Essen Wishlist Pt 1

My Essen wishlist compilation begins here. My videos are still poor, I can’t seem to script and stick to it so I talk a lot then splice the hell out of it which unfortunately means the sounds is all over the place. I think because of my accent and how I talk my tone of voice doesn’t help the matter. I’ve been saying for about two months I’ll get a wireless mic, so I guess that’s my number one buy for when I have some spare cash! The image quality of the inserts is pretty atrocious if viewed on anything bigger than a phone as well….but bear with me though, i’ve been making videos for three months and they’re getting a bit better, so in another 3 months maybe they’ll actually be worth watching! Thanks!

Updates

Just a little update!

I have started a new blog  for non board game related writing and photos. This is purely to have somewhere to write for my own practice as I have now embarked on my proof reading/copy editing course. Also some of my posts tend to lapse into more personal territory which I won’t change per se, but I’d like a home to write about topics that don’t fit in here.

So if you like my writing, bookmark my new blog. If you don’t then…ok! I’m also going to be updating the layout of this blog by the end of this week and hopefully buying the domain name so it’ll be a bit more good looking and official and stuff.

This week I am filming a new Instagamer’s Network You Tube video and a new video for my own You Tube channel (not an unboxing because I have nothing to unbox!) so if all goes to plan I shall be posting that later this week too.

Yay.

Tech Tabletop

pic2917096_mdUp until this point I didn’t really know how to feel about tech/tabletop cross over. I’m not talking about app versions of board games, but board games with an app that is somehow integrated. I didn’t feel much about it I guess. The first game I was interested in that did this was Alchemists, although I’m sure it wasn’t the first to do it. I was intrigued, but actually more put off than anything else. At the time I didn’t like the idea of something so organic to me needing a technology element. Also I liked that when it was ‘game time’ it means your phone is put away (which I get told off for nowadays because I’m always taking photos of games when I’m playing) I also wondered if it would work efficiently and possibly be annoying and disrupt the game. A couple of years on I am still thinking about buying Alchemists because I think it looks like fun and now I know that the app isn’t integral to the game itself, you can still play without it. The app in Alchemists is pretty basic; it combines ‘potion ingredients’ at random as far as I know. Recently I asked an Instagram friend if the game is good and if the app works ok and he said it did. I do think it’s slightly concerning if a game relies too heavily on an app so that any hitch would result in the game being unplayable. Darren at www.whitespider1066.com wrote a good article about this and I agree that it’s not exactly ideal if a few months down the line it’s not updated and runs badly.

However I’ve seen three games of late that have turned my head. First up is Mask of Anubis. I believe that this is the first board game to combine Virtual Reality with analog. Last year I wasn’t fussed with VR in the slightest. I’ve never been hugely into video games, or 3D or VR. I’m quite traditional. I have enjoyed video games in the past but I’m not very good at them. I had a Nintendo 3DS for a while but mainly became way too obsessed with it and frustrated. I tried an AR game called Spirit Camera which didn’t work very well and mostly annoyed the hell out me, I was like wow this would be so cool if it worked. Earlier this year I  tried a family member’s Oculus Rift. I didn’t have high hopes! Now I mainly regret that nobody filmed me using it, because I looked like a complete idiot but it was a lot of fun and I was mostly genuinely terrified. Despite having pretty hefty anxiety issues I’m often the first person to do anything scary that gets my adrenaline going, whether it’s horror movies, rides, ghost hunting, jumping off things, exploring places I shouldn’t, presentations, being in any kind of spotlight, things I pretty much fear and enjoy simultaneously. The Oculus felt… real. Watching everyone else playing I was a bit skeptical, but when I tried it I found it bizarre, like I knew I was in the front room, I could see the carpet slightly beneath me, I knew I was safe. But one of the demo games was being in a long hallway with a T Rex running toward me and I still screamed and removed the goggles immediately. Then of course I wanted to go again.  I saw a funny You Tube video of  an Oculus gamer that could not complete a horror game because he was too scared, and I completely understood (even though I really wanted him to finish!) because it is so real when you’re in it. So…. I guess I was converted.

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Back to the tabletop stuff; Mask of Anubis. It’s a co-op game where one player wears a mask i.e.- self assemble phone holder/goggles, and enters an unexcavated Egyptian pyramid, which is like maze. The aim is to find the King’s chamber and the hidden treasure. Each person takes it in turns to wear the mask, and you each land in a  different spot, and you’ll see a 360-angle view of the maze through the VR app. You only have one minute to describe what you see in front of you so that the other players create the maze using the analog game pieces and solve the puzzle. I’m definitely down for the VR side, I think in the past few years it’s evolved to be so much better, so it’s not as…naff as it sounds but actually pretty awesome. I also thought of retro games like Atmosfear and the TV show Knightmare, very early 90’s, the kind of thing I think is cool. I’m definitely one of these grown adults who are still searching to recreate my childhood in some way. So I’m pretty much dying to try this game. I couldn’t help but to think ‘is this a bit gimmicky?’ but having read an interview with the designer Takashi Hamada I realised that his previous designs had all been geared towards those with visual impairments, and you can read the interview here if you are interested to find out more.

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Another game that caught my eye recently is Queen Strike from Chinese publishers HoPLAY. It probably isn’t the kind of game I would usually play but I’d definitely be interested to try. This is another co-op analog/app driven game, this time requiring a tablet. In Queen Strike players move around the ‘Music Kingdom’ in a dungeon crawl fashion, collecting musical notes to complete a ‘Rainbow Score’ in order to undo some sort of magical spell. When you encounter the Queen’s guard you enter the “combat mode” which displayed in the 3D holographic app (a tablet set up in a cute platform) and this is the point where players use their combat cards to defeat the guard using a rock-paper-scissors mechanic. Event cards also bring some random animation into play. It looks to be a mix of cute/kitsch/traditional and innovative. Like Mask of Anubis, it’s finding a way of combining a simple tabletop game with the new fangled.

Lastly I want to mention a game that is nothing like the previous two in terms of game play but has a novel concept and has used  innovational printing technology to make a real life scented action-point-allowance-memory game. It’s called The Perfumer by Chu-Lan Kao and real fragrances are “printed” onto cards. Players collect ingredients from all over the world to fulfill custom perfume orders and are also on a mission to figure out a mysterious age-old formula by identifying ingredients…by smelling scented cards! This sounds pretty cool! It’s not for everyone, in fact this is possibly someones worst time ever. But it’s certainly different. There have been some questions posed to the designer as to the longevity of a game such as this. Apparently this printed scent technology has a shelf life of 1000 scratches and there are also spare cards included. Possibly booster packs as a future possibility. You can’t say fairer than that really.

I think at this point I have to say I’m all for it! This could be just the beginning for techy tabletop. Or not. For me at least I don’t think that anything can replace the traditional tabletop experience, part of me can’t help but to think ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ but I still feel that it’s a very exciting time for new possibilities and I’m looking forward to seeing what is dreamed up next. Because why not?

Next post- my ‘I wish I was at Essen wish list!’

Legendary: Big Trouble In Little China, Rob Heinsoo

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If you watched my unboxing video then you may have got the distinct impression that I was just a tiny bit excited about Legendary: Big Trouble in Little China. This was announced at Gen Con last year and I knew I was definitely going to be buying it right off the bat. This was so greatly anticipated for me, because I knew Legendary to be a good game. I enjoyed Legendary: Marvel, I wasn’t hugely ‘into’ it (I have enjoyed a Marvel film on occasion but I’m not massively into the franchise) but found the game to be really fun and to play really well. So it didn’t matter that I wasn’t superfan familiar with all of the characters. Now, I absolutely love the movie BTILC so I was stoked to play a great game with a theme that I knew I’d love.

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I don’t know why I love the film so much, I guess it’s because I watched it as a child and some movies just stay with you. Which as an aside is why I’m also excited to get Legendary Encounters: Alien because those films were just a huge part of me growing up. I thank my Dad that I grew up watching awesome films that perhaps other young girls didn’t like Blade Runner, Terminator, The Running Man, Predator, basically anything with Arnie, or directed by Ridley Scott or James Cameron. Anyway, I’m going waaaay off topic.

The good thing about the Legendary games is that you don’t have to be familiar with the content to enjoy the game. But if you are then it’s even more enjoyable, because you recognise the scenes and characters, and you can get behind the game further.
If you’ve never played a Legendary game I’ll sum it up as briefly as I can. It’s a semi co-op deck building/combat game. When I first played it reminded me strongly of Dominion, it’s just a classic deck builder only with far more fighting. You have a board (or in BTILC’s case a playmat, and various decks of cards (400 cards in total to be exact) and you use these cards to form ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ decks. There are many factions to choose from here, heroes such as Jack Burton, Gracie Law, Wang Chi, Egg Shen, and Miao Yin. Each faction has different cards with varying costs and abilities. In the villain factions we have the Wing Kong Exchange, Warriors of Lo Pan, Monsters, the Wing Kong Gang and more.
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Each game you choose a Mastermind that pairs up with a Scheme. The Mastermind (the ultimate baddie that you must defeat) has a ‘master strike’ condition and each scheme has its own set of playing conditions. Each turn a player must draw a villain card and add it to the ‘city’ i.e- playmat. The villain cards move along the city spaces each turn until they ‘escape’ the city. And then bad things happen. If you draw a scheme twist or a masterstrike from the villain deck then further bad things will happen that start to wear down your chances of making it out alive. Depending on your chosen Mastermind and scheme you will lose badly unless you work together to fight all the baddies and destroy all the Masterminds.

How? You must recruit heroes using your starting hand of ‘mediocre heroes’ (cheap and disposable cards) to pump up your deck. The more you cards you recruit the more powerful you become, and playing certain cards in succession means special abilities are triggered. Then you can start fighting left right and centre. Your own personal victory points lie in how many villains you KO throughout the game and their value. If you win the game against the villains it’s then down to the final cards in your hand and how many villains you’ve taken out. This will give you personal victory over the other players and win you the game. So it’s a really great balance of co-op and competition.

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It’s amazing how each game can be different depending on which decks you use, and this gives Legendary a huge amount of replayability. The overall system is just easy to pick up but it can be time consuming yet fun to execute. If you’re a fan of the franchise you’ll spend lots of time spotting characters and scenes, appreciating the flavour text on the cards and enjoying the special abilities that relate to the character. I’m a particular fan of Egg Shen’s Unpredictable Magician card which allows you simply flip a coin to gain plus 2 damage or coinage. There are cards that pit you against one another slightly, cards you can trade between players…so many lovely cards. I appreciate the way that the cards work together and intertwine so well, and how much planning goes into executing your moves as the game gets ‘bigger’.
The box art, the vibrant playmat and super cool vivid art work really bring the spirit of the theme to life. I can’t really praise the Legendary system enough, I just love it. If you like deck builders, combat, semi- cooperative then you’ll probably love this as much as me! 10/10, obviously. More info here.