Category Archives: Muskegon Area Gamers

Around the world of board gaming November 2017

There’s been a lot going on in the world of board gaming. This month I’ll cover how Twitter now lets you tweet board games, a lawsuit over who owns the rights to The Game of Life and, of course, all the happenings close to home. Many exciting things have been happening locally. Read on…

Around the World of Board Gaming November 2017

NPR’s Market place does board games

NPR Marketplace
NPR Marketplace

NPR Marketplace had a spot about board games recently. Their November 22 broadcast had an interview with Mike Sellers, professor of game design at Indiana University.

Prof. Sellers tells his students, “Movies will make you famous, television will make you rich and theatre will make you good.” He compares board games to theatre because you have to be good to design a good board game. There is nothing hidden in theatre with special effects or editing just like there is nothing hidden in board games.

The good professor makes a few insightful comments in the brief (six minute) interview. He said designers are tasked with making board games for vary different experiences. Some people need games they can play with children who cannot read, others want highly interactive and complex games. And people who play board games often need several of these various categories.

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go

New games will undoubtedly go the direction of augmented reality. Augmented reality is where you play in real life but your tablet/device will allow you to interact within a virtual environment. Think Pokémon Go. This was the first example but will not be the last.

Game designers are working on other games which will use this idea. Hopefully making a more compelling game than Pokémon. With board game sales reaching a fever pitch, this seems rather likely.

When Twitter increased its character limit to 280…they allowed you to play board games

On November 7th, Twitter doubled its character limits. The new limit allows you to tweet your unsupported political views in 280 characters instead of 140. While that is mildly interesting, what concerns us here is: can you play board games on Twitter now?

Twitter Connect 4
Twitter Connect 4

And the answer is yes.

People are able to play chess, Connect 4 and Go. I guess if you’re bored and have access to Twitter, you can find a game.

I imagine other games will follow these. And, God willing, more games will be possible when Twitter decides to bump their character limit to 560. Maybe then you can play Terra Mystica?

 

Lawsuit will decide who invented Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life

Game of Life 3D board
Game of Life 3D board

Followers of my blog know I like both board games and legal proceedings extending from them. Recently I blogged about who has the rights to Twixt? It’s only natural to bring up the same topic as it applies to a household name like The Game of Life.

A federal court is hearing arguments about who owns the rights to Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life. The Game of Life was first published in 1960 as a 100 year anniversary to Milton Bradley. And now the authorship of said game is being disputed.

In 1860, Milton Bradley himself created The Checkered Game of Life. He was inspired by European board games of the day. He applied what he learned and put a game on a checker board. When you moved onto a white space, something good happened to you. When you moved onto a black space, something bad happened. From this game was inspired the modern Game of Life.

Game of Life 2D
Game of Life 2D

The estate of Bill Markham is suing for lost royalties. The estate, led by his widow, Lorraine Markham, claim Markham made the game but was never given proper credit for it–not in 1960 nor anytime since.

Hasbro, the current owner of the entity, along with collaborator Reuben Klamer, argue otherwise. The defense argues Bill Markham was a hired gun. He was hired to make a prototype and paid for his work. The prototype underwent substantial revisions before it was released to the public.

The pre-trial hearings have begun the week before Thanksgiving. The judge is allowing a partial bench trial due to the age of the participants. I’ll keep you posted about any changes to this as they arise.

 

Closer to Home

Christmas time at The Gaming Annex
Christmas time at The Gaming Annex

Our staff* did some Christmas decorating. The Gaming Annex has its first ever Christmas tree. The walls are covered in holiday cheer. The place is actually looking respectable. The staff also did some rearranging. Our space utilization has improved markedly. So if you see our staff, be sure to give our gratitude.

Business cards for The Gaming Annex
Business cards for The Gaming Annex

We also got some new business cards. The old ones were, well, old. They had our old address on them. I opted for a new design altogether. First: we needed a logo. The logo was added to the front along with our pertinent contact information. I also wanted a catchy back side. I decided on a Catan and Magic: the Gathering design, not because we play these games often but because these games are so common, it could draw people to us. You can stop by and get some cards (and check out the Xmas decorations) anytime.

*Holly, Nick Sima, Brandi and Kevin.

Black Friday

Around the World of Board Gaming November 2017
Black Friday at Out of the Box

Out of the Box had their Black Friday sale last week. Like previous years, there was a line in front of the store before 6am. And like previous years, there was some great deals to be had. I picked up Legacy of Dragonholt because Nick Sima was yearning for it. Viticulture was on sale for 60% off. But the game I was most interested in was War of Kings. Long time readers may recall my excitement about this game’s upcoming release. Well, the release is finally here. Now I have to get this game into [name redacted]’s hands so [pronoun redacted] can read the rules.

Griffin's Rest play area
Griffin’s Rest play area                               (credit: Griffin’s Rest Facebook page)

Last, but definitely not least: Griffin’s Rest (finally) opened their doors. Their first day of operation was on Black Friday, a test by fire as Kiel put it. The store was well attended by the gaming community. Many in our little club were able to make it there for their inaugural day. All of us were impressed.

The store had a nice collection of gaming titles. But the full inventory build out has not yet happened. Kiel said the next wave of inventory was arriving imminently. They have many of the games our group would play like Star Wars Imperial Assault and Betrayal at House on the Hill. They also had some department store games at the front such as Operation and Monopoly.

But the most impressive part of the store was their upstairs play area. The upstairs has several public tables, several televisions, a separate restroom and one private game room. The televisions were playing Dice Tower reviews but could be turned to a gaming instruction video. The private room was available for rent. The public tables are free. Some people were playing X-Wing fighter. People at another table were playing Runebound.

I wish Griffin’s Rest all the luck in their new enterprise. And as a bonus: Kiel wants to work with us to do some joint events. I do believe this is the start of a beautiful relationship.

 

Want to know more about the Muskegon Area Gamers?

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
201 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

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Ave Jon, our Counsel for Tuesday

Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017, 6:00 PM
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Extra Life Event 2017

The Muskegon Area Gamers held their first Extra Life Event. Well, that’s not exactly true. We supported Byte Club Gaming last year. But this year we held our own event at The Gaming Annex. Here is a rundown:

Extra Life 2017

1. Planning

Extra Life logo
Extra Life logo

I began planning this year’s Extra Life event in 2016 after last year’s event. There were several things about last year’s event that left me feeling unsatisfied. I was pretty sure I would support another event–I just wasn’t sure where the venue would be. We flirted with the idea of having the event at Griffin’s Rest. But they are as of yet still not open. The event would have to be at The Gaming Annex.

Out of the Box Games in Zeeland
Out of the Box Games in Zeeland

The event always takes place a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. That means it takes place a couple of weeks before Black Friday. And every Black Friday I wake up at 4am to stand in line at Out of the Box.

Jeff at Out of the Box is a huge supporter of Black Friday sales. He has great deals on Black Friday: special releases, deep discounts and hourly giveaways. I get there around 5am and there is already a line. The sale last year drew members of our group like Rocky and Jeremy (Scott) Pyne who were in also standing in line.

I was perusing the games in the deep discount area when I saw Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers. I thought this would be a nice addition to a goodybag. Wouldn’t it be nice if the goodybags at Extra Life had games in them? And thus preparation for Extra Life 2017 began on Black Friday 2016.

2. Brandi, our special events coordinator

851 W. Laketon Avenue 49441 The Gaming Annex
The (New) Gaming Annex

Brandi has been coming to The Gaming Annex since February 2016. She has been a steady member of our Thursday night crew ever since. She was a great help in supporting our special events like the Escape Rooms. When she was co-organizing our own murder mystery, Death Wears White, it was clear she needed to be given an official role: special events coordinator.

She, along with her cohort Holly, did a lot of decorating and preparing for the Kids’ Gala in October. Managing an event with 10 little ones was ambitious. But Extra Life would be a whole new challenge. And she was up for it!

3. Scope of the Event

Goodybag games!
Goodybag games!

I knew I wanted every goodybag to have a game in it. This would be a nice surprise, especially for all the 2016 attendees. I spent a lot of time accumulating games in our basement. It took lots of coaxing to get Debbie to believe all those shrink-wrapped games had been in our basement when we bought the house.

I dumped the whole lot of games off on Brandi and said, “Deal with it!”.  She bought bags to put the games into and made them look nice. (She actually did a fantastic job; I’m just being flippant).

The next aspect was how many people to have over. We have limited tables and parking. I thought 10-12 people. Brandi thought we could handle 14-16. She was right. We made enough goodybags for 14-16.

Muskegon appreciates Campaign Coins from King of the Castle Games
Campaign Coins from King of the Castle Games

Extra Life is a charitable event. So charging admission for the event was the main way to raise funds. I thought last year’s price point of $30-$35 was reasonable. This price would include your goodybag, three meals and 25 hours of games.

Greek Tony's Pizza
Greek Tony’s Pizza

Meal preparation for 14-16 people was a lot more painstaking then it is for a typical Twilight Imperium game. Brandi’s bestie, Abbey, was a great help. Abbey knows someone who knows someone who knows Greek Tony’s. She was able to get us Greek Tony’s pizza for dinner. It was delicious. I ate the pizza over a garbage can like a %$@# savage.

We had Crockpot Central for lunch and midnight snacks. I made Swedish meatballs. Tasha made her Annex-wide famous taco dip. And others were generous and brought lots of cookies, cakes and snacks.

4. Contests

Raffle time
Raffle time

Last year we had a raffle. We had modest success with it. I wanted to do another raffle this year, anticipating more hype this go around.

Last year we did a standard raffle. You buy tickets. The tickets go in a hat. We draw a ticket from a hat. And you win the game. Rinse and repeat. Brandi had the bright idea of doing a Chinese raffle. This is where you have not one hat but several hats. People put their tickets in the hat accompanying the prize they want to win. So we had five “hats”. People put their tickets into Sword & Sorcery, Dominion, etc.

It was a much bigger success than last year. This year we had five different winners (whereas last year, we kept pulling Joe Morse’s tickets). Jonathan won Tiny Epic Quest; Matt won The Lost Expedition; Rob won Dominion Intrigue; Brian made up for last year by winning Sword & Sorcery. And Ms. Brandi herself won Teenage Mutant Turtles: Shadows of the Past.

Toe of Satan lollipop
Toe of Satan lollipop

The final contest was at 9PM. It involved Nick Sima and a lollipop. Not just any lollipop. This was Satan’s toe: a lollipop with a 9,000,000 Scoville rating. People would bet on how long they thought Nick Sima could keep it in his mouth. And to our surprise, he did 10 minutes! Special thanks to all the folks at Longer Days for their support.

5. The Games of the Day

Muskegon loves Eminent Domain from Tasty Minstrel Games
Eminent Domain: Escalation

The real question on everyone’s mind is: what games did we play? Yes, we may have raised some money for a children’s hospital. But did we play some awesome games in the process?

And the answer is: yes, we did.

I broke out Eminent Domain. We played this with the Escalation expansion. It was a smashing success. I think we have a dark horse game here.

I thought a group how to play Endeavor. I love this game. And I’m glad we played this just in time for the launch of the 2nd edition.

Muskegon loves Twilight Imperium 4th Edition
Twilight Imperium 4th Edition from Fantasy Flight Games

Dusty and the crew played Twilight Imperium 4th edition. He wrangled Tasha into playing. Tasha liked it so much she has already RSVP’d for our next game in late November. Bill was on board too. He loved it. The rest of us who didn’t play got to enjoy the slapfest between Nick Sima and Dusty.

Brian brought The Captain is Dead. He played it with 6 or 7 people, almost the full complement. It went over well. Then the table broke out Dr. Steve’s Photosynthesis game and gave it a whirl.

After midnight, Ben and the crew thought it would be amazing to start playing Tales of the Arabian Nights. That game lasted until 4am. To wake ourselves up, we played several rounds of Happy Salmon.

We rounded off the event with a bunch of party games like Wavelength and Word on the Street.

6. Final Numbers and thoughts

Tiny Epic Galaxies
Tiny Epic Galaxies

We had 14 attendees at the event. We raised $817 at the event and another $50 after the event (thanks mom!)

The event was a smashing success. Everyone loved the games they played, the games they got in their goodybags and the games they won at the raffle. We really outdid 2016’s event.

Are we going to do this event again next year? More than likely. I have some ideas about how to do things better. And Brandi’s wheels are already turning too. We are going to get more food donated. We will be more proactive in this in 2018. The goodybags next year will be as good or better next year. And the price point will be about the same. We will definitely not being having a Scoville Challenge next year. But we will have some other contest that is both fun for the spectators and humiliating to Nick Sima.

On a related note: Out of the Box is having its Black Friday sale in a week or two from now…

7. Where the fun happens

You can watch all our videos and shenanigans here:

 

 

 

 

Twilight Imperium Strategy Guide Preview

[Editor’s note: Dusty has been working on a complete strategy guide for Twilight Imperium 4. His thoughts on the game carry considerable weight since he is the winningest player of TI3 in our group. While he promises his full strategy guide is currently in development, we can get a taste of what’s coming from the following preview…]

Twilight Imperium Strategy Guide Preview

Preview 1: Should you score a public objective on round 1?

Muskegon loves Twilight Imperium 4th Edition
Twilight Imperium 4th Edition from Fantasy Flight Games

I believe most players agree that the best way to win Twilight Imperium is to heavily focus on scoring objectives, basically at all times.

On round 1, however, I believe you are better off focusing on military, expansion, or a race specific strategy. This is because by and large scoring a victory point on round 1 will stunt your growth in these fundamental areas.

Here are the 10 possible stage 1 objectives:

“Erect a Monument – Spend 8 resources”

This has to be the most difficult objective to justify scoring on the first turn. Scoring this objective means you wont be doing much else. Probably no technology and few, if any, additional units will be purchasd.

I’m hard-pressed to imagine a legitimate strategy that includes scoring this on round 1.

“Sway the council – Spend 8 influence”

About the only time I could see scoring this on turn 1 making sense is if you have a couple of influence heavy planets adjacent to your homeworld and you are able to use diplomacy effectively. Even then, my hunch is that you would be better off using diplomacy to access additional resources or using that influence to purchase command counters.

“Found research outposts – Control 3 planets that have technology specialties”

It probably makes sense to score this turn 1 if you can. That being said, it’s probably not practical.

First off, the chances that there are three tech specialty planets in range is extremely low.

Second, all 8 of the technology specialties are in different systems. That means that everyone but the XXcha will require 3 carriers to accomplish this on the first turn. That is a tall order.

Third, even if you could do this on turn 1, it likely would stunt your growth relative to other moves you could make. All of the technology specialty planets are low resource planets (all of them have a 0 or 1 resource value).

“Negociate Trade Routes – Spend 5 Trade Goods”

This is not too difficult for the person with the trade strategy card to score. However, it means you are spending 5 resources on turn 1 to score a victory point instead of using those resources to build your fleet or technology infrastructure.

“Intimidate the Council – Have 1 or more ships in 2 systems that are adjacent to Mexatol Rex’s system”

This is doable on turn 1 in the right circumstances. However, it probably stunts your growth to do so. I believe this requires you to have gravity drive and to spend a command counter on turn 1 that is not capturing planets or building. This means unless you have the leadership strategy card, its very unlikely you are going to expand to two systems and build in your home system (which is probably the most typical start).

Even with the potential stunt to growth, this is one of the first objectives where scoring it later could become significantly more difficult. If you can get this out of the way turn 1, it could save you the headache of having to jockey for position in later rounds.

“Expand borders – Control 6 planets in non-home systems”

If you can score this round 1, you should. The chances that you have 6 planets in range and have access to three carriers is practically zero though.

“Diversify Research – Own 2 technologies in each of 2 colors”

Scoring this turn 1 is a pain for everyone except the Jol-nar. There are 6 races that start with two technologies. Theoretically any of them score this turn 1 with the Technology strategy card. Should they? Probably not. The only way it might make sense is if those two technology purchases play into a specific strategy, otherwise spending 6 resources turn 1 is going to stunt your growth.

“Corner the Market – Control 4 planets that each have the same planet trait”

This has to be one of the best objectives to score on turn 1. Of course, most times it won’t be possible. This objective is one of the most important to pay attention to during galaxy setup. If you can make it so that this objective is scoreable on turn 1, it will be a big boost.

“Develop Weaponry – Own 2 unit upgrade technologies”

This is practically impossible for everyone but the Jol-nar to score turn 1. Frankly, most races will have difficulty scoring this on turn 2 as well.

“Lead from the front – Spend a total of 3 tokens from your tactic and or strategy pool.”

This is the easiest and worst objective to score round 1. If you do not have leadership and you choose to score this round 1 you are going to be handicapped during the entire early game. I have a hard time believing there is a coherent strategy that involves scoring this turn 1 – if you win after doing so, I think most of the time it will be despite scoring this turn 1, not because of it.

 

Arborec Early Game Strategy – Sarween Seed

Arborec (TI4)
Arborec (TI4)

Twilight Imperium early game strategies are difficult to develop because there are a lot of variables (galaxy setup, neighbor races, starting public objectives, trade metagame, strategy card, etc.). However, I believe they are useful because they can highlight how powerful a particular race can be in the right circumstances.

Here is my early game strategy for the Arborec, I call it the Sarween Seed.

Galaxy Setup

Galaxy setup is basic general strategy.

Strategy Card

Warfare.

This strategy starts with the Arborec selecting the Warfare strategy card. In my view, Warfare is the best strategy card for the Arborec generally because it allows them to expand quickly, either spreading out to take over a massive amount of territory, or amassing a huge ground force to take and hold Mecatol Rex.

It is essential for this particular strategy.

Turn 1
Move carrier, 4 infantry to adjacent system. Take control of planets. For this to work you need one of those planets to be worth 1 resource. Preferably you want high influence planets.

Exhaust home system to build second carrier in that system.

Diplomacy Secondary
You need the diplomacy secondary to trigger after turn 1 and before Technology. This shouldn’t be too out of the ordinary because most players with Diplomacy strategy card will take a system round 1 then use Diplomacy to refresh those planets turn 2 so they are available for them to use during a Warfare or Technology secondary.

Refresh your homeworld and a 1 resource planet.

Turn 2
Warfare Primary – pick up command counter from turn 1 unlocking your two carriers and 4 ground forces for additional expansion opportunities.

Technology Secondary
You need the technology secondary to trigger before turn 3 and after diplomacy.

During the technology secondary, purchase Sarween Tools.

Turn 3

Move one carrier and 2 ground forces to take over planets in an adjacent system. Use the one free resource from Sarween Tools to build 2 ground forces.

Turn 4

Move one carrier and 2 ground forces to take over planets in an adjacent system. Use the one free resource from Sarween Tools to build 2 ground forces.

At this point, your command counter configuration is 1/3/0 and you are ready to pass. This provides a great setup going into round 2. You will be in a good position to expand further and/or take over Mecatol Rex with a sizeable ground force (assuming you have the influence).

You could potentially increase the potency of this strategy with trade.

 

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Hits & Flops October 2017

I’ve been able to get several new games under my belt since our last installment of Hits & Flops. Dusty has been buying lots of games in 2017. In addition, Brian has been introducing us to lots of games. And of course I buy games like they are going out of style. Let’s have some fun with another installment of Hits & Flops.

Board Game Hits & Flops October 2017

 

Quartermaster General 1914

Quartermaster General 1914
Quartermaster General 1914

About a year ago, Bruce brought over a nifty little World War II game called Quartermaster General. Each player takes on one of the belligerents: three play the Axis and three play the Allies. On your turn, you play a card such as “Build Army” or “Sea Battle”. Once you play the card, it goes in your discard pile, never to return to play. You score points by owning victory cities at the end of each of your turns. Which every team has the most points at the end of the game is winner.

Quartermaster General 1914 in action
Quartermaster General 1914 in action

There are some cards that mill cards off your opponent’s deck. These cards are called Economic Warfare cards. It’s quite possible for someone to run out of cards before the end of the game. Some card are “Status Cards” and they stay in play, giving you a permanent bonus. And some cards are “Event Cards” that have a powerful one time effect.

Bruce’s WWII game went over quite well. Its simplicity was charming. The team interaction was fun. And all our games of it were intense. So when I saw they were releasing  WWI version I was understandably intrigued.

Rules reference QMG 1914
Rules reference QMG 1914

The new version, called Quartermaster General 1914, is largely the same as the aforementioned WWII game. The major differences are: theme (this one is WWI) and complexity. This new version cranks up the complexity by a fair margin. I thought our group might like this expert take on a game we love. I took a chance and bought it.

1914 is very asymmetrical. All of the QMG games are asymmetrical. But 1914 is particularly so. There are 5 powers in the game. The Central Powers have 2 players whereas the Triple Entente has 3 players. So the Triple Entente have to use their superior numbers to hammer Germany and Austria-Hungary into submission.

The British get a toehold on the continent
The British get a toehold on the continent

Some of the powers have more than one country at their command. Austria-Hungary command Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans. The British control the US. And France controls Italy. So your deck of cards may have some cards that refer to one power but not the other.

This version also allows players to prepare a card in addition to playing a card. Prepared cards use icons on them instead of the text. This gives all cards multi uses–one of my favorite game mechanics.

With all the extra complexity, I waited until a Tuesday to spring it on our regulars. The game went over very well. I loved it. It could become my favorite game in the growing QMG series (there is also a Peloponnesian War game).

Verdict: Hit!

 

Immortals

Immortals from Queen Games
Immortals from Queen Games

Wallenstein is a great game. It’s a Euro-war game with a cube tower instead of dice. Your armies are wooden cubes. When you fight, you drop your cubes and your opponent’s cubes into the cube tower. Some cubes will fall out and others will not. Your cubes that fall out are compared to your opponent’s that fall out. The difference are placed in the territory.

The novel combat system of Wallenstein has been adopted by other games. The combat system in End of the Triumvirate is similar. And the deduction mechanic of Mord im Arosa is not dissimilar. So when designers Mike Elliot and Dirk Henn announced a fantasy version, the gaming world took note.

Components of The Immortals
Components of The Immortals

Dusty was one of the gamers who took note. He taught Nick Sima and myself how to play a couple of Sundays ago.

And it went over like a lead balloon.

Unlike the added complexity Quartermaster General 1914 affords over its predecessors, the added complexity in The Immortals is unneeded and unwanted.

There are now two resources instead of just money. There is a divided game board: one for evil races and one for good races. And everyone controls exactly one of each. You can move between the two planes of existence if you build a portal.

Board for The Immortals
Board for The Immortals

The game board is busy. And the graphic design is less than ideal. The theme also does not shine through as much as it does in Wallenstein.

The Immortals isn’t a terrible game. It’s just an unneeded game. Wallenstein (or its Japanese themed counterpart, Shogun) are good enough.

Verdict: Flop.

 

Apocrypha

Apocrypha Adventure Game
Apocrypha Adventure Game

Apocrypha Adventure Card Game was made for people who like Pathfinder the Card Game. It’s a campaign style coop where players build a deck with certain advantages and disadvantages in an effort to defeat an AI.

Pathfinder was not my cup of tea. The idea of a campaign or legacy card game is interesting enough. But the mechanics in Pathfinder are not interesting. They are a convoluted version of Battle of Greyport–a game that is quite fun once in a while but not enough to play an entire campaign.

Dice and standees for Apocrypha
Dice and standees for Apocrypha

Our first play of Apocrypha was marred by our utter ignorance of the rules. The publisher has a how-to video. We thought we could slog our way through the game. We were wrong. After almost 2 hours, we decided to abandon our game.

Even if I knew the rules well and could play a complete game, Apocrypha just isn’t my type of game. The trick to Apocrypha isn’t trying to play  your whole hand of cards. It’s trying to use your one time use cards to maximum ability. So if you were thinking this was Dominion, you would be disappointed. But if you like Mage Knight, you might like this.

Verdict: Flop.

 

Magic Maze

Magic Maze from Gyom
Magic Maze from Gyom

Dusty introduce Jon and myself to Magic Maze a few weeks ago. Jon, who’s a theme junkie, was warned by Dusty this game would probably not be his cup of tea.

In Magic Maze, players do not control one of the adventurers. Instead, they control a certain movement direction. So anyone can move the barbarian but only one person can move him north. Players work together to move the elf, dwarf, wizard and barbarian through a shopping mall to get all the adventuring equipment they need. The game has an hourglass so players have only so long to do so.

Play through of Magic Maze
Play through of Magic Maze

Despite its weak theme, Jon liked the game. And so do I. Magic Maze could become my favorite filler. This little rascal plays in 15 minutes and offers 17 increasingly difficult scenarios.

We introduced this game to our Thursday night group as well. And it was roundly appreciated. Magic Maze is so good, it’s difficult to imagine a game collection without it. It’s good for hardcore gamers. It’s good for non-gamers. It’s fun with kids. Designer Kasper Lapp really struck gold with this one.

Verdict: HIT!

 

Century Road Spice

Century: Golem Edition
Century: Golem Edition

Steve and his wife had us over for games a few weeks ago. They taught us Century: Golem Edition. This is a reimplementation of Century: Spice Road. It’s not yet available for retail. Steve was able to get a copy at GenCon.

Players are competing to build golems in this fantasy card game. You first must acquire all the gems needed to build a golem. This is done by playing cards from your hand that either give you gems or that let you exchange gems for different gems.

Gems and cards from Century Golem
Gems and cards from Century Golem

Players have a hand of cards. They can either play a card from their hand, refresh their hand of cards, draft a card from the board or spend gems to buy a golem. You win the game by scoring points, mostly from building golems.

My wife adored the game. She said the game was very relaxing. Probably because we just played Magic Maze, a frenzied timed game. But she is right that Century is a good game. It is light enough to teach non-gamers. It could also be a good cool down game for hardcore gamers.

Verdict: HIT!

 

Stop Thief!

Stop Thief! from Restoration Games
Stop Thief! from Restoration Games

I’ve found a copy of the classic Parker Brother’s game, Stop Thief! recently. It was the second such copy that I’ve found at thrift stores in 2017. This is a nifty old game where you have an electronic device that makes sounds, giving you clues where the thief is at.

Rob Daviau has launched a company who’s goal is to make modern versions of these old games. This is one of the first games he’s restored. The electronic device is now your smartphone’s app. The artwork is updated. But the feel of the game is the same.

Game board and pawns in Stop Thief!
Game board and pawns in Stop Thief!

Because of the smartphone app, the sound quality is way better than it was in the 1979 version. When the thief moves to a door, you hear a creaky old door open. When the thief moves outside, you hear the hustle and bustle of a busy street.

The roll-and-move has been replaced with a hand of cards. This is a huge improvement. One of the cards gives you a private tip but it usually moves you only a few spaces. When you play a card, you do not get it back until you play your refresh hand card.

The dragnet tightens
The dragnet tightens

Despite its obvious improvements, Stop Thief! hasn’t been a hit. We’ve been playing it on “difficult” or “intermediate” settings. The difficult setting makes the private tip feature all but useless. And the intermediate game makes the private tip weak. We also played with the no cash option. This was objectively bad. In fact, the only good way to play Stop Thief! is to play the easy game, the way the game was originally design. It’s a simple deduction game with some press-your-luck. It doesn’t need dozens of add-ons.

Verdict: Undetermined.

 

Where every game night is a hit

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
196 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Dictator Ben

Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017, 6:00 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

 

September 2017 thrift store

It’s that time again. It’s time for our most followed column: my recent thrift store finds. I cast a wide net and rescue many endangered games. Below are the highlights from my recent endeavors. And as always, these games are available to any of our members.

 

Thrift Store Finds September 2017

 

Axis & Allies

Axis & Allies Guadalcanal
Axis & Allies Guadalcanal

Long time followers know about what Axis & Allies has meant to my gaming history. Axis & Allies is always an auto-buy when I find it at thrift stores. I can usually cobble together a full game from any thrift store find. And Axis & Allies is a great game to give to a local gamer who doesn’t know about our existence.

Axis & Allies D-Day
Axis & Allies D-Day

So you can imagine my excitement when I found not one, not two, not three but four copies of Axis & Allies! I was perusing the flea market and found Axis & Allies Guadalcanal and Axis & Allies D-Day. I found a copy of the revised edition at a local Goodwill. And I found Axis & Allies Pacific at another Goodwill.

Axis & Allies (revised)
Axis & Allies (revised)

Axis & Allies is the next step up from Risk. It’s a good gateway game to bring people into hobby. I would recommend it until your group graduates to 1754: Conquest or such.

 

Risk

Risk Legacy
Risk Legacy

Speaking of Risk, I find copies often at thrift stores. I usually just give them away to local gamers so they know about The Gaming Annex. But this past month was a marque month for finding Risk. I found not one but two copies of Risk: Legacy.

Risk Legacy city
Risk Legacy city

Risk: Legacy is the brainchild of Rob Daviau, the founder of Restoration Games. He is the architect of several legacy games with Risk: Legacy being the first.

The two copies I found had been played through, unfortunately. So I have lots of plastic army dudes!

Risk: Captain America Civil War
Risk: Captain America Civil War

Two different Risk games were available at Meijer: Star Wars and Captain America Civil War. Meijer struggled to sell these so they were put on clearance. Now the games are a bit harder to find.

I did manage to do just that. There was a $3 copy at a thrift store. It was opened but unplayed. I suppose someone was gifted this game and didn’t want it. I’m confident I can find a local person who wants this 🙂

Risk: Plants vs. Zombies
Risk: Plants vs. Zombies

Last but not least I found Risk: Plants vs. Zombies. Indeed I found two copies this month. One game was short on pieces. I thought since I found two copies I could cobble together a full game. I was able to. But there is an anomaly in publication. Some copies have gray zombies and others have purple zombies. I’m not sure why this happened. But if you need pieces to complete a copy, be warned about this!

Codenames

Codenames from Czech Games
Codenames from Czech Games

Codenames is a very popular game from a very esteemed designer. Codenames is ranked #1 on BGG for party games and #36 overall. It was designed by Vlaada Chvátil. He has four games on the Top 100 of BGG. No other designer is even close with the possible caveat of Uwe Rosenberg.

I found a neglected copy of Codenames at the Goodwill on Norton and Henry recently. The game was complete and appeared to be unplayed.

I found a home for this game recently so this game is no longer available. But don’t fret. You can get new copies for very cheap at Out of the Box or online.

 

Assassin’s Creed

Assassin's Creed
Assassin’s Creed

Board games that use video game IP’s, movie IP’s or TV show IP’s  usually are not good. This has not stopped Cryptozoic Games from trying, though. They have published Adventure Time, Archer, Attack on Titan and Batman: Arkham City.

Due to the IP’s draw, I usually pick up Cryptozoic Games from thrift stores. Their low BGG’s rating are often ignored by new gamers. And newer gamers are the ones I’m trying to reach. Even Assassin’s Creed holds a modest 5.7 on BGG.

 

Stop Thief!

Stop Thief! from MB
Stop Thief! from MB

I was flabbergasted when I found a copy of Parker Brother’s Stop Thief back in March/April. This game has been on my Holy Grail list for, well, all my life. The game is a detective/deduction game that is far superior to Clue.

Thrift Store Finds: March 2017
Stop Thief! board and detectives

This cute game comes with an electronic device that makes sounds. Based upon the sound, you can deduce where the thief is. If you figure out where he is at, you get paid. Collect enough money and you win.

I was flabbergasted for the second time this year when I found Stop Thief! again! So if you need a copy, hit me up!

 

Other Notable Games

Lionheart from Parker Brothers
Lionheart from Parker Brothers
Guillotine from Wizards of the Coast
Guillotine from Wizards of the Coast
Bandu from Milton Bradley
Bandu from Milton Bradley
Simpon's Chess Set
Simpon’s Chess Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where thrift store games are loved…

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
195 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Dictator Make Up Day

Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017, 6:00 PM
5 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

 

 

 

RPG or Board Game? Who’s to decide?

[Editor’s note: long time contributor Nick Sima has become rather enamored by the world of Terrinoth. With Fantasy Flight’s recent announcements about Runewars Miniatures Game and the new Legacy of Dragonholt, Nick’s become inspired to write about it. This will be the first in an ongoing column about Terrinoth…]

 

RPG or Board Game? Who’s to decide?

Legacy of Dragonholt
Legacy of Dragonholt

Just before Gen Con (yes, that Gen Con) there were a few announcements made by Fantasy Flight. I was all excited for what they’d drop on us and checked a couple days prior to find a little game called Legacy of Dragonholt. It’s set in the ever expanding Runebound universe and features the brand new Oracle system.

Oracle System
Oracle System

The Oracle system appears to be very much like a choose your adventure book. I’m thinking it’s akin to Tales of the Arabian Nights, but who knows? Fantasy Flight has given it no press since the initial release. As of this posting, it still reads as ‘At the Printer’ on FFG’s site. Maybe they don’t want to reveal too much of their Oracle system before the product launches.

Muskegon loves Runewars
Runewars Miniatures Game from Fantasy Flight Games

I am still quite excited at the prospect of this new game. I find the Runebound universe extremely exciting and want to see more things created in that space. My plan is to write a series of blog posts about the history of Runebound and how we got to this new and exciting game, and I’ve been doing a bit of research to get that off the ground.

Legacy of Dragonholt box
Legacy of Dragonholt box

In that research, I found that BGG put Legacy of Dragonholt in the RPGGeek side. There’s currently a back and forth (as BGG users are so wont to do) about the precedent of it being a Board game or RPG. As you’d expect there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence and conjecture, so if you’re interested in that sort of thing, check it out.

Legacy of Dragonholt is on the pending approval page for board game listings a few times now, so hopefully BGG gets its act together and puts it where it (probably) belongs.

 

If you’d like to play Battlelore or Runewars with Nick Sima or any other member of the Muskegon Area Gamers, visit us here…

 

 

SeaFall Session 4

SeaFall - Game 04

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! BOX 3 REVILED

We got another game played yesterday (1/19/2017). Took us around 2:40 to get the game fully played, a few mistakes were made (mainly on my behalf but were caught and fixed), and I lost big time. The game wasn’t nearly as close as it was on Game #3, this one had a clear winner, and a clear loser (me).

I tried to get two milestones, and a colony, due to a mistake I wasn’t able to get the first and Chris in that very same round snagged it from me, and that made it so I wouldn’t be able to get the second (Chris took it the next round), so I tried to go for a colony to set myself up for the next game, only to have Chris once again screw up my plans by ‘accidentally’ finding the Tomb of the Ancients (still a Cthulhu theme!) and ending the game. He deserves it, being last in most of the games, and overall, until that point.


Outcome

Brian – 26

  • Buildings
    • Trading Port
  • Upgrades
    • Stalwart
  • Raids = 0
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 0
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 0
    • Total Damage taken = 0
  • Island Searches = 0
    • Failed = 0
  • Uncharted Water Cards = 0
  • Treasures = 0
  • Research = 0
  • Advisors = 0
  • Colonies = 0
  • Milestones

Tasha – 46

  • Buildings
    • Gun Tower
  • Upgrades
    • Hale
    • Nimble
  • Raids = 4
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 1
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 5
  • Island Searches = 0
    • Failed = 0
  • Uncharted Water Cards = 3
  • Treasures = 6
  • Research = 0
  • Advisors = 3
  • Colonies – 0
  • Milestones
Chris – 35

  • Buildings
    • Gun Tower
  • Upgrades
    • Intrepid
  • Raids = 0
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 0
    • Total Damage taken = 3
  • Island Searches = 0
    • Failed = 0
  • Uncharted Water Cards = 0
  • Treasures = 1
  • Research = 0
  • Research = 0
  • Advisors = 3
  • Colonies = 0
  • Milestones
    • The Markets Tremble
    • Gold Beyond Measure
    • Ancient Secrets Unearthed
Brandi – 38

  • Buildings
  • Upgrades
    • Intrepid
    • Enduring
  • Raids = 0
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 0
    • Total Damage taken = 2
  • Island Searches = 1
    • Failed = 0
  • Uncharted Water Cards = 3
  • Treasures = 0
  • Research = 3
  • Advisors = 2
  • Colonies = 0
  • Milestones

Game Notes

SeaFall - Game 04This was an interesting game. I picked up the Trading Port allowing you to sell goods at +4, so 10 each, and had two people take me up on the offer to use it for one of their reputation tokens. Selling goods at 10 each is very handy, and helped Chris take ‘The Markets Tremble’ milestone (sell goods worth 30+ in one turn), then take the ‘Gold Beyond Measure’ milestone (Have 60+ gold in your vault).

That, however, made Tasha raid Chris’ vault later on and getting 19 of his gold.

Pirates attacked twice this time, attacking Tasha (person with the most gold), then attacking Chris (person with the most in their warehouse).

SeaFall - Game 04I was attacked by the ‘Sunken Ship’. In Game 3 (I think) Tasha sunk Brandi’s ship after Brandi attacked Tasha’s port. That put an X on the map where her ship sank, and with it being right at the port, it causes some issues.

I was the closest to the X (by 1 space, but farthest away by a ruler). They all incorrectly ruled that it was by space, (it was by distance, not space), so it attacked me (secretly I do agree that it should be by space, but don’t tell them). Thankfully I didn’t take any damage.

Brandi discovered another island, I think that makes 3 for her now, and 0 for everyone else.

SeaFall - Game 04 SeaFall - Game 04 SeaFall - Game 04
SeaFall - Game 04 SeaFall - Game 04

New Box

SeaFall - Game 04Look at all the goodies in the new box! We have a nice thick deck of new cards (including curses), new event cards, new rules, upgrades, buildings, and tombs!

The only things we didn’t get in this box are more treasures and advisors (thankfully not more advisors). I could have done without more rules.

The next game should be interesting with tombs and curse cards (with both of those, I am leaning more and more to thinking that Chis is correct and it is going to be a Cthulhu game).

Till next time!

 

Originally published at Iggy Games. You can follow Iggy on facebook here. Iggy is a partner of the Muskegon Area Gamers. We are glad to have his enthusiasm and his commentary.

 


 

Thrift Store Finds July 2017

It’s been some time since I posted my thrift store finds. Don’t let this hiatus lull you into thinking I’ve abandoned my post at every Goodwill in the tri-county area. There have been several good finds along with a couple of amazing finds. And, as always, these games are available for our members or readers of this blog at The Gaming Annex.

Thrift Store Finds July 2017

Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda Triangle (1976)
Bermuda Triangle (1976)

I first learned about the Bermuda Triangle in 1977. Charles Berlitz, a renowned writer of the paranormal, authored a popular book about the infamous area of the Atlantic. His work spawned a creepy episode of  In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy.

In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy
In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy

Berlitz’s book did more than spawn a TV episode though. Milton Bradley released a pick-up and deliver game called Bermuda Triangle the year after Berlitz’s book. I’ve blogged about the game in my essay about the origins of Ameritrash. It’s been a game that I’ve wanted since my childhood.

And the Goodwill in Grandville delivered! (Figuratively. I mean, they didn’t drive the game to my house).

Players must move about the eastern Caribbean, picking up goods an delivering them. Players get paid for making deliveries (total cash determines the winner). However, there are clouds forming. The area bound by Miami, San Juan and Nassau is haunted by an amorphous black fog. It’s magnetic properties screw up your navigation and cause your ships to be lost.

There's a storm abrewin'
There’s a storm abrewin’

Each player has a complement of ships. These plastic ships have a magnet on them. When the storm passes near them, the ship can be picked up. This means the ship is lost and you will have to buy a new one.

The game is beautiful for a 1970’s game. And the components are fun. I like the idea that the magnetic storm simulates the magnetic anomalies that sailors have noted in the real Bermuda Triangle. Ultimately, the roll-and-move aspect sinks this game by today’s standards. Still, I’m glad I found a copy!

A Cache of Dungeons & Dragons Books

Someone's collection of D&D books
Someone’s collection of D&D books

Several weeks ago, a follower of ours on Facebook was looking to sell some D&D books. She asked if I would post her wares on our page. I obliged. The post drew a tremendous amount of interest from the Muskegon area. Seems everyone and their brother wants some D&D books.

Joann, one of our members, really wanted those books. Unfortunately, the books sold before she could make arrangements.

I was perusing the Goodwill on Harvey Street about two weeks later. I hadn’t found any noteworthy games in some time. The shelves were filled with dreck. I walked past one of the new merchandise bins. I found six, count ’em six, D&D books! And by some serendipity, the six books matched the titles I was asked to post on Facebook a couple of weeks earlier.

The clerk rang up the books at 80 cents a pop. $5.09 later, I had a budding collection of 1st edition Dungeons & Dragons books. I was only too happy to give them to Joann who missed out on the ones being sold on our Facebook page (which were $20 each).

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest from Ravensburger
Enchanted Forest from Ravensburger

I keep finding copies of Enchanted Forest. I’m not complaining. People in our group who have kids clamor over it.

I believe I’ve found 4 copies in 2017. Two members, Holly and Jonathan, got copies to play with their families. I now have an additional copy available.

Snorta!

Snorta! from Out of the Box Games
Snorta! from Out of the Box Games

Snorta! is another great family game. The components are cute plastic animals and barns. The game play revolves around being the first to make an animal sound when a card is flipped.

I’ve found a couple copies of this in 2017 that were incomplete. To my dismay, I was not able to cobble together a complete copy with them either.

But I did recently find a bona fide complete copy. Keeping with tradition, I gave it to Holly. Her kids are going to be inundated with games if this pattern keeps up.

You’re Bluffing

You're Bluffing from Ravensburger
You’re Bluffing from Ravensburger

IfSnorta! is a good farm animal game for children then You’re Bluffing is the same for adults. You’re bluffing is farm animal auction game. You either auction off an animal and collect money or you make a blind bid against an opponent’s animal. The goal is to collect entire sets of animal so they are worth points.

I was first introduced to this game by long time member Bruce. I found a copy for myself at a thrift store copy several years ago. I loaned it to former member Charles who ended up moving to Maryland–taking You’re Bluffing with him.

Some of the cards
Some of the cards

I made a local trade to get another copy for my library. But a recent trip to one of the thrift stores on 29th Street yield some thrift store gold: a complete copy of this prized game!

Now I have an extra copy available. I believe it’s earmarked for Tasha. But if she passes on it, I’ll make it available to the general public.

Arab Israeli War

Arab-Israeli Wars from Avalon Hill
Arab-Israeli Wars from Avalon Hill

Finding Avalon Hill games at thrift stores is like grabbing the brass ring. There are two reasons for this. The first is AH games are generally good games that stand the test of time. The second is owners of AH games take care of their games so most thrift store finds will be complete.

I found a copy of Avalon Hill’s The Arab-Israeli Wars, complete and mostly unplayed. Some of the counters were unpunched. Some gamer must have bought a copy of this game hoping to find a game group with which to play it only to have it sit idle for years on his shelf. If this is the case, I have a local game group that you will want to join!

Dinosaurs of the Lost World

Dinosaurs of the Lost World from Avalon Hill
Dinosaurs of the Lost World from Avalon Hill

I’ve been wanting a copy of Dinosaurs of the Lost World from Avalon Hill for a while now. The game has two modes: family and strategy. The game has better components than most Avalon Hill games (AH was known for the quality of game play, not quality of components). And I’m a huge fan of Jurassic Park so the theme works for me.

But the price doesn’t.

Modular board of Dinosaurs of the Lost World
Modular board of Dinosaurs of the Lost World

The game goes for $70+ when you can even find a copy. I put it low on my priority list.

While making my rounds one afternoon, I saw a game with this familiar title on it. I thought, “No way! This is some similarly named game.”

But to my pleasant surprise, it was a complete copy of the Avalon Hill classic. The game is now a permanent edition to our library.

Other thrift store finds

Elude the dungeon keepers of Muskegon!
Parker Brothers’ Dungeon Dice

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Werewolf
Ultimate Werewolf

 

 

 

 

 

Stratego 4
Stratego 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where the thrifting never stops…

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
188 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Epic Games: Dune

Sunday, Aug 6, 2017, 11:00 AM
6 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

Around the world of board gaming July 2017

Lots of news to cover around the world of board gaming. We will talk about GenCon, game theory, the market outlook for Hasbro and, of course, The (New) Gaming Annex. Hope you enjoy it!

Around the World of Board Gaming July 2017

GenCon 4 day badges are sold out

GenCon logo
GenCon logo

What happens when 60,000 of your closest gaming buddies all sign up for GenCon? If you said, “GenCon sells out for the first time in its history”, you’d be correct. There are no more 4 day passes for 2017. The badges, which sell for $90, sold out this month.

This is the 50th anniversary of GenCon. To commemorate this, the officials at GenCon wanted to top all their previous attendance goals. They pulled out all the stops.

They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants

They even have a concert.

They Might Be Giants is playing at the stadium adjacent to GenCon. And GenCon goers have access to ticketing.

We should conclude that 4 day passes for next year’s GenCon will sell quickly; everyone who missed out this year will want to buy their badge early in 2018.

 

Hasbro is not a good buy

Hasbro
Hasbro

I rough up Hasbro a lot on this blog. But there is no denying that they make lots of money publishing toys and games. This is due to Hasbro’s strong performance in the market place and Mattel’s missteps.

But Hasbro reported their smallest sales in 1.5 years. This past quarter was not kind to the publisher-we-love-to-hate. Hasbro had to rely on Transformers: The Last Knight toys and Spider-Man: Homecoming action figures. And these two franchises were not up to the task. Hasbro gets 50% of its revenue from overseas. Sales in Brazil and the UK were lower than expected this quarter.

But there is no cause for long term concern. Hasbro has the rights to the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Hasbro is the publisher of choice for many Disney IP toys. Hasbro is also launching a board game delivery service this fall. So don’t panic. We will be able to use Hasbro as a punching bag for many years to come.

Game Theory in Geopolitics

North Korean military prowess
North Korean military prowess

The situation in the Korean peninsula is heating up. It’s not bad enough that the Korean War ended in 1953 with a stalemate. But 64 years later the situation is deteriorating.

The regime is run by the grandson of the dictator who precipitated the first conflict there. This new dictator, Kim Jong Un, seems insistent on demonstrating his ability to launch rockets against the US.

While this is a topic of importance, what we focus on here is gaming. And the strategists working for the defense of the USA are using game theory to flesh out a course of action. Game theory is about playing the player along with playing the game. The game here is geopolitics in the Korean peninsula. The players are North Korea, South Korea, China and the USA. And game theory assumes rational actors.

Along with NPR’s article on the subject, Project Syndicate has a good background on the subject here. The use of game theory in geopolitics is not new. The Kennedy’s used it to game out a scenario to “win” the Cuban Missile Crisis. Our current administration is doing the same with North Korea.

 

Close to Home

851 W. Laketon Avenue 49441 The Gaming Annex
The (New) Gaming Annex

So we moved.

Our new location is at 851 W. Laketon Avenue Suite A. This is near Henry Street in the city of Muskegon. The building is an office/retail site along with some industrial warehousing in the rear.

We moved from 1976 W. Sherman Boulevard due to a change in ownership in the strip mall we were renting. We were there just under five years. After a tearful goodbye, we have moved to some new digs. We had over 10 people in our group helping out moving, loading and even renting trucks to aid the move. I was overwhelmed. I’m very grateful for this gaming community.

Our new place is about 50% bigger than the old place. We now have 1,300 square feet, compared to about 800 before. We have three separate rooms which helps keep noise and distractions down. There are a two annoying things about the new place. The first is the air conditioning. The A/C is a work in process. I’m hoping that the climate will be under more control this Tuesday. The second is parking. Just ask Brandi.

Muskegon Watch Us Go
Muskegon Watch Us Go

I’m confident we can work out these bugs. I’m hopeful this new location will work out long term. The location should be conducive to recruiting too. Lots of foot traffic. And Rick Jima, one of our misanthropes, is working on getting a new $20 awning. Expect big things!

 

Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon
Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon

Speaking of new locations, our former partners, Byte Club Gaming, moved. Abruptly. Like, no fanfare or anything.

Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon is now Byte Club Gaming of Pentwater. Per their facebook and website, they are offering the same services as before, just in northern Oceana County.

We wish them the best of luck in their new location. Their new location will put them outside the scope of the Muskegon Area Gamers. But with little luck and a lot of hard work, they turn that resort town into a thriving gaming community.

Extra Life logo
Extra Life logo

I guess that makes more room for Griffin’s Rest. Speaking of which, I had the pleasure of meeting with Kiel and his partner, Dan, this month. We discussed our plans for this November’s Extra Life event. Griffin’s Rest will be having an event at their two story retail outlet on 3rd Street.

Kiel said final preparations for his store are under way. He should be open in August.

And we will be there to support!

 

To follow local news, check us out here:

 

Bring out your DM’s!

[Editor’s note: it’s time for another installment of Just in Tima with Nick Sima]

Bring out your DM’s!

 

Gloomhaven, Descent, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Zombicide… What do all of these games have in common? They’re board game versions of a tabletop RPG that miss the mark slightly. I recently received a copy of Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition Starter set so that I could run a small campaign with some friends. While I was reading up on how to run the first dungeon they scope out, I noticed a couple of tips for Dungeon Masters that linked up perfectly with a discussion Chris and I had months ago.

Gloomhaven from Cephalofair Games
Gloomhaven from Cephalofair Games

The thing that Tabletop RPG board games like Gloomhaven and Zombicide is missing is a Dungeon Master. The thing that Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Descent is missing, oddly enough, is a Dungeon Master. Sure, you’ll say that Descent has a player acting as the bad guys, but that’s not what a Dungeon Master does entirely.

The missed point in Gloomhaven is so egregious that one of our intrepid members fired the game from just one room. A really simple AI works in theory, but sooner or later a room will be encountered where it’s a logistical nightmare just to figure out what enemy does what. Balancing the checkbook has never been fun, doing it for which zombie decides to punt you over the mountains is unbearable. Zombicide masks this by just choosing yes in all columns for where zombies go. It’s ridiculous, but it’s still more tedious than is ‘good’

Star Wars Imperial Assault will hit the gaming table a lot in Muskegon
Star Wars Imperial Assault

Let’s go back to Descent and Star Wars: Imperial Assault, they both have a player operating the bad dudes. That’s good, right? Well, not really. The player running the bad guys and the players playing their hero have diametrically opposed goals. I played as the overlord in Descent for a while. I won some long odds fights from good card play and luck. This made me stronger which made it easier for me to win against my friends more and more. I got stronger and stronger and they had less and less fun. Talking with our resident GM/DM Kevin, he shared a similar experience in Star Wars: Imperial Assault. The GM having an opposite goal and benefitting from winning leads to 3-4 players having a bad time more often than not.

Muskegon loves Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

So, what do these games need to be better? I think we need a GM that wins when the players win. Chris and I discussed some viable options where the two victory conditions could be met independently such as the GM needing only to save one bad guy from a fight while the heroes running around need to loot all the treasure. It could also just as easily be set up where every time the heroes level up, the GM also gets a couple new toys. Is it more a simulation or activity than a board game at that point? Yeah, probably. Would it be more fun? Hard telling, I’ll need a big named board game developer to make it so I can find out.

 

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