Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Warmachine Battle Report: Karchev vs. Asphyxious

After about a five year hiatus it looks like I'm finally returning to Warmachine!  This past weekend I played in a 20 point match between Khador and my old stand by Cryx.  On the other side of the table Matt fielded Kommander Karchev backed up by the Behemoth, a Juggernaut, and a full unit of Mechaniks while I had good old Gaspy (aka Iron Lich Asphyxious) and his pet Scarlock with the Deathjack (of course), a Seether, and a small unit of Mechanithralls.

Our board was your basic forest on either side with a hill in the middle.  Nothing too fancy but it was enough to push us right at each other from the start which guaranteed the bloodshed would commence quickly.  In fact we were engaged and trading blows within just a couple of turns.

Matt tried to get first blood by lobbing mortar shells from the Behemoth at my Skarlock but thankfully the cover of the trees saved him.  Another volley flew off toward my McThralls but fell short, peppering them with debris but little else.

Things went slightly more in my favor as the McThralls charged up to Karchev and one of them managed to pound him with a double steam fist slam, rocking him and more importantly actually inflicting damage!  The Seether tried to keep my momentum going as it charged the Juggernaut but failed to actually connect.  Argh!!!  It was then that I realized I'd mistimed things as I didn't have the Skarlock cast Parasite onto Karchev before the McThralls did their thing so went for the next best target; the Juggernaut.  With its armor weakened, the Deathjack thundered toward it and tore into its weakened armor, nearly reducing the 'jack to a pile of scrap by the time it was done.

Surprised by how potent the Deathjack was, Matt had the Behemoth charge the Seether but through a whole lot of luck he was only able to destroy one of the arms.  On the other side of the battle, Karchev responded to the impudent McThrall that wounded him by squishing him like a bug.  He then continued his assault against them, quickly annihilating all but one of them.  Behind the scenes, the mechaniks ran forward to try to repair the damage to Karchev and the Juggernaut but thanks to the excessive amount of vodka they'd had before the battle they weren't even able to hold their wrenches properly.

Sensing that the tide of battle could shift against me any second (and that the store owner might kick us out so he could go home), I decided to go for the Cryx suicide run for victory.  The damaged Seether raked his remaining death claw across the armored shell of the Behemoth but was barely able to scratch the paint.  Meanwhile, the Skarlock skirted the back of the massive skirmish and cast Parasite again, this time on Karchev himself.  Next, the Deathjack pivoted around the shambling but still dangerous Juggernaut and was able to rip into Karchev but in the end the man machine was still standing.  Finally Gaspy launched himself forward and tore into Karchev with Soul Splitter again and again until he collapsed to the ground in a crumpled heap.

Overall it was a lot of fun even though there were some tactical and timing mistakes that I'd made during the first half of the game.  It was also good to get in a friendly game instead of having to push for a win to advance in a tournament.  An added plus for me is that the crowd at the store is just getting into Warmachine so it will give me a good chance to ease my way back into the game.  Heck, I couldn't even remember what I was supposed to roll to cast a spell in this game so I definitely need some training wheels while I get my head wrapped around the rules again.  And next time I'll make sure I bring the camera so I can get more pictures of the action as it happens.  Until next time...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Movie Review: 300: Rise Of An Empire

This weekend my wife and I went to see 300: Rise Of An Empire.  Neither of us had seen the original 300 so we weren't sure what to expect but the description sounded promising so we decided to give it a shot.  Overall it was pretty good but in some spots it just tried too hard.

Without giving things away (and without seeing the first movie) it seems like Rise Of An Empire begins with the events that lead up to and follow the last stand of King Leonidas.  Overall it was a pretty good movie and we enjoyed it except for a couple of things.

1) The big one for me was at times it felt like the 3d aspect was being pushed too hard.  As I wear glasses we had opted for the regular 2d version of the movie but it was still quite obvious which bits were meant to "showcase" the 3d and a lot of them seemed a little forced.  Okay, I get that its the new viewing experience but at least try to make it fit into the flow of the picture.

2) At times the slow motion scenes were really... rreeaalllyy... rrreeeaaallllyyy... common.  At first it was like "And now its time for more slo mo... yay..." but talking with my wife afterward she made the point that maybe they were trying to capture the soldier's perspective.  In the heat of battle with the adrenaline pumping things can almost seem to slow down.  Not that I've been in battle but she did touch on our own experience during a car accident and how thinking back to it things seemed to move slower.  Looking at it that way it made more sense but in the moment it seemed a little repetitive.

Other than these particular things we both enjoyed Rise Of An Empire even without knowing the story of the first movie.  It felt like they touched on the most important aspects of it in the natural flow of the story so we weren't left wondering what they were talking about.  Is it a must see?  No but it definitely felt like it was worth the price of admission which is saying something nowadays.  Until next time...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Game Review: King of Tokyo

Things are finally settling down in our new temporary abode so its time for another game review!  Yes, its finally time to review the game that has dominated our table ever since we first played it, iello's King Of Tokyo.

What's In The Box?
When I opened the box, the first thing I noticed was no instructions... because they were attached to the outside of the box.  Full color and very well laid out, they do a very good job breaking down the game step by step.  They also have a brief glossary and overview of some of the somewhat questionable cards you can bring into play throughout the game which is very handy and to me shows that they put this game through its paces before releasing it to the masses

There is also a small but very colorful board that also has some handy in game reminders, a set of eight special dice, a deck of power ups you can purchase in the game, energy cubes (no they're not candy!!!), a number of pre-punched counters, boards to track each monster and a cardboard figure for each.  All of these are full illustrated and really help to capture the giant monster feel.

As a nice little plus, the box also comes with a tray liner that lets you keep everything nice and neat in the box between plays.  Overall, just great looking components and presentation.

How Do You Win?
Winning the game is elegantly handled and one of the things that I really love about the game.  There are two ways to do it.  You can either be the first monster to earn 20 Victory Points or you can be the last monster standing.  Why do I love this?  More on that later.

How Do You Play?
The basic mechanic of the game is similar to Yahtzee.  You roll six dice up to three times looking for different sets and combinations.  The difference is that in addition to the numbers one, two, and three the dice have a claw, heart and lightning bolt.  So what does it all mean? Let me explain.

As I mentioned before, one of the ways to win is by scoring 20 VPs and you can do this with the dice by rolling sets of three or more ones, twos, or threes.  The set of three is worth the number rolled (so three 2's are worth 2 points) and each additional number increases that by one point (so five 2's would be worth 4 points).

The other symbols work slightly differently.  Each claw that you roll will do a point of damage to the other monsters, while each lightning bolt earns you an energy cube and each heart will heal a point of damage.  None of these need to be rolled in sets and there isn't a bonus it you do (so one claw does 1 point of damage and five claws do 5 points).

Once you have rolled your dice, its time to resolve what's happened.  Damage is applied, healing is done and point are earned according to the final outcome on your dice and depending on whether you are in Tokyo or not.  At the start of the game there are no monsters in Tokyo but as soon as one of the monsters resolves at least one claw that monster will move into the city.  This is an ideal situation in some regards since you are trying to become the King of Tokyo after all and does have its perks, but there are some slight drawbacks as well.

One of the perks is you earn extra VPs every turn starting when you first move into the city.  The turn you move in you earn 1 VP and every turn you begin in Tokyo you earn another 2 VPs.  You also damage all of the other monsters when you attack; roll two claws and everyone takes two damage, roll five and they all take five.  Sounds pretty good, right?  The downside is that you can not use any hearts that you roll to heal yourself and if any of the other monsters roll any claws they are coming right at you.

The good news is that you can yield Tokyo after you are attacked (after you take the damage of course) to get yourself out of the cross hairs for a little while.  As soon as you do this, you move your monster out of the city and move whoever just attacked you in.  Unfortunately this means that your opponent will immediately earn 1 VP and then earn more at the beginning of their next turn (assuming they are still there) but sometimes you just have to step back and lick your wounds.  While outside of Tokyo, you can heal one point of damage for each heart rolled and any claws you roll are applied to whoever is currently in Tokyo but no one else.

So what about those energy cubes that have been piling up?  Those are used in the next phase of the game to buy special cards to power up your monster.  Some of them have a permanent effect for the rest of the game while others are played immediately but almost all of them can give you some kind of edge in the game.  This is also where those extra two dice come into play as there are specific cards that you can buy that will let you roll an extra die (or two if you've greedy!) during your turn.

How Does It Measure Up?
I can honestly say that right now this is my family's absolute favorite game to play.  With 32 plays in less than a year, this game has blown all of the other games in our collection out of the water but the question is why?  There are several things that really make it stick out for me.

The mechanics are very straightforward (after all, who hasn't played Yahtzee before?) but the theme gives the game a really enjoyable twist.  The artwork is also very well done with a fun cartoon quality to it and the monsters are diverse enough that there's going to be something for anyone.

Above all this one of the things that I really enjoy is the built in timer that is inherent with the mechanics.  As soon as someone rolls a claw, they are going into Tokyo whether they like it or not and the race is on!  Leave your opponent in there too long and they'll quickly reach 20 VPs and steal the game but be careful of getting yourself sucked into the spotlight as everyone else will now be gunning for you.  This really keeps the game from going too long but it isn't so rushed that it feels forced.  A great little balancing act that not many games are able to pull off so well.

This is one game that I am very glad we added to our collection and I definitely recommend giving it a try.  There are also two expansions which add even more to the game... but more on those later.  Until next time...

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Exodus Is Nearly Complete

Way, way, way back in my 2013 Year In Review, I mentioned Moving Day but never actually said just what it was.  Well as it so happens Moving Day has been and gone... kind of.  The Snowman family is currently relocating from Sin City to the sunny state of Maine!

So what does this have to do with the blog?  Well, it should explain why there has been no activity around here since the beginning of the year.  Packing up a house takes a loooooong time.  On the plus side, a friend of mine from high school is still in Maine so there might be a little more to write about such as Infinity, Song of Blades, Malifaux, and even a return to Warmachine!

So the long and the short of it, there will be more coming soon so don't go too far!  Until next time...