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

Ramblings 008 – Potion Explosion

Ramblings Logo

Logic has everything and nothing to do with it

Welcome to Clear, Concise Ramblings!

Alpal and I talk about Potion Explosion today, an interesting game that implements video game mechanics in Board Game form.

And just to complete the circle – they made an app of it as well!

This is a slightly longer episode, as there was more to talk about, but it’s still under 20 minutes.

Have a great weekend everyone!

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – November 19th, 2018

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119

When I hear Tales of Explosion Criss Cross, put down the Bones and have a Tea Party is my motto.

So many games played this week – and more to come!

Aetherworks has sent notifications that Kickstarter games are coming, including Fireball Island and Tokyo Series!

In the meantime though, no time was wasted in trying quite a few new games.

Dagon’s Bones

Showed Harls how to play this little kit and he had the same opinion I do – great for more than two players, and a fun little filler game.

Personally, I wouldn’t play more than four players still – but I need to put that to the test.  The limit comes only from downtime between rolls.  Each player only really having one roll means limited downtime, but it’s still a factor.

This little Kickstarter surprise has a home in my games bag all the time now, mainly because it is so small and simple it fits in a pocket nicely.

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

Mythos Tales

Another game I was showing Harls, this Consulting Detective style game has been on my ‘to play’ list for a while.

A couple of years ago, I backed the Mythos Tales Kickstarter and had a not great experience.  I then imported a retail copy and was disappointed with misprints and errors in the run, and I never finished the series.

A few weeks ago I bought the reprinted version with the corrections and replayed the first case.  The short version – we enjoyed it, and Harls was keen to play the second case immediately.  I was tired so pulled the plug, but more games will happen soon so that I can do a formal review soon.

Mythos Tales 20181119
Mythos Tales - A map, a book, a directory, and some newspapers. And the reprint made case one a great time.

When I Dream

Oh, this was a surprise hit.

I had heard about When I dream a while ago, and I was excited when Alpal got a copy.

Essentially it’s a word based social deduction game.  One player is blindfolded and the other players have to provide clues for a word shown in the middle of the table.

The catch is Fairies want the ‘Dreamer’ to get the words right, the Boogeyman wants them to get it wrong, and the Sandman wants an even split.  The Dreamer has to work out from the clues who is who and guess appropriately – based only on words provided.  Another one for a full review after some more games!

When I Dream 20181119
It doesn't look like much, but I guarantee when you have people playing attention will be given to your table.

Potion Explosion

So Potion Explosion is an App I play fairly often, but I passed on the board game.  I had a lot of trouble discerning the colours of the marbles, so the app made my life a lot easier.

This week though I got play with a reprint copy, and my much has changed.  The colours are easier to distinguish, and the cardboard quality is definitely better.

And I enjoy this game.  It is a brain scratcher with a simple veneer, and the pattern recognition and logic puzzle nature of the game is very enjoyable.

A full review and a Ramblings comparison of the Board and App versions are coming soon!

Potion Explosion 20181119
A lot of pieces are involved, but Potion Explosion is an addictive puzzle game of the highest calibre.

Dinosaur Tea Party

Do you remember Guess Who? The two-player deduction game where you ask the other player questions like ‘are you wearing a hat?’ to deduce their identity.

Restoration Games seems to, and they have made a multiplayer version where players are Dinosaurs at a Tea Party, trying to guess each other’s identities.

This was really cleverly done.  Each character is beautifully drawn, but for colour issues or clues that can be missed, each character has the relevant clues on each card for easy reference.  It’s also completely open information – your answers are put in front of you in the form of tea bags.

A couple more games at different player counts to make sure, but I think this will be another Restoration Games winning review I believe!

Dinosaur Tea Party 20181119
Essentially this is your 'Guess Who' board. Dinosaur Tea Party is quick, fun and I can see expansions coming.

Criss Cross

There seems to be no way I can keep up with Dr Reiner Knizia’s released games.  Criss Cross is another Alpal special, and one that is so simple it’s annoying that you don’t just beat it the first time.

The idea is simple – roll two dice that have half a dozen different shapes, and fill in a Sudoku or Magic Square style grid with the values.  You get points for the horizontal and vertical lines with grouped matching shapes and lose points if the lines do not have any matching shapes.  The diagonal is counted twice.

It sounds easy, but you also have to write the shapes next to each other.  Alpal absolutely blitzed me in the game, but it was a lot of fun and one I can see myself playing solo just to try and beat my score.

Criss Cross Alpal Whooped Me 20181119
It's not much too look at, but Criss Cross will be an addictive puzzle to solve. And Alpal WHOOPED me!

Spyro Reginited Trilogy – Spyro the Dragon

Even though I was a PlayStation player, Spyro the Dragon was a game I never played.

It wasn’t because it was ‘childish’ – Jak and Daxter were right up there for example.  It just never squeezed in between the Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid marathons, and when the sequels came out I just never went there.

With the buzz and excitement over the Spyro Reginited trilogy, I decided to give it a go – and wow.  The platforming is what I remember of ‘old school’ PlayStation 3D games, but so much smoother and control wise much more forgiving.

The platforming is not forgiving at all though.  Missed by a pixel?  Try again!

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Thor 20181119
The developers obviously had a ball making this game. You even get to rescue Thor! An old, rambling Thor, but still...

It was fun to explore, and easy enough to get a hold of without the handholding tutorials I am used to with today’s games.

There have been updates such as the rescued dragons are now unique in look and the advice they give you, and these are very much appreciated.

The gorgeous stills you will see do Spyro an injustice though – the animation and world are better when you play.  The little touches like grass parting as you charge about and the expressions on the enemies are amazing.

From a ‘this will be a quick bit of fun’ game to probably ‘clear an area a night’ affair, Spyro is the light but challenging game I have missed playing lately.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Progress 20181119
I am only a bit over an hour in, but I seem to be making good progress. This is basically the tutorial world though, and I am looking forward to more to come!

Starlink

This is a game I started and then about 30 minutes in decided to put away.

I didn’t put it away because I wasn’t enjoying Starlink – I decided to put this in the ‘I need to give this dedicated time’ group of games.

I thought Starlink was a “Go to Area X and kill all the bad guys” challenging but mentally relaxing shooter.  The opening tutorial type engagement certainly looked like this was the case.

But then it turned into an open world sandbox adventure game with plenty to see, explore and unlock.  I was discovering new species, collecting items and found a way into a ‘secret’ area – all from 10 minutes in.

Starlink Main Game Begins 20181119
I expected a cute generic wave shooter with a toy gimmick with the ships and weapons. What I started deserves my full attention.

The way Nintendo has integrated Fox McCloud and the Arwing was quite cool as well.  Obviously, I haven’t seen how fully the story integrates, but an extra ‘makes sense’ cutscene meant that the Starfox team felt natural to be there.

I can see why people are playing this on the Switch, and I am glad that I have followed suit.  More of this will be played, but probably later.

Pokemon Let’s Go – Eevee

*This has been edited as originally it was showing only placeholder text.  Ooops!  Thanks to everyone that pointed that out 😀

Well, last Friday was the day – Pokemon Let’s Go is now real 🙂

I have been playing Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee, and Rabbit has Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu on the new Pokemon Switch.  We played for a while single player in the same room and had fun comparing the little differences in the game.

Now I am not a hardcore Pokemon fan, and the lighter mechanics in Let’s Go seems to fit into that pickup and put down category nicely.  The controls in handheld mode are great, and the graphics are gorgeous.

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119
Eevee is happily sititng on my head as a walk around Professor Oak's office

I will say though I don’t like playing with the Poke Ball Plus under normal conditions.  For some things like it’s amazing – it took two throws to get used to catching pokemon, and then I was nailing excellent each time.

The problem is the Poke Ball Plus only has 2 buttons, but the game expects you to use at least 4.  For 95{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of what you are doing the two buttons (OK and Back) is fine, but having to shake and hope that the game knew I wanted to use the Y for info not the + for menus was frustrating.  When I don’t have to get so much extra info though, it might be more fun!

Also, I am taking the Poke Ball and my Eevee Rabbit for a ‘stroll’ while at work tomorrow, so expect some news on how I found that!

And there are more coming!

So many games played this week – and it’s not slowing down for a while!

What about you?  What have you been playing lately – any of these, or other games you think I should be keeping an eye out for?  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD