Monthly Archives: March 2018

Bloc by Bloc

Last class period I played a game Bloc by Bloc in which each player represents a group such as workers, prisoners, students, and neighbors. We played a completely cooperative version where we all were working together. The board is a 5×5 grid of tiles, where some represent one of the groups players can choose from and some are neutral. A specific group can decide to build an occupation on a tile that is denoted to their group and anyone can build on a neutral tile. The goal of the game was to build occupations on specific spaces where the police were stationed. On each turn a player was allowed to roll dice and based on their dice they have options. Any die amount allows a player to move across the board as long as the path isn’t blocked. In order to build an occupation in a tile, the die you roll must be equal to or higher than the number on the tile. There are a few other options that you can choose to do like loot a store in a specific tile. After each turn a player must pick up a police ops card that can do a few things like move the police or add extra police into the game. A night constitutes each player taking a turn, once that happens the police take action. There are 8 nights total for the game in which the group can win or lose. There are a few more intricacies within the game that would take too long to explain, but the general goal is for the players to build occupations on the tiles where the police are by defeating the police during their turn.

Within many games where they are brand new to me and complicated, the most difficult task I find is coming with a strategy. When I was given all of my materials and had the rules explained to me, I understood what my goal was, but I had no idea how to get there. On my first turn I had no idea what to do, I didn’t know if I should build an occupation near the police or if I should try and be closer to my other players. Luckily I had a teammate who had played before and since it is a cooperative game, he was able to help us all out with the beginning. On top of that it’s a difficult game because of how random it can be. For our specific game we got lucky with the layout of the tiles, because the cops typically stayed in the same location which allowed us to plan for a specific tile to attack. This made our game very simple and we won relatively easily, without any issue from the police. However, I watched another game of Bloc by Bloc recently and the police can make a much bigger impact and can ruin the entire game for the players because their movement is relatively random. So it’s difficult to play a game in which your strategy can be great, but randomly get derailed by a drawn card.

For leadership qualities, I think one of our members stepped up and kind of took the “head” of the group. Since it was a cooperative game there was definitely a lot of deliberation and discussing to find the best strategies, but he took the lead and help facilitate. It was also beneficial that this person took the lead, because this person also had played before and had a general idea of what strategies we should take. The specific quality is the ability to be the leader but not a dictator. He was able to help us when we weren’t sure what to do, but as the game went on we were able to discuss and come up with strategies that he hadn’t thought of. So it also helps when a leader is open to all ideas before making decisions.

This is a game that I’d like to play with my brother Nathan. I think he would really enjoy the backstory of the game and that it was designed around real events. I also think he would like the gameplay and the fact that it is cooperative. I think he’d be really good at coming up with good strategies based on how the police were laid out. I hope to get to play this game with him sometime soon!

Ladies and Gentleman!

Last week we played a game that I was really looking forward to for this semester that was Ladies and Gentleman. At first glance, this game might seem like its based in sexism, but when one further understands gameplay, its easy to see the satirical nature. The game is based in a victorian era, where the normal stereotypes are being portrayed. That of a working husband who has the single goal of gaining money in order to pay for his wife’s shopping habits. The wife’s goal is to pick out items at boutiques that her husband will pay for. The gameplay ends up being very fun because interaction can only come between a husband and wife if they are talking as if they were in the victorian era. For the essential gameplay there teams of 2 people (gentleman and lady) and there are 3 phases per turn, the morning, afternoon, and night, which I’ll discuss only briefly so this part doesn’t go on forever. To first discuss the gentleman’s phases, the morning starts at the stock market, which are tiles flipped over. One gentleman says go and then with one hand, players begin to flip over tiles that reveal whatever resource they are. These resources all have a monetary sale value or you can accumulate resources to buy contracts. There are also numbered tokens of the same number of players to choose the order in which gentleman purchase contracts in the afternoon phase. So a player may take up to 3 resource tokens and 1 number token, but as soon as they take a number token, they can no longer take resource tokens. In the afternoon phase, gentleman can either sell resources or use them to buy contracts to gain money. And finally the night phase is where the gentleman can buy clothing for their wives. Now I’ll go over the lady’s rolls. In the morning phase, the woman picks an artisan card that allows her to put a certain number of clothing, accessories, jewelry, or servants in her store (there is 1 store per player). She then chooses 1 item to put in the storefront window to give people an idea of what they can buy there. Then the afternoon phase comes, and each lady reveals in which store she would like to shop in. Ladies then pick up the items from the store they want to shop in and pick out what they would like. The night phase comes and the ladies hand these items to the gentleman who can choose to purchase the items or not. The ultimate goal of each team is to maximize the amount of elegance points based on items the team purchases for the lady. There are 6 days (turns) until the ball, so the lady must get the essential items to look beautiful at the ball! There are many more intricacies the the gameplay that I won’t explain, but for that you can buy the game and play yourself!

During this game, I played the role of the gentleman, which was remarkably simple. All I had to do was turn over tiles. The ladies had to strategize what to put in their store, where to shop, what items they’d need and when, etc. So this is part of the satire, because the very macho stock market is portrayed as flipping tiles over and ladies shopping is very complex and strategic. The part I found most difficult to balance was choosing the resources I wanted while also trying to find the first number token. Being first has a lot of advantages because if you complete a contract first you end up getting a bonus. So there were a few times where I got too greedy looking for specific resources and I ended up getting the third token and not gaining as much money as I could have.

As far as leadership goes, I think its important to understand that information cannot be directly conveyed in this game. A gentleman cannot say directly, ”I have $500,” because then that would change how the lady played. A gentleman can only say, “Money is a bit tight right now,” or, “I had a bad day at the market.” So I think a key leadership skill in this game is effective communication. Obviously many people can communicate, but this is about being helpful with your communication. A gentleman needs to be creative with what they say in order to help their teammate. That’s the biggest thing I saw in this game, and I think I struggled with it a little bit, but would be better for the next game.

I think that I’d really like to play this game with Pete and my close friends in general next time. There is an aspect of this game called rumor cards in which a player needs to insult their opponent and hand them a rumor card. This is an optional aspect of the game that is best played with people who are close and comfortable with each other. I think that adding this aspect into gameplay would make the victorian era roleplaying a lot easier and more enjoyable! I think Pete would agree with me on all of this too.

Attending REcon

L. Gray

I attended REcon in Armstrong student center at Miami University on February 24th. The League of Geeks on campus sponsored this event. The convention lasted the whole weekend and featured many exciting events. There was a live show by Dice Tower, panels, an escape room, trivia, prizes, crafts, and even more. As a student, it was nice to see people of all ages in Armstrong enjoying the event. REcon was a great mix of special events at certain times along with events that took place throughout the whole weekend. The day we went there were Medieval combat demonstrations and weaving. I was excited to see countless individuals at this event who were so passionate about gaming. They took over Armstrong and made it a true celebration of different kinds of geek culture.

I was very interested in the board game free play that was going on all weekend in the new pavilion. In class, we play numerous games I have never played before, so I wanted to be exposed to the unique types of board games that would be at this event. When looking at the different papers I could write, I also noticed there were several classifications of board games I did not recognize. Deck-building games were one type of game I had not seen before. I learned that a deck-building game is a card game that focuses on the construction of the deck you have in the game. Each player has their own deck and usually the cards are worth some sort of currency. At Recon, we played two different types of deck-builder games.

The first one we played was one of the play-to-win games at REcon called Clank! This game had a traditional board space along with the deck building part of the game. The objective of the game is to sneak into the dragon’s lair and gather artifacts worth victory points without making noise. Each Clank! adds your colored cube to the dragon’s bag. When the dragon attacks, a certain number of cubes are pulled from the bag and placed on you health tracker. So, the more of your colored blocks you have in the bag, the greater chance you have of losing health. As a player travels along, they also use their deck to gather more cards that will help them with their journey. At the end, all cards and loot are counted up for victory points, and the greatest amount wins. I enjoyed this game because it was a good introduction to a deck-builder game. I was able to adapt to this style of play because there was still aspects of the more traditional board games that I have played before REcon.

The next game we played was also a deck-builder game. We were able beat the crowds after the Dice Tower show got out in order to play DC Comics deck-building game. This game was different than Clank! because there were only cards and no actual board in this game. The objective was the same, however, to gain cards worth the most amount of power points. Each player started out as a DC superhero, and each superhero had a different objective that would aid his or her journey in this game. For example, I chose Wonder Woman, so I was able to play an extra card for each round I acquired a villain into my deck of cards. There were extensive expansion packs that went along with this game, however, being new to this game we decided to just play with the original deck. The card combinations that could be created added to the strategy and objectives of the game. The DC game was different from Clank! because of the different card combinations that began to compound on one another as we built our decks. Each turn began to take longer and become more interesting and complex. Super villains were also another component of this game. Super villains could be purchased, but also upon first appearance in the deck they could really switch up the game. For example, one super villain allowed each player to only keep one card in their hand and then required each player to pass their deck to the next person and allowed them to choose a card they wanted. This process was repeated until all the hands drawn during that turn were changed. The game ends when all the super villains are purchased. There are other ways to win, but they rarely occur. After the last turn, all the cards are counted up, and the player with the most power points wins.

I did not win either game that I played at REcon, but this was not my primary objective. Like we talked about in class, everyone has a different goal when playing these games. My goal was to learn more about the different style of play that comes with playing deck-builder games. I think that after being exposed to these unique games, I am better prepared for class and the new games I will play in the upcoming weeks. I learned more about how each turn I took built off another one, and that a decision I made at the beginning of the game could affect my style of play later in the game. Even though these games fostered competition against the other players, I wanted to simply improve my own deck and not try to sabotage other players’ decks. I also wanted to learn more about board games because I quickly realized how much I did not know after attending REcon. When we were playing Clank!, another attendee approached us and cheerfully asked if we have played the other editions of this game. I was unaware that other editions existed and was just beginning to learn how to play this type of game. There were also multiple games on the tables in Armstrong that I had never seen before REcon. I am looking forward to seeing if we play some of these games in class, and I am excited to learn more about the different strategies that are used to be successful in these different types of games. I am thankful to be a part of a class that values each person’s different objective when playing board games. I was also glad to attend REcon where there were many gracious people who were happy to help answer questions that new board game players like me had about the games.

My Recon Experience

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend and participate in an even at Miami University called Recon that was hosted by the League of Geeks. It was a weekend event that was absolutely full of any geeky event you could imagine! My specific interest in this event was in board games. I’ve been taking a class in called Tabletop Leadership in which each class we get to play a game and then we are asked to reflect on those games and how we see leadership through that game. It’s a really fun class, and I’ve recently been introduced to a lot of more elaborate and unique board games than the traditional Monopoly or Life. This event presented an opportunity to learn a lot of games, and that’s what I really wanted to do.

Going into the event I wasn’t sure what to expect, because there are countless game designers with imaginations much broader than mine. Most of the games I had played were either card games, board games, or hidden identity games. I was hoping to learn more about some different kinds of games. One of my best friends had recommended deck builder games, so we started out playing Clank, which is partially a deck builder and partially a board game. The essential idea is that your character is trying to go through the all of the paths to try and recover artifacts that were worth certain victory points. Movement was determined by the cards you had. And the ultimate goal was to end up with the most victory points and get out of the castle alive before the dragon killed your character. Starting off this game, I had no idea what my strategy should be. Never having played a deck building game, I just started collecting cards that got me the most movement. After a few turns and seeing how some cards worked together in order to form victory points I started to understand a better strategy. I tried collecting enough movement cards along with fighting cards so that I could travel as freely through the map as possible. This game was really enjoyable and it made me really interested in deck-building games.

We next were able to play the DC deck-building game. Having to go over this game ourselves, we chose to play the most basic version of the game even though every expansion was available. Having just played a deck-building game, I was on the lookout for a strategy right away. Luckily you’re given hero cards that have certain abilities that help form your strategy. I had Batman, who had a plus 1 power for each equipment card I played during a turn, so I focused on buying equipment cards. This proved to be very beneficial as I was able to fight the super villains in the game faster than my opponents were. I think one of the most enjoyable parts of these kinds of games for me is seeing the creativity of the game designers. These people are very talented in many different levels. I believe that a big issue for games that have roles is making sure that all of the cards are relatively balanced. You wouldn’t want one hero who had an ability that made them impossible to beat in the game, because that wouldn’t be enjoyable. After playing both of these games, deck-building games are probably my absolute favorite.

The next game I was able to play was Carcassonne, which was very different from the deck builders. For each turn, a player flips over a tile, which they place on the table and attach it to the other tiles available. The tiles can have different things like roads, city, and a few other things. A player must place a tile so that roads connect to roads and so that cities connect. Each person starts out with meeples that they can use to claim tiles they place. So you can claim a kingdom, a road, a piece of land (a farm), and a few other things. Each of these will be worth points that you keep track of throughout the game. The game finally ends when all of the tiles are gone. Again I was hoping to find a strategy with this game, but it wasn’t super easy. At one point I was building a big city, but my opponent was able to lay claim to it and he ended up having more meeples than I did, so he was awarded all the points for my work. I figured that out and was able to steal a city from him later, but there’s a lot more strategy to this game than I originally thought.

Of all of the games I played, I really enjoyed the deck building games the most. And while they were both deck builders, the games had a lot of different aspects. I think for me it was very beneficial that Clank is a deck-building game and a board game, because that helped me get a feel for what deck-builders are like without being thrown into it right away. Also with Clank, the cards are helpful with how you move and how far you can move, but they are not the ultimate purpose in the game. It was important to strategize a path on the board that you would take in order to get as many artifacts as possible, while also building a deck that could get you where you wanted to go. With DC deck-builder, the game was completely focused on making your deck as strong as possible so that you could continually buy better cards and defeat super villains to gain victory points. It was also beneficial to me that the roles were a part of DC deck builder because it allowed me as a brand new player to strategize without knowing the ins and outs of the game. The other thing that was different was that in Clank, the draw of your hand could end up being the absolute death of your character. If by some bad luck you didn’t draw any movement or fight cards when you needed to get out of the castle, you were just completely out of luck. With DC deck builder, drawing a bad hand was very annoying, but you were going to live to the next round, and be alright. The games were similar in that while you were competing against other players, you were not always directly trying to hurt or stop your opponents. There were some cards and abilities in each game that allowed for you to hinder the people you were playing with, but that wasn’t always a key strategy when trying to win.

This event has really peaked my interest in board games, and my roommate has already purchased Terraforming Mars because that was a game we really enjoyed trying out at the event. I’m also considering purchasing a few games, because I really enjoyed them. For me one of my favorite things is to watch a person who is totally in their own personal element. Whether that element is a board game, sports field, or stage, you can see that person light up and shine while they do what they love. On top of that, talking with someone about their passion is always fun for me. Everyone has something in their life that they love and it’s easy to tell when they talk about it. Seeing their eyes light up and hearing the excitement in their voice is always amazing. I definitely experienced that a lot at Recon, and that made my experience even more enjoyable.

Two Rooms and a Boom

Last week we played two rooms and a boom. This game has essentially 3 teams that are the blue, red, and gray teams. Players are given a role card and then divided into two groups randomly. Ideally these two groups are in two separate rooms so that they cannot listen or hear each other. There are certain roles for each team, the president is part of the blue team and the bomber is part of the red team. There are more roles for each team but I won’t focus on that now. Each room elects a leader and then the game starts on the first round, which was 5 minutes. Players have the option to share the color of their card with other players or they can share their whole card with other players. So players can share or not with other people, but at the end of the round the president must elect hostages to switch rooms. This occurs and then the second round begins. We played with 19 people and with 5 rounds. As the rounds go on, they are shorter, and fewer hostages are exchanged. The goal of the game for the blue team is to make sure the president is in a different room from the bomber. If this occurs blue team wins. The goal of the game for the red team is to make sure the bomber is in the same room as the president at the end of the game. If this occurs, red team wins. The 3rd team is the gray team. There are a few roles on this team such as the gambler. Before identities are revealed at the end of the game, the gambler picks which team he/she thinks will win. If they’re right, they win, if they’re wrong they lose. The most basic version of the game is played with generic blue/red team cards, but we played with actual roles that were on each team. I’ll explain a few now. So each team had a spy, the spy’s card was the same color as the opposite team, but said spy on it. So during a color share, a person of the red team will think the blue spy is on their team. We also played with the angel, and if the angel chose to speak, they had to tell the truth. The most important role towards the end of the game was the ambassador. The ambassador could walk freely between rooms, but everyone knew which team they were on. It was really nice to have them there so that information could be exchanged easily.

For me the hardest part of the game was remembering exactly who everyone was. It’s important to note that players are not allowed to switch cards, but it was still difficult, because there were 18 other players. Originally I struggled finding a strategy for how I wanted to play. The first round I color shared with everyone, and if someone was the same color as me, we’d full card share and that was it. From there I did my best to influence the leaders in a way that best suited my interests. I really enjoyed this game once I got the strategy down.

Leadership qualities in games like this are a little more difficult, because part of being a leader in a competitive game such as this is to be deceitful and dishonest. It was in your benefit as the spy of one team to show your card to other players so that they thought you were on their team. I think the best leadership quality I found was the ability to pull oneself away from the crazy discussions and situations to actually think through a strategy with either a group or on your own. I found many of the other leaders doing this so that they weren’t making rash decisions. I think a strong leader is someone who is able to take a lot of information in and then best choose the course of action that will benefit their side.

I think my friend Derek would be good at this game. Whenever I’ve played hidden role games with him (which this kind of is) he was very good at being deceitful, but also in going through all of the information to make informed decisions. I would really like to play this game with him sometime.

Week Three Reflection: Betrayal at the House on the Hill

The game that we played during week three was called Betrayal at the House on the Hill. This game was probably one of my least favorite games unfortunately. I think the hardest part about this game was understanding the haunt that we were going on. I had first enjoyed the concept of exploring the new rooms, however in the haunt that we had received, or started, did not have a traitor. Instead of having a traitor, all of our characters were supposed to beat their evil twin. It was really hard to stay engaged with the haunt, especially because waiting for each turn seemed like an eternity. Even by the time that class had ended, our game had not finished after playing for almost an hour and a half.

When looking at how this game ties to leadership, I could see how you need to be able to work in a team to explore the different rooms. Rather than just trying to win as an individual, this game was somewhat collaborative in how you all worked together to win the haunt.

I think that my Mom would really enjoy this game because she would really like how each time you play it is different. With a lot of board games that she has played, she tends to get board that it is the same thing over and over again. With Betrayal at the House on the Hill, each game that is played is different, depending on the haunt that you end up receiving.