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Offline Caranfin

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Tabletop Games: Redux
« on: August 03, 2012, 01:32:38 am »
From classics like Chess and Go to newer games like Arkham Horror and all that stuff with miniatures and distance measuring, whether you're a civilized gent who likes to play a round of chess every once in a while, a grizzled old grognard leafing through the manual for your old Avalon Hill game, or just someone who likes to occasionally play a game of Catan with your mates, this thread is for you. Share good playing experiences, ask for advice on picking up a new game, or discuss game rules and your own modifications.

There's also roleplaying games, which are more than welcome here but mentioning them would have hurt the flow of that sentence. Really, this thread is for anything that's played on top of a table (or on the floor when your game takes a year to set up).

Except for Monopoly. That game is terrible.


So then onto some games of interest to me:

Board Games

Arkham Horror


This is a bit of a love/hate relationship. The setup time is manageable, but the game tends to take forever and by the end of it you feel like your brain is melting. Of course, this might be a good thing for a Cthulhu game. And it is honestly really fun to play despite the rather quirky rules. It even fits on a typical table! Of course, then you start to tack on expansions and sooner or later you end up having to play on a tennis court.

Settlers of Catan


A Very Fun Game. The bartering system is great, especially when you get creative. I once paid a friend of mine to cut off another friend's attempt at grabbing the longest road points. She got all the materials to build a city out of it, as well as the new longest road in the game. When it came to my turn, I revealed a bunch of the "make a free road"-cards I had, built like five pieces of road in one turn, got the longest road trophy, and won the game.

Of course, the first friend says she doesn't want to play the game with me anymore. Such is life.

And the game isn't without fault: the random way resources are given out can sometimes completely grind any gameplay to a halt for some players, and I'm sure everyone will agree that having to skip turn upon turn just because you haven't got any resources is kind of boring.

Battlestar Galactica


I've only played three games of this so far, but it's been fantastic. I really like the paranoia-inducing mix of co-operative and adversarial gameplay and the voting system, but I'm not too keen on the small variety in action cards or the power balance between the President and the Admiral: none of our presidents have really been able to do much at all with their power, while it seems like the Admiral gets to decide tons of things and has a pretty good possibility of consolidating all the power on the fleet. Of course, it could be we've underused the Quorum-cards, and the President actually gets some power out of those.


Now, I could list a dozen more games here but I'll save those for a later post if this thread actually gets some activity, so I'll move on from board games with a question: has anyone got experience with Twilight Imperium? It seems pretty interesting, but as with all the big board games it is rather pricey.


Roleplaying Games

I started with Middle Earth Role Playing when I was around eleven or so. After that I've played a variety of different systems and fiddled around with designing some of my own. Here are a couple of my current favourites:

Basically anything by Greg Stoltze
The One Roll Engine is an absolutely fantastically elegant system powering tons of great games like REIGN, Nemesis (which is free!), and Wild Talents. He's also made Unknown Armies, which I've heard described as "Quentin Tarantino's Call of Cthulhu". It is great. And Stoltze's writing is excellent.

He's got a kickstarter open for an upcoming game, Better Angels.

FATE
An incredibly fun game of pulpy adventure, with excellent rules for sharing the narrative responsibility between the players and the GM. Basically, in Fate, the better your character is in a given situation, the more narrative control you have over the scene. It is kind of hard to explain without the rules in front of you, but it works great and is a nice refreshing change from typical old-school rpgs that put all the narrative responsibility on the GM.

Fiasco
Absolutely brilliant. Go buy the .pdf and give it a whirl, even if you're generally not interested in RPGs. A GM-less roleplaying game for three to five people, a game of Fiasco tells the tale of a bunch of small-time crooks and other people caught in their -almost always completely disastrous- web of incompetence and ambition. It is "inspired by films like Blood Simple, Fargo, The Way of the Gun, Burn After Reading, and A Simple Plan". One game runs for just a couple of hours and requires absolutely no preparation, just four typical 6-sided dice for each player, some paper and pens, as well as a bunch of creativity.

Fiasco is the system I'm going to use for introducing people to RPGs. It is fast to play, very quick to learn, and really makes an effort to bring the creativity out in players. It is very good at making players create characters with distinct personalities and then having them act out situations between them. It's also fantastic at making the story the focus of the game, rather than the success of any one character or the accumulation of points and loot and whatever.


Despite the latter two games, with their "GM-less" gameplay and "shared narrative responsibility", being quite firmly not traditional (and my somewhat evangelical advertisement of Fiasco), don't be afraid to post about your love of D&D or Pathfinder or, idk, Riddle of Steel. I'm not going to yell at you for liking old-school or simulationistic games. Of course, I am going to ridicule you if you like FATAL or something, though.


TL;DR: gamesgamesgamesgamesgamesgamesiamanerd please talk about games that are played on/around a table/floor/ground.

Offline Ziza

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2012, 12:16:05 pm »
First of all, I don't see why Monopoly is a terrible game. But it's definitely not something to be seriously taken in nowadays' board games community :--)

I'd love to try Battlestar Galactica and Twilight Imperium, but the latter seems incredibly huge and expensive, and the former... I actually never buy games until I get to try them in person.

I played Arkham Horror around 3 times - it's fine, but after the 2nd try it's starting to get way too tiring, time-consuming and boring IMO. If you're looking for a good cooperative game, I strongly reccomend Ghost Stories - this one, at least for me and my friends, got boring after more than a year of quite frequent playing.

Anyone tried "The Game of Thrones"? 2nd edition of course. Despite this being a bit imbalanced and waaaay too time-consuming (one game takes usually 5 - 6 hours, with everyone being fed up with it / drunk after around 3) I still can't stop loving it. The strategy and plannig aspects, with a bit of diplomacy, are fantastic. Unfortunately, one of my friends groups loved it during first 3 tries and then decided that 6 hours of sitting around the table is not the way to have fun; while the other loves to play with Tides of Battle (randomness!) cards =/

Another one I'd definitely recommend is not really a board game, but card game - Resistance. Set in Polish RPG setting - Neuroshima - this games takes good old Mafia to a new level, allowing to use actual logic and strategy to eliminate the bad guys; and real cunning to beat the good guys. And, unlike the original, where players are killed every round, everyone plays and infuences the game till the very end. Around 30 minutes for one game, up to 10 players and perfect negative interaction.

Finally (card game as well) - GoSu (it's like MaSu, but it's Goblins!). It's great, fun and you can play it online!

Offline Caranfin

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2012, 11:00:18 pm »
Monopoly is terrible because, for most of it's quite long running time, you won't be doing anything. Coupled with the game not involving anything but the barest hint of strategy, it makes for a fantastically boring play experience. The directly adversarial, instead of merely competitive or co-operative, nature of the game doesn't help at all either.

I admit I'm not quite sure if I think Arkham Horror is a legitimately good game or not. I mostly like the absolutely bonkers things that happen during gameplay, really. I mean, a librarian chasing monsters around the city on a motorbike, wielding a huge fuck-off lighning rifle? Fuck yeah. Plus I don't really think it's boring. I really like the feeling of desperation you get when gates open up every fucking where and An Ancient One is getting closer and ohgodwecantcloseallofitintime.

Resistance sounds really intriguing! My group has been looking for a game for 6+ players and I generally really like co-operative games with some players secretly playing against the team (like Battlestar Galactica, which you should attempt to try out if you get a chance). Do you mind posting a more detailed explanation of how the game works? What are the consequences for getting found out if you are a bad guy?

My flatmate has the Game of Thrones boardgame, but we haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Sounds like we should try to get a group for it together as soon as we can.


How about the classics? Anyone here play chess? I must admit I've only ever played like two games, which I lost horribly. I do, however, absolutely love Go. And not because of any asiatic fetishism either, it's just genuinely an incredible game. Such simple rules, such deep strategy.

Offline Immanio_2

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2012, 02:11:30 am »
Ah, boardgaming. I tend to play with colleagues mostly. A game of Thrones (2nd ed) is one of the games we played a few times this spring, though usually with fewer than 6 players. Also some plays of that classic, Puerto Rico. I'm not as big a fan of it as the other players, though. It might be that I just feel that I'm not as well versed in it as the others. Although all in all I'm probably a bit less of an optimization gamer than the group in general. While we've played and enjoyed Sid Meier's Civilization several times, I still hope we'll give it some more table time, I think it has even more to offer. The 2010 FFG game, that is, not the 2002 Eagle Games' game, which is apparently horrible. There are several others as well, but I won't try to mention them all.

I picked up Eclipse a month ago, but I haven't had a chance to try it or even read the rules yet due to summer. I have hopes for it, as it's certainly become very popular, and it seems to strike a balance between Eurogames and Ameritrash.

Just before summer, I tried a bit of Combat Commander: Europe and Tide of Iron. I've played ToI several times before, and I picked up CC a few months back. The guy I played them with also has Conflict of Heroes, so we're planning on trying that as well.

We usually also take a little extra lunch break on Fridays to play. Razzia, Guilliotine, Dominion and Race for the Galaxy have all graced the table, but these days it's almost always 7 Wonders.

At the local gaming con just in late June, I broke one of my principles and passed up on playing Age of Renaissance, a game I have a long-standing love for. All in all, though I don't regret missing it this one time. Among other things, I got a chance to try out Iron Kingdoms: War Machine, a miniature game of sorcerers and big magically steam-powered mechs. I used to be a WHFB gamer years ago, and I sometimes toy with the thought of picking up one of the WH games or another miniature game again.

At said con, I also picked up Kampen om Norge (The Battle for Norway), which I've played one trial game of earlier. It's a Norwegian game (surprise, surprise) about the fighting in Norway in 1940 between the Norwegians, English and French on one side and the Germans on the other. It has some interesting mechanics, and I'm looking forward to finding out if it has any replay value.

I did play a World in Flames game with a colleague and his gaming group the past year. I think it took about 6 months of playing once a week to finish. Most of them have been playing the game for many years, so I was definitely very much the newbie, and the Germans ended up rolling over my Soviet armies a bit too easily.  A fun game, but yeah, takes a while to get into the rules, and a long time to play :P

I don't play RPGs much, mostly one-offs at gaming cons, since I've never really found a group to play them with. I do have a soft spot for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, though. Well, I haven't tried the newest (3rd) edition, as it seems to have deviated quite a lot from the old WHFRP. Still a pretty good game from what I hear, but not really the same. I've also been intrigued by the 40K RPGs, never tried any of them, but I really hope I get a chance to try Only War, the upcoming game where you play as Imperial Guard squaddies. Because everyone knows spess mehreens and their ilk are wimps in power armour :) It takes real men to go to war in the 40K universe with a flak jacket and laser point... eh, lasgun.

As for the classic games, I'll say what I always say when someone asks me about chess. "I make great plans in chess, but my opponent always ruins them by moving his bloody pieces."

Offline Ziza

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2012, 03:19:44 pm »
Resistance sounds really intriguing! My group has been looking for a game for 6+ players and I generally really like co-operative games with some players secretly playing against the team (like Battlestar Galactica, which you should attempt to try out if you get a chance). Do you mind posting a more detailed explanation of how the game works? What are the consequences for getting found out if you are a bad guy?

It's best to see rules :)

- Basically you have a team of 5 - 10 players, at the beginning of a game each of them receives their "Identity" card, stating whether they are Resistance (good guys) or Empire Agents (bad guys). Agents know each other, everyone else doesn't know anything about "who is who".
- Every round a different player becomes a leader and chooses a number of players to go on a mission. There are 5 missions. Winning 3 means Resistance won; losing 3 means Agents won.
- All players get to vote for the chosen team. If at least half the players disagree - the leader is changed.
- Every player who was chosen to take part in the mission, secretly chooses one of 2 cards - Success or Failure. Resistance members has to, of course, play Success always. Agents can choose any strategy.
- In general, to win a mission, ALL cards need to be Success. At least one Failure means the mission is failed.
- Additional cards let you plot even more. Allowing one (alone!) player to see another player's identity or success/failure cards, taking over the leadership, canceling team voting, etc.
- No consequences of finding out the Agents. You are never 100% certain of who is good or bad. You simply decide who should participate in the missions (usually the final mission requires as much participants as there are good guys).

In general, great psychological play, with logic and bluff to determine the proper squad.

I, on the other hand, would love to hear more about the Battlestar Galactica... it sounds like something pretty similar, and that is the game type me (and my friends) enjoy most.

My flatmate has the Game of Thrones boardgame, but we haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Sounds like we should try to get a group for it together as soon as we can.

You definitely should, and with maximum (6) players, ready to spend the whole night. Or play over the whole weekend (one day for first half, second day for another). Unless you aren't the type of people who like planning every possibility and counting the exact outcome of every move, you will love it. It's basically the chess version hardcore :=]


How about the classics? Anyone here play chess? I must admit I've only ever played like two games, which I lost horribly. I do, however, absolutely love Go. And not because of any asiatic fetishism either, it's just genuinely an incredible game. Such simple rules, such deep strategy.

I played a lot chess when I was younger - never was really great at it. I tried Go only twice, went even worse than chess :D

Immanio, seems like you play a lot, but I never tried anything you mentioned (except for GoT). Anything in particular you can especially recommend?

Offline Caranfin

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2012, 06:09:07 pm »
I picked up Eclipse a month ago, but I haven't had a chance to try it or even read the rules yet due to summer. I have hopes for it, as it's certainly become very popular, and it seems to strike a balance between Eurogames and Ameritrash.
I looked Eclipse up just now and it does sound pretty interesting. Do you have any idea when you'll have a chance to play it? I'd be really interested in a more detailed write-up about your impressions.

Quote
Just before summer, I tried a bit of Combat Commander: Europe and Tide of Iron. I've played ToI several times before, and I picked up CC a few months back. The guy I played them with also has Conflict of Heroes, so we're planning on trying that as well.
 
...

At the local gaming con just in late June, I broke one of my principles and passed up on playing Age of Renaissance, a game I have a long-standing love for. All in all, though I don't regret missing it this one time. Among other things, I got a chance to try out Iron Kingdoms: War Machine, a miniature game of sorcerers and big magically steam-powered mechs. I used to be a WHFB gamer years ago, and I sometimes toy with the thought of picking up one of the WH games or another miniature game again.

At said con, I also picked up Kampen om Norge (The Battle for Norway), which I've played one trial game of earlier. It's a Norwegian game (surprise, surprise) about the fighting in Norway in 1940 between the Norwegians, English and French on one side and the Germans on the other. It has some interesting mechanics, and I'm looking forward to finding out if it has any replay value.

I did play a World in Flames game with a colleague and his gaming group the past year. I think it took about 6 months of playing once a week to finish. Most of them have been playing the game for many years, so I was definitely very much the newbie, and the Germans ended up rolling over my Soviet armies a bit too easily.  A fun game, but yeah, takes a while to get into the rules, and a long time to play :P
I must admit I have never played any of these, but it sure sounds like you very much enjoy hardcore strategy games. :P How much of a pain was it to set up a game of World in Flames? Have you played any of the really classic war games like Advanced Squad Leader?

Quote
I don't play RPGs much, mostly one-offs at gaming cons, since I've never really found a group to play them with. I do have a soft spot for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, though. Well, I haven't tried the newest (3rd) edition, as it seems to have deviated quite a lot from the old WHFRP. Still a pretty good game from what I hear, but not really the same. I've also been intrigued by the 40K RPGs, never tried any of them, but I really hope I get a chance to try Only War, the upcoming game where you play as Imperial Guard squaddies. Because everyone knows spess mehreens and their ilk are wimps in power armour :) It takes real men to go to war in the 40K universe with a flak jacket and laser point... eh, lasgun.
Oh, 40K. I'm not much of a Warhammer enthusiast, but I'm currently involved in a very long running campaign of Dark Heresy, which has been really enjoyable. I have no great love for the ruleset, however. Any combat situation tends to grind into a halt, grenades are usually more dangerous to yourself than your enemies, and overall it takes a ton of work and experience to make your character have even a 50% chance of success whenever a roll is required.


Resistance things
Sweet. I'll definitely have to go shopping for this at some point.

Quote
I, on the other hand, would love to hear more about the Battlestar Galactica... it sounds like something pretty similar, and that is the game type me (and my friends) enjoy most.
The basic concept is remarkably similar to Resistance: you have a group of people working toward a shared goal, with a couple of infiltrators in the group working secretly against the others. BSG is somewhat complicated, so excuse me if the rambling ahead is a bit incoherent.

At the start of the game, everyone chooses their character. Each character has a different set of attributes, which determine the amount of different types of action cards you can get each turn. You then get a loyalty-card, which tells you whether you are a Human or a Cylon. As with Resistance, there are some ways for you to see the card of another player. Half-way through the game, everyone pulls a second loyalty-card, so even if you weren't a Cylon during the first part, you might be a Cylon for the second half.

During each round the players face a number of different challenges. There are two types of these: some you can attempt to deal with by using an action card or going to a certain location on the ship, and some require a vote. The voting system is brilliant: each challenge card requiring a vote tells you which colours of action cards count as positive votes, the other colours count as negative. Each action card has a colour and a value assigned to it. At the start of the vote, you pull two blind cards into the voting pile and then all players proceed to put in as many of their cards as they want to. Nobody knows what the others put in, and the blind cards help at keeping the uncertainty up if there are negative cards in the pile. If the sum of the cards' values is large enough for the specific challenge, you've made it. If not, you'll have some consequences.

The Fleet has both an Admiral and a President. These are determined at the start, and both have their own power. There are some decisions only an Admiral can make, and ditto for the President. In my experience, the real power in the game is with the Admiral, but I'm unsure whether we've been playing the President as well as you could. There are all sorts of things you can do to other players: the Admiral can stage a coup and get all the power in the fleet, everyone can attempt to throw another player into the Brig (where their options are very limited), etc. An expansion pack gives you an option to throw people out of the airlock, which is of course hilarious and should be used at any excuse.

During all of this there is a layer of resource management: the board has trackers for food, fuel, morale, and population. If any of these runs out, the humans lose. Other losing conditions include getting the Galactica (the spaceship you're on) blown up, and failing to destroy any boarding parties in time. Most negative consequences from votes revolve around depleting your resources.

There's also no player elimination: if a Cylon is found out, they just go back to the Cylon fleet and work overtly against the humans, instead of covertly. A Cylon can also reveal themselves, attempt to do a bunch of damage, and then get back to their own fleet.


Does anyone have any good recommendations for similar semi co-operative games? My dad has a copy of The Republic of Rome, which looks cool enough. Everyone plays senators dealing with external threats to Rome, while trying to gain enough popularity to become a Consul for Life. It sounds like it involves a delightful amount of co-operative backstabbing and powerplay, but it is an Avalon Hill game and as a result the rulebook is approximately the size of an average library.
Quote
My flatmate has the Game of Thrones boardgame, but we haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Sounds like we should try to get a group for it together as soon as we can.

You definitely should, and with maximum (6) players, ready to spend the whole night. Or play over the whole weekend (one day for first half, second day for another). Unless you aren't the type of people who like planning every possibility and counting the exact outcome of every move, you will love it. It's basically the chess version hardcore :=]
Going to take a while until I get the chance (I'm working 11 hours a day for this month), but I will definitely attempt to get a game going when I get back home.

Offline Caranfin

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2012, 12:52:50 am »
Yo Ziza, we had a boardgame night last friday and I bought The Resistance for that. We played three games in between other games. Fantastic game, thanks for the recommendation. I'm going to get a lot of game time off those 20 euro.

Offline Ziza

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2012, 08:00:15 pm »
I am happy to be somehow bringer of your fun, guys!

I, on the other hand, still haven't bought BSG, somehow I keep forgetting.

Offline evilcandybag

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2013, 10:13:01 pm »
We tried out our new rules system at today's Star Wars RPG session. Our aim is to have a very lightweight rules system with as little arithmetic work as possible. We want an abstract system that first and foremost lets us do cool things just like in the movies.

One part that worked very well was our idea of collective "narrative HP" for the party instead of the standard way of measuring harm done to each character individually. Here's how it works:
There is one collective pool for the entire party. This pool is used up when someone in the party is exposed to danger, with a number of points dependent on the degree of danger. When the pool is depleted, something has gone wrong for the PCs. The GM decides what bad stuff happens and then the pool is refilled. If the pool is depleted again, something even worse happens, and so on...

This system was really good at modelling the movie-style action curve that should be present when RPing Star Wars, and actually felt more realistic than most "individual HP" based games I've played, even the ones where realism is the goal.

Just thought I'd share this interesting experience with any of you RPG-geeks who still read this forum.
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Offline Caranfin

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Re: Tabletop Games: Redux
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2013, 11:26:39 pm »
I think I've asked you already but I forget, have you played FATE? Particularly the Spirit of the Century variant, since I'm not sure if the same mechanic is present in the other ones.

Basically, every character has a row of boxes called the stress track. In a challenge (combat, for example, but it works for any type), every time you screw up you note how wide a margin you failed by (or how wide a margin your opponent succeeded by) and mark off a box corresponding to that amount. So if you have six boxes and the margin of success was 4, you mark off the fourth one. If you get the same amount again, it rolls forward so a second 4 would mark off the fifth one and so on.

If the margin of success is greater than your stress track (for example if you have a stress track of 6 and the margin of success is 7), you take a Consequence. The same happens if you've already marked off boxes 4, 5, and 6, and take a new hit to any of those. There's no box to "roll forward" to so you take a Consequence. You can also choose to take a Consequence and not mark off a box.

Consequences basically work the same as your "bad stuff happens" thing there: They start off light and get worse, until you get a "you were taken out"-consequence. You can also choose to get taken out before you'd naturally get that consequence, which enables you to choose the manner by which you fail. If someone else takes you out, they get to decide how they do it.


I'm not sure how the stress track thing relates to what you're trying to achieve, but I really like the idea of being able to voluntarily take yourself out early while retaining narrative control over how exactly this happens, while giving the opponent narrative control (making it worse for you) if they manage to take you out instead. Adapting this sort of consequence mechanic for a common party-wide stress track might be interesting.

And really, FATE in general is a pretty sweet system for any pulpy adventure fun so if y'all haven't tried it yet you probably should. Might get some cool ideas for your Star Wars thing.

EDIT: Also I've been meaning to write a FATE hack for playing an A-Team game, but I'm pretty sure it's been done already. It's pretty much the perfect system for a game like that.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2013, 11:34:07 pm by Caranfin »