Tag Archives: Zombie

International Tabletop Day

tabletop

Last Saturday, 5th of April 2014, was International Tabletop Day! A celebration of all things tabletop game related. I realise that this post is a little late but I still wanted to tell you guys what I got up to!

Brainchild of Will Wheaton of Star Trek and Tabletop fame, the day is dedicated to the gathering of gamers and those interested in gaming. It’s a great way to promote the hobby and get more people playing games and I was really looking forward to taking part in as much fun as I possibly could.

So, wanting to optimize my play time I worked out what my options were and set out for a day of fun and games!

As you might already know, I attend a monthly board game session held at Firestorm Games over in Cardiff. This year they were running a Tabletop event that was both a celebration of gaming and a fundraising bake-sale event for the Help for Heroes charity. As a full time board game fanatic and a cake addict, this was the greatest news I’d ever heard, so I headed there to start.

Arriving over in Cardiff at 10am we played a few quick games of a Donkey, a children’s card game that one of the younger members of the group was thoroughly enjoying. It may not have been my kind of game but we all had some fun and that’s what the day’s all about right?

After Donkey we had a couple of games of Forbidden Desert, followed by Fleet, Eight Minute Empire: Legends, Dominion and finally Wits and Wagers. There were so many different types of cake it was unbelievable and staff from Esdevium games were on hand to demonstrate Terry Pratchett’s The Witches, Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries and Carcassonne.

The whole session was a great success and a lot of fun was had by all. A big thanks goes out to Clare for organising the cake sale and fundraiser, not to mention Roy for making sure everyone knew about it, and Jake plus the Firestorm staff for making sure everything was running smoothly on the day. By the close of business the cake sale had managed to raise £128 which is really great!

With Firestorm closing at 6pm I had a plan in place to continue the gaming fun. Thanks to Ian over at Rules of Play I’d heard about another Tabletop event running nearby that started at 7pm. Just enough time to dash over and get a good table. So, almost as if I’d planned it, we made our way over to The Gate to join the Rules of Play team for more gaming delights. I’ve seen their sessions at The Gate advertised on numerous occasions but living over in Bristol has meant that we, sadly, couldn’t make it over to any of them. Unfortunately weekdays, work and travel just don’t mix that well. However, this Tabletop event was a Saturday so we HAD to be there!

The event kicked off at 7pm as planned and we began with some games of King of Tokyo, we then followed this up with some Zombie Dice, which I haven’t played in quite a long time. Nikki and I ended our gaming at about 10.30pm after a game of Citadels. By this point I was starting to get tired, Nikki was sure her brain was melting, but Chris soldiered on and joined a group for a game of Ticket to Ride Europe.

Nikki and I sat chatting at our table and were shortly joined by Steve from Rules of Play who we chatted to until the very end of the evening. It was really good to get to chat to him outside of the store and Nikki and I had a great time discussing all manner of subjects with him. At one point he tried to persuade us to give role playing games a try, something I’ve avoided like the plague since my first and only experience of them put me off for life. However, Steve was quite persuasive and even Nikki seemed to be warming to the idea slightly. In fact Steve was so persuasive that I’ve since ordered a copy of Fiasco to dip our toes into a very simple system and have been looking into the FATE Core System too!

All in all it was a great evening and the perfect end to a wonderful day. We played some awesome games and met some fantastic people who I would love to spend some time gaming with in the future. I even got some fun tabletop promos which really topped the whole thing off nicely. Unfortunately I didn’t see any of the 7 Wonder Will Wheaton promo cards but What I did receive was totally awesome! and all I can really say is that I can’t wait for next year!

Top 10 Games – Update

Top10

Last year I did a podcast that listed my top ten games. Since then I’ve played a good many more games and have had chance to re-evaluate some of the games on the list. It’s been very interesting seeing how my tastes have evolved over the past year and I decided January was the time to rework my top ten games list.
As a reminder for those who didn’t hear the podcast, my top ten games last year were:

  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Last Night on Earth
  • Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
  • Zombicide
  • Galaxy Trucker
  • Discworld Ankh Morpork
  • Shadows Over Camelot
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse
  • Carcassonne
  • Summoner Wars

This year my list has seen quite a drastic upheaval, 6 new entries, one upwards movement, two “down but not outs” and a single stationary entry. So without further ado, here’s my top ten games after 2013.

10 – In position ten, down six places, we have Zombicide from Cool Mini Or Not. A collaborative, zombie-survival, game that has a variety of weird and wonderful characters fighting it out with the Zombie horde.

09 – In position nine, for a second year running, we have Carcassonne. This brilliant little tile laying game is fast to learn, fast to play, and I really love it. Over the past year I’ve managed to get hold of all of the expansions and mini expansions, apart from the tunnels, and they add so much cool stuff to an already great game.

08 – In position eight, and the first of the new entries, we have Escape: The Curse of the Temple. A fantastic, frantic, and fun, run for your life game. Played over a ten minute period, you have to roll dice as fast as you can and navigate the cursed temple. If you don’t make it out within the time limit you’re trapped in the temple forever. This is a very good game and well deserves its place on this list.

07 – In position seven, the second of the new entries, Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island. A really great game, with plenty of theme. This one is the genius work of designer Ignacy Trzewiczek of Stronghold fame. Robinson Crusoe is a very difficult game that chews you up and spits you out before you even know what’s hit you. Despite the difficulty level, it’s a brilliant cooperative game with a whole bunch of mechanics that make a lot of thematic sense.

06 – In position six, the third of the new entries, Eldritch Horror. This new Fantasy Flight Games title is the sister game to their extremely successful Arkham Horror. Where Arkham Horror played out across an evil-filled city, Eldritch Horror takes it to a whole new level. This time you play the part of investigators tasked with traversing the globe in an effort to defeat one of the great old ones. From San Francisco to Tokyo this worldwide battle plays out in a faster, more streamlined manner than its older sister. If you like Arkham Horror then you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.

05 – In position five, the fourth of the new entries, Exodus: Proxima Centauri. This is an awesome game that has been touted as a Twilight Imperium Lite. I love the way this plays, it’s everything I wanted from Eclipse and then some! The original edition had a variety of problems with component quality, but I got my hands on the revised edition and I have to say the components are gorgeous! If you’re looking for a fast space-combat and diplomacy game, then Exodus: Proxima Centauri is a must for your collection.

04 – In position four, the fifth of the new entries, Mice and Mystics! This is my favourite co-operative game of all time. I’ve praised this game since the first time I ever played it, and wrote a post that explained exactly what makes this game so great. Since then, I’ve played The Heart of Glorm Expansion and play-tested some of the amazing chapters that are coming in the next great expansion The Downwood Tales. Mice and Mystics is fun for gamers of all ages and it has a place in any gamer’s collection.

03 – In position three, knocked from its number one spot, we have Battlestar Galactica. An awesome game with a great traitor mechanic. This is a massively thematic game that is a must have for all Battlestar fans out there. Over the past year Fantasy Flight Games has released Daybreak, the third and final expansion. With all of the modular elements included in the three expansions, this is a game with legs and a lot of fun times to be had.

02 – In position two, and the final new entry to the list, Duel of Ages II. A game with hidden depth that won me over on my first ever play. The components aren’t the greatest quality but the sheer amount of game in both the base game and master set is quite astounding. There doesn’t seem to be anything special about the game when you first start to play, however, give it time and you’ll soon realise that it’s the stories that make you want to come back to this one time and again. During my first play, at Firestorm Games over in Cardiff, my base was attacked by an angry Unicorn and my only defence was a suited and booted bouncer who walked up and punched that Unicorn in its interfering nose. During this little scuffle, a space-slug slowly worked its way towards a target that it never reached, and a ninja space cat attacked a seemingly weak opponent with a laser weapon that did absolutely no damage. This game provides an engine into which the players pour their imagination and generate fantastical battles with creatures from all across time, space and fiction. I love this game!

01 – In position one, and up two places, we have Twilight Imperium (Third Edition). This is an epic space game that does everything you’d expect to see in any great quality space sci-fi TV show. I’m not going to go into any great detail here about the game, or how it plays, because I’m going to write a complete review of it over the next few weeks. All I will say is that if you do not have this game and love big, long, games that contain a healthy amount of combat and backstabbery; then this is the game for you!

Well there you have it, my top ten favourite games as of the end of 2013. Over the coming year I’ll be playing a load more games and writing a ton more reviews. So stay tuned to find out what I get up to and read about some of the games that you could see in my top ten at the end of 2014.

Carnevale di Venezia Meets The Walking Dead

carnizom

Today I got to play a game that I first heard about on the Dice Tower Top Ten Games from 2013. I’m not sure how it happened but the game in question totally slipped under my radar last year. Yet, somehow, it had made it onto the top ten games from 2013 lists for both Tom Vasel and Sam Healey.

The game I’m referring to is called Carnival Zombie. A 1-6 player, co-operative, game set in Venice. The story driving it all is quite interesting; the city was built atop the corpse of a great, long-dead, leviathan which has awoken and is now rising from the lagoon. As the beast slowly rises, the city of Venice crumbles and sinks into the murky water. You play the role of a band of survivors led by a carnival character named Captain Terror. Your task is to either escape Venice, or destroy the heart of the beast and send it back to its watery grave. Being a complete sucker for an intriguing story and a zombie theme, this one drew me in straight away.

The game runs over a series of days, each of which is split into two phases, day and night. Each phase is split into four hours and each of those hours is split into a series of steps. At night there are six steps and during the day there’s only a single step per hour.

The Board – When you open up the game board you’re faced with a series of sections that track virtually any aspect of the game. There’s the stats for the different types of zombies, a whole host of boss characters stats, a day tracker, an hour tracker, health (or stress) trackers, a map of Venice (used during the day phase to move the group around the city), and finally a large central section that represents the area within Venice in which the group have dug-in and need to survive the night. The group are situated in a refuge at the centre of this section, and they must defend themselves until dawn breaks.

photo
Click image to view a larger version.
board
Click image to view a larger version.

As you can see from the images above, the refuge sits at the centre of the board and is surrounded by three concentric rings labelled rings I to III as you move outwards. The refuge is split into four, and each quarter splits rings I to III into two outward cones. Each quarter of the area is called a ditch, and each cone is called a cave. Again, take a look at the image if you don’t get what I mean. I can honestly say that I have no idea why they would call them ditches or caves, but they have so that’s what I’ll use here.

Each night begins with a setup stage, during this stage a series of obstacles or terrain tokens are added to the board and the characters set up the refuge in the very centre. Setting up the refuge involves setting up a series of barricades that act as a temporary shield and positioning the characters within the refuge. Finally, a series of terrain and bosses are added to the board.

Now the first hour of the night begins with the six steps.

  1. Use items
  2. Infected appear
  3. Bosses and infected move
  4. Characters act
  5. Bosses and infect attack
  6. The hour marker advances

Characters can carry items, such as a traps, absinthe or even a cigar. It’s during step one that they can use their items. After this a series of infected (zombies) are added to the board. Three in each cave, placed in zone III. The first time you do this you’ll look at the board and wonder how you’ll ever kill them all… One tip! Don’t spend too long pondering that question, the truth is, you won’t kill them all.

The zombies and the bosses all move inwards along their cave based on the movement attribute of each. After the advance, it’s your time to act. Using a variety of actions, such as special actions, movement within the refuge, melee and shooting you will attempt to defend yourselves. It’s during this step that you really need to be thinking ahead. At the end of the night phase, you will have to leave the area, heading in a direction as determined by the Venice map section of the board. Any zombies or bosses that are left in the caves associated with the direction that you’re heading will automatically hit the group as they leave. This is VERY painful if you’ve not planned ahead.
After the characters act we move to step five and the zombie fiends attack destroying barricades and injuring characters that they can reach.

Finally the hour ends and the hour marker advances. Bring on steps 1 to 6 again and repeat until the end of the dawn hour.

Having survived wave after shuffling wave of zombie death we’re progressing onto the day stage. This stage moves a lot faster than the night because the living dead retreat back into the lagoon and give you a very short break. To start the day, you leave the combat area and take any damage as I mentioned earlier. Then you draw a nightmare card to determine which, if any, areas are flooded, and find out what horrible events take place. Nightmare cards are used for numerous things during the game, random character selection, boss or terrain placement, and even search results.

Now you turn your attention to the map section of the board and move the group towards one of the possible goals. Each move along a route costs an hour of the day, plus any modifiers that can be applied. In theory you could move up to four spaces, but I doubt you’ll survive long if you do. After you’ve moved the group around the map, any day hours left over are used for character actions. Each character gets to perform one day-based action per daylight hour available. Eventually the day ticks over and we’re back to the night, still battered from the night before but ready to fight on.

I mentioned earlier that there’s several ways to beat the game. You can escape by boat, escape via a bridge connected to the mainland, escape via an airship, or if you’re really daring, plant and prime a holy bomb right at the heart of the leviathan! Whatever you choose to do you must reach a specific location on the map and carry out a specific action. When you accomplish this, you trigger one of the games four finales. I’m not going to spoil these by detailing them, but trust me, they’re fun scenarios that are really thematic and full of more challenging action.

OK, so that’s a high level view of the game, but there’s two aspects that I glossed over and left until now. That’s the zombies themselves and an interesting little mechanic that I’ve not seen before. The zombies you place on the board are represented by cubes that you draw from a bag called the abyss. There are also other cubes in there representing survivors (beneficial) and paranoia (not good) but I’m not going to go into any detail on those in this post. As you kill zombies, you take them from the board and then drop the cubes onto a gravestone board at the side of the main board. You can’t just place them on there, you have to drop them. The cubes you drop onto the gravestone have to stay on it. As do any cubes that are already on it. At first this is fine, but as you kill more zombies the pile on the board gets bigger. Eventually you’re going to drop a cube and will either knock other cubes off, or roll off itself. Any cube that touches the table, whether it’s still touching the gravestone board or not, is instantly placed in ring III of the cave from which you just removed the zombies. It’s a nice subtle mechanic that adds a little bit of dexterity to an otherwise “thinky” game.

So to actually give an opinion for this game I want to make it very clear that I really like itI It reminds me of Ghost Stories, Castle Panic and Dead Panic but I have to say that I get a lot more from Carnival Zombie. There’s a lot of theme to this one, helped along by some beautiful artwork, and there’s a constant feeling of dread as each wave pours out to destroy you.

However, despite the fact that I like the game, there were several unforgivable problems with the production values:

  1. The card stock used for the chits, and the board itself, is very thin. It cheapens what would otherwise be a great game.
  2. The rulebook is a translation from the original Italian version. Translations are fine, but I would have to question whether this one actually underwent any quality assurance checks. First off, a lot of the rules are badly worded. I’m no copy editor but some of the mistakes were pretty bad. Secondly there’s a line in there that has been translated, but the original Italian is right there next to it. And finally there’s a section for a boss called the Tenor that is still in Italian with absolutely no translation in there at all.
  3. At first the cubes felt like a cheap cop-out, something I’d like to replace with miniatures to boost the visuals of the horde. However I can see why cubes are used instead of minis, for both the drawing and the dropping mechanics.

As a whole I really rate the game. If you can see past the few quality issues, as I have, then you will really enjoy it. I’ve not seen it in many UK stores, either online or bricks and mortar, but if you can get your hands on a copy then I recommend that you do so soon!

I got mine from: Rules of Play who are very friendly and will put one aside for you. I also believe that they might even post out via Royal Mail if you’re willing to pay the postage cost. Drop them a mail for more details.
Alternatively, as of writing, there’s some available from the BoardGameGuru online store.

Enjoy!

Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice

Grrrrr Arrggghhhhh!!!

Sorry, that was my appalling Zombie impression. Not as easy to do in text form as it turns out…

So, today I’m reviewing Zombie Dice by Steve Jackson Games. It won’t be a long review which actually reflects the very essence of the game itself!

When you get this game you immediately think “God, did I really pay £10 for that?” Or at least that’s what I thought! In the packaging you get a cylindrical tube, 13 custom dice and a tiny rules sheet. It hardly felt like value for money… But I was wrong… That £10 could be one of the best spends in my entire gaming life! I’ve had the game about three days now and have played it around 50 times. That’s 20p per game and that cost will only keep dropping as I play it more!

Gameplay! It’s fast, fun and you’re a bloody Zombie! What more could you ask for?

Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Take three dice from the pile. Roll them. Keep any brains or shotgun blasts you roll, ignore the feet.
Step 2: Decide if you want to roll again, top up your in-hand dice to three and roll again.

If you ever decide to stop rolling then you note how many brains you collected that turn and add them to you current running score. Return all dice to the pot and play passes to the next player.

“So why would I stop rolling?”

If you ever have three or more shotgun blasts in a turn (made up of the multiple rolls) you lose the brains you’ve collected that round (Retaining your existing total.) and your turn ends.

“But How do I win?”

Be the first to collect 13 brains! Simples!

This is a game of pushing your luck. No guts no glory!!! Or in this case, No brains no glory! It’s fast paced, fun and full of laughs. You’ll be talking about that gutsy (dumb) roll your opponent made for ages.You know, the one that went horribly wrong and saw them shotgunned back to hell!

Great stocking filler for Christmas that most people will pick up on the rules quickly! Recommended! And if you’re not sure if it’s for you, you can try it for free on your iPad or iPhone! Not sure if it’s on Android or Windows Phone yet though!

Score: 7/10

Last Night on Earth

Last Night on Earth

Following on from my previous post I wanted to talk about one of the first games I bought for myself. Blowing me away with atmosphere and story, Arkham Horror had left me wanting more and I set out on a mission to find a sub-three hour game that still oozed atmosphere.

My first stop, a game called Zombies!!! Recommended by a friend, I eagerly awaited its arrival; but alas, there was no atmosphere there, it just didn’t meet my needs.
Disappointed and somewhat put off from purchasing my own games, I considered giving up. After all, Zombies!!! hadn’t been overly cheap for what I got… and we still had Arkham after all… Surely that was enough…

Well it turns out I was wrong, in desperation to scratch my growing Zombie itch (There’s a whole other post I could write as to why I had the Zombie urge!) I took a gamble and ordered Last Night on Earth a Zombie themed game, dripping with atmosphere and created by Flying Frog Productions.

I won’t go into the mechanics of the game, that’s not what I’m writing these posts for, I want to give people a feel for the game, an idea of what I think when I play them, and how immersive they are. I have quite a vivid imagination and I think this helps me get the most out of my games. I know people who don’t have much of an imagination, or can’t seem to visualise a game panning out in real life, and I think it really limits their enjoyment.

Anyway, imagination in full throttle I started playing Last Night on Earth, there were three of us the first time, one zombie player (Me) and two human players. It’s possible to play with six people, two controlling the different colour zombies, and four controlling a single hero each.

With each turn of the game the sun slowly begins to rise, the Zombie player sends endless waves of foul, decaying, undead minions after the human “heroes”.
In our first game each of my opponents controlled two hero characters and they worked together valiantly to fend off the zombie hordes. Alas, their efforts were in vane as one by one they fell to oncoming waves of the undead menace. This is where my imagination really kicked in.

Picture the scene…

“A young, unarmed, man quietly creeps down an alleyway attempting to avoid detection. He slowly peers around a corner where he spies the decaying corpse of an overweight towns-person ambling out of the darkness. With fear in his eyes he carefully falls back, turns to run, and stumbles on the remains of dog, savaged by it’s once human master. He let’s out a cry and instantly regrets it, he hears the, now louder, moaning of the towns-person drawing closer. As he climbs to his feet the abomination rounds the corner and begins ambling towards him.

Petrified the man turns and runs for the other end of the alleyway. Passing a nearby window he’s showered in vicious shards of glass which tear at his skin and sends him crashing into the wall opposite. A zombie waitress thrusts her arms and head through the now empty window frame and grabs him, tearing at his skin with her cracked nails. She gains a hold and drags herself out into the alleyway screeching as she goes. There’s nothing that he can do, he’s trapped, with no hope of survival. With the screeching waitress clawing at his flesh, he resigns himself to his fate. As she sinks her teeth deep into his face the, slower, ambling towns-person bears down on him, dropping to its knees it joins the waitress and begins its horrific lunch.

Slowly the screams die down and the alley returns to its previous tranquillity, the zombies return to their mindless wandering, simply waiting for the next meal to pass by.”

Playing this game is like watching a first class zombie movie panning out in front of your very eyes. With a variety of scenarios there’s massive replay value. Add to this the Growing Hunger and Survival of the Fittest expansions and you will never be short of fun zombie action. I love Last Night on Earth and I can’t wait to play and review the Timber Peakexpansion which is currently sitting on my shelf demanding to be played.

Score: 9/10