Last Week’s Gaming – May 18th, 2020

Animal Crossing Lounge Room

Not many games played again this week. But bring on digital board game nights!

I don’t know where this week went! Work was steady, and today is my last long weekend day. I got to curl up on the couch a lot, which was good!

Last week though We got to play ‘board’ games with Steam Remote Play Anywhere. Basically, I own the game, but Steam Friends can play with me. I was surprised how easily the format worked!

I started with the idea of playing Ticket to Ride because I didn’t need to teach the game. Yeah, not a great idea. The way Play Anywhere Remote works is my screen is streamed and controls shared. This means for games like Ticket to Ride, everyone can see everyone’s tickets.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have games that will work well though ๐Ÿ™‚

Tokaido – Steam

Yes, the hangover game! Or another way, the competitive holiday game.
The first game took a fair while to play, but that was to be expected. Elle had never played Tokaido before, so Harls and I spent some time talking through the options to teach her the game.

I knew teaching a game this way would be tricky. I am so used to being able to grab cards for example purposes, or quickly simulate a turn. Digital games don’t let you do this. This week, I am thinking just making everyone play the tutorial and see how that goes.

Tokaido was an excellent chill choice though, especially as we hadn’t caught up for a couple of weeks. We used the discord server I set up for games to chat, and everyone took their turn. Except for that one time I took Elle’s turn – sorry again Elle! Because Tokaido itself is such a relaxing time, chatting and playing was a whole lot of fun.

I think we created a Tokaido monster in Elle though. Harls and I had a bit of fun messing with each other the first game but talked Elle through the best scoring choices for the first two rounds. With that headstart, she took a commanding lead. The next game though, she still managed to pip Harls by 1 point!

Tokaido Gameplay
I was suprised how easy it was to share Tokaido via Steam
Tokaido End Game Scores
Elle took a well deserved victory. And the AI we kept in last place ๐Ÿ™‚

Skribbl.io – Web

This was an interesting one. Skribble.io is a free Pictionary type game anyone with a web browser can play. The premise is simple – get a bunch of words (or supply your own), one person draws that word, and everyone else tries to guess the word. It was exactly as you expected, and a little bit of silly fun to end the night with.

I am not trying to be picky, but there is a little bit of a learning curve to the interface. This mean Harls (that started the game) owned the first game, as he supplied all of the custom words we had to draw.

The only reason I bring it up is I haven’t had the same initial “What’s going on?” with a lot of paid options. This makes sense – it’s a free game made by people in whatever time they have. I am not bringing it up as an indication Skribbl.io isn’t fun – just be prepared to throw away a round or two as you learn the system.

SkribblIo
I forgot to take a screenshot! But I did discover you can edit your avatar.

Dragon Castle – Steam

Alpal introduced me to Dragon Castle last year, I think? Time is hard for me to gauge at the best of times. Take the match style Mahjong gameplay popular on most PC ports of Mahjong, and add a city-building element.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add the tactile feeling of the Mahjong tiles coupled with building shrines and placing patterns, and Dragon Castle is surprisingly fun.

I had a quick game of the digital implementation this week. My idea was to go through my digital board games and see what would work with the Play Anywhere format. The game was fine, but I was having a little bit of trouble with the controls. I will try again before suggesting we play this next games night. Expect a formal review in the next week or two.

Dragon Castle
It's pretty, but you can't pick up the tiles. And I don't mean physically - controls are double click rather than dragging.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

I finally fired up the PS4 on Saturday. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play Final Fantasy VII Remake, so I jumped back into Sleeping Dogs.

This was the right choice, as it was a stupid bit of fun. ๐Ÿ˜€

I didn’t do many side missions, but I seem to be progressing the story well enough. The triad leader I was trying to get information on was killed, and I have become the new gang leader. A war is brewing. It’s all standard crime movie fair, so you can see the story beats coming.

But to only partially engage my brain and enjoy myself, Sleeping Dogs was a heap of fun. I can see myself hitting a wall on some of the side quests. Trying to do a race on motorcycles frustrated me no end, for example. So I don’t think I will be Completing this game. But for an extended end of week gaming session? It’s hitting just the right level of fun, interest and challenge that I am looking for.

Sleeping Dogs Triangulation
There are enough different missions in Sleeping Dogs to keep things interesting.

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

So I suppose you can call this week the start of me playing Animal Crossing properly?

I finally added some more land for people to come over, and I am starting to hit the Nook Miles Ticket looking for new fruits, Bamboo, things like that. Today, I might actually sit down and try and come up with a plan for my island layout.

I think it’s fair to say that Animal Crossing has started to hook me. I can’t see myself playing it in day-long sessions, but all week when I wanted to be distracted, I went fishing. And setting up my house. I planted a small garden. I finally built a bridge.

And the final proof I am taking it ‘seriously’ – I even started buying K.K. Slider albums!

Animal Crossing Kaiju
Not the greatest way to start to decorate your island, but I couldn't resist

What about you?ย  I hope you got some great games in.ย  Or are you looking forward to a new one?ย  Let me know!ย  Shout out onย Facebookย or @JohnHQLD me onย Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – March 30th, 2020

Tokaido

Finally, back to a Board Game heavy week!

It’s been a week. Last week was my second week of working from home, with more to come. Getting into a rhythm with has been a challenge, but Rabbit and I are up for the challenge!

This week has also seen the debut of a new format for the site – videos! At the moment, I am restricting this to some Talking Tech and digital game content. It’s still new to me, and I have some more kinks to work out. Let me know what you think about it!

But enough site stuff, onto what I got to play this week!

I finally got Marvel Champions to the table, and Alpal and I had a lot of fun playing it. I have played the Arkham Horror LCG, and Alpal has played the Lord of the Rings version. While fun, I have mixed feelings about Marvel Champions.

If you have played any trading/living card games before, the basics of Marvel Champions are easy to pick up. Engine building with the starter packs made sense, and we had a lot of fun.

But then it ended. There was no build-up, the game just ended. I knew we were getting close, and I had a couple of lucky card draws. We won, which was great, but I completely invalidated everything Alpal was planning while winning the game.

I will see if Rabbit wants to play and see if the same thing happens. But now that I finally have broken out Marvel Champions, I can’t wait to get into it for a formal review.

Marvel Champions
Near the start of the game. Not much was happening, and we got to keep Rhino's plans under control ๐Ÿ™‚

Another Alpal surprise game, Rabbit Rally is another HABA gem that flew right below my radar.

If you don’t know about HABA games, they are simple games mainly targeted at younger players. Just because it’s aimed at kids rarely limits my enjoyment of these games though.

The idea of Rabbit Rally is simple. You play as a rabbit, and you want to reach an island first to get the legendary ‘golden carrot’ you can see growing there.

The catch? There is a stretch of water between you and the island. Each turn, you roll a die which shows a different coloured plank. Each plank is a different length, and you have to place a stone where you think the plank can reach. If the plank reaches, you progress! If you fall short, you miss a turn. ๐Ÿ™

Silly and fun, Rabbit Rally was a great palate cleanser after the longer Marvel Champions. If you play with younger players, keep an eye out for Rabbit Rally, and let me know if you would like a more in-depth review.

Rabbit Rally
Simple components, straightforward play. If you want to have some silly fun, play with physical obstacles like putting cups in the way!

The last special from Alpal was Walking in Burano. When I saw the EmpororS4 badge, I was excited to give it a try.

The premise is straightforward – build a section of housing in line with the standards of Burano, Venice. Known for its colourful housing, this means you need to create a row of five houses of the same colour, but not having the same colour in two homes in a row.

Now, being colourblind, I appreciated the symbols on the houses that allowed me to tell the colours apart quickly. What I had trouble with was differences in the art like the pot plants and flowers.

I had to concentrate on tiny graphics on cards about a quarter of the size of a standard poker-sized card. The card sizes chosen for Walking in Burano help keep the size of your play area down, but the tiny details are used in end game bonus scoring.

Walking in Burano is a fun collection game, but if you have trouble with colours or focusing on tiny details, might give you some trouble.

Walking in Burano
I finished my little area ๐Ÿ™‚ But I could have made better scoring choices with larger cards

Tokaido – Physical, Steam, Google Play, Apple Store

I have spoken about Tokaido a couple of times in the past, and last week I even did my first review cross gameplay video!

Everything I spoke about in my review, I would say again now. A great relaxing game that still has strategic elements, if you use Android jump in for free on the Google Play store now!

Keep in mind Namiji is coming to shelves later this year, which uses the same basic mechanics as Tokaido, but takes you on a very different journey.

Tokaido
Tokaido is beautiful both in the physical and digital form

Control – PS4

The story is insane and twists and turns with the paranormal backstory. I have really enjoyed playing Control, and I can’t wait to talk about it more in my review at the end of the week!

My fourth finished video game for the year! Now I am toying with completing it for the Platinum. I probably will, Control is fantastic. I am also deciding if I should try finishing the new Foundation DLC before Resident Evil 3 comes out April 3.

Control
The game takes a strange turn near the end of the story, turning you into a new office worker

Doom Eternal – Steam

But what do I think about Doom Eternal? Well, this was my first video experiment! Check out my first impressions here for more details.

When Doom 2016 came out, I instantly fell in love. While it was different from ‘my’ Doom back in the day, that quick and satisfying arcade-style gameplay was still very much intact.

Rip and Tear. What else can I say about Doom Eternal?

Doom Eternal First Impressions
Check out my first recording experiment and see Doom Eternal in all it's glory

What about you?ย  I hope you got some great games in.ย  Or are you looking forward to a new one?ย  Let me know!ย  Shout out onย Facebookย or @JohnHQLD me onย Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Tokaido Review with Digital Gameplay

Tokaido Cover
Tokaido Cover
Released 2012
Designer Antoine Bauza
Publisher Funforge (Website)
Players 2-5 (best 3+)
Playing Time Physical: 10-15 minutes per player
Digital: about 20 minutes
Category Set Collection
Variable Player Powers
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

If you can’t go out and about, why not play a game where you explore the Tokaido pilgramage?

It’s Friday, and I bet you were wondering where the review was?

I decided to try something a little different today. Instead of trying to write up why a game of movement and collection is fun, why not show you?

So as a bit of an experiment, I hope you will join me as I play through the tutorial game of Tokaido in digital form!

So I present to you a full game, as well as some rule explanations I feel the digital implementation was lacking. Complete with Rambling Old Man Thoughts! ๐Ÿ™‚

After filming, I did indeed confirm that right now Tokaido is free on the Google Play store, and AUD$1.27 on iOS!

I was playing the Steam version, which right now is AUD$13.89 on the Steam store. I play mainly on my phone, and it’s great to sit back and relax with. You really can’t go wrong with either version!

Tokaido Second Game
I managed to get a win on the game I started when the tutorial game was over

I also mentioned that Tokaido was getting to be a bit pricey and harder to find.

What I didn’t say in the video was to watch out if the expensive versions are the Collectors version. This comes with metal coins and painted miniatures, as well as the crossroads expansion. While still expensive, the cost is a little more justified.

The other reason some places aren’t pushing Tokaido as much is because a follow up is about to be released – Namiji.

Not a sequel as such, but similar mechanics are used with different options available when you stop on the road.

I haven’t playing Namiji yet, and I won’t be in the first wave as I didn’t back it on Kickstarter. Be sure I will be checking it out in the future though! ๐Ÿ™‚

Namiji Cover Art
Similar mechanics, but a very different game

Overall Thoughts

Tokaido is a game I have had ‘serious’ players talk down about. Comments like “Too simple” or “Not enough to do”. For me, this simplicity is what makes Tokaido shine.

Sit down with a non-gamer, and explain they are taking a holiday. It really helps the scoring mechanisms click. Don’t want to paint? Go shopping. Don’t like shopping? Relax at the hot springs and talk to various people – you never know what you can get out of it!

Tokaido is a great game to sit and enjoy the company of others with, as you don’t need to spend all of your time concentrating on the game. Playing digitally, it’s a great way to play alone and just enjoy yourself. Plus you can play online with others if you wish!

Overall
8/10
8/10

Pros

  • Gorgeous art style
  • Random setup helps for great replayability
  • You can play relaxed or competitive – it’s up to you

Cons

  • Digital implementation needs a better tutorial or a reference for new players
  • Wish you could speed up AI animations

Until next time,

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 Ramblingsย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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