The number of games off the list is a bit on the low side again this week and is due to an interesting and what could be an entertaining turn of events. It seems that one of the board game players I normally play with wants to start a RPG campaign. The rest of my normal group figured that we would give it a go and so these last two weeks we have been making characters instead of playing board games. I started into RPGs way before I started playing board games so I’m kind of heading full circle. To be honest, I’m a little wary of playing RPGs again now that my analytical mind has taken over, but I figured I’d give it a go.
The DM has decided to play Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition (mainly since that’s what he owns and is comfortable with). The idea of the campaign is that we are all heading to the local ‘major’ town to become guards of the local watch. To that end, I created a human rogue character that fights with a rapier/dagger. I haven’t come up with any real back story yet so, I’ll create one on the fly now – my character was a travelling showman/duelist that is down on his luck. Perhaps I created an unfavorable environment with my last troupe and had to flee – stealing perhaps? I’ll need to flesh out the story a bunch more, but that’s good for a start. I don’t know the timing of the games or anything as of yet, but I’ll definitely keep you informed on the campaign’s progress.
Now to board games…
The first game off the list was 1st & Goal. This game puts you as a coach of an American football team. Turns are pretty simple – each coach picks one of their eight play cards and the results are compared. There are 12 offensive plays and 12 defensive plays and the results for each combination are on the card. Once cards are played, the offensive player cross references to determine the dice that they get to roll. The game comes with 3 running dice, 3 passing dice, 1 black defensive die and 3 special dice (a play die, a referee die and penalty die). Dice are rolled and the sum of the dice equals the amount of yards you gained (or lost) on the play. In addition to the running/passing dice, the player always rolls the Play die which can cause anything from a penalty, a breakaway or a turnover. Players switch the offensive and defensive card decks back and forth re-shuffling the cards in hand when a turnover (be it a punt, score or an actual turnover occurs), but the discards piles for each deck are not shuffled back in and the half is over once the offensive player uses the last card of the deck.
There are expansions for the game that comes with additional passing/running/defensive dice and use them to create a specific team – each with their own strengths and weaknesses. All in all, you would think that it would be an improvement, but I have noticed that it can make for some pretty lopsided games. For example, my opponent was playing the Monsters and their ‘broken play/QB scramble’ die (at least I believe that is what the red die represents) was high risk/high reward. Once I learned that their red die was going to roll on average zero yards and 3 of the 6 sides were -5 or -6, I played defensive plays that always rolled the red die (sometimes it was the only die other than the play die that the other player got to roll). My opponent became pretty frustrated and in the end, I think it was 31 to 19. Now my opponent also had a string of bad luck causing a couple key turnovers, but that red die was a big downfall (note to self – ensure to take a team with a decent red die).
The last game off the list was Pocket Civ. This light-hearted civilization game has some pretty novel ideas on how to create your civilization. The game turn is pretty straight forward. Each region that has a tribe produces a second tribe. Then tribes can move to adjacent regions. Next you draw an event card and follow the results based on which era you are in (everything from bandits, famine and volcanoes). Once the event is complete, you may expand your empire by building farms, cities and acquire advances – all of which cost either tribes or gold. When you draw the last event card of the deck, you do an “End of an Era” check. If you have a number of cities equal to the current era, you earn victory points according to your advances; otherwise you score zero VPs for the era. Play continues for eight eras. The game is entertaining, but since there isn’t much you can do to prepare for any of the events (and they are all bad), you are basically at the mercy of the cards/game. Over the years, I have had some miserable attempts at the game – my empire falling into obscurity, but I think that is part of the charm. I don’t recommend making a full deluxe copy like I did, but there is an online version of the game that you can play without needing to cut a single thing.
Until next time – Play a game!