So times (and content) are changing

JohnHQLD Logo

So what’s happening with content?

On the 13th of March, I put up a poll on the Facebook page about the general direction of the content of the site. The choices where more should I concentrate on my personal history and why I get excited about certain things or keep little daily tidbits of news going.

There was only one response apparently:

Poll Results

It’s hard to argue with that kind of vote, so I am writing up a few new pieces that should start being posted Good Friday, followed by the fourth Blatherings episode on Saturday!

This means after Easter, I will be regularly posting longer articles 2-3 times a week, and Saturdays will remain alternating Review and Blatherings days. Now and then a bit of news on things that catch my eye like Kickstarters or various announcements will be put up, but not on a regular schedule. Still no posts on Sunday though!

Thank you all for the feedback so far, it has all been appreciated.  Hopefully we can continue to build a great site together!

Detective Pikachu on the 3DS

So I picked up Detective Pikachu on Saturday, and currently, I think I am about 1/2-2/3 of the way through the game. Detective Pikachu will probably be my first video game review at the rate I am playing because compared to the rest of my gaming backlog I am flying through this one.

It plays more like an interactive comic book than a traditional Pokemon game, and the story so far seems to hold true to all the standard detective fiction tropes (which is why I think I can tell how far I am in the story). Detective Pikachu isn’t intended as a hard-hitting mind bender game though, so the light puzzles and story suit the game well.

I am having a lot of fun with Detective Pikachu, but I will give a full review once I have finished the game. I will also include what I think of the massive Detective Pikachu Amiibo!

Detective Pikachu Amiibo

Some games I want to play over Easter

So waiting for me at my local games shop is the Fast Foward series of games from Friedemann Friese. The series comprises of three games: Fear, Fortress and Flee, and each promises to be a different experience.

These are three games based on the Fabled Fruit system where you simply open the box and start playing. The rules are explained on cards that you draw from a deck of presorted cards allowing such quick gameplay.

Friedemann Friese is a designer that I enjoy the idea behind a lot of his games, but I don’t enjoy playing many of them.  Friday to this day is still one of my favourite solo games, and Power Grid is enjoyable with the right crowd. The recent solo game Finished finished is fun, but not one I can see myself playing over and over like I did with Friday.

The reviews I have heard have been a little mixed for the series, but positive enough overall that I really want to try them for myself. As a concept this has got my interest, so look out for a full review of the Fast Forward Series hopefully soon!

Fast Forward Logo
Fast Forward Fear Box Art
Fast Forward Fortress Box Art
Fast Forward Flee Box Art

A deserving Kickstarter is SO CLOSE to funding!

I know I have mentioned this Kickstarter a few times, but it’s SO CLOSE to being funded at around 89{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c}!  If you like games like Zombicide, do yourself a favour and check out Secret Unkown Stuff: Escape from Dulce from Sentient Cow Games.

There are now plenty of gameplay videos now available, and the team is great to communicate with. This looks like a fun game that will probably replace Zombicide for me for my light ‘dice chucker/dungeon crawler’ type games. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that the jokes are right up my alley 😀

I am hoping that some of the bigger releases lately like Batman Gotham City Chronicles haven’t overshadowed this game, especially when there is a trilogy of games announced so it all has a plan.  Compare this to the annual Zombicide additions/reboots, this is a project I feel deserves to be given a chance.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Pacific Rim: Extinction is live on Kickstarter

Pacific Rim Extinction Promo

Will beauty be enough?

Pacific Rim falls squarely in the mindless pleasure category for me.  It’s beautiful to watch, fun to watch along with, and a surprising amount of lore if you’re interested.  Guillermo del Toro seem to have a knack for these kinds of films, and the imminent release of Pacific Rim: Uprising has fans excited.  It’s this excitement that I think the skirmish game Pacific Rim: Extinction is looking to tap into.

Normally I would be giving a little insight into why I am excited or interested in a project.  Instead, Pacific Rim: Extinction is a great example of Kickstarters I am very wary of, turning this into a case study of caution.  Just to be clear I am not trying to warn anyone against backing the project.   I am just pointing out the things that make me hesitant to back the project myself.

First off the good points – THOSE MINIS.  No one can say this isn’t going to be a beautiful experience.  Not only do the miniatures come pre-painted, but they stand more than double the normal height of most skirmish minis.

Pacific Rim Extinction Gipsey Avenger Scale

Visually they all look amazing, and at the end of the article, I have a gallery of all the add-on miniatures for your viewing pleasure as well.

Then we get into the card art.  They do remind me of the screens and outputs of the films, so thematically they seem to fit and again the illustrations are great.

Pacific Rim Extinction Player Board

On the Kickstarter page itself is a section for Videos including an interview with River Horse on Pacific Rim: Extinction.  Everything looks on the up and up.

That’s the hype working overtime, and everything looks great and I want to buy all of the things.  But where is the video on the actual gameplay itself?  The project mentions that the rules and all are complete and playtested for the best turnaround time.  So where are the rules?  What is the actual game I am being asked to invest in?

Without seeing actual gameplay or at least the ruleset, we are being asked to invest a not insignificant amount of money on shiny.  And it is great shiny!  I would be tempted to buy the game simply to set up a diorama of a Jaeger battle in my house.  Without being given any information on the game proper, this is a classic example of a gamble Kickstarter project.

There is also the legalise at the bottom of the project that gives me pause.  The Risks and Challenges sections at the bottom of most Kickstarters are good, but including a Terms and Conditions (especially this wording) seems very heavy handed.  Screen capture of the Terms and Conditions are here:

Pacific Rim Extinction TandC

The first paragraph is the most concerning to me.  Prototypes are prototypes, and Kickstarter regulars are used to rules revisions and refinements after a campaign changes.  But when the only true information being given is a visual representation of the miniatures, this almost says ‘custom painted miniatures displayed, yours will look different and probably worse because you have to agree to it’.

Now I don’t expect the final included play pieces to look like the ones included – you put your best pieces on display to show off your product.  I would expect a lower level of detail on the paint job in the final product, but I have backed a lot of Kickstarters and have experience in manufacturing as well.  This legal speak could be at the insistence of the Legendary Films Legal Department, but it still doesn’t feel right to me.

Without showing even the prototypes and rules in a ‘real game’ environment, this starts to come across as a product that the people involved don’t have full belief or support in.

Now this will probably be confusing, as yesterday I literally posted “I know nothing of this game, but I’m excited!”.  There is a big difference though.   I am not being asked to hand over up to £65 plus shipping on a promise that something good will be created – I just need to wait and see.  Unless something happens at the last minute, Magic: The Gathering: Heroes of Dominaria will be published.  If you don’t think WizKids will pull a game, try to find news on Blade Runner 2049: Nexus Protocol to see what I mean.

Pacific Rim: Extinction has met its funding goal, so really I just need to wait and see.  I understand that no Kickstarter benefits and possible availability issues are the cost of waiting, but at the moment it also puts me approximately AUD$350 better off if it’s a so-so game.

Check out the Pacific Rim: Extinction Kickstarter page, and see what you think of the project overall.  I would love to hear how you look at the project overall.

Pacific Rim Extinction Gipsey Avenger Alternate
Pacific Rim Extinction Obsidian Fury
Pacific Rim Extinction Hakuja
Pacific Rim Extinction Saber Athena
Pacific Rim Extinction Core Set

Now that I have said what I think some crowdfunding projects do wrong, see what Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce does right.  The project is still going on Kickstarter and is around 2/3rds of the way to their funding goal.

Rules up from the beginning, actual gameplay videos and prototype kits handed out and on display from the start of the project and community involvement with a great deal of transparency.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce Live Playthrough Thursday

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

What’s always better than hearing about gameplay?  SEEING IT PLAYED!

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is currently sitting about 50{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} funded in only 4 days!  I am really hoping this trend continues because it looks like a great game.

If I had known about this game last year, I am confident it would have placed in my most anticipated games of 2018!

I won’t go on about it too much here.  If you would like to know what I think of Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce, you can see my initial post here.

So what am I talking about today?  On Wednesday, March 7th from roughly 7 pm PST (or Thursday 1 pm QLD Time) Sentient Cow Games is doing a live playthrough with the Unfiltered Gamer!

This will be a great chance to see the game in action, as well as talk directly with the creators with any comments or possible questions.

The live playthrough will be on the Unfiltered Gamer Facebook Page so wander over and have a look!  Hopefully, I can tune in live and see you there with work hours and all 🙁  If you can’t see it live, check out the recording when you can I am sure it will be worth it!

If you haven’t already, check out the Kickstarter project as well as the Board Game Geek page for more information.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce – a weirdly fun dungeon crawl

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

Think of any escape type exploration game you may have played.  Now pretend it was designed by the guys from MST3K and RiffTrax.

Dungeon Crawlers have been coming on strong over the last 18 months or so. It has gotten to the point that it is easy to dismiss a lot of games now as ‘Just another Dungeon Crawler’. This oversimplification is pretty unfair, as the term itself has started to become so generic that some truly unique ways of approaching these adventures are being overlooked. Sentient Cow Games has decided to tackle this in a way that tickles my fancy with the newly launched Kickstarter Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce.

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is the first in a planned trilogy of games that all seem to be carrying very similar themes, with the second game being on the Moon and the last being adventures through Time. But that is jumping ahead of myself – let’s talk about this game a little bit.

The premise itself is nice simple – players play cooperatively to escape the top-secret Dulce base (essentially Area 51) so that they can find their freedom. You explore the base and conquer level by level trying to find both the route and equipment required to complete the challenge. This is done in a 3D environment with actual levels that are explored. The vertical board seems to have plenty of room and is a great way to allow large amounts of exploration while keeping table space requirements low – always a welcome design.

While the player boards look like walls of text, the rules themselves are also simple and straightforward. While there is an experience system to allow character growth and a variety of enemies and situations you can find yourself in, there are a minimal number of mechanics and caveats to remember as almost everything is shown on the boards themselves. This means you can have new players in a game within about 5 minutes as you can expand or clarify rules as you play.

On top of streamlined rules, the humour in this game is amazing. For example, player characters range from the cryo-frozen Amelia Earhart to the mutated nuclear Smith family, all the way up to Snippy Von Bell – a two-headed cow with heavy weapons.  All of the characters seem to be parodies of sci-fi characters, some popular and some a little more niche.

Also, replayability seems to be quite high as well. There are stand-alone or campaign missions, and all tiles are double sided allowing different combinations to be used to create new bases each time. The component quality looks great even at the prototype level, and the miniatures all look amazing as we expect these days.

At its core, this is a fun dice chucking game with dungeon crawler elements and looks like it will be a fun addition as well as probably a gateway type adventure. While there are many great and deep games coming out, Sentient Cow Games seems to have gone back to what makes gaming fun in the first place – a fun experience where everyone can enjoy themselves all the way through without having to worry too much about rule interactions in situation X.

Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information, or the Board Game Geek page here.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders
Secret Unknown Stuff - Amelia Earhart
Secret Unknown Stuff - Adam Starblaster
Secret Unknown Stuff - The Smith Family
Secret Unknown Stuff - Dr Donna Haskin
Secret Unknown Stuff - Hattori Hanzo
Secret Unknown Stuff - Raylock G'ylax
Secret Unknown Stuff - Reb Buford
Secret Unknown Stuff - Snippy Von Bell

Until next time,

JohnHQLD