Another ADA Gaming Salon

Last Saturday, we hosted another gaming salon at the ADA gallery in Vienna. Under the headline ‘Hunting Humans’, the evening was dedicated to monsters. We had two games for the visitors to play. The first was a pen-and-paper RPG ran by Alex. He used D&D and had prepared a couple of characters to choose from. The twist was that this time, the players were the bad guys: As a small band of Orcs, they had to help their tribe to raid a human settlement.

I had set up Zombicide, the cooperative Zombie game we have played a couple of times lately.

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Unfortunately, we made a scheduling mistake, as we completely missed  that there were two other events on that day which drew off potential visitors. We only had a handful of attendants, but at least we got in a couple of games ourselves. And those people who came were quite enthusiastic to play. Zombicide was a smash. We played three missions, each one with different players, but only succeeded in winning one of them.

The RPG also sounded like a lot of fun. K. joined in and told me she had enjoyed herself playing a tough female Orc, the leader of the raiding party consisting of another Orc, a goblin and an Ogre called Einstein (armed with a stone in a sack).

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The RPG in full swing.

Even though it was quieter than last time, it was a fun and inspiring evening. Hopefully, we’ll have another one soon!

More Board Gaming Fun

We are really busy with board games at the moment. Two days ago, friends invited us to play Talisman. The host is a real fan of the game – in fact, he told us that it’s his favourite board game! I’ve never played before and therefore was very curious, especially since it’s a classic and I was interested in how it would put up in relation to modern board games.

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Each of us drew three characters and we could choose one of them. I took the Prophetess, who has some fun abilities. K. was the Grave Robber, while the others were Sorceress and Doomsayer. The game itself is quite fun: You walk around the board, trying to improve your abilities and get equipment so you can enter the dangerous inner regions and finally grab the Crown of Command. The rules are not complicated and the adventure cards provide fun and dramatic encounters. I liked the narrative developing around my character, who was not very powerful but managed to get into the inner regions rather soon. I was the first to have a talisman, but when I decided to tackle the area where the crown was (with the help of a daemon I had befriended with a spell) I was thrown out immediately. Better luck next time!

As the game can go for a while, we decided to split it over two sessions. We took photos of the board and collected all our cards in envelopes, so we can continue as soon as we meet again.

Talisman shows its age in some aspects: It’s quite dependent on luck and dice-rolling, it’s a rather long game and player interaction is not very high. However, it nevertheless is great fun. Drawing an adventure card is always thrilling and the upside of the luck dependency is that the game is rich in variety. I’m certainly looking forward to finishing our session – and I’m still confident that I can get my hands on this crown!

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Another board game we played last week was Mice & Mystics. I bought it some time ago specifically for my nieces and the older one finally wanted to give it a go. She just turned seven and never played anything other than kids games, so I was curious how she would do. At first, it seemed that she was a bit over challenged and I wasn’t sure how much she liked the experience. However, her parents told me that she talked about nothing else than how cool this game was for the rest of the day and she keeps pestering me to have another game, so I guess she did like it. We were also joined by our nephew, who is now 13 and an old hand at geeky board games. He was a real gentleman and contributed a lot to make the game a great experience for his younger cousin.

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Mice & Mystics is a cooperative dungeon crawler mainly aimed at kids. The rules are simple but interesting enough to demand sound tactical decisions. The story is exciting, but it never gets brutal – characters can’t die, they get captured if they have a certain amount of wounds, meaning they can be freed by the others and continue playing. This makes it easier for younger kids, as you are not out of the game if you make a mistake (like in Zombicide). Also, I really like the miniatures and being a fan of anthropomorphic animals I had them painted up a while a go.

Virago told me that his girls also love Mice & Mystics, so it’s highly recommended if you want to introduce your offspring to geeky board games.

Gaming with Zombies and Rebels

Last week, we had a kind of board game frenzy. It all started with my mates Sigur and Virago coming over to try out Zombicide, which I bought as a second-hand copy some time ago. Sigur brought his impressive collection of survivors and zombies, a mix of figures from different manufacturers, painted as always with the hand of a master.

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We first played the training mission, which was a bit boring and didn’t convince me. We then proceeded to the first proper scenario. The objective was to find foodstuff and escape. Our survivors fought heroically and we didn’t do too badly, but Zombie numbers started to add up and in the end, we succumbed to the undead horde. This time, I really enjoyed the game. The rules are quite simple, but there are lots of decision points. Zombicide is a cooperative game and you really have to work together to achieve your goals. One interesting mechanic is that the more experience points you have, the more Zombies appear each turn. The level of danger is dependent on the character with the most experience, so if one player just wants to max out his guy, all are in deep trouble. Each character has unique features and you can collect and swap equipment. It all makes for a very cinematic game!

The next day, my nephew was over, so we had another go at Zombicide. We played another mission and, proceeding carefully and methodically, managed to win the scenario. The kid was very pleased and voiced his enthusiasm by declaring it to be “the best game ever!”. He even proposed that we should paint up the figures together…

On Saturday, I met the kid’s dad and one of his friends and we had another game. This time, it was a close call and my and the nephew’s characters died, but the other players managed to win the scenario in the end. It again shows how close you have to collaborate: We split up the group early on and me and the kid got isolated and eaten by the Zombies. However, I like to think that our sacrifice provided enough distraction so the others could complete their mission…

Zombicide is a great game and highly recommended if you look for an action-oriented cooperative experience.

To get a change and top off the weekend, K. and I played our first game of Battle Cry. We played the first scenario, the Battle of Bull Run. I’m very pleased with how the 2mm figures look on the board as they convey the feeling of playing a big battle very well. Despite initial scepticism, K. liked the game, especially the card activation mechanics. While my Confederate cavalry swept away K.’s flank, her center advanced steadily and drove off the Rebels. There was a moment when it looked as if I might turn the tables, but in the end the Union won the close fought action. A great game which gave me enough motivation to finish the rest of the figures so we can play other scenarios.

Small Fry for BattleCry

I might already have mentioned that I bought a copy of the American Civil War variant of the C&C series of board games, BattleCry. However, I pretty soon decided that I did not like the figures that come with the game. They are rather large – namely 1/72 – for the level of action depicted in the game. While there is no fixed scale, as far as I understand it a unit represents something between a regiment and a brigade (depending on the scenario). And, to quote an old adage, four guys taking a flag for a walk don’t look like a regiment to me.

I toyed with the idea of making my own wooden blocks but then thought of something that has interested me for some time: Irregular Miniature’s 2mm range. I recently came across pictures where these figures looked really good: Sidney Roundwood did a very interesting Thirty Years’ War game and the current issue of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy has an intriguing article about a siege game done in 2mm.

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They really are tiny!

I ordered enough figures to substitute all the plastic miniatures of BattleCry. Or so I thought – I actually made a stupid calculation error and had to place another order. Fortunately, the service of Irregular is top-notch! Those are not single figures, but they come in blocks, infantry being in 20 figure blocks with a flag, perfect to represent a regiment. For 30p, you get three of those blocks – a very good price, even if you need the large amount I did.

Now of course those are not detailed models of individuals, but the blocks give a good impression of a mass of men. You can make out the muskets, but all the other detail has to be painted in. An impressionistic approach to painting is really the only option: Dots with flesh colour for the faces, thin lines for the muskets, another series of dots with a steel colour for the bayonets. It’s easy and quick, but it does get rather tedious after a while. I’ve now painted 64 infantry blocks and feel like I need a break. Fortunately, as soon as I’ve finished some cavalry and artillery, this should be enough for a first scenario from the BattleCry rulebook.

2mm is an interesting scale. I kind of like small stuff and the figure blocks give a reasonable well impression of a large mass of men. They open up the possibility of playing really huge battles with very little expense. And now that the Perrys’ Travel Battle is all the rage, I already thought about making my own travel set – with 2mm, it would be possible to make a set for those who travel without a car and don’t want to shell out £50.