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8 Notes

a game i played: Nothing Personal

I’m writing this on my phone, so I have no idea if the picture I’m about to try embedding is going to appear. But with any luck, you’ll see a big old clickable picture of the Nothing Personal box art below.


Nothing Personal, on BGG

Did it work? Hope so!

I kickstarted Nothing Personal last year, and finally got it to the table this week.

It’s a light negotiation game. The gist is to gain influence of a few key family members, and to use them to gain respect (VP). When you control a mobster, you can use their personal action (if they have one), or the special action attached to their current job title.

It’s a super themey game. You can blackmail people, to make sure you have a say in what they do. You can “make a move” on folks to get a promotion within the family. You can snitch on a character with too much influence, to get them sent to the clink. And you can call out a hit on a mobster, to get them removed from the game completely.

The rule book is a touch wonky, but once you digest it, it’s a pretty easy game to play. It clocks in maybe juuuuuust a touch longer than it should, but that will surely go down with more plays. I certainly wouldn’t have wished for any fewer than five rounds.

The components are awe. some. Super chunky and heavy. Really fun to throw the money and blackmail coins around.

I love negotiation games, but they’re super group-dependent. If you have a bunch of folks whose feelings will get hurt by a couple little in-game lies, I’d definitely steer clear of this one. Rage-wise, it’s way closer to I’m The Boss than it is to, say, Intrigue (or Diplomacy, god forbid), but there’s still plenty of room for hurt feelings among the Sensitive Set. Luckily, the group I played this with are old buddies who verbally kick the crap out of each other all day long, so this was perfect. Can’t wait to play it again.


NOTHING PERSONAL

by Stephen Avery and Tom Vasel (both stand up fellas)
3-5 players (we played with four)
120 minutes (so they say; took us longer)

5 Notes

Holy crap.

I’m lucky Tumblr hasn’t forcibly retired this blog. I certainly deserve it.

Now for some Q&A! From me to me!

Q. WHERE THE HELL HAVE I BEEN?

A. I don’t know. Hanging out, I guess? With my family, sometimes? I have no excuse.

Q. AM I GOING TO START UPDATING THIS MORE REGULARLY?

A. I have no way of knowing. I would like to, sure. But I know myself pretty well. So probably not.

…but maybe.

Q. AM I GOING TO CONTINUE MY SOLO GAMES ODYSSEY?

A. Yeah! I think so! I have to juggle the list a bit, since I have picked up/traded off some games since then. And I need to not get so freaked out by LOTR: TCG and Mage Knight. Those are what froze me up last time. But having procured Pathfinder: TACG and Robinson Crusoe make me reeeeeeeally want to get back on the horse.

Q. WHAT ARE MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, GAME-WISE?

A. Wow! Great question, me.

Inspired by this thread on Reddit from a few months ago, I took a look at how many games I own that I’ve never played. It’s, um, a big number. Not counting expansions, I’ve played roughly two of every three games I own.

I’m not proud of having NEVER PLAYED a third of the games I own. Not even, you know, to see if I might like it before buying it. Ugh.

So my two main goals are:

1) To make a giant dent in my owned-but-unplayed count. Whether that means getting them to the table or trading them off, I kind of don’t care. But having this many games sitting unplayed is stupid and gross.

2) To slow my roll on buying games I’ve never played before. I don’t know that I want to eradicate buying untested games COMPLETELY, because I like Kickstarter too much and I read lotsa reviews. But I have to put on the brakes somewhere, and this category makes the most sense.

If you have an idea of how to concisely state those resolutions so’s I can put them on a post-it or something, let me know.

Q. HOW WAS BGG.CON THIS YEAR?

A. So ridiculously fun. I have few words. Some words, though, might include: games, tired, friends, games, whiskey, laughs, games.

Q. HEY, AM I EVER GONNA START THAT PODCAST I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT FOR LIKE TWO YEARS AND KEEP TELLING PEOPLE I’M GONNA START?

I’m an idiot if I don’t. It’s a fun concept, I think, and I have all of the equipment and I should just do it, but I’m kinda scared and lazy but mostly scared.

So there we go! We’re all caught up. Maybe I’ll post more stuff soon. Or maybe I’ll write another one of these in like a year.

Bye!

3 Notes

my solo games odyssey: Ingenious

It’s Reiner Knizia again!

I played Checkers as a kid. And I went through a Chess phase in my first year at college. But since getting into The Hobby, abstract games weren’t really all that interesting to me.

Ingenious was one of the games that re-piqued my interest in abstract games. Along with Hive, Ingenious made me understand that an abstract game could be more than a theme-less puzzle. 

When played with other people.

Played solo, Ingenious is kind of… a theme-less puzzle. Sort of. I don’t think it’s necessarily solvable, but your choices are pretty cut and dried.

Your goal is to create strings of symbols. When you place a tile, you receive points for matching symbols in lines out from your tile. This picture from the rules explains it better than my words do.

Anyway, your final score is equal to whatever your lowest color’s score is at the end of the game.

I played it twice. Both times, I ended up with 18 points. I think I would have needed some pretty miraculous tile draws to get above 18. 

It’s a great game, with more than one player. And it’s a fantastic gateway game for people new to The Hobby. As a solo exercise, I think I’m unlikely to play it again. 

Ingenious score: 18

Running TWIP: 1928

POST SCRIPT:

It’s a good thing I’ve had a little run of light-ish games, because I’m about to embark on a couple of doozies. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game isn’t THAT cumbersome, except that I plan on trying it couple times, while re-building my deck along the way. 

But Mage Knight: Board Game? That’s a biggie. Gonna take some learnin’ time.

So it may be a few days between posts here for a bit. Just an FYI.

4 Notes

my solo games odyssey: If I’m Going Down…

Most zombie games are based in the idea that if you can survive, you win.

Not If I’m Going Down….

IIGD is referred to by the designer as a “Dying Card Game,” because no matter what you do, your character will die. Your goal is to take as many zombies out as you can before that happens.

It’s fun.

I mean, you can’t take it too seriously. I think when I started playing it, I was taking it a little too seriously. You can only maintain so much control over what’s happening. There’s a shit-ton of luck involved, since both your weapons and the strength of the incoming zombies are determined by flipping cards off of several decks.

But it’s fun. The game builds up pretty quickly, and makes you feel overwhelmed. You can do what you want, but you’re going down.

It can end a little quickly, which can be a bummer. But it’s fast to reset, so it’s not that big of a deal. 

There are a couple scenarios included, and optional stories you can add in for flavor. You can also choose which character you want to use for the scenario. Each character has a different special ability.

I love scenario-based games. I love that kind of included variety.

I did the Intersection scenario for my first two plays (6 and 8 points, respectively), without a story attached. It was fine, but playing the third game was far more fun.

I went with the Shack scenario, and included the first available optional story. It was a totally different experience. I’m glad I started with the vanilla game to get to know it a little before I dove in for the full-fledged game.

This round, I started off strong. Got my hands on a rifle, and picked off a handful of zombies. Right when my ammo was about to run out, I happened upon another rife, so I swapped out my old one for a new one and got a few more. When they really started to gang up on me, I grabbed a flamethrower from the ground and blasted six dudes, twice. Awesome.

I almost triggered a story event (part of the optional add-on stories (which I, again, highly recommend once you know the game a little)) — I WAS SO CLOSE — but it didn’t matter. It’s a super fun game. Check it out.

If I’m Going Down… score: 19

Running TWIP: 1910

5 Notes

my solo games odyssey: The Game of Shakespeare

Well, they can’t all be AMAZING.

The Game of Shakespeare is one of several games that I bought hoping My Lovely Wife would learn to play games with me, if only I could find the EXACT RIGHT GAMES to bring her into the hobby.

This plan has not worked. I understand now that some people like games, and My Lovely Wife does not. I get it now.

Anyway, that’s why I own this game.

It’s a trivia game, basically. A roll-and-move trivia game. 

I don’t like trivia games. I hate roll-and-move games. But I’m an actor and a nerd, so I have to kind of shrug at a Shakespeare-based-game, rather than dismiss it immediately.

There’s really not much to say, except that it will shock no one who knows me that I performed very poorly in this little exercise.

The rules say that getting 100 points labels you a, “Master Thespian.”

I had 37 points.

Here’s one example of how stupid I am.

One quote who’s play (5 points) or genre (2 points) I had to identify:

"The course of true love never did run smooth."

I guessed Romeo & Juliet, or, and I quote from myself speaking out loud to no one, “at least a tragedy.”

It’s from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A comedy. Which you probably knew, as a person who is alive and conscious.

How the hell I survived any schooling is beyond me.

The Game of Shakespeare score: 37

Running TWIP: 1891

1 Notes

my solo games odyssey: Friday

(I am doing what I can to look like the characters in the games I play. This is the only one where I am actually succeeding.)

Since I started this little project, there is one game that many nerds have been asking if I was planning to play, more than any other. 

Friday.

I picked Friday up from The Compleat Strategist in New York (it’s awesome) while I was shooting one of my worst performances EVER. Even though I beat it exactly zero times, it kept me from completely sinking into the hole of despair my terrible acting was creating. 

Anyway.

You are Friday. You have to help ready Robinson Crusoe to fight the pirates. You know, buy building the best deck you can against hazards like animals and cannibals and such.

It’s a deck-building solo game. I love it. 

I sat down this time after recently having played Dominion: Dark Ages, which is often about culling the shit out of your deck, so I fared slightly better than I had in NYC.

I played three games, increasing my score incrementally each time. 

First game: -23 points. Ugh. I got halfway through the red level (the third and final level of the deck-building portion of the game, just before you get smashed by the pirates). This was still better than most of my games back when I bought it.

Second game: +7 points. I made it to the first pirate, who smoked me pretty quickly. I had figured out how to stop fighting hazards more quickly — it’s a requirement to play at least one card against hazards as you’re working your way through the game, but you can stop once you’ve beaten them. Before, I had placed the maximum amount of cards. Don’t know why. I’m an idiot. Made me age much more quickly than necessary.*

Third game: +35 points! I beat the first pirate, and came THIS CLOSE to beating the second one. 

Long story short: I still haven’t beaten the game on its easiest level (there are four levels), but I am improving each time. This is easily my favorite of the solo games I’ve played thus far. From what I hear, Mage Knight may be pretty amazing too… But for a quick, relatively light solo game, I can’t recommend Friday highly enough. Buy it. It’s like $20, tops. So fun.

Friday score: 35

Running TWIP: 1854

*— Sorry for using language you’d really only understand if you’ve played the game. Just play the game. It’s really good.

2 Notes

my solo games odyssey: Field Commander: Alexander (and Napoleon, sort of)

I bought this game when I was in Miami for eleven days shooting an episode of Burn Notice. I spent a lot of time in my hotel room playing Field Commander: Alexander, and watching the Evil Dead movies so I’d have something to talk to Bruce Campbell about.

Anyway.

FC:A is a very simple solo wargame. I’m not sure wargamers would even call it a “wargame,” but that’s what I’m calling it.

Your goal changes with each scenario, but in general, you have to get Alexander’s army to a certain area of the board, having conquered a bunch of certain places on the way.

I played the Granicus campaign covered in the rulebook. The goal there is to have conquered every stronghold on the map, either through battle or intimidation, and end with Alexander’s army in Lycia. Of course, that means you have to win a battle in Halicarnassus, which is terrible and difficult. Enemy forces build up each and every turn, and every so often dump into Halicarnassus. 

My point: You have to spend some cash to build up your army before heading there. That can take time. The longer you wait, the fewer points you get at the end.

I waited for a bit.

I ended up winning, and peacefully governing five areas on the map. You can raze or govern a place you take control of. Razing gets you fast cash, but loses you some esteem across the board. Governing gets you less up-front money, but pays you throughout and keeps people respectin’ you.

At the end of the game, you add up some stuff to get your Immortality Points, which dictate how long history will remember your efforts. Or something. Then you can go on to play further campaigns with your beefed-up Alex.

I stopped here.

Governing five areas on the map got me 30 points. I had a single unspent “Glory” counter, netting me 4 more points. I built two cities along the way for 5 points each, and I won in the winter of 335 B.C., for 10 last points.

So we take my 54 Immortality Points, cross-reference this handy little chart in the rules…

Huh. 50 years.

Maybe could have done a little better.

Sometime, it’d be fun to link some campaigns together and go for the full experience. But not now. I have too much to do.

Field Commander: Alexander score: 54

Running TWIP: 1819

AND NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS:

Field Commander: Napoleon has been sitting on my shelf for about a year. When I first got it, I eagerly punched out all of the pieces, and gave the rules a cursory read. 

Then I put it back on the shelf.

And that is where it has lived since then.

I pull out the rules once in a while and give them a read. Then my eyes glaze over. I realize it is probably a fantastic game. But the added mountain of rules on top of what the system already does with FC: Alexander… It seems like something I’m just not willing to embark on. 

I think I’m gonna trade it. I know I’m missing out on something, just like I am with Ambush!. But I am not excited enough to spend time playing it, when there are a bunch of games I am very excited to get to.

Onward.

Field Commander: Alexander score: TBD (something terrible, I’m sure)

Running TWIP: 1819

3 Notes

my solo games odyssey: Dungeon Run

My favorite game of the last year, hands down, is Summoner Wars. It’s a fantastic two-player game with tons of replayability. I am not a fan of fantasy themes in games, usually. But Summoner Wars won. me. over. 

Dungeon Run, while nothing at all like Summoner Wars, is set in the same universe. Many of the characters and abilities are direct ports, and there are lots of little tips of the hat throughout.

I’m pretty sure this is a game built to be played by more people. It plays from 1-6, but I hear four is the sweet spot. Before today, I had only played a two player game. We liked it fine, but knew it’d be better with more.

Now that I’ve played two solo games, I can say again (in case you didn’t hear me): This is a game meant for more people.

THAT BEING SAID: It’s fast and cute. I actually could see myself playing it again solo, although I’m not sure I could do much to shift the outcome. It’s heavily luck-driven, and I imagine the luck increases with each fewer player you have.

My first game, I chose to play as Birodin. You know Birodin, right? He’s the Mountain Vargath Aspirant? ANYway, I was able to dispense quickly with the mummy I encountered. The arrow trap? Disarmed. Zombie? Kaboom. Then I found the big boss: Gra Bogga. He has this neat “kick” ability, with which he dispensed of me tout de suite.

For the second game, I grabbed Addolgar Vayne. He’s the Questing Knight of the Vanguard, y’see. He cruised quickly through the dungeon, right up until he bumped into Ra-Alal and his rotting zombie friend. This fight went a little better than the first one, but ol’ R.A. rolled a stupid amazing attack, and it was over in two shakes.

Look, it’s not a perfect solo game. But it’s still pretty fun. I enjoyed playing it more than I have several of these other suckers. And I am eager to get it to the table with more players. I have a hunch it’ll be a ton of fun that way (see above).

And seriously: Get Summoner Wars. It’s so great. 

Dungeon Run score: 500

Running TWIP: 1765

2 Notes

my solo games odyssey: Decathlon

Another game by Reiner Knizia. Reiner Knizia is the German Sid Sackson. By which I mean: The guy has designed a billion games.

Decathlon is one of those games, but it’s maybe not the game he’ll be most remembered for. I’m just guessing here.

The rules are on his website, so feel free to download them and get eight dice and have at it. It’s light fare. The only time I’ve played it with other humans was at a cabin in Minnesota, which is maybe the most perfect setting anywhere for this game. 

Basically, it’s ten dice-driven mini-games. Each one is supposed to emulate a decathlon event.

"Emulate" may be a strong word. Maybe, "each one is printed next to the name of a decathlon event," would be more appropriate.

I played two rounds today. My worst event was the shotput, which I scored a big fat zero in both times. My 1500-meter kicked some ass, though.

If you can make out my terrible handwriting (you can’t), you’ll see that I scored a sweet 218 points overall. PUT ‘EM ON THE BOARD!

Decathlon score: 218

Running TWIP: 1265

BY THE WAY: An excellent two-player Knizia game, Lost Cities, came out on iOS a coupla weeks ago. I highly recommend it. Super slick implementation. 

3 Notes

my solo games odyssey: The d6 Shooters

When I said that there’s no game that does anything quite like D-Day Dice, I may have misspoken.

That’s in no way meant to suggest that The d6 Shooters comes anywhere near DDD in complexity or fun or chrome. But it does trip some of the same triggers in my brain when I play it.

This one has never been published, and is fully available to Print and Play. I raided my copy of Perudo to get the dice. There are two scenarios out there, and they play pretty differently from each other. Long Road to Reno is the version I had played before, and it’s a bit of a slog. Unless you’re brand new to this type of game, I’d suggest skipping it. Ghost Town Showdown, terrible pop culture references aside, is a much more enjoyable version.

Your goal is to reach Hoodia by the 30th day (1 day = 1 roll). Once you get there, you have to survive a final showdown. I played twice, and got to the showdown both times.

The first time through, I only had one member of my posse left, versus fourteen bad guys. I lost the second I crossed into Hoodia.

The second time through, I did a little better. However, a few feet from entering Hoodia, one of my posse members revealed that was a bad guy in disguise. I blame him for the fact that I lost again, although I made it a little further into the fight.

It’s fun, I guess. There are choices to make throughout. It’s a pretty thematic game, for a bunch of dice. (although the Ennio Morricone I played in the background probably helped.) And the black/red/white dice mechanics are pretty cool. But I couldn’t muster up the energy/interest to try a third time.

So I’ll accept my zero points and mosey on over the the Decathlon in Reiner Knizia’s backyard.

The d6 Shooters points: 0

Running TWIP: 1047