Harvest Moon, The Board Game!

26 Sep

OK, so I had an Idea the other night to make a game based around one of my favourite video game franchises, Harvest Moon. Now I know what you’re probably thinking… “They have that game… It’s called Agricola.” Except the problem with that is that as amazing of a game as Agricola is, it does not feel like Harvest Moon… I mean think about it, what is your primary goal in Harvest Moon, to orchestrate a well rounded farm that will sustain you and your family? I suppose to a certain extent I can see that, but is that really ever what you’re thinking when you play the game? No. Or at least I’m not. When I grow vegetables in Harvest Moon, sure some of it is gong to go towards buying more seeds to grow more vegetables, but most of harvest moon is based around relationships. I need to grow some nice grapes so I can impress the wine makers daughter. I need to take care of this horse because it was given to me by a friend who wants to see it race in the annual horse races. I need to take care of this cow so it’s milk can win first place in the milk festival (or whichever festival it was). The point of Harvest Moon isn’t really having a fruitful farm, it is being accepted by the town as a member of their community… The farm just happens to be the profession you have fallen into in this small community. So how to make a Harvest Moon board game that isn’t just a re-hashing of Agricola… Unfortunately, Agricola is so firmly connected to farming that I almost cannot conceive of a farming game without some form of a worker placement mechanism. But I think I’ve figured it out.

 

Stay tuned, subscribe and comment as I try to bring take this from idea to reality!

My Journey Through this Forrest Of Paper, Cardboard and Plastic

10 Sep

So I had a pretty typical transition from the games of my childhood to the games that I play now. I used to think Monopoly was about as good as it got until I discovered Party Games and began to realize that having fun was far better than doing math and following algorithms. So I picked up a copy of ‘Cranium WOW!’ and was finally able to get more than just my immediate family into gaming with me (and my immediate family became far less reluctant when they did play). Then I went to University and got into Card games like ‘Euchre’ and ‘Hand and Foot’  and kind of forgot about board games until someone introduced me to Killer Bunnies as something that no one could have made without being on copious amounts of drugs… And for the most part I’d have to agree. I had rediscovered all the fun that went along with Party Games only in a slightly more strategic format (and I think I’m being pretty generous with my use of strategic there).

It was around this time that I decided to take off to the Netherlands for a year, and since I couldn’t take every game along with me I decided to bring ‘Killer Bunnies Remix’ (because randomness is always a good time), ‘Set’ (because Math and Algorithms are still fun every once and a while) and ‘Xiang Qi’ (because who wouldn’t love to play Chess with Elephants and Cannons?). But gaming in Europe is a whole different beast! Soon after arriving I was invited to a gaming weekend where we did nothing but play board games for 3 whole days, and it was AWESOME!!! I was introduced to so many fantastic games that I didn’t know what to do with myself. First thing I did was go find a copy of ‘Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries’ to tide me over until I got home about half a year later. Since Ticket to Ride was the best game I was introduced to that weekend I didn’t really think it could get much better, so I basically just began buying more Ticket To Ride games and new expansions as they came out.

Then about half a year ago my cousin bought a game after he had carefully considered and researched which game to get online while I was out visiting him and I suddenly came to realize that there was a whole world of fantastic games that I was missing out on simply because I’ve had nothing but crap for so long that I was not aware of all the amazing games that have come out since I became financially responsible enough to be able to buy my own games for a change. It was at this point that I was introduced to ‘7 Wonders’ and since then my board game collection has grown considerably. While I would call ‘Ticket to Ride’ my gateway into quality gaming, ‘7 Wonders’ definitely pushed me over the edge and made me take the leap towards developing my own collection of games and even starting a board games club (which will soon branch off into two separate groups due to an increase in interest).

So if you are at all interested in what I have acquired in these few short months, you can find my collection here. Basically everything on that list aside from Ticket to Ride and the Classics/Party Games mentioned above has been added since the New Years 2013 (Ya, I may have a bit of a problem).

Another Blog I Forgot About?

8 Sep

How could that be? It’s not like that has ever happened before. Oh wait, that’s exactly what has happened to every blog I have ever started… Well let me re-assure you, my likely zero viewers I have amassed with my last 3 posts, that I have not given up on this one just yet. I have turned my attention to trying my hand at game design and in that time I kind of forgot about this blog (much like the title of this post suggests). But now that I’ve finally prototyped my first design and have passed it off to some friends to playtest I’ve decided to start chronicling my foray into game design.

So what can you expect now that I’ve decided to start blogging again? Well, there are a few things I’d like to do.

1) Develop my design ideas into fully fledged games: Perhaps this may include posting rules for games I’m toying with, ideas for game mechanics and perhaps even the odd print and play game to get some real feedback on how my designs are coming along.

2) First Impression Reviews: There’s plenty of people reviewing games and explaining how to play the more complicated ones. I don’t need to saturate this market any more by trying to force another review blog onto the net. That being said, I do quite enjoy this writing thing, and I also appreciate a good review every now and then. So I was thinking, the one thing I never get from the review sites I visit is an honest review of how games play on the first night… Because depending on that first playthrough you may never get a second (or so I have found). And I really like the idea of first impressions being a legitimate first impression, not a first impression that has had multiple playthroughs to develop.

3) I would love to manage some sort of massive playthrough of some of my favourite games once I’ve got the readership to support it (so like and share if that sounds like an awesome idea). By which I don’t necessarily mean get a massive player count in on a game, but perhaps find a solid co-op or something and have some way of determining what moves get made… Call it a gaming experiment, but this experiment that I’m gonna wait till I have upwards of 20 regular readers to begin.

I’ll probably still through the odd random post just for fun… But for the most part, it’s going to be limited to what I just described above. So hopefully that sounds good… And I know everyone says it, but Subscribe, Comment and Like… The more appreciation I see for my work, the more likely I’ll be to not let my blogs fall into the unfortunate realm of forgotten blogs.

If you still haven’t bought Dominion… Don’t!

17 May

All right, all right… I’m going to clear some things up right now, I don’t actually hate dominion. In fact, I absolutely love it! Lots of people complain that it’s seriously lacking in theme and has been made obsolete with games like Thunderstone and Nightfall, but I personally think Dominion has a very strong theme. You’re trying to build up your kingdom, through the acquisition of land and wealth and most importantly the people and buildings that make up your ‘Kingdom’ (after all, they are who allow you to expand your kingdom at an ever increasing rate). The critiques range but the biggest one is that the benefits of the cards are the biggest detraction away from any sort of theme… But when you stop and think about it these benefits all make sense. I mean if you have a Bureaucrat, it only makes sense that he’d benefit you monetarily while making it more difficult for others to acquire wealth. Or how a Council Room would create significant opportunities for you to do more with what you have while also allowing those around to to act better in response. I mean the cards are not that detailed in how they present themselves, but I think that is another one of Dominion’s strengths… You’re not filtering through all this unnecessary text just to try and figure out what the card does, the card tells you exactly what it does along with telling you what it is and showing you a picture if what it is… Now no offence if this is you, but if that’s not enough to get your imagination going to fill in what few blanks there are then you may want to think about taking an artistic expression or creative writing class because these are not huge leaps to be making in your mind for the theme (and if the game made the leaps for you then the complaint would be how confusing the cards were, and I’d personally prefer a game that I can explain and play easily with my friends than one that I need to stop every ten minutes to explain a card to, or hunt down an FAQ to figure out exactly how all that text interacts with other cards). But wait a second, didn’t I title this post telling you not to buy dominion?

Well, yes… Kind of… Here’s my two cents, Dominion is great and all… But I honestly never play the base game anymore. The expansions have done so much in making this game something exceptional instead of just a great game. And Dominion, realizing this, released a set of base cards you can buy to accompany any expansion without the need of a base game (and the artwork on these cards are significantly better than any of the base cards in the base set). But that still leaves you with the question of which expansion to get. While I have admittedly not played all of them, I have played a few, and Dark Dages by far is the best I have ever played, to the point where we will frequently play games with nothing but card from Dark Ages. It’s actually the most common kind of dominion game that is currently played amongst my gaming group, with a close second being a Dark Ages/Seaside mix.

In Dark Ages, you do not start with any sort of beneficial victory to help you squeak ahead later on… This is a game where only what you acquire goes towards your end points. You have cards that create new cards not available from the purchasable pool of cards. You have cards that are basically garbage and do nothing but gum up your deck making it less efficient… but most importantly, there are 500 kingdom cards… That is more than any other Dominion game including any of the base sets (assuming you don’t count the basic coins/victory cards in the ‘kingdom’ card count). And if that’s not enough, it is currently the second highest rated expansion on board games geek (at least based on average ratings), and while it does not have nearly as many ratings as Seaside, I’m confident that this game will continue to get better ratings the longer it stays around (I mean it’s only what, a year old?).

So ya, If you’re thinking of treating yourself to Dominion, spend like 5-10 bucks more and just get the Base Cards with Dominion: Dark Ages. Far greater re-playability, it’s more thematic, and you get more cards (plus it’s just straight up more fun).

Careers – A Childhood Favourite and a Fond Memory

10 May

I’ve been playing board games for as long as I can remember. So just like every other young gamer in the early 90’s I was basically limited to roll and move games like Monopoly and Life, party games like Pictionary or Scattergories and the more thought heavy games like Scrabble and Mastermind. Oh sure Settlers of Catan came around in 1995 but, unless you were a somewhat serious gamer and did not rely on your parents and the board games selection at Zellers, that was not really a board game that was on your radar. But of all the games I played as a child, one game stands above them all. And when I go back to replay it today, even after having been exposed to this new era of exceptionally well designed high quality board games, I still think it is a great game… If it had aged a bit better, or if Monopoly hadn’t been the Hasbro juggernaut all about making success for yourself that left all other monetary games in it’s shadow, I really believe this game could have given the other childhood standards a real run for their money.

While at a glance it appears very similar to all those other roll and move games, it differs in how it treats chance. While it starts out very random in terms of where you land (as is common for a roll and move game), you will slowly start to acquire cards that allow you to mitigate the randomness by allowing you to move to certain places on the board as well as cards that allow you to move a specific number of squares in place of rolling a die. This means that if you have enough of these cards at your disposal (and you likely will unless you completely ignore the name of the game and never start any careers) that you can basically plan out your next couple of turns to optimize your movement and get nearer to your personal goal (or if you’re like me, amass enough cards to plan your moves to victory… at which point everyone else is just frantically racing against this clock you’ve created with your cards).

Oh right, that’s the other thing, you personally decide what your victory conditions are. Which means you never quite know what everyone else is going for. You basically have 60 points to spread across three different categories; Happiness, Fame, and Wealth. Which means that even if I’m going for 50 happiness and 10 fame, you’re all going to be on edge as soon as I start nearing 60k of wealth (cause there’s no way I haven’t completed Wealth by that point), which will affect how you play even if I’m doing particularly awful this game and only have five happiness and no fame to accompany that 55k because until I win you do not know what will win me the game.

For a roll and move game it is seriously the best I have ever played, and I really don’t think any roll and move games past, present or future will ever be able to touch it simply because of both how much it has going for it and the nostalgia factor involved. If this was not a part of your childhood like it was mine, I often see it at thrift shops (the copy I currently own was purchased for about 2 bucks as we never actually owned this game, it was one of those cabin games that never made its way back to our house). Seriously, a good game for under 5 bucks is a rarity these days so if you find it, buy it… You won’t be disappointed.

Another Board Games Blog?

7 Apr

Look, I know I’m throwing my hat into an already saturated subject matter for a fairly niche market these days… But no matter how hard I search I can never seem to find anyone who cares enough about the board games they review to make something that is both entertaining and informative (and don’t you dare throw Dice Tower reviews my way. Even Vasel’s co-hosts know how lame he is as they consistently steal the show from him with little to no effort in a desperate attempt to keep it all watchable). I found one fantastic work of fiction on Board Game Geek that everyone seemed to hate because it was too entertaining for all those geeks in search of the newest information on their favourite games. There’s also a Youtube series called Tabletop with Wil Wheaton which also has some promise, but they only seem to be reviewing games that don’t need reviewing. You know the ones, they’re all those games that anyone even remotely interested in board games have not only heard about but have likely played several times (Smallworld, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan… things of that nature). Unless they’re not, in which case it is the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I’m talking Collective imagination role playing kind of games. And nothing against all those games, they are great games, but I have serious doubts that I’m ever going to see Tabletop review any hidden gems like ‘Flash Point’, ‘New World’ or ‘Defenders of the Realm’.

So what exactly am I hoping to accomplish here? I basically want to deliver relevant information in an entertaining way. Something that you can be both educated and entertained by. Eventually I hope to start a Youtube channel of my own, but for now I figure I’ll just talk about games I love, maybe have some weird features where I pair games with music or something… Perhaps hate on games I used to love but have since come to my senses on (or perhaps I’ll even get angry at games I have never liked).

While I plan on doing this all for free (which is one of the reasons I’m on wordpress right now instead of one of those other sites that would allow me to monetize my site), I will need to scrounge up some cash at some point to start up this Youtube channel sometime in the future (I don’t even have a Camera yet). Perhaps I’ll do it through Kickstarter or something, but since no one wants to fund a project they don’t care about I figure I’ll just try this whole blog thing out for a while and see if anyone actually cares about this voice I’m trying to create here. So please, if you like what you see then follow me! Let me know that there’s interest here (If you just bookmark this blog I’ll never really know how many people actually care about what I have to say on a regular basis). And if you have any suggestion, do not be shy. I will listen to and probably respond to the vast majority of what people say to me. Again, the more interest I feel there is here the more content I will attempt to create.

And with that I take my leap into this world of creating content for all you bored listless gamers yearning for something better than the typical walls of information and bad camera work that currently dominates all the Youtube channels and Geek blogs just trying to share a little bit of their knowledge with the rest of the world.