“It’s Hammer Time!”

We were playing “Death on the Reik” and during the raid/visit to Castle Wittgenstein the players find it infested with Chaos mutants…

Imagine the scene that unfolds when the Sigmar Cleric in the party opens up the doors to the Sigmar chapel and finds it defiled, by a Slaneesh cult… not only that, but amongst the purple mist he can see human bodies interlocked in unspeakably depraved and vile acts of fornication. It’s hard to see where one body stops and the next begins in this writhing snake-pit. This holy place place had been corrupted by the most unholy of all…

I (DM) tell him to make a Will-test, lest he be overcome with the urge to join the sinners in the copulating frenzy… He makes it. Shakes off the attempt, picks up his holy hammer of righteousness and says, with one last disgusted look at the people in front of him:

“It’s hammer time!”

Awkward Moments

In this post I would like to talk about Player reacting on a personal level to stuff that other player characters do and/or say in game.

In the scenario described above the Sigmar Cleric “cleared out the evil” from the temple of his god. It was a defining moment for that character, filled with drama, and tension. I loved it.

Another player at the table was distraught about the whole thing because in his opinion these were just innocent villagers who happened to have fallen under the curse of Slaneesh. He claimed that the Sigmar Cleric character had just committed mass-murder.

This had all been fine unless… unless we somehow all felt the tension in the room shift, from being between the two characters to instead be between the two players.

I can’t remember who seemed to take things personal first, if it was the cleric-player for being challenged so hard or the accuser for not being taken seriously. I don’t know.

But it ended with the cleric-player saying to me (after the session) that he would never act out his character like that again, because he felt like everyone in the room hated him and was provoked by him. And even though I tried to talk him out of it, I think a piece of his love for role-playing died that day.

Personally I LOVE those situations. They define the drama in a very real sense. I would just love if the players could still be friends afterwards… and most of the time we are. But not always.

Usually it is connected to acting with lethal force without first getting consent from the group:

Like (in another game) when the Military Officer decides to summary execute two P.O.W.s they have because he cannot allow them to compromise the mission. Millions of lives are at stake, and he does not have the resources to handle two prisoners. He kills them. And several jaws around the table drop: “You did WHAT?!”

And you can feel it… It’s not only on a Character-level… It just transcended that and became something else. More personal. They are accusing HIM. Not his character. Or at least that is the way HE feels…

To discuss:

  • Have you ever had a role-playing situation cause grief between players on a personal level?
  • What was the situation?
  • How did you handle it?
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Claustrophobia, a bad feeling or a good game.

Last weekend my wife and daughter where on a scrapbooking marathon. My plan was that me and my son (10 years old) should do some playing. We did, however not as much as I wanted, there was other things that he wanted to do (Star Wars the clone Wars season 4, and then he spent some time playing Minecraft. However we actually did play one game that he have asked for a lot, we revitalised and played the game Claustrophobia by Croc from Asmodee.

What is Claustrophobia?

This is a dungeon crawler set in 1634, where the Redeemer together with some condemned prisoners enters the dungeons under the city of New Jerusalem, all with the one purpose to clean the underworlds from the hordes of evil. The country of the setting is Helldorado,

There is quite a lot of background material to this setting that I have not, or not yet, familiarised completely with. This includes a novel and other material

The game itself is a miniature game and a tile laying, like Castle Ravenloft or maybe more close to Space Hulk. I purchased this because I played Spacehulk but that is not available at any decent price. Then worth noting is that Claustrophobia is by no means a cheap game, it definitely, is in the higher price class. When buying it a few years ago I remember being very satisfied with the quality of the components. All minis come decent pre-painted and all the tiles are in good quality cardboard. If I should say some negative then it would be the quality of the boxes for the character tiles for the good side, these feel a bit week.

From a rule perspective the game is rather easy, the 24 page rulebook is written in rather good language, plenty of illustrations. I would say that the rules could with no problem be understood even by a non-serious gamer. The rule book also includes 6 scenarios to play. Rather little you could imagine, but the randomness of the floor tiles as well as the mechanic for laying the tiles creates a rather good replayability.

The mechanics works from two different perspectives, playing as good you get as many dice as character you control, the results of these dice then reveals the types of stats the characters will have the next round. The dice are put on the character board to the appropriate character and is locked for that round. When stats are sealed the good can move, fight ore explore during the round.

The evil get three dice, the result from these dice should be placed on an evil board of destiny. Here the player face a number of choices, what to do, there are choices that ar continuous and choices that are one of. When the dice of destiny are placed and revealed, the evil can summon his evil beings. The rules for summoning are rather easy, it need to be an empty tile with an open ending. There are of cause tiles with special possibilities.

The fighting is solved in using dice, the humans and the monsters all have two stats one fight and one defence, the fight number is the amount of diced to be used in the attack, the defence value is the what the result the fighting dice need to reach to be a hit.

In solving a hit the good player have to block one line of action in the character board of that character, in that way limiting the possible choices of actions. There are two types of monsters, first the troglodytes, a simple hit on one of these terminates them. The boss monsters have hitpoints that are marked with hit tokens.

So what happened?

I actually had a read through of the rules on Friday evening accompanied with a glass of good red wine. Then after lunch I did prepare the game for us where I should be playing the evil hordes and my son should be the good side.

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I decided that we should play the first scenario, called the survivors, in this scenario the redeemer and three of his condemned fighter need to find their way out through the labyrinth.

It started out very quick for him since he managed to explore four tiles out of ten the first round, and also block my possibilities to summon any troglodytes. I managed to slow his pace down, a few rounds later, with 6 troglodytes and one ”boss”. The dice where however not on my side this afternoon. So basically on time, around 45 minutes, my son manages to escape the dungeon and all four champions still alive. I had just managed to inflict four levels of damage totally. It is good that I am a happy looser…

So with this brutal setting how do this work with children?

1) Mechanically it is easier for children to play the good side, less to read, and or remember

2) When playing as good side it is generally knowledge of the meaning of handful cards, not more that they can be kept in memory.

3) The setting is brutal but the monster minis are kind of cute.

4) The timing and immediate action is good to keep children concentrated.

5) There is a strategic element that definitely adds value for children, as well as adults.

So my final judgement on this one is still very positive, I do like to play it. I do like the timing, in under one hour. There is definitely complexity enough to also play with adults.

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There is also an expansion to this game; De Profundis, I have the expansion but have not come around to play it yet. The expansion adds more replayability with quite a few more scenarios. It also adds new monsters that could be summoned as well as two new condemned fighters. This time it is two female fighters to balance the game from the point of equality.

Spreading the disease – zombies, brains and gaming

I was at a conference with the company I work for the other day. In the midst of discussions about the new project planning system that is on its way and about lichen, fish and snakes and stuff we normally talk about at my work, we suddenly had to rise and walk over to another room where we got a rather lighthearted and very professional talk about what is good for the brain and how to stimulate it.

The only problem I had was that all I could think about was “BRAIIIIIIIINS” and zombies. Yes, I was rather tired and in real need of getting at least one game played with my very nice, but rather un-gamey colleagues.

Later that evening I managed to convince a few of the others to play a round of Zombie dice with me and my restless soul found it´s peace and I could go to bed without the game-itch still in my nerves. Zombie dice is maybe not a very deep game, but as most really light games it is good for some nice trash-talking, as a filler or as in this case, to go with a nice glass of red wine. If you haven´t encountered it, it is a push-your-luck dice-rolling game, where you draw dice out of a cup, roll them, save all brains (good to eat) and shotguns (bad for you). You then draw and roll more dice until you either decide to stop and count your collected brains for points or get three or more shotguns and get no points this round. We got a couple of games, had some good laughs about luck and bad luck, naïve overconfidence and boring safe-playing and then went off to bed.

Later that night I kept thinking about Zombies. How they seem to have such a wide appeal to many, many gamers. But not to me. I cannot get enthusiastic about the whole zombie business. To me, it is all rather one-dimensional, repetitive and depressing. It just doesn´t trigger my imagination. I thought about if there was anything that could make me more interested or sympathetic to the theme. Finally I realized that there is one thing: Socially, zombies and I work according to the same script!

  1. Identify humans
  2. Get brains
  3. Spread infection

Unfortunately, that´s where the similarities end (except on frequent occasions, when I have had too little sleep). Zombies want brains to eat, I want them to manipulate into gamer-brains. Zombies spread zombie-infection, I spread gamer-infection. But still, being a gamer-missionary is a bit like being a zombie! There is a chance of mutual understanding! Maybe I should pre-order Dead of Winter?

Questions

  1. Are there any themes that you, dear reader, have difficulties in getting into?
  2. Why zombies?

7 Wonders and birdwatching

My geeky life started with birdwatching. From my earliest years I have memories of for example sitting on my fathers back trying really hard to drop my wellingtons, just because it was so exceptionally funny, while my father tried to work out the status of a nest of an osprey or other. I have realised that I still categorise many things according to birdwatching nomenclature. That is also true for games. For example, when I finally got hold of Tales of the Arabian Nights, I rejoiced with the knowledge that I had secured yet another cosmic mindf**ker – something really cool and rare. Yes, there are lots of nice words around. The most important thing in this is ticks. When you see a new species, you get to make a tick in your tick-list. I, of course, have a tick-list for games in my head.

Another term is shame-ticks. To be honest, this is my translation of the Swedish term skamkryss. The English equivalent is actually rude and misogynistic, so I won´t use it. It stands for a species, that one should have seen a long time ago, considering how many other species one has seen. One of my most serious shame-ticks in gaming has until recently been 7 Wonders.

As probably everyone knows, 7 Wonders is a card game where you try to build the most developed civilization, through advances in science, warfare, trade, production or monuments. You do this by collecting cards in a drafting mechanic, where you get a hand of cards, keep one and then pass the hand on to the next player. The really hard choices you have to make are when a hand contains both cards you want to collect for yourself and cards that you really have to deny your competitors around the table. This puts you in impossible situations and you have to choose, and you can´t and you panic and oh, its so nice.

An interesting thing is that this game is so wide-spread. You can buy it not only in specialist game stores but in almost every book shop. It is even translated into weird languages such as Swedish or Finnish. Games this easily found are either really bad (like monopoly) or really easily accessible. 7 Wonders definitely falls into the latter category. It is easy to start playing. The thing is, though, that it is also very punishing. If you are a beginner and play against experienced people, you will be crushed. Trust me, I know.

A week or so ago, I finally had a chance to play a game of 7 Wonders. With me at the table were my older two kids, an old friend who is a fellow gamer, and his girlfriend who is not, although obviously with a sharp mind suited for gaming. My son went for a strategy of total war, my daughter chose science and some buildings, my friend took as many of the monuments and buildings as possible and his girlfriend somehow managed to get hold of an awful lot of guild cards – cards that let you count other cards of different types in your own and, sometimes, your neighbouring players´ tableaus and give you an awful lot of points for them. I ended up trying a little of this and a little of that, which proved to be a really lousy strategy. Or maybe lack thereof. Me and my warrior-son ended up last, my daughter a number of points above us, my friend with quite few more and his girlfriend with a victory of about a mile.

I was intrigued of the game mechanic, of the fact that the theme actually came through and of the depth. It is, as I said before, easy to learn enough to start playing, but after that you have quite some way to go to get good. This obviously makes for a really good game, but I am a little amazed that it seems to have such a wide an appeal, even to non-gamers.

Anyway, a good beating like that and the feeling that this game has a lot of replayability made me sure that this belonged in my collection. I ordered it online, and here it is now. I am going to study the rules and hopefully get it played within next week. A good point is that also my kids got really enthusiastic about it, so a safe bet is that we are going to spend at least some part of next week-end with this lovely box. I´ll also make sure to get them to be able to list the seven wonders of the classical world…

Questions:

1. Should a good entry-game be as skill-based as 7 Wonders?
2. Can anybody teach me how to get good at this? Help!

What´s all this, then?

OK, there is hardly any lack of male, white people around forty who suffer from the delusion that anything they want to say is of general interest. So we really should keep quiet and game on in our basements. BUT, since we are gaming just for fun, with no expectations that anybody would care, we might as well write just for fun, with exactly the same expectations. So, therefore we are now starting The Boardogamist – A Hisingen Gaming Journal.

The Boardogamist is a blog, obviously. It is also a collective project with a lot of assorted ideas on what to write about. Main topics will be, for a start:

  • The games we play – session reports
  • The games we buy and what hopes we have for them – acquisitions
  • The games we want to get or play – radar
  • Which games are better than others – lists
  • Thoughts about gaming, for example playing games with kids – ponderings

As can be seen, there is a slight tilt against games and gaming, and yes, this is meant to be a blog about the games we like and play. These are mainly analogous, although if somebody wants to say anything about a videogame there will at least be a warning before punishment.

The ”we” in all this is a little, losely composed gaming group, centered around weekly meetings in Ulf´s basement. Every thursday we get together and play roleplaying games (RPG:s) or boardgames. We have done this for many years and the main focus has been on RPG:s, but the last two years the balance has shifted slightly to reach an equilibrium around 50/50.

Most of us have been gaming actively for the better part of our lives, some have been in this mess a little shorter. Most of us have a bunch of kids, but some have not. The kids are exploring quite a few games as well, both on their own and together with us.The ones that are around ten or twelve are on the brink of starting an RPG group of their own. We hope. Or believe. We haven´t exactly forced them. Only… ah, never mind.

Hisingen, the fourth largest island in Sweden, is the place where quite a few of us live, and where Ulf´s basement is. It is also known as ”the wrong side of the river” in Gothenburg, or possibly ”the island of harbours and industry, where people get shot and where nobody wants to live”. But we like it.

We will do this in English, because it is fun and because we tend to hang around on English speaking forums on BoardGameGeek, Shut Up and Sit Down and such. If you have arrived from any of these places of great splendour we also want you to feel welcome. We hope that what we write is reasonably intelligible and not too horrendously misspelllt even though it is probably painfully obvious that we are trying to say something in a foreign language.

Well, enough of this. Let´s play some games!

Questions:

  1. Hello, stranger. Who are you and where do you come from?
  2. Are there any other subjects that we should cover?

A Hisingen Gaming Journal