Last Week’s Gaming – June 8th, 2020

The digital board games continue, but not as much as I would have liked. Also, The Outer Worlds on Switch – is it as bad as people say?

Before we get started, I am not reviewing The Outer Worlds on Switch today. I have barely touched it. But I have seen a bunch of ‘Stay Away’ headlines on my YouTube feed, and I am wondering how much of it is warranted.

During the week, I will try and play at least to the point where I get my first companions. That should be pretty indicative of how everything runs for the rest of the game.

But other than that, I played a lot of Dragon Castle this week. I got to visit Alpal for the first time in ages, and playing Dragon Castle with the tiles is as satisfying as I remember!

But I will get into that soon. For now, let’s look at what I did play Last Week!

Blood Rage – Steam

So on Friday, I released my review of the digital implementation of Blood Rage. You can check out my thoughts here.

For sitting back and getting in a game solo against the AI, it has been satisfying. I have been winning the last couple of rounds against two easy AI opponents, so I think I have the basics back down.

Time to increase things to 5 player games, then mixing up the difficulty levels.

As I say in my review, if you want to play Blod Rage solo, the Digital Edition is a great alternative. Multiplayer wise, I am waiting for some more patches before revisiting my review score.

Blood Rage Digital
I had some issues with widescreen layout, but the game itself looks great and will run on almost any Windows 10 machine

Dragon Castle – Steam and Physical

Another game recently reviewed that made it back to the table this week! Dragon Castle is a relaxing yet challenging little abstract puzzle, that was great to kick back and unwind with.

Saturday I got to visit Alpal, and as she hadn’t played it for a while, we broke out the physical copy. The ‘click’ of all those Mahjong tiles was as satisfactory as I remember and really does add to your enjoyment while playing.

Being at the end of the week, I could only get in a couple of games before my brain started rebelling. Being able to sit and chat during the game with Alpal was great, and it made for an enjoyable afternoon overall.

Dragon Castle Alpals Castle
I was mean and took the last black tiles. No pattern for her! Sorry Alpal 🙁

Tetris 99 – Switch

Picking up the Switch during the week, I decided to look at games I haven’t touched in a while (or ever). And there was good old trusty Tetris 99.

Firing up a normal Tetris 99 game, I did OK. I haven’t played in a while, and so coming around the 20ish spot was satisfying. I was still pretty drained though, so I decided to switch styles.

Firing up Marathon mode, I thought I would see how far I could go in 999 Line mode. Then came a chill half hour before my brain basically pulled a ‘nope’ on me.

Tetris 99 999 Line Mode
Just kick back and see how far ou can go. Marathon mode is a nice diversion for 'real' Tetris 99.

It was nice to lie back on the couch and just let the zen-like state of Tetris flow over me. I didn’t get into ‘nope’ mode until I tried to pay attention to the furkids and YouTube while playing at the same time.

As usual, my advice is if you have Nintendo Online, grab Tetris 99 for yourself. Even if it is just for a diversion to come back to at times.

The Outer Worlds – Switch

The Outer Worlds, for me, is a great RPG adventure title. Does it have bugs? Sure. Probably fewer now, I finished it pretty quickly when it was released.

But you can build or break alliances with people or factions as you see fit. You can choose to explore the worlds, or just follow the quest markers. There are many ways you can build your character to let you play the game as you want to play it.

All this, coupled with the chance to play portability of the Switch, made me look forward to the port. Playing the opening title, I was impressed at how the Switch handled things in handheld mode.

Things looked a little fuzzy, and the dense foliage seems to have been pulled out, but it was playing a lot better than I thought it would.

Even the load times, which on my Xbox One S drove me mad every time entered a town or loaded my game, seemed better.

Then I started seeing the negative headlines on my YouTube feed. I have stayed away from as many reviews as I can, but the negative press is prominent.

So this week, I am going to get a fair way into The Outer Worlds and see if I can see what everyone is talking about. Expect to see all this as a review in the next week or two.

The Outer Worlds Switch Load Screens
Do thigns take a while to load on Switch? Yes. But these screens didn't ge to me like I thought they would.
The Outer Worlds Switch Edgewater
In handheld, it didn't look quite as bad. But it did look soft, and the world not as full of life.
The Outer Worlds Xbox One S
On the Xbox One S, more details and no 'fuzzy' buildings, but a lot more powerful hardware than the Switch.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

So after last week’s lack of Turnip purchases, this week I paid off my 4th extension and bought up a bunch of turnips to start trying to build up some cash.

During the week, I didn’t ignore Animal Crossing, but I didn’t go out of my way with my island either. At least 5 nights was login for Nook Miles, bury bells and grab the money tree – that was it.

No, I am not helping with the anniversary photos either. I think the new activity is kind of cute, but I am not much of a wedding person at the best of times, sorry Harv.

I do now have the clothing store, so that’s progress. I completely forgot the game told me about the sisters wanting to set up shop permanently.

This means I might have to sit down and actually look hard at what other possible buildings or structures could be in store. Time to get ‘serious’ about finishing my island and getting 5 stars – then I think I can ‘finish’ my game of Animal Crossing.

Animal Crossing Erik is an adorable weirdo
He is cute, and his heart is in the right place, but really Erik?
Animal Crossing Able Sisters Opens
Is this my last building? Looks like I will need to go look it up!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – June 1st, 2020

Animal Crossing Shooting Star

One full week back at work, and I am back to being overly tired. I didn’t play any PS4 or Xbox this week. But I did get in some digital board gaming – let the gaming challenge counts finally rise!

OK, so it wasn’t a huge dent, but a dent is a dent. Kicking back and playing the AI isn’t as good as playing with my friends, but it was still good to do some board gaming.

Turn-based, take your time, board gaming. I needed it last week, and probably will again this week.

But enough of all that – on to what actually got played!

Istanbul – Steam

I quite enjoy Istanbul, but it can be a brain breaker. This is why I generally prefer Istanbul: The Dice Game. It’s one of those rare times where the dice game captured the feel of the ‘original’ game perfectly.

Early last week, I nabbed the Steam digital version and gave it a go. The tutorial is as good as I can ask for. One of the downsides to Istanbul is there are a few different things to keep track of, and it takes at least a couple of games for everything to click.

Going to see if I can get a game or two in on games night, and see what everyone else thinks of playing it digitally.

Istanbul Board
It's the board game, with everything laid out logically.
Istanbul Caravansary
It is a lot easier to read what the locations do though!

Small World – Android

Well, discounts got me last week. Google Play gave me a $1 credit, and I started having a look to see if there was anything that jumped out at me. Turned out there were two titles.

The first one was an old favourite that I hadn’t played for quite some time – Small World.

I had a couple of games, and I enjoyed it. That said, I can’t recommend people that haven’t already got it run out and buy it. First and foremost, I got the ‘this was written for an older version of Android’ warning as soon as I started it up. That doesn’t bode well for staying on your phone much longer.

Playing it on mobile is a little frustrating when your finger misses a token. Everything is just so small, and my gorilla fingers had trouble moving my tokens.

It did remind me that I do have Small World on Steam though. On a bigger screen, the gameplay will be a lot smoother. And just as fun as the board game, without the micromanagement.

I will have to see if I can use Remote Play Together on it for a games night…

Small World No Support Die
Three sides of this die are blank. You will swear it has 7 blank sides.
Small World You Have How Many Land
It was at this point, I thought this may have been a mistake
Small World Victory
And this is why you never give up trying

Dragon Castle – Steam

I reviewed Dragon Castle last week, so I won’t be talking much about this one. But how could I do a review and not grab at least one screenshot of the game? Oh no, I had to play a game. Such a hard life :p

Today I will talk about how disappointed I was that Dragon Castle doesn’t work with Remote Play Together. Like Tokaido, Dragon Castle is a great game to be playing during a conversation, and I think it would work really well in the remote play format.

I think if people could jump in for a round or two on someone else’s copy, more copies would be sold. Yes, it was on sale for a very low entry point cost, but you had to want to already play to be willing to pay it.

But that’s just my rant. 🙂

Dragon Castle Poor Decisions
I was getting worried. The compute started targeting my dragon tiles.
Dragon Castle Tie Loss
Lost on tie breaker though. Can't be unhappy with that comeback!

When I got an email saying that Imperial Settlers was coming to mobile, I was very excited. I have had my eye on the roll and write version for a while, and a portable solo version could bump Onirim for plays.

I bought it, loaded it up, and played the tutorial. And I have no idea what is going on.

Teaching board games is hard. Anyone that has tried can tell you that. Learning board games is harder, and some manuals do not help with this.

That is where Imperial Settlers: Roll and Write fell down for me. There is a manual you have to read that will hopefully explain enough to understand the tutorial. The tutorial itself was basically ‘pick this, move it’ with little explanation as to what you were trying to achieve.

So now I am going to sit with a few video tutorials and the rule book. This is the only way I believe I can get the full experience. I will come back to this one in a few weeks with a full review.

Imperial Settlers Tutorial
Why do you want crowns? Read the manual to find out!

Blood Rage – Steam

As I wrote last Wednesday, I was looking forward to this. I enjoy Blood Rage, but it’s a hard one to get to the table. Not that it’s a bad game – just one that takes a lot of coordination getting certain types of player together.

I was hoping that the digital version would help me get some plays in, and I believe it will. I have played two games against AI opponents so far, and the ‘easy’ difficulty still gives a challenge.

The biggest challenge was actually my screen. Playing in ultrawide in my first game, I realised that I couldn’t see my army strength. The number was blocked by my cards. This wasn’t a problem in the tutorial, as I didn’t have enough of a hand for it to happen.

Changing the resolution to a standard size 1920×1080, this wasn’t an issue, and I handily won my second game. Both rounds were fun, but this was a bit strange. I will look more into it during the week.

Initial thought though – this could be a lot of fun on the go. Maybe a Switch version?

Blood Rage Cards Blocking
Below my card is supposed to be my army strength
Blod Rage Bad Card To Play
If you don't have cards, it's not a problem. Except I shouldn't have entered this fight!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

It was another week on Sleep Cove. Did some fishing, bought some stuff, started toying with my island setup. Still trying to get it right in my head.

Yesterday I messed up though. I completely forgot that Daisy Mae only sells turnips Sunday MORNING. When did I remember this? When Isabelle proudly informed me it was 12:01.

It’s far from the biggest issue in the world, but it was indicative of most of my week hahaha.

I need about another 100,000 bells to pay off my upstairs room. I think I will spend a night roughly planning out the changes I want to make to my island, and having fun fishing. Now that winter has officially hit my island, hopefully I will find some new fish and bugs to collect as well!

Animal Crossing Shooting Star
I also finally got to see a shooting star! Star fragments acquired, finally crafter a wand 🙂

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition – Switch

RPG’s are my game of choice for when I want to settle down and immerse myself in a world. I don’t have much time for that lately, but it is what I enjoy.

When Xenoblade Chronicles was announced, I was excited. I have a version for my DS, but that hasn’t been pulled out since last PAX. The Switch has basically replaced all of my handheld gaming, except for quick mobile diversions.

One reasonably universal downside to RPG’s is starting them. Fans are nodding, some people are probably confused.

Vast RPG worlds are great when you are in them, but it’s hard to invest in a game that drops you into it completely blind. So you get to do the introduction to the world. This is part story building, and part tutorial.

I am 40 minutes in, and I haven’t gotten to the first town to ‘start’ the game. This is what I mean by ‘starting them’ is a problem.

It looks gorgeous on the Switch, even playing in handheld mode. It might take a week, but I will make it to the village and get my first taste of the game soon.

Figure 3-4 more weeks, and I can start playing it properly!

Xenoblade Chronicles Titans Clash
The bodies of these two huge creatures is the world you will explore
Xenoblade Chronicles Bad Day
No spoilers, but when I watched this happen all I could think was "Justice"

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Dragon Castle Review

Dragon Castle Cover
Dragon Castle Cover
Released 2017
Designer Hjalmar Hach, Luca Ricci, Lorenzo Silva
Publisher Horrible Guild (Website)
Players 2 – 4 (Can use AI in digital for solo play)
Playing Time 10-15 minutes per player
Category Tile Placement
Mahjong Solitaire
Pattern Placement
Town Building
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

I used to play Mahjong when I was young. Back then, it was usually a tile-matching game. Dragon Castle takes me back to those days.

Going through some digital games to play while my games group is separated, I found Dragon Castle had a digital version. Jumping at the chance to play via Steam Remote Play Together, I bought it.

Why was I so excited? When Alpal introduced me to Dragon Castle, I ordered a copy before I left her place. So much of the gameplay and presentation just makes me happy.

So what is Dragon Castle?

Dragon Castle is a mix of quite a few games. There is the evident Mahjong Solitaire influence, with the titular Dragon Castle’s being built from Mahjong tiles. Selection is simple – grab one of the edge tiles from the highest levels. Next, you can collect an edge tile of the same symbol from anywhere around the castle.

You don’t have to select a second tile though. You can choose to destroy the tile for a point or store up a shrine for placement later. This isn’t a legacy game though – destroying a tile just takes it out of the game.

Dragon Castle Pieces
You will be collecting and placing tiles and shrines for scoring

Once you collect tiles, you then build your own new castle in a solitaire pattern placement affair. You can place tiles anywhere on your player board, except on top of tiles that are face up.

How do you turn over tiles to build higher? Have four or more of the same coloured tile touching each other orthogonally. They don’t even have to be on the same level, adding some 3D complexity to the game.

Dragon Castle Player Castle
Building up your castle is strangely satisfying, especially when the tiles click together

The more tiles you can complete this way on one turn, the more points you collect. Once you have done this, you can also place a shrine on one of the tiles you just flipped over. The higher the shrine is set, the more bonus points you gain.

That doesn’t sound very interesting.

Not when explained like that it’s not. But as solitaire sounding the gameplay is, there is a surprising amount of player interaction.

Trying to make a large 8 tile collection of green tiles? Other players can start taking your tiles before you can make a match. Even worse, if you need a pair, players can choose one of them and take it from the game!

The purple Dragon tiles also allow you to place two shrines if you can make a set. Sounds great, but you have to remember there aren’t many of them!

Dragon Castle Tile Placement
Pleacement is the trickiest hurdle. If the bottom sword was one higher, a group of 4 would have been made

There are also optional modules you can add in the form of Dragons and Spirits. Spirits introduce random special abilities that can be used during the game. Dragons themselves add more of a strategic element. Some add more points for shrines, others offer bonuses for your building arrangement.

Both spirits and dragons are optional to add to play, but I like that you can expand the game without buying expansions down the line.

Dragon Castle Spirits
Sample of the Spirit Cards. Include as you choose!

And there is also the tiles themselves.

Just like when you play a game with metal coins or poker chips, the tactile satisfaction of the tiles themselves shouldn’t be underestimated.

The art style of the game is simple yet beautiful. Every board shares a theme, and yet is visually distinct. In fact, my biggest disappointment with Dragon Castle is the boards themselves. The cardboard used is too thin, in my opinion. Not severely so, you won’t be creasing them accidentally making them unusable without going out of your way. But thicker boards would have completed the premium feel the tiles provide.

Premium – that’s code for expensive.

That’s an understandable concern. And yes – those tile pieces couldn’t have been cheap to produce. I picked up my copy for about AUD$70, and I think it was worth every cent.

This is where Dragon Castle’s value becomes subjective. I enjoy abstract games, and the primarily ‘multi-player solitaire’ nature of the game means conversation during a round is easy.

However, you can do the same sort of gameplay with many Roll and Write games, which expensive ones are around the AUD$55 mark. You can’t deny there is a cost to so many mahjong tiles contained in the game.

Dragon Castle Boards
I have played with much flimsier boards, but thicker ones would have been nice

Everything you get in the box though makes it hard to suggest you aren’t getting what you paid for. The question is really if it’s to expensive for the enjoyment you will get from Dragon Castle, and I can only tell you I think it’s all worth it.

Dragon Castle Components
Just picking up the box, you know you where the cost goes. Dragon Castle is heavy.

You mentioned a digital version?

The purchase that prompted me to finally review Dragon Castle! At the moment, there is a Steam sale where you can grab a copy for AUD$7.12. This deal ends on June 2nd. Full price is close to AUD$13. Much cheaper than the physical version!

Gameplay-wise, Dragon Castle translates well to digital. The music in the game is relaxing, and the art style is carried across as well. The tutorial is a little bit confusing – and this is coming from someone that already knows how to play.

The AI is available in different skill levels, and so far seem very well balanced. I have only played a few games on PC so far, and I haven’t braved the hard levels yet. You can also play online against other people, or locally in a pass and play style mode.

Dragon Castle Digital
Relaxing and challenging at the same time, the digital implementation works very well

The biggest downside for me? The controls. I miss picking up a tile from the pile. Instead of dragging tiles over as I expected, you need to click on the tile once to select, then again to confirm your choice.

Once you get used to it, the flow of the game works well. It just didn’t control as intuitively as I would have liked.

There is another downside. The reason I bought Dragon Castle was to play with my group with Remote Play Together on Steam. Unfortunately, Dragon Castle doesn’t work with this feature, so if you want to play with others online you will need everyone to buy a copy.

Overall Thoughts

If you enjoy Roll and Write and/or abstract games, Dragon Castle is a game you should definitely add to your ‘To Play’ list.

Dragon Castle is easy to teach and learn, and players will have the flow down during their first game. Once you have the basics down, a game of many layers slowly unfolds before you.

While the physical game can be seen as expensive for the type of game it is, the quality of the components justifies this to me. If you are unsure, the digital version is considerable cheaper – and easier to buy!

If you are looking for a game to play while everyone is still separated, again Dragon Castle is definitely worth a look.

Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10

Pros

  • Simple to teach and learn
  • Beautiful art and quality components in the tiles and shrines
  • A game that can grow with you as you gain experience.

Cons

  • Can be considered expensive to buy without playing it to justify the purchase.
  • The digital tutorial isn’t the best

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 18th, 2020

Animal Crossing Lounge Room

Not many games played again this week. But bring on digital board game nights!

I don’t know where this week went! Work was steady, and today is my last long weekend day. I got to curl up on the couch a lot, which was good!

Last week though We got to play ‘board’ games with Steam Remote Play Anywhere. Basically, I own the game, but Steam Friends can play with me. I was surprised how easily the format worked!

I started with the idea of playing Ticket to Ride because I didn’t need to teach the game. Yeah, not a great idea. The way Play Anywhere Remote works is my screen is streamed and controls shared. This means for games like Ticket to Ride, everyone can see everyone’s tickets.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have games that will work well though 🙂

Tokaido – Steam

Yes, the hangover game! Or another way, the competitive holiday game.
The first game took a fair while to play, but that was to be expected. Elle had never played Tokaido before, so Harls and I spent some time talking through the options to teach her the game.

I knew teaching a game this way would be tricky. I am so used to being able to grab cards for example purposes, or quickly simulate a turn. Digital games don’t let you do this. This week, I am thinking just making everyone play the tutorial and see how that goes.

Tokaido was an excellent chill choice though, especially as we hadn’t caught up for a couple of weeks. We used the discord server I set up for games to chat, and everyone took their turn. Except for that one time I took Elle’s turn – sorry again Elle! Because Tokaido itself is such a relaxing time, chatting and playing was a whole lot of fun.

I think we created a Tokaido monster in Elle though. Harls and I had a bit of fun messing with each other the first game but talked Elle through the best scoring choices for the first two rounds. With that headstart, she took a commanding lead. The next game though, she still managed to pip Harls by 1 point!

Tokaido Gameplay
I was suprised how easy it was to share Tokaido via Steam
Tokaido End Game Scores
Elle took a well deserved victory. And the AI we kept in last place 🙂

Skribbl.io – Web

This was an interesting one. Skribble.io is a free Pictionary type game anyone with a web browser can play. The premise is simple – get a bunch of words (or supply your own), one person draws that word, and everyone else tries to guess the word. It was exactly as you expected, and a little bit of silly fun to end the night with.

I am not trying to be picky, but there is a little bit of a learning curve to the interface. This mean Harls (that started the game) owned the first game, as he supplied all of the custom words we had to draw.

The only reason I bring it up is I haven’t had the same initial “What’s going on?” with a lot of paid options. This makes sense – it’s a free game made by people in whatever time they have. I am not bringing it up as an indication Skribbl.io isn’t fun – just be prepared to throw away a round or two as you learn the system.

SkribblIo
I forgot to take a screenshot! But I did discover you can edit your avatar.

Dragon Castle – Steam

Alpal introduced me to Dragon Castle last year, I think? Time is hard for me to gauge at the best of times. Take the match style Mahjong gameplay popular on most PC ports of Mahjong, and add a city-building element.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add the tactile feeling of the Mahjong tiles coupled with building shrines and placing patterns, and Dragon Castle is surprisingly fun.

I had a quick game of the digital implementation this week. My idea was to go through my digital board games and see what would work with the Play Anywhere format. The game was fine, but I was having a little bit of trouble with the controls. I will try again before suggesting we play this next games night. Expect a formal review in the next week or two.

Dragon Castle
It's pretty, but you can't pick up the tiles. And I don't mean physically - controls are double click rather than dragging.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

I finally fired up the PS4 on Saturday. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play Final Fantasy VII Remake, so I jumped back into Sleeping Dogs.

This was the right choice, as it was a stupid bit of fun. 😀

I didn’t do many side missions, but I seem to be progressing the story well enough. The triad leader I was trying to get information on was killed, and I have become the new gang leader. A war is brewing. It’s all standard crime movie fair, so you can see the story beats coming.

But to only partially engage my brain and enjoy myself, Sleeping Dogs was a heap of fun. I can see myself hitting a wall on some of the side quests. Trying to do a race on motorcycles frustrated me no end, for example. So I don’t think I will be Completing this game. But for an extended end of week gaming session? It’s hitting just the right level of fun, interest and challenge that I am looking for.

Sleeping Dogs Triangulation
There are enough different missions in Sleeping Dogs to keep things interesting.

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

So I suppose you can call this week the start of me playing Animal Crossing properly?

I finally added some more land for people to come over, and I am starting to hit the Nook Miles Ticket looking for new fruits, Bamboo, things like that. Today, I might actually sit down and try and come up with a plan for my island layout.

I think it’s fair to say that Animal Crossing has started to hook me. I can’t see myself playing it in day-long sessions, but all week when I wanted to be distracted, I went fishing. And setting up my house. I planted a small garden. I finally built a bridge.

And the final proof I am taking it ‘seriously’ – I even started buying K.K. Slider albums!

Animal Crossing Kaiju
Not the greatest way to start to decorate your island, but I couldn't resist

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Clear, Concise Ramblings 005 – Dragon Castle and Gold Fever

Ramblings Logo

Playing with bags of rocks didn’t sound like fun before though

Happy Saturday everyone!

Today Alpal and I talk a bit about Dragon Castle, which you might recognise from some Last Week’s Games summaries.

Also, we talk (a little bit longer than normal for a 2 game episode, sorry!) about the deceptively fun Gold Fever.  The game is all about pulling gold nuggets out of a bag.  Said like that, it doesn’t sound special – but it is so much more.

Both games are a lot of fun, and after I paint Alpal’s Dragon Castle expect a review on both games 😀

Have a great weekend everyone!

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming October 15th 2018

Tower of Madness 20181015

The Bones are in the Chest Atop the Castle’s Highest Tower

Another week, another few games played! Very quite video game wise this week, prepping for PAX Aus is taking a lot of my time at the moment.

But some games will always make it in, and this week three out of four of the games were all new ones!

Tower of Madness

An honourable mention in this year’s most anticipated games list, Tower of Madness is now finally in my hands!

Alpal opened it for me, and there are a few component issues to me out of the gate.  The dice were covered in something that required rubbing alcohol to stop them sticking, and the tower doesn’t quite fit.

But there is potential.  Two games in and we enjoyed the game – everyone wanted to play again.  A few more games and a formal review will be coming, but at the moment play someone else’s copy if you get the chance.

Tower of Madness 20181015
It arrived, and the marbles hit the base with a satisfying 'Thunk'!

Dragon Castle

During games night we got two new players into Dragon Castle.

There was a lot of confusion at the start, but everyone was up to speed quickly as I knew they would be.

Dragon Castle was intended as a night ender, and it worked well.  We all enjoyed the game even with teaching for half of the table, and the final scores were almost all within one point of each other!

Now I just need to play some 2 and 3 player games for the review…

Dragon Castle 20181008
Dragon Castle is aa game I am very much warming up to.

Dagon’s Bones

Dagon’s Bones was a fun looking game I Kickstarted a few months ago.  I was surprised by how quickly it arrived!

A simple and quick push your luck dice game, Dagon’s Bones is small and easy to carry around.  Simply three dice and a bunch of coins that come in a small cylinder.

The idea is to double the number of coins you have, by either taking from the pot or other players.  There can be player elimination, but if the pot wins (it’s possible!) then Cthulhu rises and destroys everyone.

Dagon’s Bones is more fun than it deserves to be, and I look forward to more games soon.

Dagons Bones Gameplay
Dagon's Bones - 3 dice and some coins. There really isn't much action to show, but it's an interesting premise

Dead Man’s Chest

Another quick game, and a surprisingly fun game.  Dead Man’s Chest is a quick and simple bluffing game similar to Liar’s Dice.

The game consists of a pile of rubies, two dice, and a ‘chest’ about the size of two packs of matches stacked.

A player shakes the dice in the chest, and bids on the amount shown on the die.  There are some funny rules to the values, but it’s easy to get into and a great way to pass some time with friends.

Dead Mans Chest Gameplay
Another game with nothing much happening on the table, Dead Man's Chest is surprisingly tense

Last Week’s Gaming October 8th 2018

Super Mario Party 20181008

Down the Castle to Istanbul for the Party

It looks a little light on gaming this week, and in a lot of ways, it was.  PAX Aus is less than three weeks away, and I start driving to Melbourne in less than two!

I got the chance to do a few different things which have been amazing, and I will talk about all that in detail as soon as I can.  On to what I got to play last week!

Istanbul the Dice Game

Istanbul the Dice Game is a rare treasure for me.  Normally when you have a ‘The Dice Game’ version, some artwork and terms are reused but the game just feels completely different.

Not so with Istanbul.  In the time it takes to teach and play the first game of Istanbul the Dice Game, you are starting to take a new player into the opening rounds of Istanbul the Board Game.

At the end of both games, each player is working out what they could have done differently to get that extra ruby ahead – even though the play mechanics are completely different!

I am always up for a round or two or Istanbul the Dice Game.

Istanbul the Dice Game 20181008
Simple to teach, great to play, and no two games are ever the same. I really enjoy Istanbul the Dice Game

Dragon Castle

I spoke about Dragon Castle in last week’s game list, and another couple of rounds were played.

With all of us getting into the swing of the game and some scoring strategies in play, the games are still just as fun as when we were still learning.

So far we have only played the maximum four players, but there will be some time set aside to play two and three players for a final review coming in the near future.

Dragon Castle 20181008
Dragon Castle is aa game I am very much warming up to.

Downforce

Ahhh Downforce.  The most versatile simple racing game I know.

Restoration Games has hit it out of the park so far, and there is no reason I have to never play Downforce.  It’s quick, easy to teach, and always fun.

I have heard a few people coming down on Downforce as being too simple or not strategic enough, and this is a valid viewpoint.  If you are looking for a deep experience like Formula D, Downforce isn’t your game.

But for me and my game group, Downforce is a safe fallback that will be on the games list for a long time, and new tracks mean it will have centre stage fairly regularly as well.

Downforce 20181008
Always a fun racing game! One day my car/s will be in that top spot 😀

Super Mario Party

I haven’t played Mario Party for ages, and even then it was only a couple of goes with one other player.

With the Switch though I am looking forward to a couple of party nights in the future.  I played it only on the Switch screen and found it a little hard to see, so I am thinking this is definitely a game you should play docked to a TV.

There have also been a few complaints about the controls only working away from the Switch.  I played a few mini-games that required quite a bit of motion and hitting the L and R buttons at the same time.  The twisting the whole Switch while the Joy Con is connected would lose you the screen and be very awkward to play!

Super Mario Party 20181008
It's the first Mario Party I have played since the DS, and it looks like it will be just as fun 😀

If anyone complains about having to use a Joy Con, I think they may be missing the point.  Yes, using the Joy Con as a mini controller is not entirely natural, but if my big hands can do it in the short bursts Super Mario Party asks of you, I don’t really see what the fuss is about.

Can’t wait to play this with two or three others, and this will definitely be on the PAX Aus play list!

What about you?  What have you been playing this week?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming October 1st 2018

Big Trouble in Little China Gameplay

Big Trouble in Manhatten’s Dragon Castle

Quite a bit of gaming got in this week – a long weekend and some much-needed downtime led to a lot of gaming fun this week 🙂

Big Trouble in Little China

I was so excited when Everything Epic’s Big Trouble in Little China arrived, and I have been dying to play it.

Fair warning – this is a game that has some of the worst parts of dungeon crawlers.  Setup and tear down take a long time, the rules explanation takes a long time, and there is some very confusing to explain conditions.

Once you get into it though, it flows really well.  My advice is take a long afternoon to play the first game, and by the end of the game, future plays will take a lot less time.  I set up a streamlined version of the first act only, but even that is enough for the same group to play the ‘full’ rules with a lot less mucking about.  And play it again we will 🙂

Big Trouble in Little China Gameplay
A whole lot of fun is to be had with Big Trouble in Little China - but it's a heavy experience

Dragon Castle

One that Alpal was eager to show me, and I understand why.  Dragon Castle is a simple to teach and play game, that cleverly incorporates a lot of different mechanics and games.

The tiles you pick are the simplified computer mahjong pair tiles.  This is the first game – essentially snap with block placement.  You not only have to find tiles for yourself, but try and deny choices to your competition.

Once you have a pair, the game then becomes a 3D tile placement puzzle, where you try to maximise your score based not only on types that connect but the placement of shrines at higher levels.

Dragon Castle is a great game that I will be adding to my collection soon.

Dragon Castle Gameplay
Another Alpal special, I can see myself getting a copy of Dragon Castle. It's three games at once - just right to scratch that itch.

Manhattan

Another Alpal special, Manhattan is a game I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I did.

It’s an area management game that works across the board, and above it.  Building massive buildings is both satisfying and a great way of stealing points.  As long as your floor is on top of a building, it’s yours to score.

I did end up in a bit of a tit-for-tat vendetta with another player, as well as everyone else at the table.  It was good natured and a lot of fun, which led to an afternoon of laughs and enjoyment.

Manhattan is an older game, but I can see why it was the 1994 Spiel des Jahres winner.  It has a new edition and is well worth a look.

Manhattan Gameplay
Manhattan is surprisingly fun and incredibly well balanced. Definitely worth a play!

Prey

So there was a big sale on the PlayStation Store recently, that let me get 2 games for 70{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} off.  That let me get the entire Dishonoured collection and Prey for about $40 total – great day for me 🙂

So the other night I fired up Prey, and tried to put all of the initial “Oh it’s terrible” cries I heard on Prey’s release out of my head.

And I have had had a lot of fun so far.  Exploring around the area and putting the story together is interesting, and the atmosphere is similar to the tension of Alien: Isolation.

I will be trying to finish this off over the next few weeks, and I will let you know what I think when I have finished it.

Prey Gameplay
It's a couple of years old now, but I am really enjoying getting into Prey

Foul Play

PlayStation Plus bonus received.

Foul Play is a surprisingly fun button masher beat em up, where two players recount a tale of previous adventures.  The twist?  It’s being recounted as a play, where your combos and battle expertise lead to crowd approval that acts as a life meter.

Apparently, you can play coop online, but I haven’t tried this yet.  All I know is playing through the first Act was a blast, and I will be picking this back up when I want some mindless action happening.

Foul Play
It's fun and cartoony, and the gimmick of performing during a play is a bit of fun. That leads to a lot of humour during the game.

Sparkle 2

Another PlayStation Plus game I only just got to play, but it’s a great mindless pattern game that I will try and play for a while.

If you remember the venerable Zuma, you are already very familiar with Sparkle 2.

If you haven’t played Zuma, you control a launcher that fires different coloured balls.  Your goal is to fire the balls into an incoming line to match more than 3 of the same colour, and clear the line before it reaches the end of the path.

It’s fun, it’s semi-mindless, and even with my colour blindness a game I can play in spurts and really enjoy.

Sparkle 2 Gameplay
It's fun, simple, and addictive. Sparkle 2 is a fun yet challenging game to relax with.

Valkyria Chronicles 4

The full version came out last Tuesday, but I couldn’t get my hands on it until late Wednesday for a few reasons.

I haven’t played too deeply into the third chapter, but Squad Stories have unlocked.  Squad Stories are bonus missions that expand on the stories between the squad members.  They become unlocked at various times, when you use the right combinations of members on the main missions.

How do you know the right combinations?  In the squad profiles are the other members they like.  Just try and use these squad members together in missions – that simple.  Just another nice touch to a great series.

If you have a Switch, grab the demo from the eShop and have a great time.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 Squad Stories
It's little narrative bonuses like the Squad Stories that makes the Valkyria Chronicles series one of my favourites

Octopath Traveler

Not too much to report on this one this week only played a couple of more hours.

Good news is I found two more shrines.  The shrines in Octopath unlock secondary job classes, so my characters are expanding their horizons 😀

The good part of Octopath is it is a pick up and put down type game.  The bad part is you can’t put it down too long or you may forget what you are trying to accomplish.  I have started the second chapter for a character and saved in the middle so I know what’s happening when I pick it back up.  I think there may be a couple of weeks pause as I prep for PAX, and I need the reminders the Chapters provide mid game.

Octopath Traveler 20181001
Still enjoying the adventure, still have a little more grinding to do.

So a big week of gaming for me.  What about you?  What did you play this week?

Until next time,

JohnHQLD