing either, having not played the game before; so what information I did take down was lacking in relevant detail.

In short, I really screwed the pooch on this one.

Luckily however I noticed where I had gone wrong by the end of game two, so I made sure to capture everything I needed in game three; and that working out of what's required (even if a little late) does stand me in good stead going forwards.

As a (very) brief summary of my first two games though, I would say the following:

Game #1

Being the first game I didn't get very far at all in the final (combat) phase; having not drafted particularly well in the second (defense) phase. I had completely neglected to draft any cards which could deal with one of the thieves that I had drafted in the first (hero) phase; which meant game over (as soon as you encounter a hero that you cannot defeat, you lose the game).

Game #2

Having developed a good idea of how to play the game, and having started to form some tactics; I did a LOT better in the second game. This time around I made it as far as the seventh hero before I had to concede (as I had used all of my defenses on the previous six heroes).

In Summary

There we have it, two VERY brief write ups from some VERY sketchy notes made on the fly. Not that I plan to let this set the tone; intending as I do to return to blogging as usual with the next post, having captured a lot more of my last game as it was played through my note taking.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #26: Of Mice And Men

After what was a slow start to my 10 x 10 Challenge, it seems that I have finally begun to generate a head of steam; playing through four games so far this week (although I am yet to write three of them up), and having every intention of taking full advantage of the bank holiday to play a few more whilst I have the momentum.

It's also quite important that I do as much as I can towards the challenge this bank holiday, as it's almost a given that I'll do very little in the way of gaming next weekend.. Well, not towards the challenge at any rate; as I'll be at the UK Games Expo.

That's not to say however that if the opportunity to play any one of the games on my list with fellow gamers should arise; I'd pass up the chance (a subsequent write up could prove a little tricky though, as sitting there with a notepad as I do when I game at home, might seem more than a little rude).

So with my impending absence in mind, I think it's time to revise my previous plan a little.. Not just yet though.

As I plan to be gaming again tomorrow; I'll leave it until after the bank holiday to sit down and make my calculations. Not that I imagine that there will be a massive shift in the plan for the sake of one week up, one week down; but it doesn't hurt to check.

10 x 10 Challenge #25: Eight Epics - Game #10

It doesn't seem all that long ago that I first broke out Eight Epics for the first time as part of my 10 x 10 Challenge; and here we are already. The tenth, and final game.

Before we get to it though, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the some of the highlights so far. There was the outrage at Makano, the first win, and the first loss of an avatar in the first round (that didn't end the game there and then). All of them quite memorable moments.

So one last time (as a part of the challenge at least), it is time to shuffle the threat deck, setup the avatars (I'll be going with my standard game four order for the avatars again), and draw my first card..

Round 1 - Threat: Narssis, Unholy One.

Defeating Narssis took a lot out of the avatars, as I ran through seven out of eight of them trying to clear the challenges. That said, the losses were minimal given the effort exerted; with only 8 Life Points being lost amongst the group as whole; leaving me in a very strong position to deal with whatever threat I may be next. 

Round 2 - Threat: Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth.

I'm always happy to see Pirn, because as threats go; he doesn't tend to cause me too much in the way of problems.. Then again, I used to say similar things about Uluwash, and look what happened there. Pirn came good though, and went down without too much of a fight; but to the cost of losing one avatar (Sylliph) in the fray.

Round 3 - Threat: Hronthar, Winged Flame.

Hronthar is the polar opposite of Pirn, in that he rarely comes quietly; and this game was no exception. Whilst the avatars where able to clear the first two of his challenges without taking much more than a scratch; challenge three introduced them to a whole world of hurt.

By the end of round three the avatars had lost a total of 23 Life Points as a group; with five of the remaining seven avatars being reduced to half of their starting Life Points, or less.

Round 4 - Threats: Makano, Drill Strider / Serrin, Shadow Reaper.

What a final draw for the final game!

It was hard to know where to start. Normally I would target the threat that I thought was going to be the most difficult to beat first in the final round, but if past experience has taught me anything; it's that these are both difficult customers, more than capable of wiping the floor with me individually - let alone as a team!

Seeing nothing in it, I decided to go for Serrin first. Sure, Makano may be broken in my opinion; but I have found that the best way of dealing with Serrin is with re-rolls (as opposed to abilities); and I'll get more of those to work with if I tackle him first.

Serrin was still hard work though, and I had to cycle through several of my avatars more than once (using Leafwind's ability) in order to secure enough re-rolls to secure victory against him. So by the time I came to face off against Makano; only four avatars remained, all of them on 1 Life Point.

When it came to Makano, the avatars did put up a good fight (clearing half of his challenges), but sadly all they had left to throw at him was not enough; and the game was ultimately lost.

Final Thoughts   

Eight Epics has been an interesting game to play; but I'm not sure that it will be one that I will return to too frequently in the future. Not because it's bad, but more because it simply doesn't have a whole lot going on that would keep me coming back to it.

As you've seen from the various playthroughs here, the same avatars keep coming up again and again; which can get a little repetitive. Something which leads me to fully understand why the AEG release of this game came with a couple of in-box variants. It needs them!

That's not to say it's a bad game though. With its quick setup and play times it's a perfect filler game, or a nice way to round off a long days gaming.. It just doesn't pack the "big game in a little box" punch that say Harbor does.

So in summary, Eight Epics probably wouldn't be my first choice to bring to the gaming table; but if I were only looking to kill 20-30, it certainly wouldn't be my last.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Creepy As All Balls

Glass Clown - Creepy As All Balls
There's very little left in this world that frightens me anymore. I used to have quite the phobia of spiders, but I got past it; to the point where I am now actually happy to see them.

Clowns though.. That's another matter entirely. I still find clowns to be as creepy as all balls. Something that I believe started with my sister's collection of porcelain ones that I grew up with. Horrible, horrible things.. Not that they've got anything on this hideous glass monstrosity that I bought today..

Yeah. BOUGHT! Odd behavior given my feelings towards clowns in general; and even more bizarre when you consider just how f****d up this particular clown looks. Seriously! Look at that sinister grin, and the eye that has drifted away from the face as if Picasso blew this beast.

 So why did I buy it, when just looking at it unsettles me and gives me an uneasy feeling in the very pit of my stomach?

Honestly I don't know. I can only reason that there is some part of me that wants me to best my fears and overcome my phobias. Presumably the same part of me that compelled me to buy this.. Either that, or there could be evil clown mind control techniques at work.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Meeple Merson's Day Off

It's not very often that I get a day off in the middle of the week.. But then again, it's not every day that your boiler decides that hot water is an optional extra that you can do without.

The boiler has been a touch on the temperamental side for years now, but just lately it has really excelled itself; and this week there hasn't been a single day where it's done what it's supposed to do, and produced a tank of hot water.

Not a major problem in the current heatwave, but recalling some of the "fun" (and icy baths) I had last winter during a cold snap; it's probably better to sort this sooner rather than later. So I booked myself some emergency leave, and here I am. Sat in the house on what is a lovely sunny day, waiting for an engineer to turn up. Not an ideal way to spend a days holiday by any stretch of the imagination.

This is however where my (infuriating in the opinion of some people) optimism kicks in.

Whilst I'd sooner be out and about, that's not an option; so what can I do? Well, I have plenty of projects on the go, so I could spend some time on those. I have the internet, so I could learn something new. I have more than five bookshelves full of board games, three of DVD's, and two of video games; so I'm really not short of stuff to do.

Most importantly I have a day off I wasn't expecting, and when the universe gives you something like that; you should make the best of it!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #24: Eight Epics - Game #9

It looks like I've fallen behind again. Not with my gaming thankfully (Eight Epics - Game#9 was played on Sunday), but certainly on my blogging (as Eight Epics - Game #9 was played on SUNDAY!). I would like to be able say it's not my fault. That there were unforeseen circumstances.. And I might be able to do just that if I hadn't seen this eventuality coming a mile off.

This update has been a little slow in coming due to the fatigue that has been creeping up on me for weeks; and it was only a matter of time before something had to give. Thankfully though, I am happy to report that after a few days of taking things at a slower pace (or as close as my life comes to it); I am beginning to feel my energy levels pick up, and with a few early nights I should be as right as rain in no time.

So where are we at?

Not quite where I wanted to be by this point to be honest.

I had hoped to be a little further along in terms of the difficulty toggles at this juncture, but as the game is still proving a good challenge; I have kept to my original decision of only incrementing the difficulty with every game won. It was tempting to turn it all the way up for the last couple of games just to see how it would play out; but I'm so close to bringing home a win at this difficulty, I decided to stick with it.

So as with my previous game, I arranged the avatars as I had in game four, created a threat deck, and drew my first card..

Round 1 - Threat: Serrin, Shadow Reaper.

I was a little worried when I saw this as the first draw (I thought I was going to have another game five on my hands), but things went surprisingly well.. To a degree. I did push Caroosh a lot harder than I should have (pushing too hard being the running theme in this post, and did lead to him being eliminated); but with a few subsequent lucky rolls and some well timed uses of Sylliph's ability the threat was overcome a lot easier than I had expected.

At the end of the round the avatars as a whole had lost 10 Life Points (6 of which were Caroosh's), with only one other avatar taking any significant damage (being reduced to less than half of their starting Life Points).

Round 2 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.

Uluwash managed to maintain his streak as one tricky customer in this game; requiring a lot of the avatars abilities to clear his challenges. Not that his slippery nature had quite the impact on the avatars that it had done previously, with the party easily pulling through with a respectable loss of only 18 Life Points amongst them.

Round 3 - Threat: Broxix, Pestilent Breath.

Next up was Broxix, and whilst I thought I used a fair few of the avatars abilities on Uluwash; Broxix took the biscuit (and the factory they were made in to boot). Beating Broxix came down to the wire (and the last active avatar), and the group as a whole had started to show some wear; with the total Life Points lost increasing to 25, and two of the avatars only holding on by one single point.

Round 4 - Threats: Makano, Drill Strider / Pirn Ramapging Overgrowth.

It wouldn't be a game of Eight Epics without Makano making an appearance; and in this instance things started off well enough (although I did lose another avatar clearing the first challenge). The first three of Makano's challenges were passed quite easily (with the exception of the loss), and without too much in the way of resistance. Challenge four however was an absolute nightmare!

By the time I had locked in the final dice I had lost another two avatars, with the other four being reduced to only 1 Life Point each.

Despite the odds being heavily stacked against them, the avatars did manage to clear two of Pirn's three challenges in the final round; which whilst not enough to win the game, was never the less quite impressive.

Final Thoughts

Another very close game, and the first time I have ever lost an avatar in the first round and still managed to make it to the second. Beyond that, I am not sure that there is much more that could be added in the way of additional commentary and reflection; so given my goal of reducing waffle, onward to game ten!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #23: Eight Epics - Game #8

Time for another game of Eight Epics, and as with my last game I will be keeping the order of the avatars and the difficulty toggles set as they were in the fourth game.

So with no new decisions to make, I prepared the avatars, created the threat deck; and drew my first card...

Round 1 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

To say that me and this threat have history would be an understatement. To this date, Makano has been a massive thorn in my side every time that I have drawn him.. And I seem to draw him a lot (he's been drawn in six out of seven games I've played so far by my count)! This time however, things went very differently.

Whilst I did take a good few licks on the first challenge; I passed the subsequent three with great ease, meaning the avatars as a whole only lost 12 Life Points. Less than they lost to Narssis in the opening round of the last game; who in my opinion is comparatively a less difficult threat to overcome.

Round 2 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.

Riding high on the success of round one, I was happy to see Uluwash drawn next. True, he had given me a hard time in the last game; but I would say that was the exception as opposed to the the rule. Little did I know at that point, that I was in store for more of the same.

High roll after high roll put a serious dent in the avatars; eliminating one (Jarroth), and leaving five others on half of their starting Life Point totals, or less.

Round 3 - Threat: Broxix, Pestilant Breath.

Last round I needed all low rolls. This round I needed all high rolls, so it was quite ironic and amusing to see all the low rolls come out as I tried to beat Broxix; just as all the high rolls had come out during my battle against Uluwash.

Putting my love of irony aside however, this meant the condition of the avatars went from bad at the end of the last round, to significantly worse by the end of this one; leaving only two of them standing (Leafwind and Ophinia), both with only 1 Life Point.

Round 4 - Threats: Narssis, Unholy One / Hronthar, Winged Flame.

The last round was pretty short and sweet as the remaining two avatars decided to try their luck with Narssis. However, being as badly depleted as they were they were unable to check off even a single challenge; ending the round and the game.

Final Thoughts

The dice were definitely against me this time, but I still made it to the final round (if only briefly); which I'm going to take as a good sign.

To me it means that I am getting closer to beating this difficulty setting; and I'm doing so more through strategy and critical thinking than I am through blind luck. Quite impressive (even if I do say so myself) when you consider that this is largely a luck driven game.

10 x 10 Challenge #22: Eight Epics - Game #7

Continuing on with my 10 x 10 Challenge, and the related blogging; I set up another game of Eight Epics, using the same toggles and starting line up as I did previously. I may not won a game playing the avatars in this order as of yet, but I am convinced that this is probably one of the best orders to place them in.

So I lined them up, set their Life Points, prepared the threat deck, and drew the first card..

Round 1 - Threat: Narssis, Unholy One.

Based on past experience Narssis can be a tough cookie to crack, but there are far worse threats I could have drawn for the first round (Serrin, Shadow Reaper and Makano, Drill Strider spring to mind). That said, Narssis is far from a walk in the park; and I found myself burning through a lot of resources on the last challenge trying to roll a four, after rolling everything else required with the initial roll.

At the end of the round, the avatars had lost a total of 15 Life Points, with 5 of them being reduced to half of their starting Life Points or less.

Round 2 - Threat: Hronthar, Winged Flame.

I haven't seen Hronthar since my first game of Eight Epics; but by my recollection he was at the tougher end of the scale when it comes to threats, requiring consistently high rolls to defeat. Something that the dice were quite happy to give me in this instance.

The avatars did lose a handful of Life Points this round, but it could have been a lot worse; and the party still had more than enough strength left to drive home a win at this midway point.

Round 3 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

If the previous games of Eight Epics have taught me only one thing, it's that when Makano is drawn you're going to either lose the game, or take serious loses. This time was no exception.

By the end of the round, a total of 31 Life Points had been lost amongst the avatars, with seven of the avatars being reduced to less than half their starting Life Points, and of those seven; six only had one Life Point remaining.

Round 4 - Threats: Uluwash, Devouring Tide / Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth.

Entering the final round I knew that the chances of winning were slim to none after the pummeling the avatars had taken; but I did see a glimmer of hope when I saw who the final threats were. Uluwash and Pirn are two threats that I consider to be on the easier end of the scale. So despite the pasting that the avatars had taken at the hands of Makano I still felt that there was a chance I might snatch victory from the claws of defeat.

Seeing no real difference between the two, I opted to take on Uluwash first.. And it did not go well. I needed low rolls, but continually rolled high; losing three avatars before overcoming the threat. So in the final showdown I found myself facing Pirn with only three avatars (the other two were exhausted), who were all on half life or less.

At first it did look as if I might just pull this off, taking down the first challenge without too much difficulty; but as the dice scaled, my chances of winning dwindled dramatically. This left me facing the final challenge with only one avatar; which just wasn't enough, and the game was lost a couple of rolls later.

Final Thoughts

Another close game, and another game were Makano proved just too much to deal with. Makano aside however, it does feel good to be consistently making it through to the final round (and in this case the final threat) on this level of difficulty.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Meeple Arcade #4: Tapularity

Tapularity - Screenshot
In my last Meeple Arcade post, I talked about how I felt that escape games were just lazy point and click games, generally made by even lazier developers.

Not to out do myself, but today's offering is even lazier! Belong as it does to the genre of lazy games (otherwise known as clicker or incremental games).

For those of you not familiar with the genre, lazy games require little to no input on the part of the player; typically requiring only one button to play.

In this style of game, the player will find that they have to click on a button or an object (in the case of Tapularity, anywhere on the main screen) a few times when they begin the game, but that these clicks can then be converted into some kind of auto-clicker that will then do the job for them.. And that's all there really is to a lazy game!

Even with such a simple recipe though, there are a lot (and I mean a LOT) of poor quality clicker games out there; and whilst I knew that I wanted to cover the genre after my last post, I was determined to find a good example to share with you all.. And boy did that take time!

I found games that were good, but only loaded half of the time (now that's lazy!). Games that with poor interfaces (lazy). Games that were overly complicated (hey! I'm trying to be lazy here).. And then I found Tapularity.

A game that does the genre just right. It's simple, the interface is good; and you can get going with just a few clicks. Exactly what you want from a lazy game. There's also something wonderfully ironic about posting a game on social media in the lazy genre, to social media after a delay of a month and a half!

Want to try Tapularity for yourself?


Play Tapularity at Crazy Games
Play Tapularity at Kongregate
Play Tapularity at Silvergames

Sunday, 14 May 2017

LCHF: Eat Bacon, Lose Weight.

Image created using Pokémon Battle Scene Creator - Pokémon And All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2017
It may sound too good to be true, but I swear to you that you can genuinely stuff your face with bacon and lose weight. Not just bacon, but butter, chicken, eggs, cheese, beef, pork.. Basically anything that is high in fat, but low in carbohydrates (or low carb, high fat - LCHF).

But how does it work?

Image created using Pokémon Battle Scene Creator - Pokémon And All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2017The science behind the diet is that by reducing your carbohydrate intake, you also reduce your insulin levels. This has the effect of making it much easier for your body to burn fat.. And you'd be surprised just how much fat you can burn in a relatively short period of time using this method.

I'm living testament to the effectivness of LCHF.  I only returned to my ketogenic diet on Monday (after having to break it for a couple of months due to a low income), and since then (today being Sunday); I have lost a total of 8lbs (or just over 3.5kg for those of you using metric).


A ketogenic diet is the next step with LCHF; but like a LCHF diet it's not going to be for everyone. With a ketogenic diet you are going to further reduce your carbohydrate, to less than 20g per day. To put that into perspective, a slice of brown bread (something generally considered healthy); contains on average 14g of carbs. So two slices of brown bread and, you'd break the ketogenic state (or ketogenesis to give it it's proper name).

That doesn't mean you can't still eat great food though.

As I opened with you can eat bacon, eggs, cheese, pork, and plenty more besides. You just have to be very careful to fully read the labels on the food you are buying when you do your weekly grocery shop; as you may think that one piece of chicken is much the same as the next, but that's rarely the case.

Different methods of production lead to wildly different products, that whilst looking similar have grossly different nutritional values. Even with something as simple as a chicken drumstick I have seen ranges of <0.5g (which is very good), to 2.1g per 100g.

Which brings me on nicely to my next piece of advice when it comes to adopting a LCHF / Ketogenic diet; when you read the labels, always do it by the 100g. Typically (at least in the UK) there are two pieces of nutritional information recorded on the back of food products. One is per portion, and the other (the one we want) is per 100g.

Why by the 100g?

Personally I do it because I find that the portion sizes listed on the backs of food products often distorts how good (or bad) a particular item is for you. Doing it by the 100g though, you know where you are.

As an example let's return to our chicken drumsticks. Let's say there are four of them in a 500g pack, listed as containing 2g of carbs per 100g. Comparing the contents to the weight, I know that each drumstick is approximately 125g; which according to the "per 100g" values listed, is 2.5g of carbs per drumstick. Quite high for chicken in my opinion, and no doubt a result of either the production methods used or additional seasoning (BBQ style chicken for example, which has a marinade that is often loaded with sugars).

The Catch

So far it's all been good, but there is as you might have well guessed a few catches. In no particular order they are:

Cost: LCHF isn't cheap (which is why I had to drop the diet when I became unemployed); as you often can't buy budget products. That's not saying that you have to buy the most expensive products on the market; but you are looking at least mid-range.

No Vegetarian Option: This diet isn't really suitable for vegans or vegetarians as most fruits and vegetables are heavily restricted by the diet; being rich in natural sugars.

Induction Flu: This is what often causes folks to quit their LCHF / Ketogenic diet within the first couple of days; and I won't lie to you, it is rather unpleasant. Despite it's name, Induction Flu isn't viral; but rather your body adapting to its new diet, and getting used to its new energy source (fat).

In short, it's a part of the process, whereby individual may experience flu like symptoms for 3-5 days on average. Emphasis here being on the may, and there are things that you can do to offset; even completely negate any unpleasantness as you pass through this barrier.

Personally I recommend lots of water, preferably low carb squash (of which there are many on the market going by the backs of packages) to ease you through it. Not only will this keep you hydrated (which really helps with Induction Flu), but the majority of fat is lost through excreted water (urine / sweat), so by increasing the amount of water you take in; you'll increase the amount of water you pass. Effectively killing two birds with one stone.

In Conclusion

So there you have it. The eat bacon, lose weight diet as I like to think of it; or LCHF to give it it's proper name. It's not going to be for everyone, but for those of us that could use to lose a few stone it's an absolute godsend.

By all means though, don't just take my word for it.

Do your own research as I did before giving it a go, and see if LCHF is the diet for you.

10 x 10 Challenge #21: Eight Epics - Game #6

Undeterred by my last short and frustrating game, I re-shuffled the threat deck and setup another game of Eight Epics; leaving the toggles and avatar order unchanged from game four.

I then drew my first threat card; which was..

Round 1 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

Urgh! Of all the threats to draw first after what happened in my last game. Unlike my last game however, the avatars did come out the other end of the round victorious; but it was a push. I ran through six of my eight avatars during this encounter; with four of them being reduced to half of their starting Life Points or less.

Round 2 - Threat: Durge, World Breaker.

I think of Durge as one of the easier threats to overcome. True, there are eight challenges to overcome on his card; but as six of these only require that you roll one dice (with a 1 in 6 chance of success), lucky rolls can take you a long way. Caroosh and Khantos can also cut through the challenges with ease using their abilities. So there are plenty of options when you encounter Durge; and the odds are certainly in your favor.

That said, I took some heavy losses during this encounter; as for love nor money I couldn't roll the 1's that I needed to clear the last few challenges. The extra effort expended to clear these took the total Life points lost by the party from 13 to 30; and left six of the avatars with half of their starting Life Points or less, with three of them being reduced to just one.

Round 3 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.

Uluwash is another threat that I consider to be fairly easy to overcome, but once again I found myself taking some considerable losses during the encounter; with two avatars being eliminated during the conflict, and the remaining five avatars all being reduced to 1 Life Point.

Round 4 - Threats: Broxix, Pestilent Breath / Narssis, Unholy One.

From previous experience, I know that both of these threats can be quite difficult to overcome; but when weighing them against one another, I am of the opinion that Narssis is probably the more challenging of the two. He makes you roll more dice, and the results that those dice have to show is more specific. So perceiving him to be the more difficult opponent I chose to go after him first, as I reasoned he would require more resources to defeat; resources I may not have after tackling Broxix.

The dice however were firmly against me on this one, and despite my best efforts to manipulate the results using the abilities of my remaining avatars; the game was lost at the first challenge, with three of the remaining avatars being outright eliminated and the other two being exhausted.

Final Thoughts

This is my third successive loss at this difficulty level, but I'm not complaining. I've made it to the final round twice, and to the final threat once. This tells me both that the level of difficulty is about right for my ability at this point, and that I am close to surpassing it.

So I may be losing at the moment, but these defeats are not without a sense of progress and achievement; which keep me coming back to this fun, challenging, and sometimes frustrating game.

10 x 10 Challenge #20: Eight Epics - Game #5

This was without a shadow of a doubt the shortest game that I have played all year. Possibly even the shortest game that I have played in the last decade; lasting as it did little more than 5 minutes!

So given the brevity of the game, I'm sure that it'll come as no surprise when I tell you that I didn't win. I also imagine that most of you that have been following my recent Eight Epics postings can guess what spanner in the works brought such an abrupt end to the game.. That's right; Makano.

Makano is such a pain to encounter, and incredibly frustrating to play against. So much so that on more than one occasion I have considered removing him from the game completely.

This isn't something that would normally cross my mind (as it's cheating really), but Makano seems broken. Broken to the point of breaking any game where he is drawn as a threat. Something which I feel this attempted play through illustrates nicely.

He was the first threat I drew, I had a full compliment of fully powered avatars; and I still lost.

That just doesn't seem right. It could be me though. Maybe I'm missing something.

So, I'm throwing the question out there (before I throw the card out of the game); is Makano in your considered opinion broken, or just extremely difficult to beat?

10 x 10 Challenge #19: Eight Epics - Game #4

Continuing with my 10 x 10 Challenge I set a few hours aside yesterday for gaming; and following my comfortable victory last time, I decided it was time to turn up the heat a little. This could have been done in a number of ways (imposing a time limit on the game, or increasing the number of threats); but I instead opted to preset the order of the avatars.

I would now have to work through them in a sequence determined by myself, which after some thought I decided would be..

1st - Caroosh, Stone Fist.
2nd - Gron, Furnace of Justice.
3rd - Sylliph, Moon Diver.
4th - Jarroth, The Cogsmith.
5th - Auriel, Harbringer of Healing.
6th - Khantos, Arcane Master.
7th - Leafwind, The Wildling.
8th - Ophinia, Envoy of the Dead.

The reasoning behind this order being that I would lead with my less flexible avatars, and reserve those capable of buying me more time (Leafwind and Ophinia) to last; where their abilities would be the most useful.

Plan set, I drew my first threat; which was..

Round 1 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.

Uluwash fell rather easily, aided by having Caroosh in prime position; and some favorable rolls. All told avatars only lost a total of 8 Life Points dealing with this encounter, but Caroosh and Sylliph had bore the brunt of this; being reduced to 3 Life Points and 1 Life Point receptively.

Round 2 - Threat: Narssis, Unholy One.

Next up was Narssis, who was incredibly hard work. I cycled through most of my avatars in the process of taking him down; and increased the total Life Points lost amongst the avatars from 8 to 18!

Five of the avatars has also now been reduced to half of their initial Life Points, or less.

Round 3 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

The avatars took a real pummeling overcoming this threat; increasing the total Life Points lost amongst the party from 18 to 29 by the time the last challenge had been resolved. All but one of the avatars was now on less than half of their starting Life Points, with four of barely clinging on by their last Life Point.

Round 4 - Threats: Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth / Broxix, Pestilent Breath.

When faced with these two threats, I opted to tackle Broxix first. I figured that of the two, he was going to be the most difficult to defeat; so that's where I wanted to direct the bulk of resources, using whatever remained to overcome the much easier (in my opinion) Pirn.

Narssis did indeed take up a lot of my resources, and by the time I came around to facing Pirn I had only two avatars at my disposal; with the rest of the party either exhausted or eliminated. Unsurprisingly this was not enough to win the game, but I did come close; making it to the second of three challenges on the final threat.

Final Thoughts

Electing what order your avatars will act in throughout the game at setup has really added a new dimension of challenge to the game. It's also changed the strategy that I employ as I play; as no longer can I rely on having the optimal avatar for the task at hand at my disposal. I may have already used them, or they may be several activations along.

The already tight margin of error just got a lot tighter with flipping that one toggle; but I think that's a good thing.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #18: Being Brief

Something I talked about in an earlier post was cutting back the size of my 10 x 10 Challenge play reports. I felt that on reflection they were much larger than they needed to be, and that long-winded posts describing every aspect of gameplay may be "a little dry".

So, when I sat down to play today I tried to keep this in mind; and tried to cut back on my note taking. Not that this was entirely successful, as I still ended up with nearly one and a half sides of A4 scribblings. Old habits are hard to break it seems.. Hard, but not impossible. I truly believe that there is little that you cannot achieve if you set your mind to it.

Which is exactly what I did. I sat down with my notes, and asked myself "what am I trying to say here?"

A lot as it transpires, and not all of it particularly relevant. So I worked through them and picked out the key details; cutting things back to the bare bones. I was a little concerned that this edit may have been a little too extensive, as it left me with little more than a couple of sentences describing each round; but less can be more.

The edit had cut out all of the guff; like how many re-rolls I paid for, and what order I activated the avatars in. Giving my writing a certain focus that if I am to be critical of myself, I often find that it lacks. Don't get me wrong, I think that drifting off on tangents is all a part of the creative process; but being focused is not without its perks.

In this instance that focus has allowed me to build a framework; that easily identifies to me the notes that I need to take when I'm at the gaming table. This has the benefit of freeing up a LOT of time that would have been wasted on taking down information I had no real use for. Time that can now be used to both game and to blog.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #17: Eight Epics - Game #3

Spurred on by my success in the previous game, and determined to keep my plan on track;  I decided to go for another game of Eight Epics to round off my Sunday session. On the subject of keeping things on track, I did also want to get this post up on Sunday as well; but unfortunately time got the better of me. By the time I was done gaming it was 11pm, and I needed to get up no later than 5:30am the next morning.

Still, better late than never as they say, and whilst I have fallen behind a little with my blogging; at least my 10 x 10 Challenge is still on track, which is a positive.

Speaking of gaming and positivity, whilst it felt great to beat such a tough game; I opted to keep all of the toggles set to easy for this play through as well. I had initially planned to increment the difficulty slowly with every successive victory, but on reflection I did only win the last game by the narrowest of margins. So I didn't feel that I was ready to up the ante just yet. Not whilst the current difficulty was still offering me a credible challenge.

So with all toggles set to easy, I pooled the dice, readied the avatars, and drew my first threat..

Round 1 - Threat: Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth.

I was quite happy to see Pirn come out again. He's not too difficult to beat with his flexible challenge requirements (six dice matching, seven dice matching, and finally eight dice matching); and there are plenty of avatars that can help get you there. Personally though I feel the avatars best suited to the task are Sylliph who can manipulate large chunks of the dice pool, and Khantos who can remove dice from the dice pool.

The initial rolls for each challenge where however poor. Very poor. So I found that I had to more evenly spread the threat across the available avatars, using Jarroth to flip dice instead of removing them with Khantos, and using Ophinia to copy Sylliph's ability so as to spare Sylliph for future challenges.

It didn't take long for the avatars to beat Pirn, but it did come at higher cost than I had anticipated; with three of the eight avatars now having dropped to half of their initial Life Points.

Round 2 - Threat: Makano, Drill Strider.

Makano was next, and of all the threats that I have faced in Eight Epics; I would say that he is probably one of the most difficult. Makano is unique in that he is the only threat that changes his "mode"; mode being the best word I can muster to describe the pattern on threats.

Usually a threat will be pretty consistent. Pirn for example requires that you roll all identical numbers, and when it comes to Uluwash you need to roll progressively lower numbers with larger and larger dice pools. There is a pattern. Makano however flips "mode" with every new challenge, meaning that swapping avatars between tasks is almost obligatory; running the very real risk that you will exhaust the entire party (and lose the game instantly).

This is something that I came close to as I flipped from avatar to avatar, as I slowly worked my way down the list of challenges; and even this course of action alone wasn't quite enough. With the additional use of abilities and re-rolls, the number of avatars on half life or less had increased from three to five by the end of round two.

Round 3 - Threat: Broxix, Pestilent Breath.

As threats go, Broxix is somewhat of an endurance round; requiring that you complete eight challenges in order to defeat him, with realistically the only avatar suited to the task (results of fifteen or higher over three dice) being Gron.

This was certainly true of my game, as leading with Gron I was able to cut through the first three challenges with ease before having to pass after a really bad roll. Unfortunately however the bad rolls just kept on coming, which meant spending Life Point after Life Point; leaving the party in a bad way as they entered the fourth and final challenge (six avatars on half life or less, with two of them reduced to one Life Point). 

Round 4 - Threats: Narssis, Unholy One / Uluwash, Devouring Tide.

Considering the beating that I took in the previous round I was very happy to see these two threats as my final draws. Narssis can be a little tricky, as he requires that you roll  a sequence of one through six on six dice; but Khantos is more than flexible enough to deal with this. Uluwash on the other hand is really straight forward; and many of the avatars abilities can be used to overcome him relatively easily.

Using this reasoning I targeted Uluwash first.. Which went south pretty fast after a few poor rolls and some equally dire re-rolls. I did defeat him, but not before I had spent more Life Points than I really wanted to; and exhausted five of my eight avatars.

Thinking ahead however I had purposely not activated  Leafwind when tackling Uluwash; who I let lead the way in the battle against Narssis. Even if he didn't complete any of the challenges, I had enough Life Points left on him to return all of my other exhausted avatars to play.

This course of action did lead to Leafwind sacrificing himself, but not in vain as after a few more rolls that his sacrifice had made possible Narssis was defeated; and the game was won.

Final Thoughts 

Despite a lot of bad rolls I did win, and a lot more comfortably than in my last game it has to be said (four of my eight avatars survived). Some of this I would attribute to Serrin not being drawn, as I find him a particularly difficult threat to overcome; but that's not to say it's all down to the luck of the draw. I'd also like to think that I'm beginning to play better, and making more tactically sound decisions; having gained a better understanding of the game and its nuances.

So with that in mind, I feel that I am now ready to start increasing the difficulty of the game via the toggles. Slowly at first, but with a view to making it to the harder settings by game eight or nine.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #16: Eight Epics - Game #2

Not wanting to fall behind with my 10 x 10 Challenge, and with the end of the week quickly rushing towards me I decided to take the opportunity presented by a quiet Sunday afternoon, and to get a little gaming in. In order to keep to my schedule, I needed to get two games in today; and after looking over the collection of games I had chosen for the challenge, I decided that I would go for another game of Eight Epics.

Selection made, I set up the game using the same set of (easy) toggles I played with in the previous game; and drew my first threat..

Round 1 - Threat: Uluwash, Devouring Tide.

Not a bad initial draw. Only three challenges, and none of them particularly difficult to overcome. I just needed to roll low, and largely the rolls were favorable. Even when I rolled incredibly high on the last challenge against Uluwash, they were all sixes; which Jarroth, The Cogsmith was easily able to convert into one using his ability.

It wasn't all plain sailing however, as a couple of the avatars were reduced half of their starting life; which is bad news so early into the game. As the party as a whole had only lost 10 Life Points however, it could of been a lot worse. I mean, it's not like we lost an avatar.

Round 2 - Threat: Broxix, Pestilent Breath.

This is the last thing that I wanted to see so early into the game, as from my experience of dealing with Broxix in the last game I knew just how punishing he could be; and how little room there was for error when challenging him. Learning from my mistakes though, I weighed my options and elected the avatar that I felt had the best hopes of putting a significant dent in Broxix. I chose Gron, Furnace of Justice.

His ability to turn any dice into a six was just the ticket it seems as he plowed through the first FIVE challenges Broxix laid down, having to retire on the sixth due to a combination of a very poor initial roll and the exertion in getting that far. The task of defeating Broxix then fell to Sylliph, Moon Diver.

Sylliph, whilst not particularly well suited to defeating Broxix had a good run of things. Taking challenge six, whilst a lucky roll took challenge seven without any avatar intervention. With Broxix on his last legs, but with a couple of my avatars having taken a bit of a kicking I tagged in Auriel, Harbinger of Healing; with the plan being that even if she could not finish off Broxix, she could heal some of the wounded avatars before passing the torch on to someone else.

As luck would have it however, Auriel rolled EXACTLY what was needed to pass the challenge, and resolve the threat with her free re-roll. Broxix went down. All too easily when compared to last time, which I think just goes to show how important picking the right initial avatar to tackle the current threat is (where last game I was mostly just guessing).

Round 3 - Threat: Narssis, Unholy One.

Like Uluwash, Narssis was a new one on me; but he didn't seem too difficult. Each challenge required that you rolled a straight of one through six, on the six dice; and you had to do this four times to defeat him. Easy enough, although I knew that I wouldn't be able to rely on the abilities of my avatars too heavily to pull this one off, as none of their abilities where suited particularly well to the task at hand.

So, seeing this as largely a crap shoot I opted to put Auriel in the ring first. If nothing else she could heal some of the injured avatars from the previous round, and every time she did so; she could re-roll a couple of dice if she wanted. Re-rolls where largely how I believed I'd be dealing with this threat anyhow, so if I could patch up avatars that my prove more valuable in the next round in the process, all the better.

Re-roll and pass was largely how the challenge went, and with a couple of incredible rolls by the avatars (one of which had only a 1 in 36 chance of coming off, that came off with the initial attempt); the battle was won, and the avatars where ready to face the final threat.

Round 4 - Threats: Durge, World Breaker / Serrin, Shadow Reaper.

The final confrontation was truly embodied the epic in the Epic Eights, going down to the wire; with the avatars securing their victory as only one of them remained standing, with only one of their life points remaining.

As I played through the last round I took almost a whole A4 side of notes that I had intended to share with you all, but as per my previous post I want to start reigning in the length of these session reports; and this post is already long enough as it is. However, if you imagine every movie scene ever where the hero has to diffuse a bomb, conveniently doing so with only one second left on the timer; I'm sure you get the picture of just how the final sequence of the game played out.

Final Thoughts

Another really enjoyable game, but I am starting to notice a theme developing. The theme being that this game is bloody HARD! Considering that I had this game turned down to its easiest settings, and that arguably the solitaire variant is easier than the co-operative game; still only making it by the skin of my teeth just goes to show the level of the challenge that beating Eight Epics presents.

Something that I am proud to have accomplished (even if it was with the training wheels on).

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

10 x 10 Challenge #15: Eight Epics - Game #1

Given that I've been playing 100 Swords since February as a part of my 10 x 10 Challenge, I needed a break. So, I looked down my list and decided that I'd go for a game of Eight Epics; a co-operative dice game from the designer of Love Letter.

The version that I have is the English release by AEG, and before giving a brief rundown of play I'd just like to say how impressed I am with the product. Eight Epics is only a small box game.. But that small box is like the TARDIS! Inside you get the game, a variant which could be its own expansion, and a scenario which is equivocal to a promo.

The rules also offer several toggles too, so you can make the game easier if you're finding it a bit rough; or harder if you're finding it a bit of a cakewalk.. Not that I find the latter very likely. As personally even with all of the difficulty toggle set down to their lowest levels I still had a hard time of things. That said, prior to this session I hadn't played the game before; so it is both probable and likely that I wasn't playing optimally.

How did I do though? Let's see..

Round 1 - Threat: Pirn, Rampaging Overgrowth.

This one wasn't too bad as an initial draw. Only 3 challenges, and all of them quite flexible (getting all of the dice to match, but it can be any number). Khantos, Arcane Master came in pretty useful here as dropping dice from the pool allowed me to quickly tip the odds in my favor.

Leafwind, The Wildling was also pretty useful in allowing me to get extra activations out of some of the other epics, meaning I got a few free re-rolls on top of those provided by his ability. He did take a bit of a pummeling as a result though, dropping to half health by the end of the round.

Round 2 - Threat: Makono, Drill Strider.

This one was a little trickier to beat, requiring that I beat 4 challenges and really mixing it up in terms of the requirements of each challenge; from low rolling to high rolling, including sequences and matching. Tactically this took some planning, and I'm still not convinced that I did the best job I could here as 6 of my avatars were on less than half life by the end of this round.

We did scrape through though, and that's the main thing. I also dropped really lucky on the initial roll against the sequence, getting 7 of the 8 numbers I needed to complete the challenge before an avatar even got involved!

Round 3 - Threat: Broxix, Pestilent Breath.

This is where it all really began to fall apart. Broxix can soak up a lot of punishment, and by the end of this round all of my avatars where on less than half of their initial life totals, with three of them being reduced to only one life!

The party was in a bad way to say the least.

Round 4: Threats: Serrin, Shadow Reaper / Hronthar, Winged Flame.

The last round (at least in the easy game it is), and that means that the party has to take down two enemies without a respite in order to claim victory. This was a bad combination too, as both of these enemies would take a lot of effort and resources to bring down. Resources I frankly just didn't have.

Deciding that the Hronthar was probably the easiest of the two (as he could be taken down with a few lucky rolls), I elected to battle him first and set about it. Long story short, it did not go well. I needed a lot of high rolls, and I just wasn't getting them. I even had to sacrifice an avatar to seal the first challenge, and there were still two more to go after that!

Auriel, Harbinger of Healing was next to fall as I patched up Khantos in one last attempt to bring down the dragon.. Which I did! It was a token victory though, as whilst he had slain the beast, Khantos was now my only avatar that wasn't either dead or exhausted (and he was down to his last life point).

The game it seems was over. The last avatar had fallen, and the earth was screwed.

Final Thoughts

I honestly enjoyed my first game of Eight Epics. It's a challenge, but I like a challenge; and I look forward to hopefully being able to meet that challenge as I play more games. True, luck is a factor (as you might well expect with a dice game); but it can be largely offset in the case of Eight Epics by making good decisions. Certainly better decisions than I did.

Still, live and learn.

My New Job: First Day. First Impressions.

Ce n'est pas un oeuf de PâquesSo today was my first day at the new job, and I have to say that my initial impressions are all together positive.

The work is interesting, challenging and, engaging. The staff are all pretty laid back, and whilst I'm doing more hours than I was in my previous role; the time just seemed to fly by today. People are also really willing to help, and there isn't the expectation that you need to hit the ground running before you can walk.. Which is definitely a positive given the highly involved, and technical nature of the work I am undertaking.

Anecdotally, I also found a copy of Snake coded into one of our in-house systems today; totally by chance. I flagged it up with my supervisor, and what was their response? Only to tell me, "yeah, and there's a few other games in there too". How cool is that?!

Most companies flip-out when developers leave Easter eggs in the stuff they develop, but not these guys. No. They leave them in, and tell you there is still more to find!! Like I need encouraging!!

If nothing else, this is going to be an interesting assignment.

Monday, 1 May 2017

In The Pipeline: May 2017

So, following on from my previous post, what's In The Pipeline for May and beyond?

10 x 10 Challenge

In order to hit my target for years end, and to complete the challenge I have worked out that I need to be playing at least 3 games a week.  So blogwise I will be looking to keep up with that pace in terms of my running commentary; posting up a brief item on how each game went.

Meeple Arcade

I have spent a fair amount of time researching and screening games for this feature over the past few weekends (which is what I call sitting in front of my laptop, playing games); and have shortlisted a few interesting titles to share with you all.

The plan for May is to post up at least three of these.


I have quite a few bits and pieces that I am working on for SCRAWL at the moment, including the introduction of new races and classes, as well as a few miscellaneous house rules that I hope to get posted up over the course of the month.

Tunnels & Trolls

I'm just about to enter the planning stage of the first Tunnels & Trolls solo that I have written for some considerable time.. Suffice to say, I'm a little rusty; so it has taken me a lot longer to get to  this stage than I had originally anticipated.

After planning comes drafting, then re-drafting, before we finally have a finished product ready to playtest; so not only has it been a while coming, but it'll also be a while yet.

In The Pipeline: An Introduction

It's the start of a new month, and what better way to kick that off than with a new feature; In The Pipeline. But what's it all about?

Well, whilst I am not the worlds busiest man by any stretch of the imagination; I do have a lot going on. In my personal life, I manage my time using an app; which really works. It helps me keep track of what needs to get done, manage tasks by their level of importance, and most importantly frees up my brain to think about other stuff.

My blogging on the other hand is comparatively chaotic. I leave ideas hanging in the air for weeks, and go off on tangents all the time. I'm like a kitten in a hall full of laser pointers, and shiny things metal discs suspended from strings.  In short, I'm pulling in so many different directions that very little is actually being accomplished. It's a bad habit, and I'd like to break it.

That's where "In The Pipeline" comes in.

The plan is to kick every month off with a "In The Pipeline" post, which is basically a summary of the projects and pieces of work that I intend to complete in the short to mid term (1-3 months). Which should not only help me break the cycle of starting but never finishing (by bringing some accountability to my inaction), but also serve as a useful way of keeping anyone interested in something that I'm working on up to date on its progress and development.

So that's my plan, and as plans go it seems pretty solid. As long as I'm realistic in my expectations, and don't try to run before I can walk.. But that's a whole other issue, and as I often say "one problem at a time".