barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
"Okay, so galley #5 is sailing to Tripoli, and buying two crates of spices."

"Tripoli is under my control, so six ducats please."

"Six? You mean two!"

"No, we tripolled our prices. Wo ho ho ho."


(The game in question is Serenissima, one of our favorites.)
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
A few months ago I came up with a great idea for a creativity exercise: I got a stack of blank index cards and wrote the title of one of my GURPS role-playing game sourcebooks on each one (I have a lot of GURPS books); I draw three at random and try to quickly think of a game setting or plot that would incorporate all three. Today I went through the whole deck; here are some of the highlights:




• Japan
• Ultra-Tech
• Psionics

In the not-too-distant future, Japan is an anachronistic mixture of ubiquitous advanced technology and retro-feudal styles in culture and architecture. The player characters are a group of college students who gained strange mental powers when a mind/machine interface experiment went haywire.




• Vikings
• Black Ops (elite commando teams investigating and eliminating paranormal threats)
• Aliens

Leif Skywise knew something was wrong when he saw a star moving in a very unfamiliar way, especially when it seemed to touch down on the coast off in the distance. He took his ship and crew to investigate, and his suspicions were confirmed: the "star" was some sort of flying ship made of metal, and its demonic inhabitants attacked when Leif approached. The demons fought fiercely, but the Vikings triumphed. Though they had no idea how to re-activate the flying ship, they nonetheless found many powerful weapons and other strange magical objects on board. Now they sail the seas, seeking out supernatural evils to vanquish and ready to defend Scandinavia from further demon invasion.




• Middle Ages
• Places of Mystery
• Supers

Various persons from all over the medieval world feel strangely compelled to visit certain monuments--Stonehenge, the Sphinx, Uluru, the Forbidden City, etc.--late at night on one fateful equinox, and, in a flash of light that none of them remember clearly, gain amazing powers. Their abilities differ widely, but all include the ability to instantly travel from one place of power to another. They band together to form a secret society of heroes.




• Blue Planet (human colony on distant oceanic planet, probably inhabited in distant past by high-tech aliens)
• Time Travel
• Imperial Rome

A team of scientists and explorers on the Blue Planet discover an ancient alien device that appears to be some sort of time machine. They manage to get it working and send themselves back in time, hoping to encounter the ancient aliens who built it... but instead find cities of marble columns inhabited by humans in togas. Could there have been contact between Earth and the Blue Planet in the distant past?




• Cliffhangers (1930s-style modern adventure serials)
• Mecha (giant piloted robots)
• Mars

Edison and Tesla put aside their differences and join forces once again to reverse-engineer the Martian war machines left behind after the invasion, and build a fleet of their own to take the fight back to the Martians!
barnabas_truman: (army)
"So you're Leprechauns? What do they do?"

"I can place Pot of Gold tokens on regions I control. If nobody conquers those regions before my next turn, they turn into points for me; if you conquer them before my next turn, you get the points."

(A few turns later: catapult trolls conquer one of said regions and get the gold.)

"I missed that; what did you conquer on your turn?"

"I got your lucky charms!"

"Nooooo! You be stealin' mah lucky charms! Time to go back to fairyland."

(Leprechauns go into decline. They were on their way out anyway.)
barnabas_truman: (army)
[We're playing Smallworld, a board game in which players control various fantasy races--elves, dwarves, trolls, etc.--fighting for dominance of the map. When a player's currently active race becomes too weak, he or she may choose to send it into "decline" (e.g. "the age of elves is at an end, the age of man is beginning" from Lord of the Rings) and choose a new race next turn. The current game started out as skeletons vs humans, and the skeletons pretty much swept across the entire board by the second turn. The situation looked hopeless for the poor humans, now holding only one territory.]

"Aw, phlogiston."

"That's an interesting minced oath."

"PLAAAAAAAAARGHHH. Yeah, I'm sending these guys into decline."

"Well, they had a good run, anyway."

"No they didn't!"

"I know; I just said that to make you feel better."
barnabas_truman: (dwarf)
G just played "Scotland the Brave" on pennywhistle using the roar of my spaceship's engines* as the drone note. Truman Household awesomeness has just gone up a level.

* in Kerbal Space Program, a spaceship simulator computer game
barnabas_truman: (army)
(We've been playing through our first attempt at Star Trek: The Deck-Building Game. Pretty fun so far.)

"So it looks like you have to discard Nurse Chapel."

"Aw, but Majel Barrett was helping me win!"

"Don't worry; she plays plenty of other characters too."
barnabas_truman: (army)
Last night I dreamed about playing a board game that, as far as I know, does not exist, but seemed pretty neat. It was sort of a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid strategy game depicting a war between factions of dragons on some other planet, with each player controlling one faction. I think each faction had its own unique elemental magic powers, but I don't recall the specifics. The game board was split into four hexagonal grid maps, each representing a different region of the planet surface, and players placed extremely detailed little plastic castles to represent their strongholds. The dragon warriors all started in an off-board orbital space station/palace controlled by the dragon royal family, and then teleported down to the planet surface to fight.
barnabas_truman: (army)
Our intrepid heroes are piloting their cargo-laden space trucks across the galaxy when a fearsome PIRATE SHIP appears on the viewscreen.

"Okay, you just pulled ahead of me, so they attack you first. This '10' is how many cannons you need to defeat them, this '12' is how many credits you get if you do, and these symbols show where your ship takes shots if you don't. What's your cannon strength?"

"Um, nine."

"Then the pirates start shooting at you. Roll for hit locations."

(picks up dice) "Then do I get the twelve credits?"

(aghast pause)

"No! They're shooting at you, not giving you money!"




The pirates blasted some large pieces off of her truck and then moved on to mine. I happened to have exactly 10 cannons, which means a tie, so nothing happened.

Final analysis: Galaxy Trucker is a very fun and silly game that we both enjoy a great deal. It's made from the same designer as Dungeon Lords and, though a completely different game, has a very similar feel (especially the humorous but easily understood instruction manual). It also shares a very strong "losing is fun!" sentiment with Dwarf Fortress--sure, maybe the disastrous trip through the meteor swarm and the combat zone has left you highly unlikely to make any profit at all this round, but at least you can laugh at the explosions as your truck falls to pieces. Kaboom!
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
We just tried playing Martian Backgammon for the first time. I was dubious at first but it turned out to be remarkably fun. Being played with plastic pyramids on an imagined 5x5 grid, it doesn't look anything at all like traditional backgammon, but there are noticeable similarities (and noticeable differences; for instance, piece size matters a great deal). All in all it's an enjoyable game; chance matters enough to keep things from being predictable but most turns involve strategic decisions that matter even more.
barnabas_truman: (dwarf)
Last weekend we picked up a copy of the Order of the Stick board game. We've been playing it for hours every night this week... and we're almost done with our first game!

Seriously though, it takes a long time but it's a really fun game. I was a bit surprised at first to find no "board" in the box until I realized that players assemble the dungeon map from "room cards" as the game progresses. The combat mechanics seem to borrow a lot of the best aspects of Munchkin while making them both more streamlined and more flexible. The notion of each character having his/her own deck of "schticks" reminds me a lot of Red Dragon Inn. Neat system. I look forward to trying it out again with different characters.
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
Homeworlds for two, Homeworlds for four, Qwirkle, Puerto Rico, Carcassonne, a learning match of Aquedukt, and a solo round of Tales of the Arabian Nights to remind myself of the rules. That makes seven tabletop games this weekend, and all without even going to BayCon. :-)

We picked up Aquedukt at a going-out-of-business sale about five years ago (along with Kronos, Odin's Ravens, and Star Fleet Battles) but never actually tried until today. Turns out it's surprisingly fun--players take turns placing houses, wells, and channels; the result is somewhat reminiscent of Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Agricola, and SimCity2000.
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
Today I met up with an old friend from college ([livejournal.com profile] emosnail) who has probably circumnavigated the globe half a dozen times since I last saw him in person. We had lunch, a stroll around Whole Earth Festival, some pleasant conversation, and a crazy game of Martian Chess. Good times.

In other board game news, [personal profile] serendipity17 and I picked up a copy of Carcassonne from Bizarro World, and we also tried an extremely strange chess variant called Ultima or Baroque Chess.

Kings move and capture in the conventional manner. Pawns move like rooks and capture by flanking. Everything else moves like queens and captures in a bizarre way that seems utterly nonsensical at first.

I managed to make some progress towards checkmate but then we realized that my king had moved into a rather unusual sort of check several turns ago without realizing it, and decided to call it a draw.

Apparently Ultima also inspired Penultima, a three-or-more player variant in which one or more participants (the "spectator(s)") write their own secret rules for how the various pieces are allowed to move before the game begins. The two actual players then attempt moves and ask the spectator(s) whether each move is allowed, attempting to deduce by elimination what the rules really are.

This seems ripe for conversion into a Looney Pyramids game--set up small, medium, and large pieces as for Pikemen, perhaps mark one of the larges as a king so checkmate can still be the goal (or use a point system as in Pikemen or Martian Chess), and try to determine the rules of movement for each size piece as written by the spectator(s).

Many Looney Pyramid games have names beginning with Z, so this ought to be called Zenultimate--particularly appropriate, as the general theme reminds me very much of Zendo.
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
Tonight we played a couple more games of Gnostica, then tried a new (to us) pyramids game called Martian Chess. It's played on a 4x8 board; each player gets three each of queens, drones (rook limited to 1 or 2 spaces), and pawns (bishop limited to 1 space).

Here's the tweest: all the pieces are the same color. You can make a move with any piece ON YOUR SIDE OF THE BOARD. That means that when you send a piece "over the canal" (Martian, remember?) it now belongs to your opponent. Game ends when one side of the board is completely empty; victory is determined by total point value (3/2/1) of captured pieces.

And it is INTENSE. The first few moves are cautious maneuvering for position on one's own side of the board, then a few careful captures here and there, then a vicious bloodbath of capture after capture after capture until the last piece is sent over to trigger endgame. I'm finding that I have to "unlearn" almost everything I know from chess. In some ways it's more like mancala. Crazy fun mental workout; would play again.

This also brings the list of pyramid games I know how to play up to eight. Two more and I can legally call myself a Starship Captain.
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
Saturday we headed over to campus in garb to perform for Picnic Day, which went remarkably well. Eight dancers, me on pennywhistle, six dances, then home again. Later in the evening we got together with a couple of friends for dinner, sewing, and board games (Volcano and Homeworlds). Sunday we invited two other friends over for more board games (Chrononauts, Race for the Galaxy, and Dungeon Lords). Good times.
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
This weekend's entertainment: played two games of Khronos and two games of Power Grid, watched the rest of Big Bang Theory season 4, and mowed the lawn. Fun times. Experimenting with aggressively cutthroat strategies in both games (buying unneeded fuel in Power Grid to manipulate the market; temporal undercutting in Khronos to remove opponent-controlled structures "before" they're even built) with interesting results.
barnabas_truman: (army)
I ascended in NetHack again! Elven wizard named Galadriel.

This is, hm, I think the fourth time I've ascended, the third time I've ascended as a wizard, and the first time I've ascended as an elf or as a chaotic character.
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
Yesterday we cashed in our gamestore gift certificate for Red November and Settlers of Catan. Yes, we actually didn't already have Settlers of Catan. Figured it was time to fix that.

Today we played two games of Settlers (we each won once; turns out pushing for cities early is amazingly useful) and one game of Red November (lost due to flooding and engine failure about 15 minutes before rescue). Good times. It occurs to me that they are excellent introductions to competitive resource management games and cooperative pseudo-RPGs, respectively, for new gamers.
barnabas_truman: (army)
We tried out a new (to us) Looney Pyramids game today called Pikemen. It's played on a chess board; each player has five large pyramids, five medium pyramids, and five small pyramids. Pieces move like chess queens but can only move in the direction they're already pointing. Each turn you can (optionally) move a piece in the direction it's already pointing, (optionally) capture a piece, and (optionally) re-orient the piece you just moved. An upright piece can only be captured by a bigger piece (but can't move); a piece flat on the board can be captured by anything.

Fun game; I'm noticing some strategy development and a lot of similarities to chess. Due to the identical moving and capturing mechanics, the same concepts of forks, pins, and skewers apply, though the orientation mechanic changes things somewhat. The notion of stronger pieces that can't go anywhere until the weaker pieces have moved out of the way is also very much in force.
barnabas_truman: (army)
Just tried playing Battlestations (new-to-me board game, combining starship combat and RPG character-driven style) for the first time. I played Cal Hoskins the medic; Judith was Alice Stevensen the security officer. We were on board a scout ship which was suddenly invaded by five giant bug monsters for no reason other than that we wanted to learn the game mechanics.

After the initial panic of the first exchange of shots and/or mandibles, we fell into a run-and-gun strategy. Humans, it turns out, can move slightly faster than these bugs, so we would run along the corridor, she would turn and shoot at the nearest bug, I would work on healing her wounds, and the bugs, struggling to keep up, would usually not have time to attack. Eventually the last two bugs cornered us in an engine room dead-end, and, though almost out of hit points ourselves, managed to take them down.

Anyway, it's a very fun game. Reminds me a lot of Red November, but more flexible and RPG-ish. Haven't tried out the actual ship movement mechanics yet; they look like they take a lot of inspiration from Star Fleet Battles but of course much much simpler and with more focus on what the player characters are doing IN the ships. For instance, if you want the ship to turn, you have to be at the helm and make a Piloting skill roll with difficulty equal to your ship's size plus its current speed. Looking forward to playing more of this.
barnabas_truman: (dwarf)
I made this.



Some of you might find it amusing.

(The caveman is from Spelunky.)

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