Last Week’s Gaming – March 30th, 2020

Tokaido

Finally, back to a Board Game heavy week!

It’s been a week. Last week was my second week of working from home, with more to come. Getting into a rhythm with has been a challenge, but Rabbit and I are up for the challenge!

This week has also seen the debut of a new format for the site – videos! At the moment, I am restricting this to some Talking Tech and digital game content. It’s still new to me, and I have some more kinks to work out. Let me know what you think about it!

But enough site stuff, onto what I got to play this week!

I finally got Marvel Champions to the table, and Alpal and I had a lot of fun playing it. I have played the Arkham Horror LCG, and Alpal has played the Lord of the Rings version. While fun, I have mixed feelings about Marvel Champions.

If you have played any trading/living card games before, the basics of Marvel Champions are easy to pick up. Engine building with the starter packs made sense, and we had a lot of fun.

But then it ended. There was no build-up, the game just ended. I knew we were getting close, and I had a couple of lucky card draws. We won, which was great, but I completely invalidated everything Alpal was planning while winning the game.

I will see if Rabbit wants to play and see if the same thing happens. But now that I finally have broken out Marvel Champions, I can’t wait to get into it for a formal review.

Marvel Champions
Near the start of the game. Not much was happening, and we got to keep Rhino's plans under control 🙂

Another Alpal surprise game, Rabbit Rally is another HABA gem that flew right below my radar.

If you don’t know about HABA games, they are simple games mainly targeted at younger players. Just because it’s aimed at kids rarely limits my enjoyment of these games though.

The idea of Rabbit Rally is simple. You play as a rabbit, and you want to reach an island first to get the legendary ‘golden carrot’ you can see growing there.

The catch? There is a stretch of water between you and the island. Each turn, you roll a die which shows a different coloured plank. Each plank is a different length, and you have to place a stone where you think the plank can reach. If the plank reaches, you progress! If you fall short, you miss a turn. 🙁

Silly and fun, Rabbit Rally was a great palate cleanser after the longer Marvel Champions. If you play with younger players, keep an eye out for Rabbit Rally, and let me know if you would like a more in-depth review.

Rabbit Rally
Simple components, straightforward play. If you want to have some silly fun, play with physical obstacles like putting cups in the way!

The last special from Alpal was Walking in Burano. When I saw the EmpororS4 badge, I was excited to give it a try.

The premise is straightforward – build a section of housing in line with the standards of Burano, Venice. Known for its colourful housing, this means you need to create a row of five houses of the same colour, but not having the same colour in two homes in a row.

Now, being colourblind, I appreciated the symbols on the houses that allowed me to tell the colours apart quickly. What I had trouble with was differences in the art like the pot plants and flowers.

I had to concentrate on tiny graphics on cards about a quarter of the size of a standard poker-sized card. The card sizes chosen for Walking in Burano help keep the size of your play area down, but the tiny details are used in end game bonus scoring.

Walking in Burano is a fun collection game, but if you have trouble with colours or focusing on tiny details, might give you some trouble.

Walking in Burano
I finished my little area 🙂 But I could have made better scoring choices with larger cards

Tokaido – Physical, Steam, Google Play, Apple Store

I have spoken about Tokaido a couple of times in the past, and last week I even did my first review cross gameplay video!

Everything I spoke about in my review, I would say again now. A great relaxing game that still has strategic elements, if you use Android jump in for free on the Google Play store now!

Keep in mind Namiji is coming to shelves later this year, which uses the same basic mechanics as Tokaido, but takes you on a very different journey.

Tokaido
Tokaido is beautiful both in the physical and digital form

Control – PS4

The story is insane and twists and turns with the paranormal backstory. I have really enjoyed playing Control, and I can’t wait to talk about it more in my review at the end of the week!

My fourth finished video game for the year! Now I am toying with completing it for the Platinum. I probably will, Control is fantastic. I am also deciding if I should try finishing the new Foundation DLC before Resident Evil 3 comes out April 3.

Control
The game takes a strange turn near the end of the story, turning you into a new office worker

Doom Eternal – Steam

But what do I think about Doom Eternal? Well, this was my first video experiment! Check out my first impressions here for more details.

When Doom 2016 came out, I instantly fell in love. While it was different from ‘my’ Doom back in the day, that quick and satisfying arcade-style gameplay was still very much intact.

Rip and Tear. What else can I say about Doom Eternal?

Doom Eternal First Impressions
Check out my first recording experiment and see Doom Eternal in all it's glory

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 tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – February 10th, 2020

Blight Chronicles Agent Decker

You know those weeks you feel like you got nothing done, then you look back?

That was me this week. A couple of work projects just hammered me. I am still tired almost all the time, but at least it’s just tired not sick.

And then I looked at my plays for the week. I got a lot more games in than I thought! What did I play? Well thank you for asking 🙂

I backed this solo narrative deck builder on Kickstarter, and it finally arrived a couple of weeks ago.

My first experience was a rulebook that seemed straightforward but ended up being a little too vague on the finer points. A couple of ‘how to play’ videos later, and I felt ready to play.

And while close, I lost. A bit of bad planning and not understanding the end game timing on my part. But that has been corrected now, so time to start again and play through all 7 stages before the review!

Blight Chronicles Agent Decker
It was close, but the first run through beat me in the end. Time to try again!

I have played Villainous before, and spoken about how I enjoyed it. This week I got to play another round, which is always fun. But Alpal and I got to play three players!

Playing with a new player, it was part teaching game but mostly just a social afternoon. I played Prince John for the first time, and some of his cards revealed we had been playing it wrong. It happens to the best of us. 🙂

Alpal and I had been keeping our Allies when ‘vanquishing’ heroes. This is wrong – we should have been removing all cards involved in the scuffle. At least we know going into future games!

Villainous
I was so close to a win! But it was a great afternoon playing this quick favorite

Alpal showed me another new game this week. Similo is a series of games with each version focusing on a different theme. We played Similo: History.

Similo is basically a cooperative Guess Who. The clue giver randomly draws a card for the others to guess. They then lay out 11 random cards with the target, and draw 5 other cards as their hand.

Each round, they will lay out a card which will be ‘different’ or ‘similar’ to the target card, and the guessers try and remove cards that aren’t the target.

Now this description sounds pretty dry, but I am describing it this way because I didn’t take any pictures of the game. This means I have to describe the game more than normal. What I can say is in about 10 minutes we knocked over two games, and next time we catch up I can’t wait to give it another go or three!

Similo History
This is why I should never leave my phone in the car! At least you can see the cover 🙂

Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Switch

Another game finished! I decided to play Luigi’s Mansion 3 after the RPG grind of Final Fantasy XV, and I was glad I did.

I have only played the first one on DS, with plans to go and play the second at some point. What I can say is that the third instalment is everything I remember, and then some!

Puzzles were great, but not too stressful. I collected all of the gems and boos, but I am not going to try and Complete it. It was fun, and that is what counts. Expect a full review soon!

Luigi's Mansion 3
Can't complain with a run like that 🙂

Onirim – Android

Last week I decided to try the score mode. It took me most of the week, but I finally got around to trying it out.

And just as I feared, playing for points put me in sub-optimal play mode as I chased points. It’s not that I think the score mode is terrible, it’s a flaw in how I approach the game.

I only played it a couple of times, but I still enjoyed them! A close loss followed two wins is still a reasonable ratio. 🙂

Again, if you want a great mobile implementation of a solo board game, check out my review and give Onirim a try.

Onirim
There are plenty of people that scored better, but I still had a blast

Onitama – Android

I love playing Onitima. The elegant simplicity, the quick gameplay, and always needing to adapt to new play conditions make compelling challenges.

Regular playing on my phone is against hard AI. I am yet to win more than about 30% of the time. This was demonstrated beautifully this week when I lost every single game.

Is playing against the AI as fun as playing the board game version? Not quite. There is none of the banter and socialising you do in person. But it is better than not playing at all! I have tried playing online, but the opponents tend to drift off at strange times. This makes sense when playing on mobile, but when you are on the other end with no idea what is happening, it’s frustrating.

Speaking of playing against the AI…

Onitama
It didn't matter what I did this week, I kept being blindsided by obvious plays

Splendor – Steam

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you would have seen a couple of ‘What do I do now?’ results during the week. To help with this downtime, I have moved to my gaming laptop for work as it can just handle more.

But I still have downtime, and lunchtime is always a thing. I took advantage of this during the week with a quick round of Splendor!

Playing at lunch was a bit distracting, as I was interrupted with work conversations that kept derailing my concentration. But I went down swinging, and was a welcome distraction during the day!

I have to avoid making it a habit while I am work, but the quick play against the AI made for an excellent mental refresh. Never played Splendor? Check out my review!

Splendor
I could have made a lot better plays, but the chance to stop and change to non-work thoughts was great

Doom – Xbox

I struggled if I should include Doom in this weeks summary. After fixing some internet issues at home, I jumped on the Xbox for the first time in ages. And what was showing on Game Pass? Good old Doom!

When it was released in 2016, I finished Doom in record time. The remake was just as fun as when I played the original back in the day. One level of quick demon shooting action was enough for the time I had, and that is part of Doom’s beauty. Want to play for hours? Please do! Want a quick round? Just as satisfying.

I am not going to play Doom as one of my ‘To Finish’ games of 2019, but the quick round did make me think about finally getting around to Halo…

Doom
How you going there little guy?

Halo – Xbox

A late Saturday night work night coupled with a few hours waiting for propogation meant I got to start one of the games I bought the Xbox for.

I finally started playing Halo.

Even non-gamers know about this series. I know a fair bit of the lore already, and back in the day someone actually gave me their Xbox to play it. I didn’t really get the chance though, as it died on me not long after.

I have put in a few hours and gotten a fair way into the campaign. If you are curious, I have completed The Silent Cartographer. The most annoying thing so far is I have died more from other Marines driving into me than Covenant forces!

Halo is the next of my games to finish. Eventually, I hope to finish all five games. Just not at once. Expect to see this one come up for a couple of weeks.

Halo
It's really hard not to make a "All hail the chief" joke right now

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 tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – February 3rd, 2020

20200203 Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale

Another week light on quantity, but what quality!

It was another great week for games. Unfortunately I didn’t make much headway in number of titles played. But it’s not how many you play, it’s how much you enjoyed playing it.

And enjoy it I did!

I am still feeling a bit run down, but at least I am not sick anymore. Enough of that, onto what I did get played this week!

I was hoping to play this game, and thanks to Alpal I got to play it!

A competitive Roll and Write, a lot of people will instantly compare it to the likes of Tiny Towns. This isn’t altogether unfair, but I am enjoying Cartographers more!

My first game I was not thinking and got absolutely punished for it. And I wanted to play again. I didn’t fare much better, but I had a great time playing it!

On Saturday, Alpal nailed why I enjoy the Roll Player games so much. They are light and easy to get into, but really reward longer term planning. As soon as she said it, the connection was obvious. But somehow I had missed it. Expect to see a full review after a few more games!

20200203 Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
All the equipment you need - Cards, Pen, Paper. Scores hidden as Anna Bel destroyed us :p

Onirim – Android

I had a few minutes, and I came back to an old favourite.

One thing got me thinking this week though. I always play in Classic mode. I stay away from Score Attack. I don’t know why.

I played The Game with a score. I mentioned last week how I tend to make some strategically bad plays for short term points.

As such, I have made a short term challenge for myself that I will play a scored game or three this week. I will let you know how it plays.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already checked out my Onirim review check it out!

20200203 Onirim
One loss, one win, one not finished due to human error. Maybe it is time to try and see what scores I can get.

198X – Switch

So this one came out last week on the Switch. It was cheap and has had some fairly positive reviews, so I thought I would check it out.

On the surface, it looks like a bunch of retro game clones. The opening level is called Burning Heart, and plays like a Final Fight or Streets of Rage clone.

But it is also more than that. There is a narrative that is tying these mini games together. The entire game is a narrative driven retro romp, that I have enjoyed so far. But I am not very far in yet, and it might be a while before I finish it.

If you enjoy retro gaming and are looking for something new to play, maybe check out 198X.

20200203 198X
What does a space bullet hell shooter have to do with the story? I am going to find out!

Tetris 99 – Switch

It has been too long since I fired up Tetris 99. Not becuase I have stopped enjoying it, just because I tended to look at something else.

This weekend was the latest Nintendo Grand Prix. It wasn’t a game theme tie in this round, this time it was for almost $10 on the eStore!

And after a long day Friday, I came home to glitching internet. Of course. It got sorted late Saturday, but it basically cost me two days of Tetris.

Still, I earned the 100 points bare minimum pretty quickly, and had a fun hour playing more Tetris 🙂

20200203 Tetris 99
First game late Saturday night in bed, hadn't played for maybe 3 months? Can't complain about results!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Switch

Another of my anticipated games, I have started getting into Luigi’s Mansion 3. And I am loving it 🙂

I didn’t think I would do more than just play through the game, but the simple yet challenging collectibles are starting to pull me in. I caught myself spending a couple of hours trying to collect all the gems on each level I have access to.

Bringing myself back to reality, I have decided to just play through the game until I get to the top floor, then go back and collect everything if I still feel like it. Stay tuned for how that works out!

20200203 Luigi's Mansion 3
That's right Luigi. Let the nice ghost play the music. Just slowly walk away...

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 tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – January 13th, 2020

Pokemon Shield

MORE GAMES PLEASE 2020!

So it’s been a big 5-6 weeks here. Rabbit and I have moved, end of year work crunch, all the fun stuff has been happening.

That said, I did get some gaming in – including finishing a couple of video games! I even got a platinum. Yay!

So considering the huge welcome back article earlier today, let’s jump straight into what I played.

The Tokyo Series (and indeed most Jordan Draper games I back) are games I love, but always have trouble pitching to others why they excite me. The come in plain boxes, have small components, and usually can be multiple games in one box.

Michael Fox (no, not that one) and Jordan Draper have collaborated on expanding Tokyo Jutaku, a dexterity game in the Tokyo Series. The fruits of this collaboration is MegaCity: Oceania. It also doesn’t hurt that thematically it’s played just off the Gold Coast 😀

MegaCity: Oceania
Combining stategy with dexterity sounds strange, but this was so fun to play!

There is a dexterity component of building up your city on a tile according to a random plan. Then, you have to move your completed section into the central MegaCity, all while trying to maximise points.

It sounds like two genres that shouldn’t work together, but it did. MegaCity: Oceania was fun while having deep stratagies hidden away. Building your city is fun, and you can take your time to a degree. Moving your city without anything collapsing is tense, without being frustrating. Give it a look if you get the chance.

I think this will be a great way to get people to look at other Jordan Draper games I own

Deep Blue

Days of Wonder knows how to present games well. Best known for the Ticket to Ride series, Days of Wonder publishes a staggering amount of well-known games. For example, Memoir 44, one of the most popular tabletop war games, is also a Days of Wonder game.

Deep Blue is a push your luck game crossed with hand management/deck building. That can sound daunting, but like Ticket to Ride a wide range of gamers can jump straight in.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but on reflection I definitely got a ‘Quacks of Quedlinburg lite’ feeling about Deep Blue. I think the games are different enough, but a lot of those base ‘do I or don’t I?’ moments dominate both games.

What can I say? I am just going to have to pull more people in for some more games and really give Deep Blue a workout 🙂

Deep Blue
Deep Blue is a Days of Wonder game. The components are so fun to play with!

I have talked about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time before. You can see my review of it here. A puzzle in a board game, with a lot of replayability – sounds good to me!

While taking a break from starting to catalogue the library, Alpal and I sat down for a game. And for some reason, absolutely smashed it. I can’t see anything we did wrong, and we didn’t use an optimised team – we just did really well.

So now I suppose I am just going to have to track down the expansion. Professor Evil and the Architects of Magic adds new characters, powers and objectives. It even adds time portals, meaning the Professor himself can take multiple turns in a row if you aren’t careful!

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time
It's been too long since I played this. And an expansion is coming!

I didn’t know what to expect when Alpal showed me Atlantis Rising. I had heard mostly good things about it in the past, but I didn’t realise it had a revised edition.

Playing three players, we dove into the cooperative worker placement game. The idea is simple – Atlantis is sinking, and the players must work together to build a cosmic gate (cough stargate) to escape.

During setup, I joked that we should pay on Forbidden Island to get used to it. Turns out, I was kinda right. The board sections get flipped when they sink, and player powers can bring them back.

Atlantis Rising
Atlantis Rising was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be!

The other similarity is that lovely ‘have your turn, now deal with bad things’ mechanic. If you don’t like games like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, Atlantis Rising won’t be for you.

If you are a fan of these sorts of games though, give Atlantis Rising a try. I will need to try it at different player counts, but I can feel a full review coming at a later stage.

Pyramid of Pengqueen

On paper, Pyramid of Pengqueen sounds like a lot of fun. One player takes the role of the Pengqueen/Mummy, and the other players have to steal the treasures.

This plays out on a two-sided magnetic board, with the Pengqueen on one side and everyone else on the other. The Pengqueen can’t see where the player pieces are, but the players can all see where the Pengqueen is.

It’s cute, and the theming with the Icecool isn’t terrible. Feels a little like a wannabe Ducktales comparison, but that might be my age talking.

Pyramid of Pengqueen
An entry level one vs all, but a little lacking in gameplay

While this is aimed at younger players, I would say to the older person watching the young ones play to be prepared for fights. The Pengqueen has most of the advantages, and there is going to be inadvertent cheating by everyone.

I am going to review Pyramid of Pengqueen very soon, watch out next week to get my full thoughts.

Pokemon Shield – Switch

I FINISHED POKEMON SHIELD! I AM CHAMPION!

And that’s about as far as I think I am going to take it. I am not really interested in the usual post-game cleanup to fill my Pokedex. The battle system sounds interesting, but I am not really invested in that either.

What I did have was a fun time playing through the story. There is a lot of love and hate for the new entry in the series. Like any opinion, both sides have fair points. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say one side is right.

Pokemon Shield
I beat the unbeatable Champion! OK, almost everyone will. But it is where I call the story ended.

Pokemon has excelled for me as a light RPG experience. Pokemon Shield lived up to this for me. Yes, I would have liked some story holes filled in, but I can say that for any of game in the series. Bottom line is I had fun, I enjoyed the experience, and you will see my full thoughts in a couple of weeks 🙂

And, since I wrote all this, it looks like I’m not done with Shield. Friday, Nintendo and Game Freak announced the first ever Pokemon DLC – there will be more story later this year!

Terminator: Resistance – PS4

My first Platinum trophy since Kingdom Hearts III in February 2019. Well, that’s not technically true. I finished Access Denied in March, but I don’t count that Platinum Trophy. Why not? You will have to wait a couple of weeks for that tidbit 😀

Enough teasing, I finished Terminator: Resistance. The two and a bit weeks of no gaming with the move didn’t diminish the experience a jot.

Now, Terminator: Resistance is not what I call a shooter – at least at easy or normal difficulties. You shoot at things sure, but this isn’t a twitch shooter like Call of Duty. Conversely, while there are stealth elements, this isn’t a Metal Gear Solid either. You have a lot of freedoms when it comes to the machines recognising you.

The story itself isn’t exactly groundbreaking either. But it did make me want to keep playing it and explore the world. Terminator: Resistance is fan service done well, in my opinion. Set characters, set events, but a unique story that enhances the whole.

For more, you will have to wait until Friday for my review.

Terminator Resistance
Exploring the post-Judgement Day world shows the love this game was developed with.

Final Fantasy XV – PS4

Oh, I have wanted to play this for years now. Open-world RPGs are games I love to play when I can really sit back and take my time with them. Hence, a massive backlog of 80+ hour games waiting to be played!

I started a while ago not too long after the initial release, then had a bad thing happen during my first play. It took almost four years for that annoyance to stop creeping in as I loaded the game! But now I am happily working my way through it.

I have probably spent almost 10 of the 30ish hours played just letting the Regalia drive me around. This doesn’t sound very good, but it is how I have been playing. When I could lie back on the couch, do a few hunts or explore an area, then kick back and relax and watch AP build up – why not? The point of a break is to have a break after all. Final Fantasy XV has let me do that.

Final Fantasy XV
It's not news anymore, but just watching how beautiful the world is bringing me much joy.

I am only up to Chapter 7 for people that have already played through it. Seriously, I am taking my time. So this will probably pop up as my video game for the next few weeks, especially on PlayStation. So sorry in advance for lots of pictures of bros in a car 😀

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – PS4

So one of my favourite YouTubers is Jirard Khalil, aka The Completionist. I had already heard mostly good things about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but his review convinced me to get it that night.

And I had fun with it. Playing on easy, I died multiple times in the start/tutorial section of the game. This didn’t put me off playing though, as I loved the world and the pace of the story setup.

I finished the beginning section, then played long enough to open up flying to another world of my choice. By now, most of the controls were in muscle memory. I had a feel for the rhythm of the gameplay. I wanted to sit and really get into it. Only one thing stopped me.

I am one of those gamers that hates significant actions being assigned to L3/R3. Clicking a stick does not come naturally to me, and R3 all but replaces X in Fallen Order.

I have a plan though. I have already preordered one of the newly announced Dualshock 4 Back Button attachments. Come mid-February, I will be able to play Fallen Order and use those buttons mapped to L3 and R3.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order
Umm, hello. Nothing to see here. Well, that's not true. This isn't a cut scene, so it gives you an idea of how beautiful the world is.

Victory is Mine! Well, hopefully it will be :p

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 in the comments below, on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD