I have mentioned on numerous occasions that I primarily play Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. While I thoroughly enjoy 4th Edition, I know I am missing out on many great gaming experiences in various formats. One of the formats I have not experienced often enough is tabletop games. In the past month or two, I have enjoyed playing Ticket To Ride on my iPhone, which is a port of the tabletop game of the same name. It is a fun game that features competition between 2-5 players. It made me realize there are wonderful gaming experiences to be had away from roleplaying games like D&D. During Gen Con, I was able to take advantage of several great game demonstrations that were available to test and consume.
While at Gen Con, I played the following games for the first time, Dominion (and later Dominion: Prosperity), Settlers of Catan, Kingdom Builder and Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. I saw how similar Dominion is to Ascension (and vice versa) and it reminded me of when I played and reviewed Thunderstone. All three games – and I’m sure many others I have not played – work off similar principles and mechanics. Of the three, I found Ascension to be the game I thought about most after I finished playing it. My friend and I came close to buying Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer but decided neither of us would be able to travel home with it. Besides, I had already reached my limit for buying merchandise at Gen Con!
Enter the slick Ascension application for the iPhone, which allows you to play the first edition of Ascension for a $4.99. The app also allows you to purchase the two expansions (Return of the Fallen; Storm of Souls) and additional Promo Cards for a few extra dollars each. The app has a solid tutorial that teaches the basics of the game, and there are routinely open games online to join 24 hours a day. Two-player games last approximately 10 minutes (when both players are actively playing back and forth) but games can also be played asynchronously over the course of days or weeks. It is addictive.
Let me repeat.
Below, I write about why I find Ascension so engaging and discuss my initial foray into playing against random people online – and the beatings I suffered as a result.
In the past, my entries in Roving Band of Misfits’ Game Night Blog Carnival series have featured multiplayer games. However, this month I wanted to focus on a single-play experience that recently rocked my world. During my trip to New Zealand last month, I had a 13-hour plan ride to fill with various activities. I received several suggestions to download Kingdom Rush for my iPad. I decided to give the game a try for a mere 99 cents, and it was a fantastic decision!
Since I could not sleep well on the plane, I played the game on and off for the better portion of eight hours. The game is incredibly addictive, and I cannot recommend it enough for those looking for a fun game to eat up minutes and hours of their time. Below, I describe the allure and charm of Kingdom Rush.
This month, we had the unique opportunity to play and review the same game, Thunderstone. I was provided with a copy of the game by AEG at no cost to play and review. I want to extend my thanks to the organizers of the Game Night Blog Carnival and the developers of Thunderstone for making this happen.
Thunderstone is a card game with multiple RPG elements as each player builds up their deck of cards to take on various threats in a dungeon filled with monsters. The goal is find the famed Thunderstone, which lies buried deep in the dungeon under many layers of monsters. The winner is declared by the number of victory points accumulated throughout the game, which takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes to resolve. Below, I talk about my initial impressions of the game and my experiences playing it several times in recent weeks.
It is once again time to present an alternative game for your adventuring group as part of Roving Band of Misfits’ Game Night Blog Carvinal. For this entry, I am branching out to a product that does not fit into the traditional “game” category. However, I’m going to refer to it as a game anyway. This month’s entry is Table Topics.
Table Topics has a very simple tagline – Questions to Start Great Conversations. The game includes 135 cards; each card features a single question that can be asked. There is no right or wrong answer. The questions are engaging and aim to get people talking about interesting things in their life. For example, questions from the Original Edition include:
What did you get into trouble for the most when you were young?
Which historical sporting event would you like to witness?
Which is more important – intelligence or common sense?
If you could do something dangerous just once with no risk what would you do?
Where would you choose to live if you had to leave this country?
Table Topics now features 135-card sets with a variety of themes, including sets titled Family, Girls Night Out, Road Trip, College, Couples, Decades and Travel. Below, I present some ideas on how to use Table Topics to create a different atmosphere for an intriguing session with your gaming group.
Welcome once again to another entry in the Game Night Blog Carnival organized by Roving Band of Misfits. This month, I will discuss one of my favorite games as a child, Monopoly. I realize that you may recoil when you hear the name, “Please, that game is old, boring and never ends!” While I understand that thought process about Monopoly, stay with me as I describe why it is better than you think and why the game means so much to me.
Monopoly has been on my mind for two reasons this summer. First, I was stuck on a flight alone and only had my laptop for entertainment. My laptop is not a gaming laptop, so I only had the basic options like Solitaire, Minesweeper and several free-trial games that I have never touched since buying the machine. One of the free games was Monopoly, so I booted that up and started to play.
Almost immediately, I realized something was wrong. During the first lap around the board, the CPU opponent declined to buy a property and the game initiated an auction for the property. I never played the game this way before. Every time a property was landed on for the first time, either the CPU or I had to buy it. After a few laps around the board, the flight started its decent and I had to power down. I forgot about the playing experience quickly, but then I stumbled upon a blog post recently that made me realize something . . . I’ve been playing Monopoly wrong all these years!
This month, I present the classic card game, Cribbage. The game of cribbage was foreign to me before 2003. My wife and her brother introduced me to the game while on a camping trip to Itasca State Park, the Headwaters of the Mississippi River, in Minnesota. I learned to really love the game as we passed many hours playing cribbage, having a few beers, and talking about a wide range of topics. As my wife has told me, “It’s a game best played with good friends and good drink.”
Classic Cribbage Board.
Cribbage is an easy-enough game to pick up but it takes much practice to truly master. It’s a game for two to six players. It can be played 1-on-1 or in teams of two players. To play the game, you only require a standard deck of cards and a cribbage board. Although you could count out the points on a piece of paper if you did not have access to a board and pegs. The most-common cribbage board is a simple piece of wood with sets of 120 holes that represent the points earned during the game.
The pegs are used in a leapfrog fashion to demonstrate the number of points earned during each hand. Points are earned through playing cards, which are dealt each hand. One game of cribbage – a race to 121 points – will take anywhere from 10 to 20 hands to complete. The game moves along at a brisk pace and several rounds of cribbage can be played in less than an hour. I will talk about specific rules below and introduce you to the wonderful world of Cribbage Board Customization.
This month, I present some additional mechanics to spice up a game that is enjoyable enough already – Jenga. Jenga is played with 54 wooden blocks. Each block is three times as long as it is wide. To set up the game, the included loading tray in the Jenga box is used to stack the initial tower which has 18 levels of three blocks placed adjacent to each other along their long side and perpendicular to the previous level (so, for example, if the blocks in the first level lie lengthwise north-south, the second level blocks will lie east-west).
Once the tower is built, the person who built the tower moves first. Moving in Jenga consists of taking one and only one block from any level (except the one below the incomplete top level) of the tower, and placing it on the topmost level in order to complete it. Only one hand at a time may be used to remove a block; either hand can be used, but only one hand may be in contact with the tower at a time. Blocks may be bumped to find a loose block that will not disturb the rest of the tower. Any block that is moved out of place may be left out of place if it is determined that it will knock the tower over if it is removed. The turn ends when the next person to move touches the tower or after ten seconds, whichever occurs first.
The game ends when the tower falls in even a minor way—in other words, any piece falls from the tower, other than the piece being knocked out to move to the top. The loser is the person who made the tower fall (i.e., whose turn it was when the tower fell).
So far, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But below I will present alternative rules and mechanics to take an ordinary session of Jenga and make it a game-night extravaganza!