Last Week’s Gaming – August 5th, 2019

The steps of a Pandemic: a Contagion, a Rapid Response, and hopefully The Cure.

So this weeks game night was Pandemic dice themed! OK, only 2 of the 3 games were actually dice games, but the third was still radically different from the base so I am counting it 🙂

Dice and I have a complicated relationship. If rolling 6 of a kind will kill me, you can be sure it’s a 50/50 thing that I will roll six of a kind. That kind of relationship adds to the ‘draw a card and lose’ gameplay of Pandemic.

There are a lot of ‘the Dice Game’ variants out there. Some don’t have the same feel and miss, and some become more popular than the base game. A round of Istanbul the Dice Game anyone?

I don’t think Pandemic: The Cure is quite in the latter category, but it is a version I would like to get to the table more often. If you know players that are more interested in throwing dice than playing with cards, give Pandemic: The Cure a look.

It's very close to the original Pandemic experience, but with Dice!

Second week in a row, Pandemic: Rapid Response makes it to the table.

We had another new player, so I played it the same way as last time – no timer until we did the first city card, then the timer comes into play. Also, we didn’t play with the extra crisis cards, that additional ‘oh no’ when the timer runs out.

Another new player, same result – Rapid Response was a fun game to play. Yes, it takes a couple of rounds to start to see how everything works, but that is common among a lot of games.

Maybe next round I can play with the same group, and play with timer and perhaps crisis cards from the get-go.

I am really enjoying Rapid Response

After saving the world a couple of times (alright, once – we lost The Cure), I thought it would be time to give the virus a go.

Pandemic: Contagion was the first game I am aware of in the extended Pandemic universe, and you play as viruses trying to infect as many people as possible.

Even though the game night was Dice themed, I threw Contagion on as an end of game night choice just for something different, and it worked.

I had forgotten how much fun Contagion could be. It wasn’t a game that took the game world by storm, but it has a strong base and is a fun diversion. I am glad I pulled it back out for another round 🙂

Sick of saving the world? Pandemic Contagion may be for you!

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (PSVR)

So something surprised me this weekend – I finished Wolfenstein Cyberpilot.
There was a bit of a story twist, but at the end of the day, it’s four levels that I think I played for about 2 hours and then saw the credits.

Looking through the trophy list I saw a few things that sound like fun and will be challenging to aim for, but while I didn’t expect an epic game I did expect more.

That said, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I might go for the platinum. I am not sure at the moment. If I can make some time with Harls maybe I will probably try more for the Youngblood platinum, but Cyberpilot could remain a fun distraction on the side.

Good Doggy. It is fun playing the as the Panzerhund.

Beat Saber (PSVR)

Here I am, firmly back on the Beat Saber train. I haven’t been able to play as much as I wanted, but I did get to play a lot more than I have been this week.

And this week I finally got to do something I have been working on for ages with the Vive version – I finished every level of the campaign!

I have come close a couple of times, but without a cloud save for the PC I have had to start again a couple of times. Ah well, just means playing more Beat Saber!

Now to platinum Beat Saber I have mainly the Expert level trophies and some time ones to get. My goal is to have the Beat Saber platinum before PAX – wish me luck!

Expert Turn Me On with a window of required hand movement. But I cleared it eventually 🙂

Blood and Truth (PSVR)

I bought Blood and Truth when it came out, but I just hadn’t had any time to give it a try. That was unfortunate, as I had a ball trying it out Saturday afternoon.

Some tracking issues took me a while to sort out, and the start of the game has you doing next to nothing for an extended period. But once you get past that, I had a great time shooting my way through a casino, laying explosives and tagging bad guys.

I even got the ‘Bogey Man’ trophy very quickly, racking up six consecutive headshot kills.

Now I have finally started playing I will give it a better run through next weekend. But if you have a PSVR and haven’t tried it out, my take right now is it looks very promising.

And... my capture messed up and I didn't catch a screenshot. Oops. Next week.

Final Fantasy X (Switch)

Flying around a fair bit this week, I got in some quality Final Fantasy X time on the plane.

Story-wise I am still in the lightning plains partially as I am grinding a bit for sphere levels, also because I am trying to remember what the glowing cactaur stones do.

One feat for this run was winning my first league in Blitz Ball. Now I can spend some more time finishing the story, which I will need to start getting a move on with.

Sometimes you get bored and let a massively overpowered summons do your work for you

Tetris 99 (Switch)

Also on the plane, I thought I would play against the CPU a bit in Tetris 99. It is a paid add on that I bought for such occasions, so why not?

I jumped into the CPU mode, and just as I started getting into a rhythm, I won the match. I was a little confused but happy. Then I saw how many foes I KO’d.

Now I have said I consider myself an above average Tetris player with plenty of room to improve. But this taught me never to look at someone’s win screen now. I knocked out 21 level 1 CPU opponents.

I cranked the level back up to 5 and started fighting for top 10 again – more what I am used to. It was a lot of fun, but if someone tells you how good they are at Tetris and won’t play in front of you, this could be the reason!

Yeah I won't be trusting a lot of these screens again

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 – July 29th, 2019

The Pretty Clever Lords of Waterdeep had a Rapid Response to the incident in the Blue Lagoon

It was another great week of gaming! I have a lot of new games coming in via both retail orders and Kickstarters, and quite a few games launched last Friday and I got to play two of them!

Travel may interefere with my gaming this week, but with the original Doom trilogy, finihsing Final Fantasy X and waiting to start Fire Emblem: Three Houses I will have some solid replacement games waiting in the wings!

It has been far too long since I got Lords of Waterdeep to the table. It was a mix of new players and a couple of veterans, and everyone had just as good a time.

Lords of Waterdeep takes a long time to play, especially when learning. But two brand new players jumped in and played the full expanded game (to accomodate 6 players) with no issues at all.

It was a fun night, with breaks for dinner and desert making for a long but very social night. Expect to see more on this game over time, it still makes me happy to play 🙂

Lords of Waterdeep is my most 'blinged' game, hands down.

Playing solo, I am still enjoying That’s Pretty Clever on my phone. But I am thinkign of a Roll and Write night for my games night, so I pulled out the physical version again.

That was for 2 reasons. First, you quickly forget how much admin the app does for you! Secondly, playing the physical version takes longer and I wanted to get a feel for how long a game may take per player.

My biggest gripe is I was concentrating so much on those things, I made very poor decisions. Maybe I should take a bit longer and go for a much better score!

I pulled out the physical version for something different, even though I was playing solo

Another Alpal special that I would never have even thought to look for – and it’s a Reiner Knizia game!

Very similar in a lot of respects to games like Through the Desert, Blue Lagoon has players exploring land and collecting resources. A lot of players start turning away at such a description, but Blue Lagoon is surpricingly accessible for all players.

Want to claim a chunk of land as yours? Have more people on it. Want to have explored the most? Have people on every island. Add set collection for the resources, and you have the trademark ‘everything gives you points somehow’ of a Knizia game.

Another Reiner Knizia classic - simple yet deep, with the top 3 spots within 6 points of each other

We had a four player game, and even on the very first game almost everything clicked quickly for everyone. You play in two stages, and there are slight placement changes between the two, but it’s a game you can teach and be playing wihtin five minutes every time.

I have been looking forward to this since it’s announcement. Rapid Response is the latest addition to the Pandemic universe, and is designed by Kane Klenko of Fuse, Flatline and Flipships fame.

A real time turn based race against the clock, players have to strategise, carry out their turn and hope luck is with them against an unstoppable force – the timer :p

Instead of using cards like normal Pandemic, players roll dice and use worker placement type mechanics to create enough supplies to save a town after an unnamed disaster.

I was worried this would have the same initial 'huh' factor as Fuse and Flatline. There was nothing to be worried about.

Every time the timer runs out (every 2 minutes), you lose a token and a new city has a disaster you must deal with. Every time you save a city, you get a token back, so there is no downtime in this game!

We played until we cleared the first card without a timer to make sure we had the mechanics and the like nailed down. We also played without the crisis cards – extra machanics to increase the challenge!

Unlike explaining Fuse and Flatline to new players, Pandemic: Rapid Response seemed to click a lot better and work a lot smoother out of the gate. Look forward to a formal review in the next few weeks!

Gloomhaven (Steam)

You knew I was going to give this another go. Or thirty.

Nothing has changed since I played last week, but I am still really enjoying the ability to jump in and just clear a dungeon.

I am thinking of resetting and playing with all 4 available characters, but that will be in a week or so. I am having fun just finding my feet with the systems again.

One thing I did do differently was move Gloomhaven to my ultrawide screen, and I am glad I did. The extra screen real estate works nicely, and it the UI doesn’t feel strange like some other games.

It's a little thing, but I really love the little touches already present - like the adventure 'map'

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (PSVR)

Both games coming out Friday interested me for very different reasons.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot has you strapped to a chair and using the move controllers as virtual control sticks – both in and out of the game.

The first level has you controlling a panzerhoung – a giant robot dog with a flamethrower, and the second level has you controlling a drone with a cloak and short range zap.

I only finished two levels, but I have played enough to know I want to finish it. I don’t know if I want to platinum it, but we will see.

Flying a drone through an enemy office. That guard is about to get a shock :p

Fair warning though – in the drone level, I got my first case of VR motion sickness in a very long time. It may have been because I was playing standing while my ‘body’ was seated, but it defninitely happened. I will let you know how that goes as I play more.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PS4)

The other Wolfenstein game, Youngblood, had me as a co-op shooter I could play with Rabbit. Thanks to the buddy system, I only need to buy one copy of the game, and I can play with any of my friends – with some restrictions. I will talk more about that during the week.

Playing at the moment in offline mode myself, I am surprised how much Wolfenstein: Youngblood has drawn me in. I can stealth almost every area, but the run and gun gunplay is satisfying when things go wrong.

If all zeppelins had nightclub casinos, I am sure they would be a lot more popular!

Developed with Arkane Studios, the Dishonoured and Prey mechanics are very much present and fit right in. Stealth, collectables, great level pacing – it’s all here.

If I can setup a regular game partner session time, I think this might be my first Arkane platinum – I am enjoying it that much!

Horizon Chase Turbo (PS4)

Back in the day, I could mostly fit in the arcade Out Run machine at my local shopping center – the one with the car you sat in and moved as you steered. It was different, it was fun, but I never quite had the drive (hah puns!) to finish it.

Last weekend, I sat on my couch and had the exact same experience, minus the moving chair.

You can grab Horizon Chase Turbo on PlayStation Plus for July still (for a few days anyway), and if you would like to kick back with an OK racer with nostalgia feels, it works? Personally, I will just fire out Burnout Paradise again next time I want a race.

This is very much old school racing - even down to the graphics

Beat Saber (PSVR)

Yep, switched back to the goold old PSVR for a bit this week after playing the Vive for a couple of weeks.

Beat Saber is still excellent, and you should definitely play it. That hasn’t changed.

Bonuses for PSVR – the screen noticably doesn’t have the ‘screen door’ effect like the Vive does. The headset is more comfortable to wear overall, but it still has the annoying cable that must lead in front of you.

Well that was a terrible cut - but it was a cut!

Bonuses for Vive (w/ wireless adaptor) – No cable, except for a small cable to a battery pack. Obvious increase in precision tracking. Level Editor on PC which I will be messing with in a couple of weeks 🙂

Basically, I don’t think I will ever get sick of playing Beat Saber. I am giving serious thought to finally doing a semi-concentrated platinum run on PSVR though.

What about your week? I hope you had a great one!

What games did you get in? Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Do you have a Gen Con wish list?

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

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

A new Pandemic spin off is coming – Pandemic: Rapid Response!

So Alpal, you know how I wasn’t allowed any more Pandemic games?

So last weekend, the unpacking of the games room began.  There is still about 20 boxes to go, and I need to get some more shelves before the actual resorting can begin!

Alpal was giving me a hand (i.e. leading the charge) on the unpacking and was trying to put all of my Pandemic games together. From memory, all I am missing is the Pandemic spin-off expansion The Cure – Experimental Meds, and they weren’t sitting nicely on the shelf.  Alpal’s solution?  Ban me from buying more Pandemic games :p

Well, that rule is about to go right out of the window.  Last night, Z-Man Games announced a new Pandemic spin-off called Pandemic: Rapid Response.  Rapid Response is a real-time cooperative game from Kane Klenko of Fuse and Covert fame.

It's a theme that keeps on giving! Pandemic has another spin off game
The board already makes a lot of sense - the body of the board is your plane, with the outside the plane's location in the world

Players take on the role of an elite response team dealing with natural disasters all over the world.  This time it’s not just diseases you are dealing with!

Pandemic: Rapid Response refers as much to the theme as it does what players will need to do to win. Where in the normal Pandemic you have until you draw your card to make a decision, now you only have until the timer runs out to fix everything on the board!

Mechanically, Pandemic: Rapid Response looks like a fusion of the base Pandemic and another medical-themed Kane Klenko game – Flatline.

Players roll dice to do various tasks that boil down to rolling certain symbols to fulfill different tasks.  Movement is still sort of handled by dice, but it’s by paying/sacrificing a general die rather than rolling a specific one.

Like Fuse and Flatline, your choices are partly limited by how well you roll. And how quickly you can change plans.
It's not a Pandemic Game without different player powers

And there are the player powers. It can’t be a Pandemic game without everyone having different abilities!

Some examples are the Analyst gets more reroll opportunities, while the engineer gets to treat the plane symbol as wild (effectively).

Just like in the base Pandemic, it’s learning how these roles fit with your playstyle initially, then changing them up to increase the difficulty and help replayability.

Because you are dealing with more than ‘just’ viruses, each city needs different aid depending on what disaster has befallen it.  This helps make resources more generic, helping limit the number of resources what you need to create and manage.

But Pandemic’s requirement of needing to read the future hasn’t disappeared entirely – each city has it’s own problems, and that means it’s own solutions!  There may only be a small number of resources required in total, but stock up on the wrong ones and you will be losing cities in no time.

City cards are of course returning, and show what that city will need to help it

So today I have given general gameplay thoughts, but in a more definitive way than other game announcement articles. That’s because Rodney Smith of Watch It Played has already got a rules video up!

You don’t need to be a Pandemic fan to play Pandemic: Rapid Response.  It’s a completely self-contained game that while in the Pandemic universe, backstory and previous game mechanics won’t really be of help.

And we won’t have to wait long to play it either!  In the US, Pandemic: Rapid Response is a Target exclusive, and their website has the launch date of 15/6/2019.  Rapid indeed!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD