Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Welcome to the Enrichment Testing Center. There will be cake. (Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game)

Welcome to Aperture Laboratories Enrichment Testing Center.  I am your host and overseer, GLAdOS, here to test you and your acquisition of cake in the Enrichment Testing Center.  Please note that the rooms of the Aperture Laboratories Enrichment Testing Center are constantly moving due to the furnace being broken.  We would not want all that lovely cake you smuggled in to be burned, now would we?

BACKGROUND:  For those few not in the know, Portal is a video game released by Valve in October 2007.  This, along with their other main franchises (e.g. Half Life) and the release of the Steam platform, brought huge success, and a sequel in April of 2011, Portal 2.  These games have been reviewed highly due to the innovation of game play featuring the Portal Gun, a device that generates *cough* portals.  This allows for 3-D puzzle solving that changed the way we play games. The question on everyone's mind is, does this game do the same?

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Taking place in Aperture Laboratories, you must attempt to gather the most amount cake into the laboratory before the game ends.  Each player may move any amount of their test subject in one room into any adjacent room during their turn. At the end of each turn, the board will change, as the current player must move one of the rooms at the end of the lab into the new board.  If there are any test subjects in the moving room, they are returned to their original player or players, and the one with the most test subjects gets the bonus effect from that room.  But all cake in the room that moved, then that cake will go into the Incinerator, never to be used again.

APERTURE/CHARACTER CARDS: The first real game changer are the cards.  Each player is dealt 3 cards, which can cause various effects such as moving test subjects or cake, to bringing in and moving the Companion Cube or the Turret.  The back of each card contains a character from the series, such as Chell, the Cake Core, or Wheatley.  When an Aperture card is played, the Character card comes into play, giving every player a new rule to follow, like cake will no longer go into the Incinerator when it is moved from the Lab.

COMPANION CUBE AND TURRET: The other thing that makes this game unique are the Companion Cube and Turret tokens.  The Companion Cube is merely a hindrance, as it can prevent any player from getting the bonus effect from the shifting room at the end.  The Turret is more threatening, for if any test subjects move into the room containing the Turret, or the Turret is moved into an occupied room, all test subjects die, returning them to the player.

CONCLUSION:  This game is pretty fun, but limited movement and constant delays from the cards cause the game to feel really slow.  I would recommend this game if you have at least 2 other friends to play with, and enjoy very methodical plays.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Who's the traitor? (Betrayal at House on the Hill)

You and your friends walk up the to the old abandoned house on the hill.  It was always rumoured to be haunted, but ghosts don't exist, right?  As you and your friends enter the entrance hall, the door slams shut, locking itself.  It's then you realize, all of your friends are stuck here, and you need to watch out one of for your friends Betrayal at the House on the Hill.

GAME DESCRIPTION: Betrayal at House on the Hill is a strategy role playing game.  Taking the role of one of six explorers, you and a small band of friends must explore the haunted manor.  However, the rooms are never the same.  Rooms are drawn from a stack of 'cards', so that door you open may end up being a Larder, a pentagram chamber, or a game room.  There are three floors, and some rooms are exclusive to certain floors.

SET-UP:  There are 6 characters to choose from.  Each player takes one of the character tokens and matching character board.  Then, place the Starting Basement, Ground Floor, and Top Floor face-up.  Shuffle the rest of the floors together.

CHARACTERS: Each of the 6 character has 4 stats, with differing strengths and weaknesses.  For example, Ox starts out with higher strength than any other character, but lower sanity than anyone.  The Professor has fairly low speed, but high Intelligence.  Each character also has a counterpart to choose from:  Ox can be replaced with "Flash", and gypsy Madame Zostra can be played instead of Spanish beauty Vivian Lopez.

ROOM TILES: As you travel into each room, one of three things may happen;  You may have an event exclusive to that room, you may find an item, or a dread omen may occur.

  • EVENT:  You can encounter ghosts, hidden rooms, or even your future self.  Each event requires you to either roll to fulfill a certain event, or follow a certain task
  • ITEM: You may find any number of healthful items that will increase one of your stats
  • OMEN: This is similar to Items squares, but this adds one new task.  Each time you take an omen, you make a roll to see if the traitor is revealed.

THE TRAITOR:  If you roll and fail the Omen roll, the traitor is revealed.  Until this time, no character can die.  But, now the rules have changed.  According to the omen discovered and the room it was discovered in, the traitor is discovered.  At this point, the traitor plays against the rest of the players to determine the winner, with over 60 different scenarios and even more win conditions.

CONCLUSION: This is one of those games that you can easily lose yourself into the characters of the game, and the conversations of the friends.  However, this is one of those games that can take from thirty minutes to a good solid couple hours or longer.  Then, when the Traitor is discovered, the board may be set up in such a way that the Traitor or the Heroes lose quickly without a way of countering.  Still, if solid, long RPG's are your cup of tea, then I would highly recommend Betrayal at House on the Hill.  Win or lose, the story you discover is worth your time.

The clock is ticking, the omens being found.  Will the snake god Ouroborous devour everyone? Will cannibals eat your friends?  Or will Hell itself  envelop the house and you with it? You'll find out soon enough when you discover the Betrayal at House on the Hill?