Like most, if not all tabletop games clubs, the BAD Gamers is currently suspended from its normal habit of meeting on Tuesday nights. We went into lockdown in March, with our last club night being March 17 (which seems a VERY long time ago).
However, we’ve managed to keep our gaming habits fed with games via Skype, Discord, Teams, Zoom and Whats App, allowing us to communicate while we play online versions of our favourite boardgames and role playing games. At home many board games have also been hitting the tables as families look for distractions other than binge watching Netflix and Amazon Prime. Mythic Battle Pantheon, through to Jaws and more standard fayre like Ticket to Ride and Love Letter have become staples of family game nights.
What is missing is miniatures games, but these are also getting played if only as solo or in-family efforts. Warcry, The Walking Dead, and Core Space have all gotten table time. Plus, the hobby aspect of miniatures gaming is a live and well with new armies being painted, terrain pieces built and projects completed. Just take a look at one of the club members blog at snitchythedog to see what sort of work is happening.
So, while we can’t meet up, socially, gaming wise, there’s a lot going on. The question is will it continue after the lock-down is over? If so, does it mean that a richer gaming vein has been tapped because of the lock-down, than would have been realised without it? Only time will tell, but purely from a gaming standpoint, and in no way detracting from the pain & anguish the virus has brought, the lock-down could be looked back on in twelve months time as a good thing for tabletop gamers.
Descent continued its journey towards the end of the campaign with part two of the Wyrm Turns scenario. This saw the (so called) heroes try and stop the Overlord’s minions escape from the dungeon with the Red Dragon Skull.
Despite Overlord Frank now playing with a little more organisation (he has a spreadsheet!) allowing him to target the heroes more effectively, the heroes continued their drive to complete the campaign with no losses. But it was a closer run thing than many of the proceeding adventures (the magic of Excel?), with one dice roll probably deciding it. On the positive side, for the Overlord, the heroes didn’t get much loot from the dungeon (cue Evil laugh).
The crew then moved onto the fun pre-programmed wild west themed game, Colt Express, which saw the wacky fight for the loot on the train. Always a fun story and inevitably, why doesn’t this hit the table more often.
On the other table a four way game of Frostgrave raged on with Olly, Mark and Chris taking new comer Andrew through the streets of Felstad.
This is always a fun game, with a D20 mechanic that can both make and ruin a Wizard’s day. Couple it to the fantastic terrain collection that the crew have, and its also a good looking game.
That was the content of last night’s meeting of the BAD Gamers.
Tom, who hasn’t been around for a while, and is now secretary of the Banbury wargames club, NOW Gamers, came along and had a game of Wrath of Kings with Darren A. The RPG’ers played the dark ages version of Vampire and the rest of us played a range of board games with a loose area control theme.
We kicked off with a game of King of Tokyo, which Chris and Lee took to a bitter end. Then we moved on to Alien Frontiers and new game Inis. This is an interesting mix of a 7 Wonders style drafting, an expanding map, an area control system and a choice of three victory conditions. It looks beautiful, plays fast, and after the first few turns players will understand the mechanics. After one game strategy will be understood.
The evening then rounded off with one of Frank’s favourites, Onward to Venus, which has a strong tactical rather than strategic play but is also area control in nature. Martin, playing the German Empire took the win after playing a “very quiet let everyone else get on with the game” approach.
Only five of us out last night at the BAD gamers, but we got some good games in nevertheless.
Ben took Darren S and Mark H through a starter battle of Dystopian wars with the East India Company coming to blows with the Polish- Lithuanian Confederation. Not sure how the geography on that one worked out, but the game was bloody and close, going down to the last ships on each side.
On the other table Steve and Frank played a game of Sharp Practice ACW. Set in 1864, Steve’s Yanks were attempting to sweep Frank’s Rebs from the table. Steve pinned the Rebs on his left flank, avoided those in the centre, and broke through on his right leading to the collapse of the rebels morale. Frank blamed his lose on poor positioning and early deployment of his main unit. Both agreed the game was great fun.
Both were good games, and it was great to get the toys to the table.
Next week is RPG – modern Vampires and Boardgames. Possibly Inis and/or Conan.
RPG night at the BAD Gamers last night, so while that group battled as vampires in the Dark Ages, the rest of us, and a new guy, Lee, took Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game for a walk around the table.
WH:TACG is a card based dungeon crawl based on the Warhammer Quest boardgame from the mid-90’s (in much the same way that FFG produced Space Hulk the card game, based on the GW board game).
We started with the intro mission which required our intrepid (but stereotyped) group of adventurers – a wizard, a cleric, a dwarf and (you guessed it) an elf, to investigate a terrible stench and resulting disease coming from the sewers on the edge of town.
We managed to battle through four areas to then get a final confrontation with the big bad – Grumpy something.
The game plays really well, with the mechanics being simple but comprehensive. We worked as a team, and although we finished up very bloodied, we were successful.
And it tells a story – putting the game somewhere between the boardgame narrative of a dungeon crawl like Descent and a full blown RPG like D&D (but without the need of either of them for an overlord/dungeon master player).
Overall then a good game, with the only downside being that with the GW-FFG split it will be out of print very shortly.
First night back at the BAD Gamers for 2017, and Paul and Frank took Halo Fleet Battles for a try out, using the two player starter box and the Fall of Reach Campaign.
This campaign is designed to teach new players the game in a video game tutorial manner – i.e. start simple and add complexity as you progress.
We managed to play the first two scenarios, which both went to a UNSC victory. Looking back we got a fair few things wrong, but also picked up the game mechanics and unit buffs fairly quickly, so by the end mechanically the game was flowing well.
So what did we think to it?
Frank gave it a 7 out of 10. It was fun, but didn’t really grab him. HOWEVER we think this is down to the restricted nature and small forces of the early scenarios, rather than the game itself. It will shine when it’s being played with all the elements and bigger forces, giving the players more to think about, more options to consider, and more choices on what to prioritise.
The re-imagined classic, Escape from Colditz hit the table for the end of term game, at the BAD Gamers last night. A few of us remembered it from our youth, and this new version while an improvement, still has some flaws from days of yore;
– Several times an escape officer’s turn would be spent trying to roll a double on 2D6 to get out of solitary. Dull.
– The roll and move mechanic denied Mark victory – “If I roll anything but a 3, I win”
HOWEVER, was the game fun? Did we talk about it when it was over? Yes to both – which in our experience are symptoms of a good game.
– Darren making a break for it through the Chapel tunnel, with one of his escapees sacrificing his opportunity for freedom by assaulting a guard, only to have the other escapee shot dead by another guard
– Pete sending his escapee out the front gate, straight past a guard, capitalising on the confusion caused by other escape attempts. Then capped it off by getting a now pursuing guard sent off on an errand, so that he could make good his escape
– Mark racing like a flying Dutchman to get away from a guard, failing, and then doing exactly the same escape again, and succeeding
– New guy Martin, quietly plotting away to make a break, and then stealing the win from t’other Mark thanks to Mark’s “If I roll anything but a 3” curse.
For a six player game it was ultimately a laugh. Probably not something that we’ll want to play often, but one we’ll be happy to play again.