Saturday, 27 April 2013

A Study in Emerald - Kickstarter Campaign begins

A Study in Emerald is a short story by Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors. So when I learnt at Boardgames by the Bay that a game based on the premiss of A Study in Emerald was being made I was excited. A Study in Emerald is an adaptation of the classic Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, by adding in aspects from H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos. Kinda makes me think of Empire of the Dead. Anyhow you can read it for free, just google it.

Box art, Sherlock and Watson
(or Greson, or Lestrade I can't recall which)
inspecting the murdered Old One
The Kickstarter campaign for this started just a few days ago here. It is already funded and on its way to the stretch goals which include a few more cards and posters. I must admit the stretch goals don't seem that exciting but after the Empire of the Dead Requiem campaign with amazing stretch goals including 12 free models its hard to compete. I have put my name down for this through my FLGS Seriously Board (well less local as its a website as there isn't a FLGS in Wellington that sells a good rage of BG).

The game is designed by Martin Wallace, I haven't played many of his games but my FLGS recommends him. I have read the rules (which you can get from the official website) and it seems like it will be allot of fun. It's core mechanic is deck building but with a twist. You are either on the side of the resistance or the government, who in this case are a bunch of Old Ones from the Cthulu mythos who have taken over the world, oh no. However your alignment is hidden until you choose to reveal it so you can try to trick others into believing you are on their side. You win by getting the most victory points however if your alignment looses from bad play of a team mate, despite having the most victory points you will lose. So team play will help. 

One thing I am curious about is when you have an odd number of players there will be one side which has more players. That side seems like it would have the advantage and I wonder how the game overcomes this. As I haven't played I don't know yet. However deck building, secret identities, Sherlock Holmes and Cthulu mythos, how could this be bad? Plus it seems to be well rated from those who have played the prototype on BGG

The art work seems pretty good and appropriate for the theme, though it could be a tad more interesting. Maybe they will add colour to the cards? 

I am looking forward to seeing what the world map will look like as the prototype isn't that interesting yet.

The cool thing about the kick-starter campaign is they give a link to the games official website. Well thats not that amazing, but the website has all the stuff you need to print the prototype game! Sweet. So I might just do that to play it before the official game comes out sometime in October or thereabouts. Nice. 

Check out the official page here complete with a downloadable prototype. Boargamegeek link here.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Eclipse for the iPad!

Games club on Monday saw a bunch of new guys coming along to check it out. We played Empire of the Dead and X-Wing. However with all our efforts tutoring newbies we didn't manage to prepare for a session report. Next week however we are planning to start a D&D campaign. However on other news...

I just found out that a iPad app for Eclipse is about to come out soon! No not the twilight movie Eclipse. I have only played this game a few times but it is pretty enjoyable. Though appearing complicated it has a pretty simple but intuitive gameplay I thought. Plus I'm a sucker for sci-fi.

Here are some screenshots. 

It looks like the board is in the middle
with the player boards at the side
Player boards must be easily collapsable to zoom in. 
Good some instructions or I would get very lost
My only concern would be from previous experience. I got Le Harve for my iPad knowing it is a top rated game. However it is such a complex game that it was pretty hard to learn on the iPad. Maybe because I already know some Eclipse basics this will be easy enough to learn. 

I think I will definitely get this when it comes out in the app store in a week or so. 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sarissa Precision City Block: Review

A key part of Empire of the Dead (EOTD) is the Victorian England setting.  It is not easy, however, to recreate the streets of London in 28mm.  As you may have seen from previous posts our game boards are a little bitsy, lacking in consistency and I want to try to fix that for our EOTD games.

One of the recommended brands of buildings from the EOTD rule book is the Sarissa Range.  They have a number of different types of buildings in 15 and 28mm, from Europe to the Wild West.  The City Block range was the one most suited to trying to create East End London circa 1888, so it was this I settled on.  There is, incidentally, free postage for purchases over £50, which is great when you are in NZ and postage costs are high.  And there is also a range of Victorian terraces coming in the future as well if you want to hold off till then.

I got two each of three different types of building: the residential block, the city block 64 and the city block 86:

They come nicely flatpacked and there is no flash or anything to worry about in getting them ready.  You can also just use PVA glue to stick them together:

I was concerned about how to paint the buildings because they are so clean.  They fit together perfectly and the laser etched brick looks sharp and precise - but I was worried they might be a little too clean.  I settled on spraying the whole thing after putting it together, giving it a wash and then a dry brush.  I used a Tamiya spray because they are the cheapest, nulin oil to wash it and then dawnstone grey to drybrush it.

The MDF is a lot thirstier than plastic, even on subsequent coats - so you will go through a fair bit of paint / wash with these.

The windows are on a separate piece of wood that you insert.  I painted these separately.  The charcoal that results from the laser cutting does mix with and discolour the paint, but only on the first coat.  I used a craft paint to do a base coat and then skull white to add another two layers.  My impatience with painting terrain did mean I laid some of the base coat on a little thick.  You do need to be careful with that because the laser etching is not particularly deep and can easily be covered with too big a dolop of paint.

The railing is a great detail and was the only part of the project that required me to get out a detail brush.  However, the dimensions of the steps up makes it too small for the westwind bases to fit in - something I discovered after gluing.  I am thinking of cutting the middle bits off so the stairs can be used.
Westwind is a little bit too large

The Games Workshop base fits fine

Inside there are walls for the residential block (it is a little more expensive than the others, and the others do not have the inside decor).  Again, the hallway is too narrow for the westwind bases so I left off the middle partition so that the characters can use it.

You can see also that the different levels are removeable so you can have action play out at each level (good for sharpshooters).

Note that paint does impact on the otherwise precise way that the levels slot together, so avoid painting over the little slots.  Here is the finished building (with a bit of garden added in):

On the table these look great.  They are exactly the right dimensions and can be painted up pretty quickly.  They do have a little of the MDF look to them, which cannot be avoided without some great painting skills (which I lack) - but the attributes of these buildings outweigh that (good playability, great price and a nice clean sharp look to them).

I want to print off some Victorian posters like this to put onto the side of them:

Also intend to print off some paper interiors for wallpaper / flooring in time.  The idea is to get some more of these and to get a townscape ready for the new miniatures in June/July from the kickstarter project.

I also need to work out how to do the cobblestones etc, because what I have been doing doesn't really work:

If someone wants a rating for Sarissa, then I would say "double thumbs up".  Very much recommended to you - I forgot to mention that these arrived uber quick from the UK too and when I thought I hadn't been given a piece they were right onto it (in fact I had to act very quickly to stop them sending a replacement after I found the said piece).

I will update the blog in time with photos of the finished buildings.  I have just completed one of the smaller building in a red brick colour which you can see here:

Posted by Danisnotatree

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Supernatural Branch - EOTD

Finally the PDF rules for the Empire of the Dead kick starter campaign is out! I swapped out my Gentleman faction for the New Supernatural Branch. I have kept injuries and skills I have already rolled for to keep things fair. My reflections come after taking them for a spin on Monday's games night. You will notice Dan's new Sarissa Precision Buildings which he will review later on in the week. 

A view down a alleyway with Sarissa Precision Buildings

Initially looking at the Supernatural Branch I thought they were pretty similar to the Gentleman faction but why were the guys with the same stats 2 shillings more expensive! Then I quickly realised every member of the faction gets their very own Truncheon (Bludgeon) which is normally worth 3 shillings, nice! 

Another really cool thing is the police constable specialists! You can only have as much of these guys as your standard police constables (PC) but they have special stats. I feileded two firearm specialists, for 2 extra shillings to the standard PC's they have a marksmanship of 5. The disadvantage of this however is the standard PC's can only be equipped with pistols where PC firearms can have a shotgun, hunting rifle or repeating rifle. Other specialists include the PC net gunner and PC dog handler with his Dog. 

The game

The setting

So I whipped up my Supernatural Branch faction which you can see here (note, it will undergo changes so may not be the same as this game). They were awesome! I managed to deal allot of damage during our fracas. Some of the stars were the Firearms specialists especialy Constable Vincent with the amazing repeating rifle who took out Dan's Vice president. 

Detective Inspector Gordon (Leader) and
Firearms PC Vincent shooting at Dan

The other character I thought was pretty good was the Chaplain, well in my case Chaplain Lucien! I managed to roll on the improvement table, arcane power so he had the arcane powers bless and banishment. He had the standard truncheon, pneumatic stake with strength 7, a gyrocopter and he was borrowing Rupert the insane light pistol (he had to miss a game). Lucien flew around attacking guys on the roof with his powerful weapons and using banishment to make guys about to shoot run for cover! 

Lucien banashing Chris' wolfskin from the other side of the fence

Lucien dishing out the pain on the Wolfskins

I must admit I found the Detective Constable (DC) in my case DC Lestrade a bit average. A subordinate with slightly better stats than the PC (it has 5 bravado and 4 arcane one better than the PC) and the ability informant. Informant means, once everyone has set up you can change where he is set up, which I can see as being useful at times but kinda average. He is 4 points more than the standard PC and is not able to use a heavy pistol, only light. I just felt he wasn't that amazing for those extra 4 points I spent. Plus he got taken out pretty early on in our fracas. 

Detective Lestrade in his plain clothes (the brown coat)


Would I recommend the Supernatural Branch? Yeah! They are an awesome edition to the game which really add to the victorian steam-punk feel. I especially like the PC specialists and the wide variety of members you can add to the faction (10 different members). 

Some photos from Mondays Game

The darkfire club hanging outside of a Bar, their favorite pass time

Lycaon in London

Zombies in London

More zombies!

See more Empire of the Dead stuff here. Photos taken with a Canon 600d and standard 18-55mm lens with a macro attachment lens-cap. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Plethora boardgame review - fun and long.

I thought I would take some time to review a smalltime board game designers game, Plethora. It is designed by Shem Phillips, which is especially cool because he is a New Zealander (which we are also). This neat little game has many great aspects, all except the length as other reviews have noted.

Box art, a guy with the different gemstones you can get in the game.

Looks and Design

Plethora looks great, it was funded by a Kickstarter like campaign. The board is composed of multiple tiles, all depicting a picture of a different building which work together to compose a city. The artwork on these tiles is fantastic, although it can be a little hard working out which tile you need to get to next as some only differ slightly. Another downfall is the cards and board bits are slightly glossy, I prefer a matt finnish.

The meeples are wooden and good quality, though I am not sure why the yellow pieces (nobels) are so spiky! All in all I give the looks a 8/10 and the quality is superb.

The yellow, spiky nobels


Plethora has a pretty simple yet fun feel to it when playing. The aim is to get the most nobility/victory points. To do this you buy cards off a nobel by being in the same square with gold. You can purchase any of the cards as long as you have the right gold to do so. The cost is determined by the yellow number on the tower above the card. There is also a possibility on each card to get more points by trading resources at the end of the game. 

However to get gold you must follow the path of a noble. Which works like this.
1. Get a rendezvous from a square a nobel is in. This is simply a card with a location to get to.
2. Once you are at the rendezvous point exchange the card for a commission, this depicts a certain amount of gemstones you need to buy (with silver) to complete the commission
The commission cards sit above the gemstones,
which sit above the rendezvous
3. Once you have the gemstones you can trade the compleated commission and return the gemstones for the depicted gold and silver, which you can then use to buy nobility points and convert to silver to buy more gemstones. 

You can have up to two rendezvous and three commissions at a time. To get the gemstones, as I call them, white, blue and orange (actually perl, sapphire and ruby or something like that) you need to get to the location where they are sold then buy them for the silver depicted, so the more that have been purchased the greater the cost. This is a neat little mechanic which is used a other games, but fun none the less. 

In order for all of this to happen you have to start your turn by rolling three dice, which depict what actions you can do on your turn. For the most part this is fun and can lead to some pretty awesome turns. However sometimes you get a bad roll and you end up going in circles.


For the most part I enjoy this game, I like following the noble path, keeping gemstones to keep the price high for other players and purchasing the right nobility/victory point cards. It is simple enough for most people to pick up and learn their first time around yet enough strategy to keep you asking for more. However it does end up being about 90 minutes which is long considering the simplicity of the game. It can also get repetitive repeating the noble path.

I would definitely play this game again and it is a good game to play with newer gamers. Also I got this game at an op shop for $4 so no complaints there!

I give it a 7/10

It's not essential to play this game on a cat tablecloth

See more board game reviews here. Photos taken with my 600d and a 50mm f1.4 Sigma lens.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Foraging in the Botanical Gardens

After a break of a few weeks over Easter we got our Empire of the Dead campaign back on track last night.  In the interim I had painted up the Gardens of Morr kit from Games Workshop and had put together some ingesting flora and fauna for a Botanical Gardens based scenario.

The entrance

I also chose the lost artefact scenario because that works best with three factions (me, Steve and Chris).  For future nights we might split into two games if we can arrange it.

The gardens

Here is the set up following placement of the artefacts and plants.  I got the corner between Chris and Steve for deployment having lost the roll and braced myself to be beaten up on both sides.

Lord Percival flew over and checked out an artefact early in his gyroscope.  He then remained stranded out there whilst I lost the next initiative roll.  He managed to survive the shots fired at him from Chris, before we debated the ability to charge over obstacles.  Chris finally thought better of it and left Percy alone.

No artefact here

Steve meanwhile skulked around, splitting his force so a couple looked for the artefact and the rest took pot shots at me.  He finally charged my Huntsman and got his Librarian in place to charge too (finally).

Lucien wanders off in the wrong direction reading an interesting book

Chris was also lining me up with his packmaster and I decided that now was the time to pull out the stops - especially because it was looking very likely there would be no artefact (there was one marker left to uncover and it is only the artefact on a d10 roll of 9 or 10). So Percival flew over to the anachronistic Lord of the Rings ruins in his gyroscope and unleashed on Lucien the Librarian.  Then the zombies were called and set upon the packmaster:

This pre-empted a lot of rule discussion around mobs and multiple combats.  After working out the rules (it helps to be a lawyer at times), one of Chris' wolves was zombified and the packmaster left a little vulnerable.  Another of Chris' wolves then tried to charge across dangerous terrain, missed the saving roll and fell over.  The fall led to him being "downed" and therefore rather vulnerable.

Steve went next and confirmed that the last marker was not the artefact, meaning the game would end at the end of that round.  That was good for me because Chris was vulnerable, if only I could hold out from Steve's attacks.  His Lieutenant Gordon flew over and charged Percival, his other Inspector Lestrade was on my huntsman and his other bobbies charged the two members hiding around the tower offering fire support.

Lestrade braves the New Zealand plant to try find the artefact 

The final battles led to one of my members being removed from play after fighting an unarmed bobby (&%$!), and the huntsman being removed also.  But I also took out Steve's unhinged Rupert and the downed wolf who fell over trying to charge.  Final points led to me having 40 shillings, Steve 35 and Chris 30, so a good win for me considering I was fighting on two fronts.  It is always painful to lose one's member to an unarmed bobby : ), but if I hadn't lost that fight, I would have had an even greater win.

The aftermath of Steve's and my Tete-a-Tete
Having started the night a little under the weather, I was rather happy with the night and always like working out how to spend my money after the game.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Weekend of games, Formula D, 7 Wonders and more!

This weekend Dan and I were away with a bunch of others and managed to play four awesome games! Most of these were group games as it was a crowd of non-gamers. One of them, Formula D is quickly becoming a favorite! In played order:

7 Wonders

This is the second game of 7 wonders I have manage to play (and Dan's first) although my last was a while ago so I hardly remember.

I had a lighthouse, 'wonderful!' 
7 wonders is a pretty good game! The game mechanic is clever and there is enough interaction to keep you on your toes. I found, however that it was hard to know all the various ways to get victory points, because there is a lot! As a new player I found we tended to focus on clear ways to get points, such as the blue victory points cards and the red fighting cards. I am definitely keen to play more to get more of an idea.

The Resistance

I added The Resistance to my collection about a month back at Boardgames By the Bay. The Resistance is kinda like Mafia but has a better game mechanic, no player elimination, and it's quick! Our whole group played, so it was a 9 player game! The only problem with The Resistance (more of a problem with me) is that I haven't quite worked out how to tell who the spies are. I guess that will come with time.

Formula D

This game is good. I will have to write a review of it soon. We played a four player game, which I thought would not be as good as a larger game but it was still pretty good. If you want to read more of my thoughts on it check it out here. Dan won this game, starting from last position. I lost, though I was in the lead for a good portion of the game I handled the last corner badly and got overtaken... by everyone.

Dixit Odyssey

Dixit Odyssey is a good group game I have had for a little while now. The premise is similar to Apples to Apples. You have a hand of cards all with pretty awesome artwork, one person is the storyteller and says a phrase or word about their card then places it down. After that everyone chooses a card they think matches it. After this everyone votes for the card they think was the original to get points plus hope people vote for their card to get even more points! The catch is the storyteller gets no points if nobody or everybody votes for their card so they have to come up with a semi-obscure clue.

I like Dixit but I find the problem is when you have more players (we had 11 as some more people joined us in the morning) is that it takes ages to score each round. This gets a bit tedious after a while. However it is a good game for a wide range of people.

See my review of Settlers of Catan hereFor those interested, games club is back up and running with our Empire of the Dead campaign so another EOTD post from Dan should be up soon. 

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Settlers of Catan, is there too much luck?

Settlers of Catan is the boardgame where most modern gamers start, and some would say started the whole modern boardgaming movement! A pretty awesome claim to fame for designer Klaus Teuber. However, is it a good game? Well it does make its way into the top 100 on boardgame geek, well its at rating 100 now so it may not stay there for much longer.


I am not sure how much to go into this as I am sure most people have played Settlers. It seems to be almost as prolific as Monopoly or Risk so skip this section if you must. The basics are, you roll for resources which you get by having a settlement or city next to a resource, which you can then use to build roads to get to new locations for more resources and numbers, settlements, cities and development cards which help you get more resources and attack other players. The aim is to get to 10 points to gain the title 'lord of catan' (only in the old version) and win the game. If you want a better definition get the rules from here.

Luck and frustration

This is the most frustrating aspect of Settlers. What you do requires the luck of the dice. There are ways to minimise this, for example putting your settlement on a 8 is better than a 12 as there is only 1 way to roll a 12 and 5 to roll a 8 (at-least I think its 5 of the top of my head). Also don't forget to get a diversity of number. However even if you have really great numbers they never seem to roll for you! It is sooooo frustrating! 

What makes it worse, is when your luck evens out as the game goes on it is often hard to come back as your opponents have build around you minimizing your opportunities! To make it worse when I play with my wife's family my mother in law always puts the robber on me despite the fact that I am losing miserably she has some weird reason for finding it better to place the robber on the loser rather than the winner! Grrr.

A great entry level game

Settlers is a relatively easy game for new gamers to learn. As I mentioned above my in-laws enjoy playing settlers when we visit. It is easy enough to learn and enjoyable while you try and master it. However I find because of this, many of my non-gamer friends want to play settlers, which renders it an overplayed game growing dull quickly.


Settlers is fun. The game play is interesting, and when luck doesn't draw you a foul card it gets even better! Like most people I know it was one of the first modern games I played so it has a soft spot in my heart. Also, you can make towers with your pieces while you play.

Verdict: 6.5/10

I guess in the end settlers is a good enough game and a good game to play with new gamers. However every so often luck can get you down (and bad robber placements!).

See more reviews? Check out our Alien Frontiers review here.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...