Last Week’s Gaming – January 13th, 2020

Pokemon Shield

MORE GAMES PLEASE 2020!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deep Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pyramid of Pengqueen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pokemon Shield – Switch

I FINISHED POKEMON SHIELD! I AM CHAMPION!

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

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

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

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

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

Terminator: Resistance – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Fantasy XV – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – PS4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?

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

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Review

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Box Art
Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Box Art
Released 2017
Designer Brett J. Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan
Publisher Funforge (Website)
Players 2 – 4 (But can play solo as multiple characters)
Playing Time 30 – 45 minutes
Category Cooperative
Puzzle
Player Powers
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Can you catch the Professor?

Well, this won’t be the first time talking about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time. If you heard the last Blatherings, you already have a good idea of what I think of this game.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time is a cooperative game for 2 – 4 players. Like any cooperative game though, this is a game you can play by yourself. All you need to do is play each character in normal player order, taking all actions yourself. I haven’t done this yet but I can see how it would work, so I list is as a 1-4 player game.

What’s in a name?

When I first heard about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time, all I knew was the title. The first thing that I saw in my mind was a Carmen Sandiego type jaunt with famous artifacts from different times. I didn’t know it was a cooperative game. I saw no box art or prototypes. I knew only the title, and have an overactive imagination. I knew I had to buy it.

While the final product isn’t whatever I was thinking at the time, the Carmen Sandiego comparison isn’t too far off either. Professor Evil is an absentminded evil genius. He travels through time and stealing some of history’s greatest relics. Players form a team and are tasked with retrieving these historical treasures from Professor Evils home. Of course, the professor has a host of traps and locks to keep you out and is also wandering around the house as well. It is imperative these treasures are rescued before he can secure them away forever in his secret strongroom.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Components
About two months after I heard about the game, this was my first look of the game

Gameplay is straightforward. You sneak around the house, unlocking doors and deactivating traps to steal back the treasures. In the centre of the board is the clock with four markers. One marker shows the current time and a coloured marker for each of the three treasures on the board. If the current time meets a treasure marker, then Professor Evil gets to secure that treasure for good, and another replaces it. The first side to secure four treasures – either the Professor or the Players, wins.

Such a simple game calls for very simple components.  Really the game is played with some cards, standees, and tokens all placed around the board.  But the care that has gone into the game is obvious.  The artwork is all beautifully illustrated, and the board itself does feel like a snapshot of a home.

Unfortunately, this does lead to one small problem.  There is so much happening on the board, that it can be a little hard to see the trap switch tokens on the board.  Once you have played the game once though, twice at the most, you know where to look in the rooms to confirm which trap the switch belongs to.

This really is a minor issue, but a couple of times people watching us playing were visibly startled when we picked up a part of what they thought was the board and flipped it over.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Treasures
The Treasures

How to play

The gameplay mechanics in Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time are very simple and straightforward. There feels like a lot of them though, so reading the manual was off-putting enough to begin with. Working through the manual step by step worked out well in the end though. I would suggest skimming the rules, then following the manual for a couple of rounds to learn the game. I would like to see an instructional video for the game though. If you would like to see me try and make one, let me know in the comments!

I will use the setup as an example of the manual being overcomplicated. To begin, place the Professor in the Laboratory, and the clock marker on 12 o’clock. Then, place all the locked doors throughout the house. Shuffle all the trap switches and the room deck. Draw a room card, and place the switch in that room – the first six in the off position, the rest in the on position. Finally, reshuffle the room deck and the treasure tiles. Draw a room card, and place the first treasure in that room. Pick a coloured marker and place it on the treasure. There will be another marker of the same colour. Place this one on the clock the number of minutes marked on the treasure tile from the current time. Repeat this last step until there are three treasures on the board. Players then select their characters, shuffle their ability decks, and then play commences.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Board
The board all set up and ready to play

Now I say this looks difficult in the manual only because it takes two pages in the booklet to give you the same information. Reading it from the rulebook as you go, with pictured examples before you, makes setup a breeze.

On a players turn, there is again a set order with a very specific process and things you can do. To begin your turn, draw two of your character ability cards. Place them face up in front of you. You can perform on of the abilities in front of you as a free action once between this step, and the next players turn. Next, you have three actions you can perform. The action choices available to you are Move, Unlock Door, Flip Switch, and Rescue Treasure. These do exactly what you think they do. Once you have performed your actions, you roll the Professor dice, ending your turn.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Player Characters
The character standees

Again, this is a little over two pages of the manual. There are examples and clarifications in the manual, but this is 95{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of what you need to know for your turn. The complexity of playing doesn’t come from what you can do, but how best to solve the puzzle laid out before you. While the actions you have to play are simple enough to understand, there is a little more to it. To rescue a treasure, you not only need to be in the room but have all the trap switches shown on the treasure turned off. Because these switches are all over the house, you may need to turn off half of the switches in the house. Being able to move a room of so per room means you need to be careful how you approach the situation. Also, when you rescue a treasure, every trap switch on the card turns on.

Finally, there is the Professors turn. This is the randomiser and tidy up phase that occurs after each player turn. And while outcomes are semi-fixed, it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen.

There are three dice that are rolled at the start of the Professors turn. The black die is for the clock.   On each side is a clock face, and you move the clock forward five minutes per clockface.  This means that time moves five or ten minutes each turn. The other two dice are for the Professor. One die has different symbols, most of which show chevrons. These chevrons show the number of rooms that the Professor walks through on his turn. Of course, he ignores locked doors – it is his house. The other white die shows a colour, and this determines the path the Professor follows. Every room has a colour in the doorway and this colour shows which door he walks through next. Every time the Professor walks through an unlocked door, he relocks it. If the room has a switch turned off, he turns it back on. If he walks into a room with a character, he throws them out of the house and continues on his way.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time The Professor
The Professor and his dice

There are two other possible Professor actions rather than just walking though. One is a secret passage, where he instantly goes to the coloured treasure shown on the dice. Once he arrives, he locks every door in the room and resets the switch in the room. While it can undo plans, this isn’t usually the worst thing though.

The worst thing is the Professor can roll a clock face. This takes another five or ten minutes from one treasure, which can lose you multiple treasures sometimes!

But if you lose a treasure, or rescue one yourself, you add another treasure. Pick the next treasure tile and room card as you did during setup. Always do this until there are three treasures in the house again.

During this phase, players can get access to their final perk.  When the clock reaches the 15 and 45 minute marks, players decide which character can flip their character plaques.  On the back of each plaque are two abilities.  The top ability becomes always in effect, giving a little boost to that player.  Examples are Edward Wyre moving through locked doors through locked doors, and Destiny Bradshaw being able to reroll one Professor die.

Below this is a super ability that can be used but requires flipping the plaque back over.  For example, Irene Elder lowers the time to rescue a treasure by 15 minutes but can take three extra actions immediately.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Special Player Powers
The characters unique abilites

What’s it like to play?

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time is a surprisingly fun puzzle game. Each of the characters feels unique, and the random nature of the game means you never quite know what is about to come up. Long terms plans are needed, but it’s not a pure strategy or tactics game. There is a built-in push your luck/risk and reward aspect built in because you know you can’t get all three treasures at once. This means you have to pick which treasures you will go after, and which ones you know the Professor will keep.

Playing with two players, you need to think about the characters you play very closely. While each character has different abilities, picking complimentary skills is key. With more players, you have a little more freedom and also different tactics available to you.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Irene Elder
Irene Elder can give you more time to rescue treasures
Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Edward Wyre
Edward Wyre, master of gears, can get bonuses from

Speaking of higher player counts, there are a lot of games that more players translate to longer downtime between players turns. More downtime can be boring for players over time. Each game of Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time is pretty quick to play through. Also, you are always watching a moving puzzle unfold, and talking out changes with the other players. This is great for interacting with people and throwing options out there, but it is a gateway for quarterbacking.

Quarterbacking, if your unfamiliar with the term, is when one player dominates all the decision making. Games like Pandemic can suffer from this, and this generally discourages new players. If you are playing a game, you want to play it, or at least feel like a participant. Luckily, in my experience, quarterbacks generally need very solid information to work on. In Pandemic, for example, you can card count infected cities after an epidemic to calculate the chances of drawing a city.

I’m lucky in my group where we don’t really have any of these kinds of players. The few times a quarterback has come through, the higher random factor in Professor Evil frustrated them more than anything else, so they didn’t play many times.

As an experiment, I did follow one of these players and asked them to play a round by themselves.  They really enjoyed playing it alone and flew through two games in about 15 minutes with one win and one loss.  I was happy with this for two reasons.  First, the player went away with a positive experience overall.  Secondly, it did prove to me that the game itself was enjoyable even for players that didn’t revel in the group participation.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

JohnHQLD Blatherings Episode 5 – Simple Games that the Rules Overcomplicate

JohnHQLD's Blatherings Podcast

Why does it take 2 pages to explain three steps?

So for the fifth episode of JohnHQLD Blatherings, I managed to play a couple of games with a surprising similarity.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time has a surprising trait in common with Legacy of Dragonholt – both games are surprisingly simple, and both games rulebooks make them seem a lot more complicated than they should!

In this episode, I summarise an 18-page character creation rulebook for Legacy of Dragonholt to explain to new players how to create a character for the first time.  This is done with a character creation matrix summary tool created by Hawk Strike, and available on Board Game Geek.  If you want to create your own character, grab the matrix here and jump to 7:39 in the Blatherings for instructions you can use on making a new character.

Have a great weekend everyone!

JohnHQLD