Introduce Your Kids to Gambling and Drinking Games with That’s Not Lemonade

If you were ever interested to discover a way to introduce your kids to high stakes Blackjack and other ‘press your luck’ style games, but felt judged by friends and neighbours, then That’s Not Lemonade by Matt Fantastic could be the Kickstarter you need to back. There’s a bonus as well – it doubles as an introduction to drinking games to boot. Cheers! Continue reading Introduce Your Kids to Gambling and Drinking Games with That’s Not Lemonade

When am I? Spyfall Three: Time Travel

The critically acclaimed party deduction game Spyfall has been a much loved filler at our game nights for seasoned gamers and casual players alike. The premise is simple, the gameplay rapid and intense, you are never out of the action, and there are great metagame rewards for multiple playthroughs. It isn’t uncommon for a dozen plays in a given sitting, each one racheting up the pressure and suspicion. The most recent release from the Spyfall franchise and Hobby World promises more of the same, but this time with an ingeniuous twist. Instead of the spy attempting to work out where they are, in Spyfall: Time Travel the spy has to work out when they are.  Continue reading When am I? Spyfall Three: Time Travel

Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast To Release a Transformers Collectable Card Game

In their ongoing efforts to print money, global gaming companies Hasbro and their subsidiary Wizards of the Coast are set to release a new trading card game based on the globally renowned Transformers franchise. The trading card game space (or TCG) is exceptionally well traversed by these companies, who continue to publish the definitive TCG in Magic: The Gathering. Should they bring the design sensibilities and innovation acquired over the twenty years of Magic development, it is hard to imagine that Transformers will not be a breakout success when it is first released later this year at Comic-Con International and GenCon. Continue reading Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast To Release a Transformers Collectable Card Game

The Hunt for Gollum: Lore and LOTR LCG Deck Tech

Crownless Kings is a solo campaign journal of the Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game by Fantasy Flight Games. It chronicles each of the published adventures in more or less chronological order, with more or less thematic decks. Each adventure includes a spoiler free strategy overview and deck tech and a separate (spoiler-filled) gameplay runthrough. There’s a sprinkle of Tolkien lore here and there for extra flavour.

The Hunt for Gollum

In this scenario, the heroes are searching for Gollum at the request of Gandalf in the Anduin Valley between the Misty Mountains and the Mirkwood Forest. Rumours have suggested that Gollum is in this area, and the heroes are looking for clues that might put them on the elusive creature’s trail. Continue reading The Hunt for Gollum: Lore and LOTR LCG Deck Tech

Steam Summer Sale for Digital Boardgames

Nothing says Summer like sitting in the dark at your computer playing digital implementations of board games by yourself.

Ah, Summer.

Fortunately for some of us, it isn’t summer at all. Quite the opposite. And this is actually the perfect time of year for staying indoors where it is warm and dry, and playing board games. On your console or computer or at the table. Either way is fine.

Which means that the Steam Summer Sale couldn’t be happening at a better time. Here’s a collection of some of the better deals on offer for those interested in picking up a bargain.

Tabletop Simulator: I finally caved and bought TTS about two months ago. It is an outstanding product, supported by an outstanding community, and I now have no idea why I resisted for so long. Right now, it’s 50%, and frankly it was a bargain at twice the price.

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Sentinels of the Multiverse – This game is loads of swashbuckling, superheroing fun at the table, but it’s major downside is that the constant accounting and fiddly tokens really detract from the feel of being a superhero. The online implementation gets rid of all of that. It’s 70% off the base game right now. That’s hard to resist.

Through the Ages – TTA is currently ranked as the third best board game ever made. The digital version is reduced by 38%. No brainer.

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Ticket to Ride – Speaking of the greatest games of all time, Ticket to Ride is 60% off. If you don’t know, now you do. Easy pick.

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Ascension – It isn’t my favourite deck-builder, and I don’t have the steam version. But I do have it on Google Play AND on IOS, and the phone-based version is so easy to play and addictive that I’m happy to recommend it at 60% off.

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Le Havre – This is one of those games I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never played, despite knowing that it is a much-loved classic. It’s 57% off, so I’m getting it. I mean, it’s $3. I’m sure I will review it shortly here.

The Witcher Adventure Game – I bought this to see whether or not I wanted to get the physical version. Turns out, it wasn’t that interesting to me, and I settled for a few runs of the Steam version. The so-called “Adventure Game” genre is a real hit and miss category for me, and this one didn’t have enough going on to keep me engaged. But, as a fan of the Witcher Universe, I was happy to have given it a shot. If you love the Witcher, then this is worth a look at 75% off (but otherwise, frankly, hard pass).

What did I miss here?

Lord of the Rings LCG Digital on Steam in August

The digital version of The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game now has a launch date – it will be available in Early Access on August 28 this year.

Since I heard about this digital version, I have been eagerly following its development, watching the twitch stream of playthroughs and paying attention to the changes and tweaks as hey have evolved. This is more than I would usually commit to the promise of a digital version of a much-loved board or card game – frankly I have been deeply invested (emotionally and financially, frankly) in the Lord of the Rings Card Game for the past four years at least.

The LOTR LCG is easily one of my favourite boardgames of all time. Part of this is due to it solving many of my persistent complaints about Magic the Gathering – by being both co-operative and a Living Card Game.

The Living Card Game (LCG) model, which was pioneered by Fantasy Flight Games, provides a fixed distribution approach in contrast to the traditional Collectible Card Game model. Instead of the blind purchase of randomly arranged ‘booster packs’ that is the norm for games like Magic the Gathering and Pokemon, the expansions for LCGs always contain the same cards, and are always known in advance. Not only do you know what you’re getting, but the fixed format means that every player has equal access – more or less – to every card needed to optimise their deck.

That means no secondary market in expensive or unavailable rares/ultra-rares, no bidding or chasing promos, no ‘pay to win’ game experience. Instead, the LCG model provides a complete and self-contained game experience, with expansion packs that you can purchase at your convenience at an easily affordable price. The depth of your involvement is up to you, and there is enough content available now to ensure the game is immersive and endlessly replayable, while still providing a memorable gaming experience for casual players.

The fact that the LOTR LCG was co-operative also means that it doesn’t present the same barriers to entry that Magic presents. I get all of the stimulation from the analysis that goes into complex deck-building, but knowing that bomb deck is going to increase the chances of people playing with me again, not the reverse.

There’s little surprise that I have been eagerly awaiting the drop of the The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game on Steam, and today we find out that it will enter into Early Access at the end of August, and will arrive with the Adventures in Mirkwood campaign, a core set of starter cards and an set of 21 unlockable cards. Early Access will last about 3 to 5 months, and the game will be released as a free-to-play title after that, with a robust schedule of updates to follow. Co-op play has been identified as a major feature that FFI are scheduled to implement by full release, but the Early Access will only accommodate  single-player.

To be honest, from what I have seen to date, the digital version shares the artwork and basic mechanics of the tabletop version, but little else. It seems to be an entirely distinct product more akin to Hearthstone than to the card game itself. This is coupled with my general skepticism of free-to-play games, which tend to end up costing a lot more to play in the long run. But I’m open-minded here, and ultimately I’m looking forward to testing it out during early access.

I’m pleased that Fantasy Flight Interactive have made so much effort to getting the game right, to responding to feedback and to meet the needs and requests of fans of the LCG. This is the newly launched FFI’s first-ever title, and their commitment to community engagement bodes very well indeed.

You can register for Early Access on Steam here.

If you’re interested in getting into the tabletop card game, you can check out the deals at OzGameShop, including discounted expansions. Delivery is free for orders over $50, and purchases via this link support the House of Nerdery. Just saying.

The Greatest Rule Mistake of All Time

When it comes to boardgames, rules mistakes are as embarrassing as they are inevitable. If you’re lucky, they don’t result in brawls or tableflips, but they almost always lead to a less enjoyable night than you had otherwise planned.

If you are playing a boardgame that has been professionally published, you should be aware that it has gone through an endless stream of revisions and improvements, a suite of fault-finding playtesters, and run the gauntlet of the hostile review community. That means if the game seems broken, it’s (ahem) not them, it’s you.

Don’t take it to heart, necessarily. Generally, rulebooks are great, poorly written, ponderously structured tomes that take a lifetime of experience and an undergraduate degree in literary interpretation to get across. It’s no surprise that boardgame media like Watch it Played and Gaming Rules that specialise in teaching rules enjoy such popularity and acclaim.

There are rules mistakes that are so common to be famous. For instance, you don’t have to eradicate all the diseases in Pandemic to win. I know you didn’t ask, but I’m saving you the embarrassment of having to ask later.

I know a family who bungled the rules of Ticket to Ride so badly, that they have created an entirely new game out of the components. It more or less works, incidently. I have since tried to teach them the actual rules, which to be honest are quite straightforward, but they continue to prefer their own, weird confection.

But easily the most impressive, most renowned rules mistake in the history of boardgames on the internet, was the group who mistakenly thought Hanabi – one of the most deeply cooperative games ever conceived – was a competitive game.

Hilarity ensued:

Just got this game and tried it. What confuses me is the end game.

So, the rules state that if all three fuses are blown, then the game is a loss… so nobody wins, right? Score is irrelevant?

What happened was that I was winning a round, then the next player picked up the last card, so everyone gets one more turn. They knew I was winning, so just dropped cards, knowing the fuse would blow and I wouldn’t win the game… nobody would.

Sounds to me like the rules are broken there?

The responses were swift.

“You can’t be serious. It is not a competitive game.”

“If he is serious then this is the most hilarious rules misunderstanding I’ve seen.”

“Either this is an awesome spoof or you definitely aren’t winning at reading the rules.”

“That’s not how this works… That’s not how any of this works.”

“You just made my day :D”

To the original poster’s credit, they fully owned the mistake, and in a display of admirable humility, have yet to delete the post from Reddit. It remains to this day as a reminder that no matter how experienced or skilled we may think ourselves, we all make (rules) mistakes.

LOL Yeah, we totally misunderstood the rules. I was watching a video online of how to play, and it didn’t really make it clear, so we got it wrong.

Needless to say, it suddenly makes so much sense.

When we played it, we thought it was.. try to build us much as you can, individually, in front of you… and hint to others to help them, so everyone doesn’t lose. It was wierd, which is why we were confused.

We always play competitive games, so this is the very first co-op card game we have ever played. Needless to say, we’re keen to try it again…. with proper rules 🙂

See the original post here.

Promotion

If you’d like to get a copy of the co-operative game Hanabi or its competitive counterpart Ikebana, consider Oz Gameshop. Purchases from these links help support The House of Nerdery.

 

The epic twitter story to restore your faith in D&D, humans

What starts out as an nostalgic story about playing D&D in college becomes a triumphant tale of victory, with a stinger in the tale that hit me right in the feels. I can’t but save this here for future reference.

Incredible story, brilliantly told. (By the way, what’s the twitter equivalent of a page turner?)

Enjoy.

Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr

This is the utterly intriguing premise of Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr – the characters play nursing staff caring for an anonymous patient who suffered a massive heart attack on a flight from Sydney to London. He has been given days to live, and we have to piece together his hidden memories so that he can die in peace.

Wow.

There are times when I talk about games as art, about the way that games invite us to deeply examine ourselves and each other,  reflect on our lives and our choices, become better people. It is hard to do this without sounding pretentious, frankly, and I’ve seen enough eyeballs roll back in heads to know this.

Based on this premise, and on a handful of game components photographs that have been released, I’m prepared to call Holding On one of the games that does all of these things, and dares to push the bounds of games as art experiences.

In fact, this goal is the stated aim of the publishers of Holding On, Hub Games, who promote themselves by this very idea:

We make games with HEART.  We believe games can be more than simple entertainment. Hub Games releases always have something more beneath the surface if you want to delve deeper.

In a theme that recalls the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind or the enchantingly heartbreaking To the Moon, deals maturely with the themes of memory, regret, death and redemption. It touches on that great existential motif – there’s something extraordinary in the deeply examined ordinary life. There’s a rich vein of pathos in this theme, and the early impressions suggest that the designers have approached it with sympathy and sensitivity.

Card play preview from Holding On

As terminal care nurses, players co-operate to provide the mysterious patient with appropriate care, responding to medical emergencies while gaining his trust. We learn his name is Billy Kerr, he is sixty years old, and that he has three regrets in life that he needs courage to confront. The game consists of replayable scenarios, which each reveal a further glimpse into the lifetime of memories as players are drawn deeper into Billy’s troubled past.

pic4150389Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr is designed by Michael Fox and Rory O’Connor, and published by Hub Games. I think it is fair to say that this game signals a bold new direction for Hub Games, who are best known for  Rory’s Story Cubes – an excellent storytelling experience, no doubt, but quite different from what is on offer here. I’m hoping that it pays off – this has every right to be a break-out success.

It is scheduled for release on Thursday, 25th October in Essen at Spiel – the world’s largest gaming convention.

Latest Updates

There will also be opportunities to preview the game at Origins (June 13th to June 17th – Columbus, Ohio, USA), Q-Con (June 22nd to June 24th – Belfast, Northern Ireland) and at  Gen Con (August 2nd to August 5th, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA). The designers are bringing advance copies that allow attendees to play through the first Scenario.

Promotion

You can get a copy of Hub Games Rory’s Story Cubes – the award-winning dice-based creative story generator – from Oz GameShop.

Gloomhaven: The Strange Case of the Exploding Cultists

In our third Gloom Platoon installment, the party investigate a location along the Still River, which we discovered on a scroll in an bandit’s lair. Characters are leveled up, and I discuss some of the card pool choices for Level 2.

We uncover the ruins of an ancient crypt, half-covered by moss and ivy. We discover some bandits and more animated dead inside…

Wait, who are these cultists, and why are they exploding?

Spoilers within.