Sunday, 17 January 2016

Gwent review - by Gargamel

I haven't played The Witcher 3 yet, but a lot of people who have have told me that the Gwent card-game-within-the-video-game is awesome. The last card based mini-game I played was Pazaak in Knights of the Old Republic, and that shit sucks.

My friend Alan picked up the Hearts of Stone expansion for Wither 3 on PC, and it happened to come with a pair of Gwent decks - Monsters & Scoia'tael (The Nilfgaard and Northern Realms decks were available with the Xbox version of the base Witcher 3 game).

Gwent is played over 2-3 rounds, with the winner being the first to two wins. To win, you need to have the most points on the board by the time both players have passed.

The game begins by the players selecting a leader card for their faction, each with a different one-shot power - examples being draw an extra card at the start of the game, or once per game return a card from the discard pile to your hand.
Each player draws 10 cards from their deck and that forms their hand for the rest of the game.

During the game rounds, the players take turns either playing a card or passing. Once a player has passed, they forfeit any further turns, and the round ends when their opponent chooses to also pass.
The cards come in 3 broad categories - creatures, weather effects and actions.
Creatures are placed in one of 3 ranks - close combat, ranged combat and siege combat. Each creature card comes with a points value, a rank it must be played into, and it may have a range of special abilities. Hero creatures are immune to the abilities and effect of other cards.
Weather effects cause all creatures (both players') in a particular rank to have a points value of 1, and the various action cards can do a range of stuf, like dispel weather effects or kill all of the highest points value characters in play.



Once both players have passed, points are totaled up and playing field is cleared. Importantly, no new cards are drawn. You just have to keep playing with what remains of your hand.

In the game that Alan and I played (my first game ever), I over extended myself in the first round, using up too many of my cards and leaving little in my hand to continue the momentum of the first round. Alan revealed that he had goaded me into doing that, and so to celebrate that new insight I allowed myself to be goaded into doing that a second time.



One thing that I couldn't help but notice was that there's only one siege card in the whole Scoia'tael deck, and in our games I din't see any in the Monsters deck (though there are 3 or 4). Alan mentioned that the other two decks are much more siege-heavy. I feel like this set suffers from that lack of options, and I'm a bit saddened that there appears to be no way of getting the other two decks outside of paying an absurd amount on eBay. Perhaps someday there will be a retail release of Gwent in it's entirety, but that's probably just wishful thinking.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Epic PVP review - by Gargamel

Last year I backed Epic PVP on Kickstarter, and this week it finally arrived!
Sigmarine for scale.

The Kickstarter backer box is really cool. It's got a magnetized front lid thingy, and has drawers for the cards and tokens. The production value of the whole game is impressive. The only thing I was disappointed about was that the drawers are quite big, obviously to accommodate future expansions which is a good thing, but the game didn't come with any space holders so the cards don't actually stand up in the drawers like they're intended to, even with the first wave of expansions that came with the Kickstarter. Fortunately I had some foam rectangles from a Cards Against Humanity expansion which fit perfectly while I wait for all of the expansions I will need to compulsively buy.

The game itself is pretty simple and a lot of fun. It's for 2-4 players - for 2 players it's a one-on-one duel, for 3 players, it's a free-for-all, and 4 players it's two teams of two with shared life totals (Similar to the 2 Headed Giant format for Magic: the Gathering).
 
The object of the game is to eliminate your opponent(s) by reducing their life total to zero. You do this by playing Move cards, which both attack your opponent and block their incoming attacks. Players only start with around 4 life each, so blocking is a very big deal.
 
There are mini decks for every race and class in the game, and each player selects or randomises one class and one race, takes the two matching halves of the character board and shuffles those mini decks together to make their character deck. 




Each race and class deck has a set of basic attacks as well as some more wordsy cards which have conditional effects on them, some of which will in turn become permanent effects which remain in play for the rest of the game.


A quick rundown of gameplay:

Each player start the game with a hand of 5 cards.

On each round of the game, the current player puts 2 cards face down from their deck into their "aggro zone". You start the game with zero aggro, so at this point on turn one you would now have 2, then 4 on turn two, 6 on turn three and so on. The number of cards in your aggro zone determines how many cards you can afford to play, as you can only play cards from your hand costing a total of equal to or less than your current aggro.

After adding aggro, you then have the option of drawing as many cards as you want from your aggro pile into your hand. The trade-off being that the more cards you take into your hand this way, the less aggro you then have available to play them.

The next step is playing attack "move" cards from your hand. You can play as many as you like, provided the total cost doesn't exceed your current aggro.
Move cards are placed face up on the table with the Defense icon facing your opponent. If your opponent has played moves in their last turn, they will have their Attack icons facing you, and you can match up your moves to these to block them. To block, you assign one Defense value to an opposing Attack value which is equal or lower. For each of your opponents attacks you have been unable to block, you lose 1 life point.
Once the blocking is concluded, all of the moves you have played get turned upside down so that the Attack icons are facing your opponent.

And that's the basic turn structure which repeats until there's only one player left standing.

The Move cards with text effects are where most of the tactical meat is in this game. Some will become permanent effects if they're blocked, so your opponent needs to decide between letting the attack through or allowing you a long term benefit. Other cards let you steal cards from your opponent's deck, hand or aggro zone, both weakening their position and allowing you to potentially use their own racial or class abilities against them.

So, after a few two-player games of Epic PVP, I have the impression that while it's not a super deep game, it is a lot of fun and has a ton of replayability thanks to the vast number of race/class combos you can make. I'm really looking forward to trying it our with a bigger group.

Monday, 28 December 2015

X-Wing battle report - by Gargamel

Last night I had a few games of X-Wing with Will from Will's Ramblings. They were basically my first 3 proper games, not counting a few basic intro rounds a while back. I lost 2 and won 1, so a handful of rebel pilots can hold their heads high while the majority of their colleagues float in bite sized chunks above an unnamed ice planet.

Lessons learned so far:
1. Don't bump into stuff all the time
2. Ten Numb in a B-Wing with autolasers is a TIE-killing machine
3. I should try to resist sinking too many points into elite pilots who can't dish out enough damage
4. Ion cannons are a massive annoyance
5. Let your opponent drink more beers than you do


Game 1

I had an A-Wing, a B-Wing, two X-Wings and the Millenium Falcon, all with the cheapest possible pilots, and Will had 4 TIEs, a TIE Interceptor and Darth Vader himself in a TIE Advance.




 My pilots spent a lot of time crashing into things and forfeiting their actions. I needed to pay more attention to the order the pilots move in. My forces quickly got picked off, leaving a hardy but largely toothless Millennium Falcon to be ganged up on and destroyed. Lessons learned (kind of). Next.
 Game 2

This time I had a tricked out squad of named characters in an A-Wing, a B-Wing and an X-Wing while Will had 3 TIEs, a TIE Interceptor and an Imperial Shuttle.

My B-Wing took care of a few TIEs early on which made me think I was doing pretty well. Wrong. The Ion cannon on the shuttle, plus the Rebel Hostage aboard it limited my maneuverability severely, so I was wiped out again pretty easily.

[Intermission for beer and pizza]

Game 3

I modified my previous list, keeping my tricked out B-Wing, but downgrading my A-Wing and taking two vanilla X-Wings in an effort to get more guns on the table.

The beers and fatigue were taking their toll on poor Will, who began making some tactical errors - not as many as me, but enough that I managed to squeeze in a win. Of course, due to the previous bitter defeats, I hadn't bothered to take any photos of this game, so I have no proof, but I totally did win. I promise! 



Thursday, 3 December 2015

Orruk "mysterious landscape" scenery - by Gargamel

On the rules sheet for Age of Sigmar there is a table of effects that can be applied to scenery. I personally don't like attaching random rules to scenery because I'm usually too dumb to remember what's supposed to do what in the heat of battle. For that reason I've been making some specific terrain for some of the effects on the random table.


The "Damned" rule allows a player to sacrifice wounds from a nearby unit in exchange for giving the rest of that unit a bonus on to-hit rolls that turn.
Here's a "Damned" altar I made out of leftover bits from an Arachnarok Spider kit. It's the catapult and bits of excess platform, plus the goblin being attacked by a spider. I figured the sacrifices serve the added purpose of convincing the Arachnarok to continue fighting for the Orruks and not go on a rampage.

The "Sinister" rule gives a fear effect to units nearby during the Hero phase. To represent this, I've made a bunch of heads on sticks. I still have a few heads left to mount, and I'm trying to scrounge them off my friends so I can humiliate their armies on the battlefield at all times, even when my own orruks are getting brutalised.



The "Deadly" rule means that when a unit charges through that terrain feature, each model in the unit has a chance of being killed.
To represent this, I made some punji stake pits out of modelling clay and toothpicks.







Friday, 27 November 2015

Age of Sigmar Orruk watchtower pt1 - by Gargamel

Here's a progress report on an Orc watchtower I'm scratch-building for Age of Sigmar.

The materials I've been using are:
PVA
Ice-cream sticks
Wooden skewers
Jenga blocks
MDF place mat

The platforms are made from ice-cream sticks with the rounded ends cut off. I've kept the ends rough and uneven because Orcs are idiots. Also, I'm lazy.


The central shaft of the tower is made of cheap counterfeit Jenga blocks which I've PVA'd together. At this point they're exposed, but I'm thinking of cladding them in more ice-cream sticks.


The ladders are made from an ice-cream stick with some one inch sections of wooden skewer glued to it for rungs.

The (mostly) finished product, assembled with PVA and mounted on an MDF place mat I got from Spotlight. The base is too big for the model, so I'm going to have to come up with some extra detail stuff to base it with.


What's next?
I'm going to paint up some of the boards in an Orcish fashion, and apply some flock and whatnot to the base. I'll post some more photos when it's done.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

MARZ - by Gargamel

If you're into horror and sci-fi, this website is a great resource for finding new stuff. It's a curated collection of short films and trailers, broken up into the broad categories of Monsters, Aliens, Robots and Zombies. I've spent hours exploring here and hardly scratched the surface.




I personally recommend clicking on the "list view" icon to the right of the four monster head icons (the three horizontal lines), as the default mosaic view tends to show multiple instances of each item which gets on my nerves.

Welcome! - by Gargamel

Hey kids, welcome to A Buncha Geeks - A blog about media, games, merch and other stuff.

I'll be adding content as often as I can, and if anybody out there wants to contribute any content, feel free to get in touch. I'm keen to make this blog into a community.