Wednesday, January 1, 2014

RPGs and Boardgames for sale and to give away

I'm moving and I have a bunch of RPGs and some boardgames that I no longer want to keep. Before I put them up on Ebay or on or similar websites, I'd like to get offers for these or if you'd like to keep it (good homes only!). I'm deliberately not putting prices on these, let me know what you are interested in and how much you're willing to pay and we'll talk. All of these are in mint condition unless otherwise indicated. My contact information is at the bottom of this post:

Traveller Core Rulebook (Mongoose Publishing edition, MGP 3800)
The Collected Book of Experimental Might
Iron Heroes (Malhavoc Publishing)
Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed
D20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook
D20 Modern Urban Arcana Campaign Setting
D20 Modern Future source book
D20 Modern Dark Matter Campaign Setting
D20 Modern Cyberscape
D20 Modern Future Tech
D20 Modern Past source book
A Game of Thrones Boardgame (first edition)
A Game of Thrones Boardgame: A Clash of Kings expansion (first edition)
D&D 3.0 Oriental Adventures
AD&D 2nd Edition Al-Qadim campaign setting (very rare, mint condition, never touched)
D&D 3.0 Book of Exalted Deeds
D&D 3.0 Book of Vile Darkness
D&D 3.0 Manual of the Planes
D&D 3.0 Monster Manual
D&D 3.0 Dungeon Master's Guide
D&D 3.0 Player's Handbook
Privateer Press Iron Kingdoms Character Guide (this is the D20 original edition)
Privateer Press Iron Kingdoms Lier Mechanika
Privateer Press The Witchfire Trilogy Collected Edition
World of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game (D20 version)
Shadowrun Third Edition core rulebook (used, cover is a bit scuffed)
Rifts Role-Playing Edition Core Rulebook
Weird Wars Blood on the Rhine source book (cover is scuffed)
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay  core rulebook (3rd edition)
Trigun D20 role-playing game
All Flesh Must Be Eaten core rulebook
Burning Wheel pack (the system book and the character guide book)
Plus a whole bunch of No Quarter magazines and older (pre-4th edition) Dragon and Dungeon magazines
Also various D&D miniatures, some were pre-painted, some are unpainted, some are painted by yours truly.

If interested, drop me a line:
skype: arseni.kritchever

Friday, August 23, 2013

Even more boardgames!

Another couple of weeks have gone by, so I have had a chance to try out a few more boardgames in the meantime. So in no particular order:

Sentinels of the Multiverse
A fairly complex non-collectible card game, Sentinels of the Multiverse is not at all like the extremely popular deck building games (Dominion, Ascension, etc.) In Sentinels of the Multiverse, each player takes on a role of a superhero, all of which are thinly veiled DC and Marvel heroes. So there is a Batman type, Iron Man type, The Flash, and a few more original ones. The hero is represented by a deck, each card might be an action, a power, a piece of gear. The heroes are working together to defeat the villain, also represented by its own deck which cycles automatically - so it's very much a cooperative game. To complicate matters further, there is also an environment deck that might hinder or help the heroes and the villain. On each turn, a player can play a card, use a power (activate a card that's already in play) and draw two cards. The goal is to destroy the villain, which usually (but not always I believe) involves getting rid of his/her/its hit points. I definitely liked the art of the game, and the way the art and gameplay and card text reinforce the theme of the game - I had a lot of fun just kind of imagining the situations and the plot. On the other hand, it's hard to plan a strategy in this game due to the randomness of card draws, and new players (such as myself) will be uncertain of what their hero is capable of. Furthermore, the unfortunate truth about Sentinels of the Multiverse is that most of the time a player will be either spamming the same power every turn, or will pull off a dizzying chain of actions (some decks have cards that grant extra actions) that takes a while to resolve. It is still a fun game at times, but I'm not convinced that it is a good one.

Smash Up
Another card game we tried is Smash Up. In this game, each player selects two decks and smashes them together. So I played Russian bear cavalry dinosaurs, another player played Ninja Wizards, another player smashes aliens and faeries together - you get the idea. After each player creates his deck, four locations are revealed and the players attack these locations to score victory points, in the process destroying, stunning, or moving around their opponents' cards. The art is hilarious, the premise is silly in a good way, and the game is fairly easy to learn and can be played quickly. Because the maximum hand size is 10 (I think), some planning ahead is possible. However, once again, new players will be at somewhat of a loss as to what their decks can be capable of, and will be unsure of what their opponents' cards do. There is also not a great diversity of cards within each deck, so expect to play the same cards over and over again (I have how many robot velociraptors?!). Finally, it seemed to me that some decks just had an unfair advantage or could consistently outplay other decks - maybe it was just the smashups we tried, I'd need to play it more to be sure.

I love love love this game. It's so incredibly well designed, fun to play, and beautiful, with a great deal of replay value. In a nutshell Archipelago is a bit like a blend of Settlers of Catan, Agricola, Puerto Rico, and Game of Thrones. Phewph, that's a mouthful. What is actually is, is a game of exploration, worker and action placement, resource management and intrigue. Players explore an archipelago by placing huge hexagonal tiles which have resources and native huts on them. Native huts increase surplus population which makes buying workers cheaper, but also increases discontent. Players can use workers to harvest resources from the discovered tiles, or construct towns, ports, markets, and churches. The trick is that they can do so even on tiles that were explored by other players, and the other trick is that EVERYTHING can be traded in this game at any time. It may seem that other players are your competition, but then a crisis card gets drawn (yes, there are also cards) and suddenly everyone is scrambling to work together and trade resources to resolve a crisis, because if you don't then the number of rebels begin to grow. If the number of rebels is ever greater than the number of citizens constructed by the players, then EVERYONE LOSES. So you're working together after all? No! Because each player is given a secret card at the beginning of the game, each card has a condition for a game end and a secret winning objective. So you don't know what other players are trying to achieve, and to make things worse one of the players may secretly be a Sympathizer - if the rebels win, everyone loses EXCEPT the Sympathizer! He wins! The game creators call Archipelago a semi-cooperative game, and it very much is. There is no war, you can't construct armies, and yet the game is filled with tense intrigue, alliances and negotiations, and backstabbing. Plus, there are three different decks of objective cards - short game, medium game, long game. A short game can be completed in under an hour, a medium game can be completed in under two hours, and a long game can last as long as three to four hours. Because of these random secret objectives, no game is ever the same. And I'm just scratching the surface here, because there is so so so much more to this game: progress and character cards, market trend cards, domestic and international markets, wonders, and more! And did I mention how gorgeous the pieces are? Anyway, Archipelago is not a cheap game, but I think it's one of my most favourite board games now.

Galaxy Truckers
This is a game I really really want to like, and maybe I will eventually. A lot of other reviewers and players rave about how fun this game is. The premise is that each player builds a haphazard spaceship out of spare parts and then races around the galaxy trying to collect and deliver cargo while pieces of the ship are being blown off by pirates, asteroids and whatnot. The game has three rounds. In each round the players will build progressively bigger and more complicated ships, by quickly looking through a huge pile of face-down tiles that represent engines, crew quarters, weapons, shields, cargo holds, etc. The catch is that they have a limited time to do so, and they're competing with other players for tiles. After the ship is constructed, players criticize each other's ships, trying to find flaws and mistakes - so your ship might lose parts before you even launch it! After all players agree on each other's ships, they are launched. Events are drawn from a pile of cards, these events might give cargo, or slow down the ship, or simulate attacks on the ship. After there are no more events, the players score their cargo (and other victory point conditions), and then start anew, by building a bigger, better ship. I can see how it can be silly fun - it's very much a 'beer and pretzels' game - and the randomization of events adds to the replay value, but it is also strangely unforgiving. Build your ship wrong, draw a particularly nasty event, have an unlucky dice roll, and you're screwed for the rest of the game. Maybe you can make it back in the next round, but it's unlikely. Unlike Archipelago where you never feel like you're falling behind everyone else and where you are constantly doing something and having fun, Galaxy Truckers can quickly turn boring and frustrating if luck and rules go against you. A lot of people really like this game, but I would not recommend it.

Well, that's that. As I am returning to Toronto next week, I will be trying out new games at Snakes and Lattes instead, so hopefully I'll have time to do more mini-reviews soon!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Some boardgame reviews

Last couple of weeks I've been going to Monopolatte - a boardgame cafe that recently opened up in Ottawa (summer vacation is awesome that way!). We've tried several games, all but one of which was new for me, so I just wanted to throw out a brief review of each.

Lords of Waterdeep
Although produced by Wizards of the Coast, and using their Dungeons and Dragons and Forgotten Realms brands, it was not at all the expected derivative adventurers-on-a-quest kind of game (like Talisman, Descent or Hero's Quest). Instead it is a surprisingly deep and fun resource management game. Each player assumes control of a faction and a leader (whose identity and goals are kept secret until the end of the game) trying to manipulate the city of Waterdeep and amass more victory points than the other players. At its heart it's a resource management and action management game that is quite close to Agricola in spirit and mechanics (but has much prettier art). Each player has a limited number of actions per turn, with these actions the player has to acquire resources (in the form of adventurers), intrigue against other players (by using special intrigue cards), construct buildings in the city that provide additional types of actions (Agricola style) for all players, acquire quests from a tavern, and then send out teams of adventurers (in other words spending resources) to complete the quests. There are a lot of pieces, and the setup takes a little while, but once we started playing it was very easy to understand and very fun. I would definitely play it again in a heartbeat. It worked quite well with 3 players, but would work even better with 4 or 5.

Ticket to Ride: Scandinavian Edition
I've played Ticket to Ride before a bunch of times, so I knew what to expect. Players draw multicolored cards from a common deck (either face-down or from a pool of 5 face-up cards) that they then use to lay down cute little railroad wagons in an effort to complete railway routes from one city to another. Meanwhile each player has a number of secret goals to complete (link the following destinations together: Helsinki to Oslo, Konigsberg to Stockholm, etc.) that reap victory points at the end. It's a fun and easy and quick game. What Scandinavian edition does differently is that it adds the concepts of tunnels and ferries. Ferries require special locomotive cards to complete, while tunnels may end up being much more expensive to complete than they seem if the player constructing a tunnel happens to be unlucky. I can't say that either addition made the game more enjoyable than the standard version of the game, but it was fun enough. I would not recommend this version of the game, however, because it only supports 3 players. Get the standard edition of Ticket to Ride (U.S. or Europe).

7 Wonders
Here's a game I really wanted to like, but doesn't quite deliver. Each player gets a random great wonder of the ancient world at the start of the game, and tries to complete the wonder and build his city (which will generate the resources to complete the wonder as well as earn bonus victory points in the process). There are three ages - each age has a different deck of buildings - and during each age the players will be able to play 6 cards from their hand. They can use these cards to generate gold, to complete stages of their wonder, or construct buildings. The trick is that after each player plays a card he then passes his remaining hand to one of his neighbours, so you can purposefully build a building you don't need in order to deny it to your enemy. To construct buildings and wonder stages players buy resources from their neighbours (i.e. other players), or have the resources generated by their existing buildings. At the end of each age there is also a special military conflict stage, which allows conquest-minded players to reap additional victory points by constructing military buildings that help during conquests but do not provide any other resources or victory points otherwise. All of this should be quite fun, except it just ends up not feeling like it at all. The game felt too random, with the constant passing of card hands back and forth it didn't seem like there is much room for deep strategy or planning, and it was easy to get completely stuck because a particular resource was unavailable. The production value is quite high (it's sooooooooooooooooooooo pretty), and maybe it's more fun with a larger group of players (it supports up to 7 players), but I'll give this one a pass in the future.

This one's a classic boardgame, but I've only now tried it. It's quite similar in spirit and mechanics to another classic boardgame - Carcasonne. Players draw tiles and then try to assemble the most awesome palace complex (Alhambra). There are four types of money cards denoted by their colours that the players compete to gain, that they then will use to purchase tiles from a common pool. On each turn a player might buy a tile and put it into play, put a tile away from his board and into his reserve to use it later, put a tile from his reserve into play, or take money. It's very much about planning your actions in advance. There is also an element of a jigsaw puzzle and city optimization because the way you construct your palace has its own special rules, and it matters how the tiles are placed and fit together. Players score points depending one how many buildings they constructed of each type (there are pavilions, towers, gardens, arcades, etc.), who has the longest city wall, if anyone constructed a fully walled-in city, and so on and so forth. The set-up takes a while, but it's easy to understand and play, even though there are many paths to victory and quite a bit of depth to it. I can definitely see why it's a classic and many people would find it very fun, but it's not a game for me - I can't say I enjoyed Carcasonne, and I can't say I enjoyed Alhambra either.

So there it is! Next time I hope I'll have a chance to play a few more games from my to-do list: Cosmic Encounters, Galaxy Truckers, and maybe even Twilight Imperium!

Incidentally, if you live or visit Ottawa go check out Monopolatte - it's a very friendly and reasonably priced boardgame cafe, and they have a good variety of games. They're not quite as big as Snakes and Lattes in Toronto yet, but I hope they'll continue expanding! The staff is very friendly, and the food is cheap and tasty.