Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce Live Playthrough Thursday

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

What’s always better than hearing about gameplay?  SEEING IT PLAYED!

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is currently sitting about 50{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} funded in only 4 days!  I am really hoping this trend continues because it looks like a great game.

If I had known about this game last year, I am confident it would have placed in my most anticipated games of 2018!

I won’t go on about it too much here.  If you would like to know what I think of Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce, you can see my initial post here.

So what am I talking about today?  On Wednesday, March 7th from roughly 7 pm PST (or Thursday 1 pm QLD Time) Sentient Cow Games is doing a live playthrough with the Unfiltered Gamer!

This will be a great chance to see the game in action, as well as talk directly with the creators with any comments or possible questions.

The live playthrough will be on the Unfiltered Gamer Facebook Page so wander over and have a look!  Hopefully, I can tune in live and see you there with work hours and all 🙁  If you can’t see it live, check out the recording when you can I am sure it will be worth it!

If you haven’t already, check out the Kickstarter project as well as the Board Game Geek page for more information.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

AuZtralia is coming to Kickstarter soon

AuZtralia Box Art

Martin Wallace adds yet another great twist to some well-known games and themes

UPDATE: The Kickstarter is live RIGHT NOW! Check it out here!

Well, if you read my Top Ten Anticipated Games of 2018, you know that AuZtralia is something I am looking forward to. I am a Martin Wallace fan, and Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald was a great twist on the Cthulu Mythos.

The time I have been looking forward to is coming close though – AuZtralia is set to launch on Kickstarter March 6th! Of course in Australia (correctly spelled!) this will probably be on the 7th, but it’s still going to be close!

By all accounts, the game is shaping up nicely, with overall positive feedback on the games and rules I have seen being tweaked before the project release. I think this is a game I would prefer to play either solo or with four players from looking at the rules so far, but opinions offered have suggested that three may be the best multiplayer count.

If you would like to give it a try yourself, you can try AuZtralia on Tabletopia here.

AuZtralia on Tabletopia
AuZtralia on Tabletopia

AuZtralia is a semi-cooperative game with a bit of a difference to games I have played like this lately. Many semi-cooperative games I have looked at or played lately tend to have a ‘work together until only I win’ element to it. AuZtralia doesn’t do this, and in fact, uses its semi-cooperative mechanism to fix an issue that can appear in a lot of bigger euro games.

In some games, one player can pretty much tank a game for a lot of the others by ending the game early, and this is usually done in response to that player feeling they can’t win. In AuZtralia, while this is still possible for a player to do and make the game harder on the others, other players can stop this from happening by defending the weak points that can end a game instantly.

AuZtralia Components
AuZtralia Components

One thing I am enjoying about this game is it’s not a Cthulu game. I know this sounds contradictory, but at its core this is a resource management, economic and area control type game. This is important as unfortunately the attitude of “oh no another Cthulu game” will probably stop a huge chunk of it’s intended audience from looking at the game.

If you like Trains, Railroad Revolutions or another Martin Wallace game Age of Steam I hope you will give AuZtralia a good look, as I think you will have another great game to add to your collection.

I will put up a link to AuZtralia when the Kickstarter is live. For now though if you’re interested in learning more about AuZtralia, check out the Board Game Geek page here, or have a look at the final thoughts of one of my favourite pull no punches reviewers Richard ‘Rahdo’ Ham in the video below.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce – a weirdly fun dungeon crawl

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

Think of any escape type exploration game you may have played.  Now pretend it was designed by the guys from MST3K and RiffTrax.

Dungeon Crawlers have been coming on strong over the last 18 months or so. It has gotten to the point that it is easy to dismiss a lot of games now as ‘Just another Dungeon Crawler’. This oversimplification is pretty unfair, as the term itself has started to become so generic that some truly unique ways of approaching these adventures are being overlooked. Sentient Cow Games has decided to tackle this in a way that tickles my fancy with the newly launched Kickstarter Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce.

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is the first in a planned trilogy of games that all seem to be carrying very similar themes, with the second game being on the Moon and the last being adventures through Time. But that is jumping ahead of myself – let’s talk about this game a little bit.

The premise itself is nice simple – players play cooperatively to escape the top-secret Dulce base (essentially Area 51) so that they can find their freedom. You explore the base and conquer level by level trying to find both the route and equipment required to complete the challenge. This is done in a 3D environment with actual levels that are explored. The vertical board seems to have plenty of room and is a great way to allow large amounts of exploration while keeping table space requirements low – always a welcome design.

While the player boards look like walls of text, the rules themselves are also simple and straightforward. While there is an experience system to allow character growth and a variety of enemies and situations you can find yourself in, there are a minimal number of mechanics and caveats to remember as almost everything is shown on the boards themselves. This means you can have new players in a game within about 5 minutes as you can expand or clarify rules as you play.

On top of streamlined rules, the humour in this game is amazing. For example, player characters range from the cryo-frozen Amelia Earhart to the mutated nuclear Smith family, all the way up to Snippy Von Bell – a two-headed cow with heavy weapons.  All of the characters seem to be parodies of sci-fi characters, some popular and some a little more niche.

Also, replayability seems to be quite high as well. There are stand-alone or campaign missions, and all tiles are double sided allowing different combinations to be used to create new bases each time. The component quality looks great even at the prototype level, and the miniatures all look amazing as we expect these days.

At its core, this is a fun dice chucking game with dungeon crawler elements and looks like it will be a fun addition as well as probably a gateway type adventure. While there are many great and deep games coming out, Sentient Cow Games seems to have gone back to what makes gaming fun in the first place – a fun experience where everyone can enjoy themselves all the way through without having to worry too much about rule interactions in situation X.

Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information, or the Board Game Geek page here.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders
Secret Unknown Stuff - Amelia Earhart
Secret Unknown Stuff - Adam Starblaster
Secret Unknown Stuff - The Smith Family
Secret Unknown Stuff - Dr Donna Haskin
Secret Unknown Stuff - Hattori Hanzo
Secret Unknown Stuff - Raylock G'ylax
Secret Unknown Stuff - Reb Buford
Secret Unknown Stuff - Snippy Von Bell

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Batman: Gotham City Chronicles goes live Tomorrow!

Batman Gotham City Chronicles Box Art

About three or four times a year, there is a Kickstarter guaranteed to make my wallet cry.

Batman is without a doubt one of my favourite comic book characters of all time.  As I previously posted, a new game from Monolith is coming to Kickstarter in the form of Batman: Gotham City Chronicles.

Quick Update: The Kickstarter project is now live!  Check it out here.

Batman Gotham City Chronicles KS Banner

Based on the generally praised but also heavily criticised Conan board game by the same company, Batman: Gotham City Chronicles sets out to correct a lot of issues from the original Conan game in both gameplay and message.

With scenarios from classic Batman comic history such as Hush, The Killing Joke and The Court of Owls, this 2-4 player game looks to be a great game addition to Batman fans and tabletop skirmish players alike.

Being developed alongside DC comics, I am really excited about this project.  The miniatures that have been released look amazing, and over 100 have been approved by DC already.  The game presentation and components look fantastic, even the prototype cardboard player boards seem a cut above a lot of other components.

There is also all of the planned expansion/add-on content available during the campaign as well.  At the moment I know of the following:

  • Arkham Asulym / Jokerland Expansion
  • Wayne Manor / The Batcave Expansion
  • The Batmobile
  • Skirmish Mode

The Skirmish Mode expansion at the moment I am hazarding a guess will be almost an automatic must have.  Being able to play different game modes and go head to head with another player is always a nice option to have.

Batman Gotham City Chronicles Boxes
Gotham City Chronicles In all it's Kickstarter glory

But wallet-busting this will be.  At the moment the base core pledge is expected to be USD$140, with the All In amount adding all extra content to be around USD$330.  This doesn’t include shipping either.

I need to look at the additional content and shipping hard, as this could easily end up costing around AUD$700 for a game I would expect to hit the table once or twice a year.

To help spread the message as Batman: Gotham City Chronicles is exclusive to Kickstarter, Monolith has joined the crew from Beasts of War with some preview gameplay and rule overview videos!

These videos work really well to show off the game and I am all but drooling over the beautifully painted miniatures being used.

Rather than try to sum up the contents of the videos, I have linked to the videos from the Beasts of War YouTube channel below.

Check out the videos below and I will post the Kickstarter Project when it goes live!

Will you defeat the Leviathan? Naval combat micro game on Kickstarter

Leviathan Kickstarter Cover

For all of those that would like to play out Moby Dick

Tabletop wargaming is still considered a niche area in gaming.  There have been attempts to crack the mainstream gaming community lately, most notably X-Wing and Armada from Fantasy Flight Games.  These games are all large affairs with a lot of pieces though.  Leviathan from Past Go Games is trying to change that with a unique twist.

Leviathan has 18 cards, and you play within in a set flat area.  The Kickstarter project does offer a vinyl mat which is attractive, but not strictly necessary, making this a very easy to transport and set up anywhere.

It is based on the story of Moby Dick, where one player is the titular whale and its pod.  The other player plays as Ahab himself.  The goals are simple – sink the Pequod, or catch the whale.  Both sides have other ships or whales to help, as well as some tactical cards to play.

At its core, Leviathan is an asymmetrical two-player game, where the whales rely on mobility and hidden information and the ships have more actions to achieve their goal.

Leviathan is a surprisingly deep tactical game that uses its simplicity to great effect.  Movement can be complicated in these sorts of games, usually with a dedicated flexible ruler and a set of rules.  Here though you use a card, and set its base against the movement arc of your card.  Combat is straightforward, and yet surprisingly deep.  It’s hard to explain in a quick summary, but the quick play of the Print and Play had me comparing this too much bigger games that take much longer to play.

Check out the Kickstarter page here, and grab the print and play version to give it a try.

You can also check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Leviathan Kickstarter Cover
Leviathan Cards 1
Leviathan Cards 2
Leviathan Cards 3

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

All Kickstarter projects hope to be The Big Score. Will this be one?

The Big Score Box Art

The Usual Suspects?

Van Ryder Games has a bit of a soft spot for me. Recently I posted about Hostage Negotiator, a great solo experience. Detective: City of Angels is one of my most anticipated games of 2018. And now The Big Score has hit Kickstarter, and it is growing on me very strongly.

The Big Score is a game that I would say about a quarter of my game group will not like. It’s a competitive cooperative game, where you don’t discuss your moves. A lot of players in my usual group don’t like this aspect, so The Big Score is a game I instantly put in the ‘not for everyone’ group.

That said, The Big Score is almost two games in one. The first stage involves deck drafting where each player gets to form their individual crews. The crew they are after depends on the locations that they want to hit. The catch is with the number of cards you have, your crew can maybe complete one or two places with guaranteed success, or spread yourself out and be a part of a lot of heists and get an equal share of those heists.
If another player adds one card that will contribute to the success of a location, all players involved will get an even cut of the job, so if a player always completes a mission themselves, a valid tactic will be to simply add one member to their crew for maximum profits.

It’s a unique spin on risk and reward, and not discussing your strategy adds an amount of tension to this. This stage only sets up an initial bank of money (points), so it’s not essential to excel but at the same time failing a job will cost you on the get-go, so it’s an interesting dilemma.

The second phase is the Big Score itself. Here, you reach into a physical bank shaped box and try to steal as much as you can before the police turn up. You can pretend to take a token and pull out of the heist, locking your amount for the end game. You can also pull out a Cops token, too many of these and it’s game over for everyone.

There is simultaneously a lot going on and an elegant simplicity to the game. A.J. Porfirio has also added a solo campaign to the game, and I am keen to give this a try as well.

The Big Score Box Art
Can you get away with the Big Score?
The Big Score Components
The Big Score Prototype Demo
The Big Score The Bank
The Big Score The Crew

If this sounds interesting, check out the Kickstarter page here for more information.

You can also check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Until next time!

JohnHQLD

Nanty Narking – it’s old Victorian for Great Fun apparently.

Nanty Narking Annioucement Image

What do you do when you can’t release your game anymore? Retheme the living Dickens out of it that’s what!

I am a major fan of the Discworld. That’s not a secret to anyone that knows me. It may seem like Firefly and Rick and Morty have a higher place in my heart, but no. It’s only that most of my friends don’t get the Discworld references. Martin Wallace originally had a trilogy of Discworld themed games. So when I heard that the first game was being rethemed and called Nanty Narking, I was instantly intrigued.

The first was Martin Wallace Discworld game is Ankh Morpork, a game that most closely resembles Lords of Waterdeep, but doesn’t. This game is the basis of Nanty Narking, and what I am excited about.

Then came The Witches that kind of but not really resembles Pandemic. This is a fun little experience with a number of ways to play it, and well worth a look.

Then, there was to be The Gods, the final in a trilogy. Due to Sir Terry’s passing, The Gods and pretty much all Discworld related licensing was pulled. And for the general public, The Gods were never to be. A piece of me does think that Sir Terry would have smiled at that little piece of irony though.

So what do you do when you have a fun game that you can’t print anymore because of lawyers? Retheme it and place it in a semi-fictional Old Victorian era, and call it Nanty Narking!

At the moment all I honestly know of the game is that it is coming to Kickstarter this year, and has some fun looking minis already 🙂

Based on Ankh Morpork gameplay, Nanty Narking has players competing to take control of what I assume will be London. This will be done with a mixture of area management, hidden roles and varying objectives.

I am hoping Nanty Narking will streamline and balance a couple of the roles that were found in Ankh Morpork, but like Restoration Games, this seems to be being handled by a group that genuinely love the base game and want to bring it to a new group of players.

If you know anyone with a copy of Ankh Morpork, have a game or two before the Kickstarter launch. I will be reviewing Ank Morpork formally around the end of March in the meantime. The gameplay and mechanics to me stand up well, and Ank Morpork was not a game that needed the Discworld theme to hold it up, so I am very excited about Nanty Narking!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Nanty Narking Annioucement Image Large

Viceroy: Times of Darkness is on Kickstarter!

Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Art

What do you do when the nobility is getting to you? Bring in the monsters of course!

Viceroy is an interesting but fun game. Based on a Russian Collectable Card Game, the idea behind it is to build a ‘pyramid of power’. This pyramid represents your fantasy empire and earns you influence. The player with the most influence at the end of the game wins.

There are things that Viceroy missed a little with me, but I do enjoy it very much. I enjoy the series of interconnected mini-games that creates the Viceroy experience. There is deck building, resource management, pattern placement, bidding and bluffing. It’s a game that sounds like a mess, but all comes together nicely.

The first round can be a little slow as with a lot of deck builders. This changes with the first auction phase. From here, you want to be getting nobles (cards) before your opponents. You always want to be getting these cards in one way or another, because all are useful for your empire in the end. The worst situation to be in with Viceroy is not being able to build your empire.

Now on Kickstarter, Viceroy’s expansion is coming in the form of Viceroy: Times of Darkness. This follows a modular expansion system allowing you to mix and match as you wish.

The Aristocrats have little initial value. They prefer to in higher positions in your empire, and their cards reflect this. For example on their base, they contain special bonuses instead of the colours of other tiles. This means to maximise their benefits, you need to place them higher for full effect.

The Invasion module brings monsters to the table. Three times a game at set intervals, players will be attacked by creatures. These creatures are faced with bidding and bribery. You can defend against attack, or pay more for special benefits turning your foe into an ally. Failure to defend your empire brings a penalty, so you need to weigh the costs.

Finally, the Underworld brings the criminal element to light. This is represented wonderfully by building their empire below yours. Instead of gaining gems, players may choose to take an Outlaw card and a random judgement penalty. The benefits of using these outlaws can range from financial in the form of wild gems to manipulating your empire mid-game, a new feature.

Viceroy was a game a little harder to get in Australia, but you can pick up the original game as a part of this Kickstarter. If you enjoy Viceroy, this is an expansion that should have you interested. If you haven’t played Viceroy, I encourage you to find a copy and give it a game!

Check out the Kickstarter page here.

You can also check out the original Viceroy on Board Game Geek here as well as the Times of Darkness expansion here.

Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Art
Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Back
Viceroy Times of Darkness Components
Viceroy Playmat

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

UBOOT The Board Game – A very interesting Kickstarter

UBOOT Box Art

Simulation games are something that traditionally video games have had a handle on. UBOOT brings on a new look at this concept.

Many many years ago, I played a lot of Silent Hunter on the PC. It was a WWII submarine simulation with a career mode that I imagine took a fair snapshot of what it was like to command a submarine. One thing that is always missing from these situations is the rest of the crew. You know you can’t be the only person running the boat, and yet commands are invisibly carried out with a text response. UBOOT has decided this was also something lacking and added crewmates and other things besides.

On first look, I thought UBOOT was a semi-realistic Captain Sonar. I was very, very wrong. That real-time team action is a good comparison, but it’s also incomplete. Even hearing about the app, I thought XCOM the board game or some of the new ‘Overlord’ style digital apps, and still, this is an incomplete but not unreasonable comparison.

UBOOT allows up to 4 players to participate in skirmish games or a full campaign against an app-driven AI opponent. The App is also fairly unobtrusive, especially given the real-time aspect of UBOOT. Firing torpedoes, the periscope and the Enigma device are all handled by the app, but everything else is coordinated and decided by the players in real time.

There are only a couple of days left for the campaign, jump over to Kickstarter and check it out!

You can also see more and some videos on the Board Game Geek page.

UBOOT Demo Essen 2017
UBOOT Demo Essen 2017 2
UBOOT Area Breakdown

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Page Quest: Season 1 Kickstarter with the free A4 Quest!

Page Quest KS Banner

A4 Quest. Page Quest. It sounds like when I need to format a report at work.

So the other day I hear an offhand comment about a solo print and play game called A4 Quest. It sounded a standard type of affair – get through the dungeon and beat the boss using dice. It was something that I thought I might be interested in but put in the ‘later’ pile.

Then I go looking through some Kickstarter emails and see a reference to a solo game called Paper Quest. Well, didn’t that sound familiar. Looking around I see it’s from the same guys that did the Superhot Card Game, so I have a closer look at the preview.

To my surprise, it’s the same guys that made A4 Quest! Board & Dice and Thistory Games apparently team up on a few projects, and this is the latest. Looking at the preview for the Kickstarter project, it sounds like a game I would be interested in. So I print up the first scenario of A4 Quest, grab my dice, tokens and Superhot figure, and play.

Now I did this late at night after a long day. My brain was not in the best condition. I was in a funny mood and decided to test if it was truly print and play. And it pretty much was! The gameplay is relatively intuitive, iconography makes sense, and the summary tables on the ‘board’ are easy to follow. My first game took 20 minutes, but that was my own fault. I had to restart as I ran out of dice on the second panel, and it was because I wasn’t playing properly. The Boss battle also took longer than it should of because of rule reading during the game.

I played it again immediately afterwards, and it took about 7 minutes to play and had a ball. A4 Quest is a fun little game that does seem to be asking for a little bit more to it. Not having to cut the board seems to be great for tutorial games, but not knowing the next room and what is required will make action dice management more meaningful. This is already covered by the game as you can cut out the individual rooms and create a random stack to explore as well. I also came nowhere close to losing both games I played, but I am putting that down more to above average dice rolls with a scenario that eases you in.

It’s these areas where Page Quest seems to be stepping up to the plate. Page Quest seems to be essentially the same format as A4 Quest, but have an overarching end goal rather than a single experience. I wouldn’t say campaign as such, simply an episodic format – kind of like Telltale video games. The ‘Season 1’ also strengthens this impression for me. This is by no means a bad thing – it simply means that each month there will be a continuation to the story. Based on the gameplay of A4 Quest, this just means a fun 20 minutes each month as the new boards arrive.

Check out the Page Quest Kickstarter here and have a look for yourself. Do yourself a favour and while your there, grab the pdf for the 3 A4 Quest adventures and have a bit of fun playing as well. It’s a lot of fun to be had with 9 printed pages, 7 tokens and 5 dice!

You can also check out the A4 Quest Board Game Geek page here and pick up extra companions!

A4 Quest Gameplay 01
The idea is simple. Get your piece to the end of the quest. How hard can it be?
It may not look like much, but this adventure is a lot of fun. Superhot mini not required!
Page Quest Characters
Characters from the Kickstarter Page Quest
Page Quest Stephen Miles Bio
Full character dossiers are a fun touch, and the presentation is awesome.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD