Last Week’s Gaming – March 23rd, 2020

Ticket To Ride

So my first week of working from home is complete. Gearing up for week 2.

Hi everyone.

Rabbit and I have been pretty sick this week, so we both worked from home while resting up and getting better. All up we are both fine, but with the current issues, it’s better to be safe and isolate ourselves.

There are prices to pay. Mainly I didn’t get to play board games with Alpal again this week like I was looking forward to doing. At least I know she got some Steam game inspiration from last week’s article. 😀

On the plus side, I have had time to sit and start tinkering with my recording/streaming setup! This has me excited for sharing my reactions to video games and stepping up the Talking Tech articles as well. I will share some more thoughts about all this below. 😀

Potion Explosion – Android/Steam

Writing my digital board game article, I realised I hadn’t played Potion Explosion for a while. So I took the opportunity to fix that. 🙂

I still only play against AI opponents, because I don’t have to wait on people on the internet. I can get many games in with the AI compared to a single game online. If that is your biggest complaint about a game, you know something is going right with the gameplay. 🙂

Next week if I play again, I have set myself a challenge to start playing with the potion/Professor combinations more. I have one single combo (basically the default settings) that I tend to play with. I feel like I am limiting myself with the possibilities by doing this.

I will let you know how that little experiment goes next week. 🙂

Potion Explosion
I need to give to give other potions a good run. I have played the same combo for a couple of years now!

Ticket to Ride – Xbox/Steam

While I have played the digital version of Ticket to Ride recently, I realised I had to play it again to grab some screenshots.

Oh no, what an awful position to find myself in!

Also talked about in last week’s digital board game article, all of my thoughts on Ticket to Ride hold true. Want a game you can sit back and enjoy? Ticket to Ride should be on most people’s short lists.

Eventually, pattern recognition will kick in and people will be battling for routes at a cutthroat pace. This is where the expansions come in – for very little money, you can almost get a new game!

Ticket To Ride
I came so close! This is fairly typical of my 5 player scoring though 🙂

One Deck Dungeon – Steam

Like I wasn’t going to give this little dungeon run another go. 🙂

I am getting to the point I am thinking of buying the expansion to play on PC. I have the stand-alone expansion Forest of Shadows physically. Still, as I have said, I love the quick play digitally.

There is a new poison mechanic introduced in Forest of Shadows, as well as new potions, rooms and monsters. There are also new heroes to play with. As I said, you can play Forest of Shadows stand alone, but you can also bring across your powered up original heroes as well.

That’s another one we will have to wait and see what I do next week. 🙂

One Deck Dungeon
Now you know why the Yeti hides from me :p

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – Switch

I didn’t get too into Tokyo Mirage this week. That said, my Switch is sitting next to the bed for a quick round or two anytime.

The combat so far is relatively repetitive, and the pacing is throwing me off quite a bit. Exploration feels awkward in Tokyo, as you have many small areas to explore but fixed camera angles. That, coupled with the Japanese Pop Idol subplot, has me skipping text more than I thought I would.

That said, the bite-sized nature of the adventure makes for a great break between the more action-heavy games I am playing. I know exactly what I am supposed to be doing days later with the objective and Topic system.

Hopefully, I will get more into it again when I have finished the extra stuff I am doing at the moment.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Flashy moves are great, but like Summons in Final Fantasy get a bit boring

Control – PS4 Pro

I played this a lot early in the week, but hope to pick it back up Sunday. The uneasy feeling that the start of the game me has passed, and I am pretty sure that’s because I haven’t been subjected to more Threshold Kids videos! 😀

Power-wise I am doing pretty well. I have now unlocked levitating and started claiming more Objects of Power. The game is excellent, and now I want to spend a couple of hours backtracking and tackling side missions.

Now that I have gotten into the game, I am 99% certain that this will be my next Platinum Trophy run. The same locations in the Oldest House are a bit repetitive, but combat has been nicely ramping up. Now I am getting into the exploration and collectable aspects as well.

I just need to make time to finish Control before the full release of the next game. 🙂

Control
Having a chill time turning enemies into friends 🙂

Resident Evil 3: Racoon City Demo – Xbox One S, PC

Resident Evil 2 last year was a game I basically inhaled. I didn’t Platinum it, and I probably never will. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because some of the requirements just seem a little out of reach for my skill level.

I can dedicate time and get better at the game, but I have so many other games I want to play it will feel like work.

In a couple of weeks, the remake of Resident Evil 3 comes out, and I can’t wait to play it! So it was with glee on Friday I downloaded the demo on every platform I can play it on. 🙂

But this takes me into a side project I have been playing with the last couple of days…

Resident Evil 3 Racoon City Demo
No scary screens here. But even on the Xbox One X, I love the reflections the devs managed to get working in this engine!

Coming Soon – DOOM Eternal!

I preordered and even preloaded Doom Eternal in preparation for last Friday’s release.

Usually, I don’t play first-person shooters. Destiny and Doom are two notable exceptions to this, and I have given away Destiny 2. But Doom 2016 bought back great memories of the original games, and I am looking forward to playing this reboot/remake going forward.

And then I thought about it. What if I recorded my initial reactions for a game I have been looking forward to? So I have been tweaking my setup using the Resident Evil 3 Demo as my test setup!

This means I can start also planning videos for my Talking Tech articles, hopefully making them a bit easier for you. It also means I can finally get into the video projects I have been sitting on, like taking you through old games I loved back in the day. 🙂

Streaming Test
Getting the setup sorted. It's close!

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

Six digital versions of board games to play while inside

Tokaido Following the Road

Staying inside and looking for something to play? Here are four classic games to keep you entertained!

The world is in a strange place right now. It’s been getting stranger and harder the last few years. I have been working from home during the week bar a couple of sick days, and I don’t see that changing soon.

The internet is abuzz with more stories of humanity being terrible and memes trying to make light of the situation. Apart from wishes that I hope you are doing as well as you can, I won’t be going into any detail of what I think of the world at the moment.

What I can do is talk about something I love – board games. Playing games is always something fun to do, and offers some escapism to boot 🙂

Generally, on a Friday, I would be doing a full game review. Today I decided to something a little different, and suggest four board games that you can enjoy in both physical and digital form!

That’s right – you can play with others, or even if you are inside by yourself the computer AI offers a great time.

Enough of what today is about – on to the games!

Ticket to Ride – Steam, Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox

A classic game I have referred to on the site now and then, usually in Last Week’s Gaming. It had been a while since I got this modern classic to the table, but it is as fun now as the first time I played it.

The premise is simple – collect sets of coloured cards, and trade them in to build tracks to complete specific tickets. It can sound overly simple, but the elegant simplicity of Ticket to Ride has made it a favourite amongst new players and veterans alike.

The variety of gameplay offered with a large number of ticket goals randomly given each game, coupled with strategic choke points and eventually recognition of all the routes makes Ticket to Ride incredibly addictive. It also helps that games on digital go very quickly, as shuffling dealing and scoring are all handled by the system!

If you have played Ticket to Ride before or play it enough to master the original board, you can get almost every expansion as well. Explore multiple maps from the USA, Europe and Asia. Each expansion brings new rule tweaks and challenges, letting you see why Ticket to Ride has survived so well in the ‘cult of the new’ in board gaming.

If you have Xbox Game Pass, you can play the original USA board for free! It’s hard to beat that price 🙂 Fair warning though – the train whistles when playing on TV is rather shrill and will let the rest of the house know what you are playing!

Ticket to Ride Title
Like many games on this list, you can play solo or online
Ticket to Ride Gameplay
The actual game plays exactly like the board game
Ticket to Ride Expansions
Mastered the first lot of routes? Go for one of the expansions!

Elder Sign: Omens – Steam, Android, iOS

A lot of people are over the Cthulhu Mythos in gaming, and theme fatigue is a real thing. I adore Elder Sign, though. Cooperative battle Yahtzee is a pretty good description of Elder Sign, and Omens is the digital implementation of the board game.

I will never pull out the physical copy to play solo. There are so many decks of cards to deal with. Playing solo, I spend 1/2 – 2/3rds of my time managing the board. Playing with friends, this isn’t a problem, as you divide up the management and time flies. The general chat and sense of group success when you all work together is well worth the setup cost.

If I want to have a quick round though, I will always fire up Elder Sign: Omens. Technically I have it on my phone and Steam, but I only bought expansions on PC. Gameplay-wise, it’s terrible to watch someone play. Playing yourself though, is an incredibly immersive and rewarding experience. I can’t count how many times I have looked up after what I would have sworn was 10 minutes and discovered it was closer to 90.

The mechanics are repetitive. Pick a location, roll your dice to match symbols to pass challenges, and try to collect a certain amount of Elder Sign before the ‘big bad’ earns doom points. It’s a race to a certain number of points for both sides. But I have spent way too many hours telling myself ‘just one more game’ to not tell anyone to give Elder Sign a play.

Elder Sign Omens Mission Objective
There are various Elder Gods that you have to beat with differing conditions
Elder Sign Omens Mission Select
Different areas have different challenges. They all boil down to match the symbols.
Elder Sign Completing Challenge
Each of these areas are different cards in the board game, making the digital version plain looking

Potion Explosion – Steam, Android, iOS

I have talked about Potion Explosion in my Ramblings and mentioned it in Last Week’s Gaming. Another collection game, in Potion Explosion you pick a coloured marble from a large dispenser. If two matching colours hit as they drop, they create an ‘explosion’ letting you collect them as well.

The random nature of the game already gives it a great replayable puzzle experience. Then I got it on my phone. I think I have close to 100 games on my phone alone!

There are three levels of AI opponents, but if you want, you can also play against others online. This makes it great if you are home alone, and want to test your skills against others 🙂

But the random components dropping and mixing isn’t the only thing you can change up. There are different potions you can create, and with expansions different Professors you can ask for help – at a cost, of course. This gives you a heap of different ways to change up your game experience 🙂

Potion Explosion Opponents
You can pick different levels of AI opponent
Potion Explosion Picking Components
Watching strings of components all connect and fill your flasks is very satisfying

Tokaido – Steam, Android, iOS

My favourite alternate name for Tokaido was given by a friend of mine. They describe it as ‘The Hangover Game’. Every other game engages you in competition or sometimes tricky logic puzzles. Tokaido is a challenge and has many different scoring paths. Where it stands alone is the goal of the game is to have the most fulfilling journey across Japan.

What do I mean by fulfilling? Treat the game as a holiday game. You need to experience different foods, go shopping, paint, chat to strangers, take in the sites, even donate to temples if you feel inclined.

The turn order can take a while to get used to. The person in the last place on the path takes the next turn. If you fly ahead down the road, others will have more time to go slowly and enjoy their trip. Just like when you are on holiday, if you rush through the experience, you don’t come out with as many memories.

While the theme is laid back, and the digital implementation has gorgeous animation, there is still a substantial strategic element to Tokaido. It is nice to sit back and enjoy, but if you relax too much, your competitors will smash your score.

If you think the game sounds overly simple, think again. Each player has different available abilities you need to capitalise on to maximise your score. Owned everyone just meeting travellers one game? That was a lucky draw. You may meet no one that will help your score for the next 10 games.

While it might not look like everyone’s cup of tea, I can’t think of anyone I have taught it to that hasn’t enjoyed it.

Tokaido Following the Road
Travelling down the road in Tokaido
Tokaido Eating at the Inn
Even eating at the end of each day can get you points. But you can't eat the same meal twice!
Tokaido Complete Paintings
No cameras here. Enjoy the sights? Paint a panorama and get points!

Pandemic – Steam, Android, iOS, Xbox, PS4, Switch

I can’t recommend Pandemic enough. Sure, I have seen a lot of memes lately with COVID-19 and Pandemic, but that doesn’t change the fact Pandemic is a great game.

Digitally you can only get the original Pandemic. If you were to look at the physical versions, remember there are many versions with similar mechanics but very different gameplay available.

And like Ticket to Ride, if you have Game Pass on Xbox, you can try it out for free!

Pandemic is the game I am not going to talk about much here, as I have a full review that you can check out here. One thing I don’t touch on with the digital version in my review is the game soundtrack. The increase in tempo as you come closer to losing has a definite effect on you!

Pandemic Disease Cured
One cure down. Now to try and eradicate!

One Deck Dungeon – Steam, Android, iOS

And one last game that I recently reviewed, One Deck Dungeon has grabbed my attention hard lately. Many of my recent gaming challenges have been me playing it, to the point I am contemplating starting to exclude plays!

A card based dungeon crawler with light RPG elements (if you choose to use them), One Deck Dungeon is a great game. The only thing I would warn against is playing on mobile. The gameplay is just as fun as the physical or larger screen version, but you have to switch panels during a round and that hides information.

For my full thoughts on One Deck Dungeon, check out my review here.

One Deck Dungeon Gauntlet Run
My current play mode is trying to beat Gauntlet Mode with fresh characters. I haven't quite gotten a clean run yet.

What do you think?

I can hand on heart say that I have spent hours playing each game, many times multiple games in one sitting. I have spent many an afternoon with all of these games. Hopefully, you can do the same 🙂

Do you think I should have included another digital game implementation? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook or shout out on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – March 16th, 2020

Control

Games played, and one title for ‘work’ with the site

Hi everyone!

I didn’t get much gaming in this week, between work and preparation for a few pieces with Talking Tech. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t get to play anaything! Hopefully next week I will get more board games in with Alpal, but we will see how everything goes.

Enough retrospection, onto what I did play this week!

I have cracked. I got One Deck Dungeon on my phone. I can play it whenever and whereever I like.

And I don’t like it on my phone.

The gameplay is solid, that hasn’t changed. The problem is the amount of screen size you get on your phone. Playing One Deck Dungeon on PC, I can see everything that is happening. The worst I have to do is scroll through some skills.

On my phone, I have to flip between 4 screens. Reviewing status, skills and using items means flipping between screens. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.

If you don’t have the PC version to compare it to, One Deck Dungeon on mobile is fine. But after this experience, I would have to say play on a tablet. You need th extra screen space.

Oh, and I finished a gauntlet run on Steam. I did lose one round though! I will have to try for my perfect run again. What a pity 🙂

One Deck Dungon Mobile
I can see everything happening for this encounter, but I need to change screens to see my characters

Control – PS4 and PC

I am being a little cagey about my time with Control. I know people raved about it when it was released late last year, and after a few hours I can see why.

It is very different, and doesn’t even try to apologise for it. The opening voiceover even warns you this is going to be a different experience.

While not what I would call scary, enough of the opening story and videos had me unnerved. You think the game and/or story is going one way, and I was usually wrong.

It has some issues for me so far. The action is solid, but the discover the story narrative style is very slow. Puzzles haven’t been overly taxing or out of place, but there is a lot of timed side missions that feel like a way of padding out the experience rather than fun experiences on their own.

You will be seeing a lot of Control in the next few weeks, both in Last Week’s Gaming and Talking Tech. Yep, I am using it for some of my upcoming tech articles over the next few weeks – I hope you look forward to that 🙂

Control
Somehow, the story is crazier than the gameplay. What do you expect in a world with true paranormal events?

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – Switch

During the week, I had to go and spend some time waiting for Rabbit. I thought this would be a great time to try this Persona/Shin Megami Tensei cross Fire Emblem release.

Everything on paper has me interested. I haven’t played Persona 5 yet (I know, but I told you my backlog was impressive). That said, I have played enough Persona 4 Golden to know that this portable version would be right at home on the Switch.

The narrative has me on the back foot a bit. You discover that you can use Mirages (spirits?) in combay on another plane, and these helpful Mirages are from Fire Emblem. But in the ‘real’ world, you start on the path of becoming Idols – Japanese Pop Stars is the quickest summary I can give.

It has me intrigued, but largely because I can just save and put it down after a fight or two. And I have Control waiting in the wings. This is the problem with playing multiple attention grabbing games 🙂

Tokyo Sessions Mirage FE Encore
It's a strange premise, but so for I am enjoying it. For an RPG though, I will say it's not for everyone.

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 – March 2nd, 2020

Roomba Feature

You know those weekends when everything catches up with you?

I have had a lot on this week, culminating in not too many games being played 🙁

Honestly though the downtime was needed, and I had a great time on the couch and pottering. I even started watching Altered Carbon Resleeved, the second season. While we are only a couple of episodes in, it is grabbing me just like the first season.

I also started watching Picard. I stopped watching the first episode about 2/3rds of the way in, because I really want to watch it with Rabbit.

But you aren’t here to find out what I think about TV shows – on to the games!

One Deck Dungeon – Steam

Look, I made no secret how much I have been playing this lately 🙂 I only played a couple of times this week, and I ‘lost’ my gauntlet run 🙁 For no good reason other than the challenge, I want to get through all five bosses in one run. I am nowhere near that level yet 🙂

But I am still having fun with it, and that is what counts. It was only timing that stopped me from playing any more this week. Well, that, and a little game I have had in my ‘To Play’ list for a while called Thronebreaker…

One Deck Dungeon
A quick run, and my first dungeon complete with the mage 🙂 Look at all those progression points 😀

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales – GoG.com

I love the Witcher, my hesitancy on playing The Witcher 3 notwithstanding. However, I am pretty sure I worked out why I am hesitant – more about that later this week 😀

The idea behind Thronebreaker is pretty good. It’s an isometric open world(ish) adventure game where you play as Queen Meve of Lyria and Rivia. There is a story that unfolds (avoiding spoilers, not trying to be coy) and you resolve combat with Gwent, the side game introduced in The Witcher 3.

Just like The Witcher games, there are decisions to be made and consequences for all of those choices. There is a good chance Thronebreaker might become my ‘I want a break’ game at lunch at work, but we will see.

I might not talk more about Thronebreaker quickly, but it has been bumped up on my ‘I want to finish this’ list.

Thronebreaker
An adventure roll playing game that uses Gwent for comabt

PC Building Simulator

I have known about PC Building Simulator for a while, and even talked about it in Early Access. Initially I thought it was just a cheap way to safely play with building different PC builds and things like overclocking.

I was kind of right, but there is more to it. After watching some people talk about it, and getting ready to write up some tech pieces soon, I thought I would give it a go.

And I got REALLY sucked into the story mode. Basically you take over a failing PC repair shop that has been run into the ground. You start with basic jobs like cleaning PCs and removing viruses, but soon you get to fix and build new dream machines. While not 100% accurate, the process of diagnosis and building is surprising spot on.

PC Building Simulator
I was surprised how much I got into the story mode

And the best part? For me, it was just a kick back and relax experience for the first couple of hours. I wasn’t challenged until I got a few weeks in, and the AMD mix with vague customer wishes actually made me look up what was compatible with what. And not game walkthroughs – I was looking at AM4 motherboard spech sheets for the info!

Not for everyone, but I will play more of this in a couple of weeks just to see how far I can go in the story.

Roomba: First Blood

I almost didn’t put this on the list today, because I was not in a fit frame of mind to play games. I did go through the eStore sale and buy a few games, and Roomba for $6 was on the list.

A game I had seen a bit at PAX at the Samurai Punk booth, so much about the premise just amuses me. You play a Roomba that defends your house from intruders. Yes, you read that correctly 🙂

You can pick up weapons and ram into robbers, or hack different appliances around the home to trap them. When you defeat them all, you have to clean as much of the house as you can before your humans get home.

I played the first level, and I enjoyed it. I will play it more when I am a bit more with it, maybe next week.

Roomba
Stealth action from a perspective I would never have seriously considered

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 24th, 2019

Homebrewers

So guess how many games you can play with a night on the couch?

So Friday night I came home and basically crashed on the couch. It had been a week. The upside of this though is I basically slept for a bit after work, then played quite a few games on Xbox! Yay different gaming experiences!

What did I play? Well, that is kind of the point of Last Week’s Gaming :p

Alpal showed me Homebrewers this week. Initally I had it mixed up with Brew Crafters, but the only similarity is making beer.

It’s an interesting engine builder/dice action management game with variable player powers. Each game has different objectives, and you improve the quality of your beers by brewing them.

The best part of Homebrewers was when I lost the second game. It wasn’t the loss that was great, but that it had me thinking about what I could have done better with what I had. A game that makes you think like that is great, and I am hoping for more games of Homebrewers in the future.

Homebrewers
Homebrewers is a game that even when I lost, scratched that part of my brain as to why

One Deck Dungeon – Physical and Steam

The way this game has grabbed me is just insane. I had to force myself not to keep playing this week!

I am having fun with the progression, but I am rying the ‘Gauntlet’ mode on the Steam version at the moment. Gauntlet is like a mini-campaign that has you running all five dungeons in a row, but without any of the progression bonuses.

I am not doing too well at the moment – I think I will go back to playing two characters for this mode and starting again 🙂

Don’t know One Deck Dungeon? Luckily I reviewed it last week, so check out my review here!

One Deck Dungeon
I am determined to do a Gauntlet run - basically a run on all five bosses from base stats

Ticket To Ride – Xbox

Ticket to Ride. I have the ‘special’ version – the 10th Anniversary USA and the Marklin editions physically. But when it’s close to 1am trying to get players to come over for a game is a bit rude :p

Luckily, Ticket to Ride is on Xbox Game Pass, so I didn’t even need to boot up my PC! The AI can be tweaked for different play styles, and I got owned on the first game basically because I forgot how to play :p

Ticket to Ride is a great game, and I still enjoy playing it now and then. I probably won’t play it again for a while. But it was a fun hour while I messed around 🙂

Ticket to Ride
Picking routes is fiddly on Xbox, but I still got three games played with different AI in about 45 minutes

Elder Sign: Omens – Android

I was looking to kill about 20 minutes this week, and I hadn’t played Elder Sign for a while. Once again, the digital version on my phone came to solo playing rescue!

Elder Sign is kind of Cthulhy Yahtzee. You have to complete different missions, which is accomplished with different combinations of dice rolls. You can also take advantage of different skills based on the investigators you choose.

The digital version is a faithful recreation of the physical version, and is a great way to play solo as the app takes care of the more time consuming tasks like shuffling and setup.

If you don’t know Elder Sign (physical or digital), I have it on my list of games to review. Expect to see that in the near future 🙂

Elder Sign Omens
I am still on the base game on my phone, but if I want to play a round or two playing Elder Sign Omens is great

Ring Fit Adventure – Switch

So this week I took the plunge and bought Ring Fit Adventure. I have been particularly sedentary of late, and I need to start moving again.

I started watching some reviews not that Ring Fit Adventure has been out for a while, and I was heartened to see the amount of people sticking with it after a few months. So, I took the plunge!

Compared to the workouts I used to do, Ring Fit Adventure is a light one, especially as I started on Casual. But I have run over a kilometer in both sessions – more than I have run in a single session in more than two decades!

At the moment, I did two days on, two off, and I will be doing another session after writing this. I am enjoying it, and I intend to play at least 5 times a week, so expect to see more on this one going forward.

Ring Fit Adventure
I told you I was unfit :p

Halo – Xbox

Slow and steady is my take on Halo. I only played a couple of sessions, but both times I got through a main mission, so I think I am only a couple of hours from finishing it.

There is one thing that is really starting to bug me with the Master Chief Collection version though. The music is awesome, but there is no way to lower the music volume in the game!

Why is this important? Because the music can be louder than all of the other sounds, and when I am trying to hear Cortana’s directions she is being drowned out by the music! It is REALLY annoying that I had to turn the subtitles on just to know what I was supposed to do.

Either way, this time next week, I should have this on my ‘finished’ list 🙂

Halo
Slowly making my way through the campaign. Getting ready to blow up Halo

Halo: Spartan Assault – Xbox

More Halo when I had enough of Halo 🙂 Not a new release, Halo Spartan Assault is what is commonly called a twin stick shooter. One stick controls where you move, and the other the direction you face/aim.

Spartan Assault isn’t the deepest gameplay I have ever experienced, but it is good for short burts of gameplay. The first time I played this was on my Surface Pro 3 because I didn’t believe you could play it on that machine!

The story takes place between Halo 3 and Halo 4, so technically I am playing this out of order. The story follows Spartans Davis and Palmer, which you alternate between on different missions solo but can play either in coop mode.

I don’t know if I will play this through in any particular fashion, but I am willing to keep it on my Xbox for quick arcade type gaming.

Halo Spartan Assault
While not a AAA title, Spartan Assault is fun for an arcade romp

Portal: Still Alive – Xbox

Looking through Game Pass, I was looking through the collection when I saw the Xbox version of Portal. Hardly a cutting edge game today, I thought a quick play to see how much I remembered was worth it.

And wasn’t it. Lying on the couch at a ridiculously late hour, I made it through 3/4 of the game before accidently standing in front of an electric ball.

If you have never played Portal, don’t be put off by the age of the title. It’s a fun and challenging physics puzzle game that is standing up well today. Portal 2 is more fun and has a deeper story, but I didn’t see that on Game Pass :p

Portal Still Alive
Do I need to really play Portal again? No. But it is still a lot of fun!

Tembo the Badass Elephant – Xbox

I was surprised when I saw this on my installed apps list. I didn’t see it on Game Pass, but maybe it was a Games with Gold freebie?

The premise is suitably silly 🙂 You play Tembo, a special forces elephant called in to rescue Shell City from the forces of Phantom. Yes, you read that right.

Tembo is basically a silly platformer that has you collecting peanuts for extra lives, defeating the forces of Phantom, and rescuing civilians as a side quest.

It’s not good enough to have me dropping everything to continue playing it, but I can see myself picking up Tembo now and then during the year for a bit of fun 🙂

Tembo the Badass Elephant
Ridiculous name, ridiculous game. It doesn't stop Tembo being a fun platformer though.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – Xbox

I recently bought the Castlevania collection on the Switch, but I haven’t given it a go yet. In browsing Game Pass, I saw this Kickstarter game come up, so I thought I would give it a go.

Only clearing the first area, I am a far way from being able to say I am making progress. From all accounts, I have much left to go as well as multiple paths to explore.

I can say I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I might go back to playing Bloodstained regularly as a side Xbox game after finishing Halo. I am worried about genre fatigue playing them all back to back, and Bloodstained is definitely not an FPS!

Bloodstained Ritual of the Night
I have heard lots of good things about Bloodstained. It has potential for sucking me in more.

Untitled Goose Game – Xbox

Untitled Goose Game. Do I need to say more?

While waiting for some other Game Pass games to load, I thought I would grab this is it’s a small download and just have fun until something else finished loading.

If you haven’t played Untitled Goose Game, do it. It’s a great puzzler, very relaxing and just silly fun all rolled into one title. There are some timing challenges, but overall it’s very forgiving with it’s controls. Seriously, it’s free on Game Pass – check it out.

Untitled Goose Game
Untitled Goose Game is silly fun. And it's free on Game Pass. So why not?

198X – Switch

So going to bed early, I took my Switch with me to still chill out and then pass out when I felt tired. I decided to pick up 198X again, as I hadn’t played it for a while.

And I finished it. No, I didn’t pull an all night gaming session, I just didn’t realise how short the game was! Now that I have finished it and know all the game mechanics, I think I can finish it from start to end in about an hour.

While a beautiful pixel art game with amazing retro game love, it is episode one in an episodic arc. The asking price I think is a little high, but if you grab it on sale it’s a great experience. Becuase of the length I also can’t bring myself to put it on my ‘finished’ list 🙁

I will talk about it more in this weeks review.

198X
The final boss had me thinking of Shodan from System Shock

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

One Deck Dungeon Review

One Deck Dungeon Box Art
One Deck Dungeon Box Art
Released 2016
Designer Chris Cieslik
Publisher Asmadi Games (Website)
Players 1 – 2 (4 with special rules and 2 copies)
Playing Time Physical: 30-60 minutes
Digital: 20-30 minutes
Category Fantasy
Dungeon Crawl
Light RPG
Worker (Dice) Placement
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Who could have guessed playing an RPG with one deck of cards was so fun!

I love playing RPGs. Playing in a new world, enjoying the camaraderie both in-game and around the table, it’s a great time. The downside is RPGs need a group of friends. Not the people themselves, but trying to get everyone together at the same time is a massive undertaking.

There are plenty of board games that recreate a lot of the fun of RPGs. Dungeon Crawlers are especially good at this. Exploring an area, fighting monsters, and collecting loot. Some even have a basic levelling system. Almost all of them have one fundamental flaw – setup and teardown.

Mansions of Madness 1st Edition was a great example of this. It would take me 40-50 minutes to set up a game. And I had to try and do it before anyone showed up. There are plenty of other games that I can set up and play in that amount of time.

True, those games don’t have the same feel as an RPG, but it’s quicker to get into. But what if it didn’t have to be?

I have had One Deck Dungeon, and it’s stand-alone expansion Forest of Shadows, for a while now. I have even taken it interstate and overseas on work trips. Somehow, things just never seemed to align themselves for me to sit and learn how to play it.

Well, that changed a couple of weeks ago, and boy have I been playing it!

One Deck Dungeon Boxes
Both game boxes. Standard gel pen for scale. These are small!

One Deck Dungeon – What is it?

The best way I can describe One Deck Dungeon is a solo or co-op light RPG dungeon crawler. I know this is a very jargon-heavy description, but it’s really the best way to describe it.

You play as an adventurer making their way through a dungeon. During your dungeon run, you fight various monsters until you take on the boss. The monsters can give you new weapons, skills or experience to level up. Hence, light RPG dungeon crawler!

You get five different bosses in the box and five adventurers. Each boss has different conditions for their dungeon, and combined with the five adventurers means there is plenty of variety. More on that later.

One Deck Dungeon Components
A Deck of cards, some tokens and character boards, and a lot of dice. What more do you need?

So how does it work?

This is where the solo and co-operative part of One Deck Dungeon comes into it. You can play solo with one or two adventurers (the way I have come to prefer to play), or play with someone else using one adventurer each.

Each adventurer has three different stats – strength, agility and magic. Fairly standard fantasy RPG stuff. These stats are represented by different coloured dice. Unlike most RPGs, instead of rolling a dice and adding stat modifiers, you use a certain amount of dice depending on your stat.

So for example, if you have 3 agility, this means you roll three agility dice. Nice and simple! There is also the fourth colour of dice in the box – black hero dice. Hero dice can be earned with experience levels or skills, and are used as any coloured die (wilds).

One Deck Dungeon Adventurers
Each adventurer has pros and cons. Playing one adventurer or two is shown with 1p and 2p on each side.

Shuffle the 56 cards, and put it on the table. This deck of cards is where One Deck Dungeon gets its name. Each card is a different room with a monster or trap, but it’s also almost every other thing used in the game. They are also equipment, skills, experience markers and the game timer. It doesn’t sound obvious, but it works really well!

Each player turn, you burn (discard) 2 cards. This represents time in the game. The very first turn, you spend the first turn exploring. All this means is you draw cards and place them in front of you until you have 4 rooms to explore.

From now on, each turn you can choose to explore or enter a room. Entering a room means picking a card and turning it over to see what’s in it. This is where the card layout hopefully becomes a little clearer.

The card will either be a trap or combat, shown by the icon next to the card title. Below the title is a picture of the room’s contents. To the right of that shows what is needed to clear the room.

One Deck Dungeon Game Start
This is setup. Pick a coupel of characters, shuffle deck, set things out. Done.

You will also notice other parts to the card. On the left shows the extra skill dice you will roll if you choose to take an item from the room. On the bottom shows a skill you can possibly learn, and top right is the amount of experience (XP) you can earn.

If you decide to try and clear the room, you roll all of your dice. To beat the challenge, you need to place your dice onto the various squares on the right of the image. If it’s a square, you need to put a die of the same colour with the value equal to or higher than the number on the card. If it’s a rectangle, you can put any number of dice on that area, as long as the total at least equals the value shown.

One Deck Dungeon Sample Encounters and Rewards
It just looks like four cards, but each card serves 5 functions.

If you cover all the squares, you win! If you can’t cover all of the squares, you still win! You lose some time (discard more cards) and/or health, but you succeed. This helps you build your character even at the start of the game.

And that is basically it! There are some additional rules like mandatory extra requirements depending on which level of the dungeon you are on, hero dice and some other things. But what I have outlined is all you need to know about playing the game. 

That sounds rather simple. Why wouldn’t I play Yahtzee instead?

Simple isn’t always dull. Not that I am saying Yahtzee is dull, but for me, Yahtzee is at it’s best when playing in a group. 

The amount of depth and immersion in One Deck Dungeon cannot be understated, especially if you are a fan of RPGs or Dungeon Crawlers.

Yes, the mechanics are streamlined, but for a game designed to play solo and quickly do you want a lot of bookkeeping?

There is also the sheer variety of the dungeons. Initially, I believed I would get bored of One Deck Dungeon once I saw all of the enemies. Straight up – I was wrong. I have almost 20 games under my belt now, and I don’t think I have seen all of the cards yet.

One Deck Dungeon Dungeon Bosses
The bosses aren't just different battles, the rules for their dungeons change as well

Forcing you to burn cards during the game pretty much guarantees you will always get new choices each game. Do you take the powerful skill, or use that XP to go up a level and be able to carry more items and get a hero die each round?

That is the challenge and immersion of One Deck Dungeon. Each game is different. Dominate last game mashing a particular skill? You might not see it again for 10 games. Your character can be a relatively weak hitter, but take damage like a champ. Or you could be a glass cannon, dealing damage left and right but only take one hit to go down.

One Deck Dungeon Upgrade Decisions
When setting up a shot, I realised I had not seen the skill on the mage OR the room card before.

But each game, don’t you start again at level 1?

This isn’t as cut and dry. Yes, you start each game at level 1, but this isn’t always the case. For starters, you can choose difficulty level in One Deck Dungeon. Playing on Novice starts you on Level 2 each run.

On top of this, there is also a progression system. While you don’t keep your levels from game to game, you can start with skills, carry more items, heal between levels, all sorts of things.

Like any RPG game, you will need a few games to build up your adventurer. But you will get more powerful, and that old game grind becomes a different experience. You can also level up different groups of benefits and change at the start of each dungeon to tailor your run.

One Deck Dungeon Progression SHeet
You earn different symbols by playing harder dungeons

OK, so what’s the catch?

So the game is ultra-portable and a blast to play. But using cards for everything as well as tiny dice makes for a fiddly experience. For someone like me with large hands, I find myself spending as much time cleaning up my play area as I do playing the game.

I found a perfect fix for this, though. 

I’m Listening

Some of you may be wondering why this review appears in both Board Game and Video Game Reviews. That’s right – there is a digital version! And it’s a perfect translation from the physical copy. In fact, because it’s digital, it takes advantage of being able to move the level challenges to the room you are facing. This means you only have to look at one area to see all of the dice and values you need to clear a room.

There is also the added bonus of getting a sixth adventurer for free! Mist from Aeon’s End is a promotional card that you need to hunt down or buy for the physical version. Mist comes for free on the digital version, or at least on Steam.

You aren’t restricted to Steam either – you can also get One Deck Dungeon on your mobile. I am not buying it, as I am honestly worried about how much time I would spend playing it when I should be working 🙂

One Deck Dungeon Digital Character Selection
No knocking dice, no covering cards accidentally - let the game manage the fiddly bits
One Deck Dungeon Digital Progression
Everything works the same as the physical version
One Deck Dungeon Digital Boss Fight
Rolling a bunch of physical dice is so satisfying, but the app manages everything so well

Overall Thougths

One Deck Dungeon got a lot of love when it came out a few years ago, and today I can say it deserved it. While not the perfect game, it scratches that Dungeon Crawl/RPG itch for me in a solo experience.

The portability of the game is excellent for throwing my bag on trips. The digital version means a small install on almost any PC as it has meagre graphics requirements. Basically, if you can run Windows 10, you can play One Deck Dungeon. Don’t take a PC with you? Grab it on mobile!

While the dry explanation of gameplay can make it sound like another dice game, actually playing One Deck Dungeon throws that idea out the window. I can highly recommend One Deck Dungeon to everyone that enjoys an adventure.

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10

Pros

  • Simple to set up and learn
  • Incredibly customisable experience
  • Replicates the feel of Dungeon Crawling/RPG very well
  • Can play solo very quickly
  • Portable both physically and digitally

Cons

  • Using cards can be awkward mid-game
  • High random nature of exploration may put off some players
  • Hard to describe how fun it is unless people can play it

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

I have met my first One Deck Dungeon Boss Battle – GOOGLE PLAY!

Foiled before even getting in the door!

So I thought I could play ONE game I have been waiting to play, albeit in a different format.  Last night Australian time, One Deck Dungeon released on iOS and Android.  EXCITEMENT!

Jumped onto the Google Play store, and was greeted with this:

One Deck Dungeon Google Play NO
I was hoping to get a game or two in during the day. Guess not. But does she have to look so smug about it? :p

Why Friday?  Why are you so determined to stop me from playing games today?  These solo digital apps are perfect for a quick game while there is a lull at work.  I am one of the ‘lucky’ ones that has gaps in the day because of workloads and time zones, and can usually have a quick game or two on my phone.

I can just buy One Deck Dungeon on Steam and play it on my PC, but it doesn’t feel right playing games on the work computer.  Ahh well, maybe I will finally rebuy Lords of Waterdeep for Android.  But it isn’t the same thing.

If you get to play One Deck Dungeon on Android, let me know how it goes.  I will try again in a few days, maybe there will be an update or more data?  I might just even buy it and see, I don’t seem to be being blocked.

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

New Switch Tech, One Deck Dungeon goes fully Digital, and Awesome Mix 2.1

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesom Mix Vol 1

Resident Evil 7 on the Switch! Sort of…

So in a bit of a misleading title on Polygon yesterday, I was surprised and excited to see Resident Evil 7 is coming to the Nintendo Switch.  Even it was only in Japan, surely it was just a matter of time for the West?  And wait, it’s out THIS WEEK!  Wow, take that E3 news.

I have already finished all of the content on PS4, but I was still excited at the variety of games coming to the Switch.

I got RE7 day one on PS4 and immediately played it with PSVR.  I knew that Capcom had nailed it when walking through a flooded section under the house, and I held my head up in a tight section between the water and the roof.  I literally stopped and savoured how effortlessly immersive the environment truly was.

But then I kept reading, and so much clicked.  Resident Evil 7 isn’t really coming to the Switch.  It looks like it is the flagship game for a Nintendo equivalent of PlayStation Now, where you can stream your games to the console.

So interest at a game that I enjoyed but finished became interested at a quietly snuck in change for Nintendo.  There have been a couple of games on the Switch that really it hasn’t handled well, the worst offender that I purchased being Don’t Knock Twice.  The framerates were truly awful, causing major frustration in turning around as soon as the game started.  A game streaming service would certainly alleviate a lot of those problems.

Resident Evil 7 Cloud Announcement
Japanese Switch owners, enjoy. Jumpscares and portable mode could lead to some fun videos though.

Unlike the PlayStation Now subscription service, residents of Japan can essentially rent Resident Evil 7 for $18 for 6 months after a 15-minute trial.  That’s a pretty good pricing structure in my opinion – instead of $100 for a full game that you stop playing in a month or two, you get to play a smaller amount with a limited amount of playtime.  As much as I enjoyed my time with RE7, it’s not a game I go back to in any way, so it really does work well, and I figure two solid weeks to finish everything in the game including multiple runs, so six months is a generous time selection.

The downer for this tech though is the same as PlayStation Now – there is little hope of Australian servers, and regardless what the government says the NBN may not be good enough to handle the service for a large percentage of gamers.

One day, hopefully this will change, but until then it’s amazing to see Nintendo trying new online strategies.

If you want to enjoy the creepy but beautiful music of RE7 and the Cloud promotional video, check it out below.

One Deck Dungeon has been fully digitized

The popular roguelike dungeon crawling card game One Deck Dungeon is officially out of Steam Early Access, and a full release!

A popular game especially amongst solo players, I have been trying to get a copy of this for a while, and it looks like digital may be my saviour here.

One Deck Dungeon has a fairly unique feel to it, even as more card-based dungeon explorers hit the market.  Build a character and explore a dungeon, getting better stuff the further in you go.  Simple right?  But the further in you go, the harder the dungeon gets, so there is a push your luck feel the entire time as well.  This adds another layer of tension as you explore the dungeon, and helps make the solo adventures so compelling.

Over at onedeckdungeon.com, you nab a Print and Play demo version if you would like to give it a go.  I did, and regret the base game being difficult to grab over here.  I can get the standalone expansion Forest of Shadows, but to be honest I want the whole experience.

I prefer physical games on the whole, but solo play digital games done well are a great idea.  I can just bring out my phone, and even play just a couple of rounds while waiting for something – harder to do with the physical version.  A couple of games like Onirim, Hostage Negotiator and The Game are staples of my “I’m Bored” phone games collection, and One Deck Dungeon looks to be the next addition.

You can grab the digital version for USD$10 on Steam here, with Android and iOS coming in the next few days.  The trailer for the full game release can be seen below.

One Deck Dungeon Components
It's a whole lot of game for a tiny box, but my phone is still smaller

Thank you James Gunn!

So workday is a day.  People are being people, and suddenly realising we are only a few weeks away from End of Financial Year here in Australia.

What has this got to do with gaming?  Nothing.  But looking at suggested Spotify playlists, what appears but this little gem!

Written by the man himself on the playlist:

“The Russos & I have mentioned in interviews I provided a list of songs to be used for the Guardians’ intro in Infinity War. Since, many folks have asked what the other songs were. Well, I’ve gotten around to looking up the 4 songs in my files (and added 1 Ace Frehley song deleted from the film).”

So sitting down with some work to do, I have some new old tunes to sit back and enjoy while I work 😀

**If the player gives you trouble, you can open the playlist directly here.