John-Michael Gariepy

Archive for the tag “Myriad Games Podcast”

Session Impressions: Kaiju City

 

The Myriad Games Podcast posted our review of Kaiju City’s playtest copy back in early July.  At the time, Kaiju City had a few more weeks before it needed to achieve its Kickstarter goal of $10,000 to become a real game.  Kaiju City fell short, receiving a pledge of $4,160.  How unfortunate.

At one point, if you listen to this podcast, Dan asked me if I liked the game.  I stutter, and say “Well… it’s a game.”  That sounds like I secretly didn’t like it, but that isn’t true.  Up until I was asked that question, I hadn’t asked myself “Did I enjoy myself while playing this game?”.  I didn’t do that, because I was having fun playing the game.  So I tripped over myself, and stumbled over words for time.  It was a good game.  I’m still a little miffed on how the board naturally expanded by placing city tiles diagonally away from the corners of the board, taking up as much space as possible on your kitchen table.  But, outside that, I liked the game.

The good news is that on Kaiju City’s Kickstarter Page, Kaiju City’s team told us that “The plot of many Kaiju movies is something like… Monster rises from obscurity… Monster finds a city to love… City rejects Monster… Monster throws a temper tantrum… Monster skulks away sadly… BUT MONSTER ALWAYS COMES BACK.”  It’s good to see that this setback won’t deter Kaiju City’s team.  It’s clear they spent a lot of time and energy making a good game.  They could have released the playtest copy, and it would have looked great.

I’m confident we’ll see this monster lift out of the waters of Tokyo Bay once more to terrorize the city.  While The Western World may not have a long running fascination with giant monsters ripping up cities the way that Japan does, we do have a long running fascination with Japan.  Every ten years or so, the “Giant Monster and the City” theme rears it’s head as a global phenomenon.  Fear of Giant Monsters (Gigatetraphobia?) is often coupled with fear of ‘The Bomb’.  The idea, even when presented as something absurd, is terrifying.  It’s understandable why movies about avatars of destruction can’t maintain a permanent place in Hollywood’s film cycle; gigatetraphobia is exhausting.  Had Kaiju City appeared when monster movies like ‘The Blob’ and ‘Tarantula’ sold out box offices, or when Godzilla was ‘discovered’ by American audiences in the mid-70s, or during the 1998 Hollywood remake of Godzilla, or the 2005 release of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, then hitting its goal would have been a foregone conclusion.  Given another five years, another giant monster movie will spray its atomic breath over us, and we’ll break out with a case of the Kaiju City fever.

In the meantime, you can still enjoy our podcast on Kaiju City.  I’m more than happy to support this game, even if it takes a number of years to flap its leathery wings and take to the air.  When it does, it will a dreadful day, indeed.

Session Impressions: Core Worlds

Rhythm.  When I re-listened to the Myriad Games Podcast on Core Worlds, this word popped out at me.

Many board games can have a great feel despite a complete lack of rhythm.  Monopoly-style games, for example, represent a slow and inevitable arms race.  Monopoly doesn’t have a rhythm so much as it has a tipping point, where the game breaks, and must end.  Magic: the Gathering is built off of an engine which implies rhythm:  You play one land per turn, then, tap those lands for more and more powerful cards as the game continues.  But the point of most Collectible Card Games is to subvert the rhythm of the game.  You want to find ways to ‘cheat’ the rhythm, advancing to stage five while your opponent is stuck on three.  While a Dungeons and Dragons campaign can be built off the tenet of good rhythm, more often it represents a series of individual scenarios that accumulate into an adventure, in the same way that life can be seen as ‘just a bunch of things that happen to you’.  These games are fun, so it’s clear that a game doesn’t need to have a good rhythm to be fun.

If you say, however, that a Deck Building Game has a strong rhythm, it’s a great complement.  DBGs are built with a certain amount of given information (there’s a small selection of cards that will be in a person’s hand, and, presumably, many of those cards will be resources), and the entire genre is built around the idea of making your deck better and better as you move through the game.  Despite these controls, when you play through Dominion or Thunderstone, for example, your game may result in a chain of meaningless turns, due to the players’ inability to overcome a hurdle, or the game might result in a romp, as the players smash through their decks and crush the scenario.  For a genre filled with a limited number of controllable knobs, it’s an odd truism that many DBGs can’t play a more sophisticated tune than ‘More! More! More! More!’.

Core Worlds has a strong rhythm.  What you do on turn three will be different than turn six.  When you get to turn ten, the game is over.  Count up your points.  Each round in the game is meaningful, and the consequences of your actions are tangible.  Early in the podcast, I teased Sara when she explained what Core Worlds is.  She starts off by saying the game is complicated… which is a rough way to sell a game.  When writing this mini review for Core Worlds, I also found this review on Amazon by M.P. Cummings:

“We’re somewhat new to card based tabletop games, so this was a great find. My girls (ages 8 and up) love playing, and since there are defined rounds, it doesn’t drag forever. Great game!”

That’s an excellent summation.  Sara’s right:  Core Worlds is a complicated game.  But that doesn’t mean it’s hard to understand.  That just means the game has breadth.  You can play it many times, and still struggle to wrap your head around ‘the right strategy’.

But, hey, if you aren’t convinced, maybe you’d prefer to listen to the podcast?

Session Impressions – Ascension: Storm of Souls

I was late to the party on the Ascension: Storm of Souls podcast, walking in while it was halfway through.  My first response is disparaging because I didn’t know we were recording, was asked “How do you feel about the new Ascension expansion” and, knowing that I was talking to a room full of game reviewers, jumped into argument mode.  Sarah is really good at editing, however.  She cut and pasted three comments that made it sound like I knew we were recording and had ‘jumped right into the show’.

Ascension, Storm of Souls is a good game.  If I sound like I’m down on it, it’s only because I like what Ascension is doing so much that I want to get in there and help with the design.  Most of the choices Justin Gary made, though, are valid options, and I’m glad that Ascension provides a solid alternative design to the Deck Building Model.

At one point, I mention that I don’t really need to play the new expansion, because I haven’t spent enough time playing any of the older expansions.  Take that comment with a grain of salt as well.  The Myriad Games Presentations staff plays a lot of games.  When I say something like that, what I’m really saying is “Man!  I wish I got to play more Ascension.  That’s a really good game, and I haven’t had my fill of it, but I’m stuck here reviewing Tulipmania.”

Session Impressions: Elder Signs

Elder Signs is the latest in Fantasy Flight’s H.P. Lovecraft inspired line: Arkham Horror.  Unlike many other games in this line it takes a reasonable amount of time to play.  About an hour.  Ye elder gods!

Dan, Mike Bergeron and I had a fun time playing it.  It’s got a cool, everyone racing against the clock, feel.  And while the game is centered around rolling dice, it’s natural and entertaining instead of tedious.  After playing for a full hour, my first impetus is to play another game… and that’s the best complement I can give any game, really.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.  Mind the shoggoths.

Evidently, I am a desktop background

You may have noticed the snazzy new Gravatar image of yours truly.  I appear to be some sort of wizard.

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