Board Game Night
Monday, October 15, 2007
8:46AM - Sorry, but-
Blondiebritecake forgot I had the tentaive game night scheduled for the 20th, and posted a "haunted house night" for that evening. As we can do games anytime, I felt it was more important for the Haunted house night to go off. Therefore, the next BGN will be postponed until November. I'll let you know the next tenative date as it comes up.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Someone once told me there are two kinds of games: The kind you play to win, and the kind you play just to play. Betrayal at House on the Hill definitely falls into the latter camp. Supposedly, you need three to six players to play, but you can play with two if each player takes two or three investigators; when the Haunt is revealed (see below), the player who owns the character who is the traitor surrenders control of the other explorers to the other player.
Betrayal takes a look at the genre of B-grade Horror Films, and turns it into a game which is surprisingly fun and (usually) quick to play, assuming you can deal with the fact that there are errors in this game . . . and there is a lot of them (we'll get to that later, though).
To start with, the game was released by Avalon Hill at a price tag of about $40. (I found mine at Toys'R Us on clearance for $20). It claims it is a strategy game (it actually isn't - there is far too much luck and chance at work here to even try to claim that title) on the back of the box, and it also boasts about the game having 200 pieces. Personally, I love fiddly bits in a game, so this is no exception. The box has a decent amount of weight to it, so I figured it would be nice and picked it up.
The contents: In this game you get eight special dice, each having two blank sides, two sides with one pip and two sides with two pips, a stack of room tiles, One starting Hallway tile, six double sided character cards (for twelve characters total), Clips for the characters and turn marker slide, a Turn marker slide, three decks of cards (Item, Event, and Omen), a few sheets of counters, A cardstock counter trap which nestles in the bottom of the box, Six Plastic Investigator miniatures, Rules, the Traitor's Tome Book, and the Investigators Tome Book. Anything made of Card stock comes in sheets which need to be (Carefully!) punched out.
Overall, the contents look pretty good. The cardstock for the tiles and counters is decently heavy, The art on the Rooms tiles is pretty good, in a slightly weird cartoonish style, The cards have nice artwork done in sepia tones and are of decent stock, and the character cards have a fun little picture of each of the characters on them which matches the color of the miniature that player uses. The miniatures look decent, and the Investigator and Traitor's tome books appear to be well laid out.
Here's where I have my first gripe with this game. Out of a couple hundred tokens, only about ten or so of them (The Master Monster Tokens) have any artwork on them at all. The rest are all (Very!) loosely color coded by species. For instance, Humanoid monster tokens tend to be red. The tokens just have a color and the name of the monster written on it in white, which can make it damn near impossible to find a specific token in the middle of a game, even if you have all the tokens divided into their proper trays. The cardstock trays which come with the game BTW, are near useless for storing things, as things tend to shift underneath the dividers which don't fit snugly against the floor of the tray. If the tokens tended to be more generic, such as the ones presented in "When Darkness Comes", this probably wouldn't have been as much of a problem, but due to the sheer amonut of tokens without artwork, it makes it hard to find specific pieces. (I have jokingly heard trying to find the pieces referred to as "The Lookening". :) )
There is also a gripe with the Traitor's Tome and the Investigators Tome, which is that they are full of errata, enough so that they have corrected PDF files of both books in their entirety on the Avalon Hill website. For a game where these books are so critical, this is quite simply an unacceptable amount of errata. As a secondary note, when we were playing a scenario, the Traitor realized that four of the Scenarios in the Traitor's Tome simple were missing from my copy. Those four pages were simply not in the book. I strongly urge anyone who buys a copy, do your self a favor and download the Revised Traitor's Tome and Investigator's Tome from the website.
One other minor gripe is the Underground Lake tile. On the back of each tile, there is a picture of the house showing what floor or floors that room can be found on. The UNDERGROUND Lake shows that it can be found on the UPPER STORY of all places. (The suggested Fix: If you uncover the Lake, you immeiately plunge to the basement through some rotting floorboards, ending up in . . . The Underground Lake.)
I know these probably are just minor Gripes, but there are enough that it is a concern, especially for a game with a $40 recommended price tag. Now, with all the bad stuff out of the way, let me say that despite the game's flaws, it is a very fun, lighthearted, easy to teach and play game.
Basic play goes like this: Each player takes a character and for some reason, is exploring the creepy old house. The Character (Not Player) with the most recent birthday goes first, and from there, play procedes clockwise. Each character has four values on their card: 2 are physical (Speed and Might), 2 are Mental (Knowledge and Sanity). Cards, events, and Combat will raise or lower these values throughout the game. When you take physical damage, you may lower either the speed or might stats. When you take mental damage, the knowledge or sanity can be reduced. All of these stats have a skull at the lowest point. If any of these stats is reduced to the skull your character dies or goes insane and is (usually) out of the game.
However, there's a catch: Just like the old B-Horror films, the main characters can't die until the end of the film, so the game is divided into two parts: The Exploration phase of the game, and the Haunt Phase of the game. If a stat on a character ever hits a skull in the first part of the game, it merely remains at the stat just above the skull.
The exploration phase is fairly straightforward. You can move as many Tiles as your speed value's maximum. If you want to explore a room, you move through a door with nothing connecting to it, and draw a room for the appropriate floor from the tile pile, and place it, connecting rooms door to door. You then move into that room. If there is no symbol in that room, you may, if you wish, continue moving. If there is a symbol, you must end your movement and draw a card which matches the appropriate symbol. There are three symbols, each of which corrisponds to one of the three decks of cards.
The first are items, which give you items to strengthen your team for the coming battle. The second deck you may be prompted to draw from, is the events deck which has strange encounters you have as you explore the mansion. Lastly, there are the Omens. Omens function either as an encounter or as a item, but when you draw an omen card, you also make a "haunt" roll. You roll 6 dice, and if the result of pips shown are under the amount of omen cards which have been drawn before this one, the second phase of the game begins: The Haunt.
When the Haunt begins, the game really begins to show it's teeth. First, a chart cross-refrencing which omen card was drawn and what room it was drawn in is consulted. The chart names a scenario number which will be played, and which player "Betrays" the other players. The game is then put on pause for a few moments, as the "Betrayer" takes the Traitor's Tome and goes into another room to read the scenario indicated, and one of the investigators takes the Investigator's Tome, and reads it to the rest of the investigators. They then discuss how to best accomplish the goals set forth by the scenario. While both sides have a general idea of what the other side is up to, the specifics and means of the other side accomplishing their goal is often sketchy at best, meaning the other team may not know critical information which could keep their side alive.
After the scenario has been read and understood by all, and the investigators have settled upon their plan, the traitor is informed he can rejoin the game, and play continues, but from this moment on, characters can die.
The traitor is considered victorious if his or her goals are accomplished, even if he or she dies in the attempt. An investigator is victorious if the traitor's scheme is foiled and the investigator has lived to the end of the game.
Usually, the climax is over fairly quickly; the Haunt is usually only about a third as long as the rest of the game, but I have played one where the haunt was as long a full regular game of this, but this is fairly atypical.
The scenarios in this game are not evenly balanced; in most cases, the Traitor seems to have the advantage, but I have seen the investigators win. There are 50 different scenarios to work your way through, so the replay valuse is pretty high. If you are frustrated by too much depending on the turn of a card or the roll of a die, though, this may not be the game for you.
Overall: I give this game a solid eight. I would give it an 8.5, but the sheer amount of errata on things which are integral to the game simply is a very large amount, especuially at it's base price. It seems to beg for an expansion, but I doubt any are forthcoming from Avalon Hill (the rumour is that they are going return their wargaming roots, dropping all games except for the Risk and Axis and Allies Lines), which is a real shame.
What I would love to see is another company buy the rights for this game, see the problems fixed, and the game cleaned up and some expansions put out for it. Overall, there is quite a bit of Bang for your buck here, but it could be even more, I think.
That being said, if you have a group that isn't really concerned about winning or losing, and are willing to do some limited roleplaying, this game can be a blast despite it's numerous problems. If you are looking for a good Halloween game to keep you busy for a few hours, this could be the one! :)
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
4:21PM - Review #1: Hex Hex
I just thought I'd give a quick review to a game I actually like quite a bit, which I haven't had that much of a chance to play. Since Halloween is coming up, I thought that this month I'd review some games which fit the bill. This is a quick "filler" game called Hex Hex, and Here's the lowdown:
It's a card game for 3-6 players (it's not possible to play with two, so don't even try it), although I personally feel it plays better with at least five, although four isn't bad.
The games comes with a deck of Cards, 6 "Voice" cards, which are used to keep track of your score, (although you could use counters or pen and paper if you prefer), six "Voice" counters to use with your "Voice" cards and twelve "Hex" counters. This all comes in a rather thin cardboard sleeve, which really isn't ideal for carrying, as it will bulge and things will not settle back in correctly after you have punched out the counters. I transfered mine into heavy plastic case, and it seems to work just fine. I lso think you are better off getting rid of the "Voice" counters and just using Glass Beads, as they tend to bleed into and slide around on the voice cards.
The artwork, or perhaps layout is a better term in this case on the cards is rather elegant. Instead of getting pictures of witches slinging spells at each other, the cards are black with a corrisponding alchemical symbol in gold underneath the name, and a description of what the card does. The result is that the cards look elegant and clutter free.
The basic premise of the game is that you are one of a coven of witches who are fighting for leadership, and the way to get that leadership is to have the loudest voice at the end of a ritual combat. The way this combat is conducted is by a witch casting a Hex at another witch, who then deflects it at another witch, and so forth until a witch is unable to deflect it anymore, at which point the round ends.
The number of witches playing the game + 1 = the amount of rounds which are played in the game.
The game plays fairly quickly and is fairly simple and intuitive. Each player is dealt five cards. At the beginning of the round, if any of your cards instructs you to play them befoe the round begins, you immediately do so. Then, a player casts a Hex at another (passes another player the Hex Token) and the game begins. That player then plays one of the cards from their hand to deflect the token (Turn Aside Left, Pass Across, etc.) to another party. Once a card is played, it immediately goes to the discard pile, and is rarely replaced. If you ever get the hex and have no cards you can use to get rid of it, you lose one voice, the person who gave you the Hex gains one voice, and the round ends if that is the Last Hex in play.
There are special cards which allow one to split the Hex, increase the power of the Hex to take off more points of Voice when it gets passed to someone and so forth, as well as appropriate Hex tokens. There are also a few special cards in the deck like Detonate (which makes the Hex go off immediately), Compulsions, which make the Hex get passed only in one direction, and of course, Hex Hex, which curses all the cards in the deck, and after it is played, the last player to drop the cards from their hand gets Hexed and the round immediately ends, regardless of if there are still hexes in play.
At the end of the game, the player with the most voice wins. The gameplay is simple and involves a fair amount of luck, although a little strategy definitely plays into it as well. The cards help prevent any one player from getting ganged up, so no one is going to feel "picked on", as well.
While it is definitely a "filler game", it is light enough most non-gamers will play it, and there is quite a bit of appeal here for people who are a little more hardcore about their gaming as well. The occult themes are not overly heavy, so it really shouldn't offend anyone, and it plays in a lot of ways like a card game version of "Pass the Hot Potato". And personally, I love the idea that you can take a game that everyone knows and put a few fresh new spins on it, and get a fresh new game.
I recommend you give this game a try if you can find it. I give it a score of 8 out of 10. :)
I'd definitely reccommend this one
O.K. Here's the Deal: I'm going to try to do a "Board Game Night Special Edition" on October 20th at our place, provided that Skulde13 is okay with this (I still need to check). This BGN is in honor of my favorite holiday, Hallowe'en, so assume that it begins at Dusk, And here's the Caveat: All games are welcome, if and only if, they have a Horror, Mystery or Halloween theme.
Please let me know if you are interested in coming, so I can get together the appropriate amount of snackage.
Also, in somewhat related news, I am going to try to Start reviewing games and posting them here as I get the time.
"For a second there, I lost myslef, I lost myself, . . ."
-Radiohead, "Karma Police"
Friday, January 12, 2007
2:41PM - HEROSCAPE
I have picked up some of the HEROSCAPE boardgame sets, and I am itching to give them a try! Is anyone up for a game? I know Scott has a coppy.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Hey, Limiter, this one is right up your alley. (anyone who is going to see him in the near future, point this out to him, since I don't think he has much access to the net)
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
4:58AM - LJ Name Question . . .
I have just recieved a request by abracabuddha to join this group. Does anyone know who abracabuddha is; as I have never seen this name even responding to anybody I know's posts?
I won't approve membership in the community until I have an idea who this person is. Thanks!
Monday, August 21, 2006
September 16th! For more info...
Thursday, August 10, 2006
9:42PM - Puzzling Wine Puzzle
(x-posted from my journal)
I can totally see one of you getting this for the next BoardGameNight. ;P
Don't Break the Bottle: Make Them Dance for their Dinner, Too
Don't Break the Bottle is designed to exasperate your guests, making them work for their opportunity to imbibe. It fits on any standard wine bottle, and nobody drinks until that puzzle is solved, one way or another.
Please, don't invite me to any parties where I must somehow solve a puzzle to get to the precious wine. Only the most sadistic hosts would do such a thing. Maybe this puzzle's alternate purpose would be to serve as a sobriety test, to be placed on bottle number three...?
– Charlie White
Don't Break the Bottle: sobering parties everywhere [Sci Fi Tech]
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
9:55AM - September Board Game Night
OK...I'm taking a page from Limiter's book...we need BGN back. August is like...Birthdayland! No time for gaming. So...we'll host the next BGN in September. This will give limiter enough time to recover from surprising his wife. :)
Next Board Game Night:
Saturday, September 16th.
Starting 5pm and ending whenever somebody wins!
506 W. Madison
Oak Park, IL
FYI: We own a dog...and air filtration.
We're at Madison and East in Oak Park. Park at the Jewel.
List of Games I have...from memory: Monopoly...two versions. Scrabble. Clue. Careers. Risk. Axis and Allies. Stratego. Stratego Legends. Scattergories. Cranium. Checkers, chess, backgammon, Apples to Apples, Elixir, Ming (maj jhong), poker chips and cards...a bunch of little card games like Mille Bourne and Uno...Twister ;)...and other stuff I'm forgetting.
I'll set up my dining room table...and an extra card table in the living room...so we can run several games at once.
Notice: Board Game Night is turning into a bit of a party. Parties all have their place...so does socialization...but if you're going to come...be prepared to actually play something. *gasp* And it's BYOB if you want it...snackies will be provided. We live near a zillion fast food places...so if snackies aren't enough...dinner is easy to find.
Hope to see you there.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Quick reminder Board Game night this Satueday! In Elmhurst
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
1:34PM - Sorry-
I haven't been posting like I should. Davimye has April covered, so who wants to volunteer for May, June and July? I'd like to try to get a schedule up and going. We can probably host June or July, If there are no takers for one of those months.
Friday, March 31, 2006
8:53AM - April 15
Hello all, it’s an official, unofficial Board game night/ open house/ pot luck/ birthday get together on Saturday April 15. There may be a few more people then normal but I keep plenty of room open or Gaming. Hey it's my birthday and I want to do some gaming. I have almost all of the Munchkin games and as the night goes on I have a cool game Limiter can testify to, it a DVD board game called Atmosphere. Where you play in a dark room and you play with the DVD host the Gate Keeper.
Friday, March 24, 2006
9:15AM - How about this?
Hello Fellow Board gamers,
I have a suggestion and would like your feed back. I'm thinking of combing Board game night with my Birthday get together. Another fellow Board game shares my birthday ( you know who you are :) ) so I’m pushing back my get together until April the 15th. My home is big enough that those that want to game can and there is plenty of space that those that don't can be else ware. It could be a good way to get a few more people involved in Boardman night and it could make Apples to Apples insane. I'm thing of making it a pot luck dinner and game night. I want to run it by you guy first before I make a general post. Either way keep the 15th open. Thoughts?
Thursday, March 23, 2006
2:33PM - Patriot Act, the boardgame
So if I printed this out, would people be interested in playing it at the next BGN? For that matter, when is the next BGN?
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
4:23PM - BGN - regrouping
To sum up where plans for last BGN stood (as per: http://community.livejournal.com/boardgamenight/6358.html)
davimye can host whenever
starkraving_mad and elayla can host whenever
crainefish would prefer April or later
seamusmerlin can host when he gets settled in his new place
So just to get the ball rolling, I'll be glad to host week-end of April Sat 15th, or May Sat 2nd. How do these two dates work for people?
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
1:09PM - For next BGN?
Friday, January 13, 2006
1:14PM - New Schedule
We need to set up a new schedule for the coming few months. Whose ggod to host when? Also, if you like to hear feedback about games, I recommend www.boardgamegeek.com you'll find lots of interesting games and feedback here.
Time to break out those games you got for Christmas!!!!! :)
Monday, September 19, 2005
OK. We're planning on hosting the November Board Game Night. Saturday, November 5th. Crainefish is hosting October...see her post.
The obligatory FYI. November 5th also happens to be my birthday. Come sing and eat cake and all of that crap. Dinner will be provided for those who arrive between 6 and 7pm. But please...don't get me anything. Just show up. (We are living in a material world...and I am not a material girl. But if you must get me something...bring beer. Or liquor. Sam knows my fav's.)
And this also prevents Skulde from whining at me that I never celebrate my birthday.
506 W. Madison
Oak Park, IL
708-383-6320 or my cellphone 708-917-7727
Most of y'all have been here before...but if not...we're on Madison between Ridgeland and East Avenue. There's a Jewel two doors down. Despite the towing signs warning against late night parking...I haven't seen a tow truck in that lot since 1982...when my Aunt's Cutlass threw a rod in the parking lot. So park away.
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