Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kickin' doors and taking loot (Munchkin)

You wander into the dungeon, chainsaw in hand, allies by your side.  You check your equipment, flasks at the ready, as you approach the next room.  Who knows what you will encounter next?  It could be a fearsome dragon, or an evil sentient gazebo.  Maybe all that's in there is a curse.  Maybe you will have to ask for help from your 'friends', or have the chance to stab them in the back.  In order to find out, you raise your foot, kick down the door, and enter the world of Munchkin.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Munchkin is a card game created by Steve Jackson, (loosely) based on D&D, and the concept of the "Munchkin", or the player who will bend, break, and subvert the spirit and rules of the game in order to win. A lot of the rules are deliberately vague to play up the idea of discussion and drama in the game.  Each player takes the role of an adventurer, travelling through a dungeon.  Each player begins at level 1, and their own gender.  You win when you advance to level 10.  Turn order is decided by, to quote the rule booklet "rolling the dice and arguing about the results."

TYPES OF CARDS:  Before we go too much into gameplay, it's important to note the types of cards:

  • Curses- These generally have a negative effect, like losing an item or a class.
  • Monsters- By fighting one of these, you will increase your level and gain treasure cards.  This is the only way (save some special cards) to advance from level 9 to 10.  
  • Treasure-Cards with the treasure chest on the back are "treasure" cards (who knew?), and can have various effects.  Some will allow you to go up a level.  Some allow you to increase your power level by gaining equipment, or a quick buff for one turn.  Note that all equipment must be played logically (1 head, 2 hands, 1 body, 2 feet, and limited to one big item.)
  • Class/Race-These cards allow you to become a specific class (wizard, thief, etc) or race (halfling, dwarf, etc.) with their own special effects.  You are generally only allowed 1 class and race per player.  Some other cards are also limited to certain classes/races, whereas some cards prevent certain classes/races from playing them.

You are allowed to play any card during your turn, provided it's both legal to do so, and it is outside of combat.

TURN PHASE:  Once the first player has been decided, that player begins by "kicking down the door."  This means that the player draws a door card (it's easy, the one with a door on the back) face-up.  If it's a curse, it is resolved immediately.  If you draw a creature, combat begins.  Otherwise, place the card into your hand, and the second phase begins.  In this phase, you are allowed to "look for trouble" by playing a monster from your hand and fighting them.  If you can't, or don't want to, then you "loot the room" by drawing another door card, this time face-down so the other players don't see it, and it goes straight into your hand.

COMBAT:  When you kick down the door and see a creature, or look for trouble, combat begins. Each monster has a level, and can only be defeated by having your level plus your items enhancement (also called combat power) beat that creatures level.  Once all equipment and levels have been determined, each player is allowed to play one-shot items or curses, to help or hinder the player.  If the player cannot defeat the monster, he is allowed to ask for help from any other player, but only one (the rooms are kinda small, apparently).  Any player can offer for help for any service (bound by honor), item/equipment, or any amount of treasure.  They can NOT, however, offer an increase of level.  Any level gained is, unless stated otherwise, specifically for the player  If help is accepted, the helping player's fighting's combat power is added to the original players combat power.  If the total number is higher, and no more cards are played, you take or divvy up (if you had help) the treasure cards accordingly, and gain 1 level (or 2, if the monster says to).

BAD STUFF:  If you cannot defeat the monster, you are defeated and must roll (this apply's to both players if being helped).  If you roll a 5 or 6, you run away, and nothing happens.  However, if you do not, you must apply the Bad Stuff effect from the monster card.  If you Die, however, you lose all equipment.  Your level, race, and class cards, as well as any curses still in effect, stay.  Your hand is then revealed, and the highest level character (roll to determine ties), takes one card, then the second highest, until all players obtain one card.  Any left are discarded.  Dead characters cannot gain levels, cards, or win the game.  Once the next player begins their turn, you are allowed to help (think of it as a new character with the previous level, class, and race) and receive new cards.  On your next turn, you draw four door and four treasure cards, and play resumes.

SELLING, TRADING, CHARITY:  You can sell your treasure cards (each has a value).  If you sell a total of 1000 gold, you are allowed to go up a level (this cannot be the winning level).  During your turn, you can also trade any of your treasure with any other players treasure.  Each player is limited to five cards in their hand at the end of their turn.  If you have more that you cannot or don't play, give the excess cards to the player with the lowest Level. If players are tied for lowest, divide the cards as evenly as possible.  However, If you are the lowest or are tied for lowest, they are just discarded.

SPECIAL RULES:  This is where the game gets crazy;

  • Cheat: This card allows you to play any equipment regardless of any other equipment or restriction (that's right, three weapon wielding is possible)
  • Half-breed/Super Munchkin: The half breed allows you to either ignore any negatives against your race (any creatures that get bonuses or weapon restriction from your race), or give you a second race.  The same effect applies for Super Munchkin to classes
  • Product rules:  Some of Steve Jackson's products give you an additional effect, such as the Munchkin Bobblehead allows you to re-roll one dice roll if it's in the room.  The game manual itself has links to more rules, go check them out!

CONCLUSION:  Hoo boy, this post took up almost as much time as one of these games.  Seriously, though, the games can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 2+ hours (and yes, there's a card out there which allows you to end the game if that's the case).  The big thing about this game is that it's very house rules enforced.  There's even a rule that says to argue about the rules, and the owner has the last say.  The cards themselves are crazy (when was the last time you saw a dwarf with an eleven foot pole fighting a giant bunny).  If you're in the mood for a tabletop RPG, but don't have the time or energy to host it, try this game out.  Simple, regardless of the wall of text seems to say.  Not to mention there's about a few hundred versions to try out.  My favorites are C'thulhu Munchkin and Adventure Time Munchkin.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

This game is just so pretty! (Dixit)

Upon entering, your mind is overwhelmed with thoughts, dreams, ideas.  You step closer to one of these paintings.  A boy is perched on a ladder, painting the sky with clouds shaped like birds.  The next one, a field of umbrellas below, a clear sky with the sun on top.  Two ants are fighting on a stack of flat yellow circles.  Are those pancakes or coins?  Why are they fighting?  But these aren't  the real question.  What do you think it is, and how do you express it?  This, my friends, is Dixit.

GAME DESCRIPTION: Dixit is a 3-6 player game about art, interpretation, and knowing your opponent. Each player has a set of cards, each based in or on Surrealism.  One player is the storyteller, and places one of these cards from their hand face down.  That players then says some word, phrase, reference, or makes some noise that informs the other players of the card they played.  Then, each other player places one of their cards face-down that, as closely as possible, matches the description of the card played.

VOTING: Once all the cards are gathered and shuffled by the storyteller, they are put out in a row, face-up.  Every player then votes for one of the cards they think the storyteller placed.  Once all votes are in, each player that guessed correctly moves their bunny token forward two spaces, and the storyteller moves the amount of spaces equal to the number of votes.  Everyone else then moves equal to the amount of votes for their card.  If nobody votes for the storytellers card, or every player does, then every player will move forward 2 spaces, except for the storyteller.  The winner is whoever is in the lead by the time any player cannot draw back up to six cards

CONCLUSION:  I love this game.  I mean LOVE this game.  It allows for a lot of interaction with everyone.  The card art is some of the best I've ever seen in my life.  The gameplay is fluid, solid, and fun.  The storytelling aspect is probably the best part, with really weird plays going on (one of my friends made a noise that I can only say the Dodo's must've once made).
It's a little difficult to win if you're playing with a group that knows each other well, or has played this a lot.  It's a great game for ice-breaking, as it lets people know what kind of a person you are, and what everyone else is.  It is just so good, and with a bunch of expansion packs and limitless story telling, it's just a ton of fun,

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

From Sheep to Stone to Wheat to Wood (Settlers of Catan)

Welcome to the Island of Catan, home to...well, nothing yet.  This is where you come in.  You are here to establish a new settlement on this empty island, alongside and against fellow entrepreneurs.  But be warned, thieves lurk around every corner, waiting to steal your sheep.  Establish a base, build an army, make life successful for all, and some day you may become ruler of this island!

GAME DESCRIPTION: A 2-4 player board game, each player attempts to create roads, settlements, towns, and armies to gather "victory points", or VP.  The game begins by each player placing 2 settlements, 1 while going around once clockwise, then the 2nd while going counter-clockwise, starting with the last player to place their first one.

RESOURCES:  There are 5 resources:  Brick, Ore, Wool. Grain, and Lumber.  All are used to buy roads and new settlements, upgrade settlements to cities, or obtain resource cards.

ROADS/SETTLEMENTS:  These are the meat of the game. Each tile has a number printed in the middle that determines when a particular resource is gathered.  At the start of each turn, the player rolls the dice.  When a player has a settlement located next to the number rolled, they obtain the resource from that location.  Roads are used to extend your area of control, allowing you to build more settlements elsewhere.  You may only build roads off of settlements, and settlements off of roads

TRADING:  During a players turn, they may offer trades to any other player for what seems fair or needed to both sides, or trade in 4 of one type of resource for 1 of any other type.  At the boarders of the map are "Port towns".  Once a player has a settlement located on one of those port towns, they can either trade 3 of any one kind type of resource for 1, or 2 of one specific type for any 1 resource of the players choice, depending on which port the player has.

THIEF:  When a "Knight" Resource card is played, or a 7 is rolled, every player with more than 7 resources in their hand must discard half their hand.  In addition, the player who rolled it places it on top of any number they choose.  If their is a settlement connected to that number, that player loses one of their resources to the roller.  And, until a Knight is player, or a 7 is rolled, no players are allowed to gain any resource when that number is rolled.

RESOURCE CARDS: These cards have varying effects, such as automatically gaining one VP, pushing you to victory, or gaining a knight, allowing you to move the thief token and steal one players card.  But you must wait one turn after purchasing any of these cards before you can play them.  Resource cards must stay in front of the player until the end of the game, as they are a permanent effect.

Related image

VICTORY POINTS:  The aim of the game is to get to 10 VP.  The player who has the most knights in front of them at any point will obtain the "Largest Army" card, granting them 1 VP. The person whose has the longest unbroken road tokens in a row also gains 1 VP, and the "Longest Road" card.

CONCLUSION:  It's hard.  This game requires a lot of time, patience, and planning.  The dice element of this game makes it so that it is easy to hardly get any of a particular kind of resource, and an overabundance of another.  On top of that, it is fairly easy to forget certain rules due to the rather large abundance of them.  Even with these flaws, the game does make it so that no one person can ever get too far ahead of the rest.  The dice element I called out also makes it so that even the player in last can still have a strong chance of winning.  It's a great game for an intense, small group game night. But I think I'll pass on playing for a while.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Warning: Contents may be dirty. Fling with care. (Poo: The Card Game)

Welcome to the city zoo.  You are a recently discovered monkey, taken to fill the quota and show off your stuff.  During the day, you are a hit.  The kids love you, and you even manage to take some man's hat.  You really look rather dapper.  But now it's night.  The zoo lights have come on.  The keeper is setting up the sprinklers and watering the plants.  You think you hear the faint purr of a tiger.  Something sticky hits you in the back of the head, cold and sticky.  You heard about this from the other apes.  This is the battle of the night, the fight for dominance. Poo.

GAME DESCRIPTION: Poo is a card game for 2-8 players, where you take the role of a monkey in the zoo, fighting other monkeys (players) by covering them with, you guessed it, poo.  This is a fairly short game, taking anywhere from 10-20 minutes.  Each turn, you are allowed to play one of 5 types of cards: Poo, Special Poo,  Defense/Mishap, Clean, and Event.  A player is taken out when they have a total of 15 poo flung at them.

  • Poo: The base cards, used to fling a set amount of poo to one player 
  • Special Poo: These also fling poo, but have an added effect, such as targeting multiple players.
  • Defense/Mishap: The only cards you can play on an opponents turn, these are used to block, redirect, or affect any poo cards flung.
  • Clean: Remove any poo that has been flung from you.
  • Event: These have the most unique effects.  They can do anything from blocking all players from attacking, to cleaning up a player on their turn, to allowing you to attack when you lose.
THE GOLDEN BANANA: This is a special card taken out at the beginning.  The first (or second, according to the amount of players) player to be covered in poo and taken out of the game will gain the Golden Banana.  This gives that player the chance to keep playing, but by starting out with 8 poo already on them

CONCLUSION: If you need a quick game with a small group of friends, this might just be the game for you.  Simple, easy to learn mechanics on top of short gameplay and a ridiculous setting make this game one of the funnest, funniest games I've played.  Include the ability to make the game end in a tie, and you'll find it hard to not want to come back again and again.