For the last few years I have been thinking to myself that I was very much done with my trading card games – mostly Magic: The Gathering, to be honest. You have probably heard me rant before regarding the way the game has changed and how Wizards of the Coast’s strategy of milking their customers and destroying the game through their exhausting power creep and extensive new releases that to be frank do not seem to add anything other than rather lame hype to the whole thing. I also find it rather annoying that every set requires a new random ability that tends to create a new set of rule issues that force you to play with new cards constantly. Same problem that we have these days with Yu-Gi-Oh, right? Like how ridiculous it is that for those of you who wanna play competitively, unless you play 3 very specific variant of a deck, you are essentially done and dusted. I am fed up of having to spending a fairly copious amount of money fetching cards, the same cards everyone else is after. I am done having with new sets every 3 months that unless purchased will make me an obsolete gamer, so on and so forth. Instead, I have decided to give a go to LCG’s: living card games as the cool kids in the industry like to call them. Why have I opted for this approach? Well, probably for the same reasons than many other people, but here are my thoughts.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been around for almost 6 years at this point, which in terms of videogames, is relatively old. Despite this there are still tons of mods for the game being constantly made and released on the Nexus and Steam Workshop. There are over 53,000 mods for Skyrim on the Nexus, and there are probably even more from other sources and different mods you can find for the Special Edition of the game (although less overall). So if you’re new to mods, or haven’t modded Skyrim for a few years, how are you supposed to find the good ones with so many out there? Well I’ll do my best here to give you a rundown of some of the best new mods as of 2017.
Instead of going through every small mod that adds a new object to the game or a tiny tweak to the gameplay systems, here I’m going to focus on the mods that I think add a lot to the game. There are a fair few of these now, which is probably thanks to the fact that modders have gotten so familiar and proficient at modding the game we are seeing far more substantial mods than before, when they were much rarer in the past.
There have been a lot of ‘overhauls’ for Skyrim over the years. These are mods that significantly change and rework the gameplay systems. Most of these involve changing the perk trees or spell lists in some way. Some of the older ones to check out include Skyrim Redone, and Perkus Maximus which mainly change the perk trees and add more interesting and specific perks. Duel – Combat Realism makes combat a lot tougher with more varied and clever enemy behaviour. and Midas Magic Evolved which adds a lot of new spells.
As for newer mods, there have been some fairly interesting ones. First there is Path of Sorcery – Magic Perk Overhaul which as you can imagine, makes changes to the magic perks of the game. Instead of with something like Midas Magic and other spell mods, this one doesn’t just dump a ton of spells into the game, but works on the core principles of the vanilla magic system, but expands on it greatly, allowing you to specialize more, or simply become more powerful and varied in your magical abilities. Continue reading “Modding Skyrim in 2017”
So thanks to the wonderful resource that is Board in the City (Southampton), I have been playing a few more new games and trying out some stuff. There is two in particular that caught my attention recently: Century Spice Road and Splendor. The former was like the sensation game at the Expo last year, sold out and stuff, so I thought “ok cool, we will give this a go”. And I had heard lots of people talk about Splendor so, why not, ey? The two games themselves are pretty comparable as the follow very similar dynamics and the game goals are in essence the same: be the player that has more victory points at the end of it, all based on your capability to do your best at resource management to maximise your economic gain.
In Century Spice Road you are merchants trying to set up a spice road (obvs!). There are victory cards with a set value of points for your end score that you can buy with cubes of different colours starting with yellow at its lowest value, green, red and brown. Your turns are devised in such a way that you either acquire cubes, cards that allow you to gain or exchange cubes or purchase the victory cards. Splendor is fairly similar, just instead of cubes you have gems (blue, red, green, black and white). Whilst in Spice Road you end the game when a player has purchased 5 of the victory cards, in Splendor you stop playing when someone reaches 15 victory points. Fairly simple games in any case, easy and quick to play, however, after having played both, I am still wondering why did Century Spice Road perform so well, when in comparison I think it is less straight forward – and more lame if you ask me…Also, who wants to pay nearly 30 quid when I can buy Splendor for like 20?
So as it is approaching my sister’s birthday, I found myself thinking about what should I write for the occasion. My sister is getting older now, even though for me she will always be little – even though now she can pick me up and beat the crap out of me if she wanted to…So, not so little then. Then I thought to myself, before she became an angsty teen – and before I moved to the UK – we used to play lots of board games together, cause she still thought back then that me and my parents were cool and was not ashamed of spending sometime with us. Sadly for her, she is a very sore loser, and had a tendency ever since she was tiny to get really annoyed if she didn’t win. However, there is a few that I remember she was very keen to play always; and I thought to myself, I haven’t really chatted about some cool board and card games to play with lil ones. So here we go.
Pickomino: now, this game for us is actually called Piko Piko, because for some bizarre reason, in Spain the German name of the board games just stick around. Piko Piko is a great game for everyone to be honest: we have played it in our big gaming sessions with my and my parents friends and it’s just fun. But it is even better to know that you can also play it with kids. I think the game recommends the children to be 8+ to play, but my sister played a bit earlier than that (with some assistance). The mechanic is very simple: you have some domino like pieces with numbers and drawings of worms on them. Depending on the amount of worms, the higher the scoring value, whilst the actual numeric value of the card is just what you require to roll to obtain it. You roll the dice and you can only keep those of a matching value (whichever you fancy), and then you keep on rolling until you run out of dice, you are bust, or you are happy that the amount you have rolled is sufficient for you to grab one of the tiles. It is, in essence, a very basic gambling, risk-taking game. All you really need to keep track of is what are you rolling and what number you are trying to obtain, the rest is just the availability of the pieces. At the end of the game, whoever has accumulated the highest number of worms, wins. Simple. And it plays to a substantial amount: 2-7 players.
Cuckoo Zoo: or Cocotaki (again, the German name…). Once again this is a very easy-going game. It is a bit like UNO. You have a deck of cards with animals and colours and you must play to suit the colour or animal, BUT unlike in UNO you MUST make the sound of said animal card, otherwise you mess up and take cards. The only time when you don’t make animal noises is with the red cards, unless you are playing a red cockerel in which case you very happily go and say “Cocotaki!”. And when you run out of cards; you win. Dead easy. Now for kids this is fun, cause how often do they get to see adults and others make funny noises such as “mmooo”, “oink oink” and the likes? The suggested age for the kids is 5+, which to many sounds outrageous, but it really isn’t, seriously. My sister was rocking it around that age – like I said, it isn’t complicated at all. And the amount of players that can join in is very generous: up to 10. So, children’s’ party? Birthday? You are essentially sorted.
The Dwarf King: (El Rey de los Enanos or Le Roi des Nains for those of you who don’t have the English version). This is something that you could technically play with a normal deck of cards: but this has Dwarves, Goblins and Knights, which is considerably more fun! So, you have cards and these little slabs. The slabs determine the special bonuses of the round. The cards are numbered as in your average poker set, as well as some special cards that have interesting abilities. You play 7 rounds, new slab on each round, and a special card. Then you play your hand in tricks, where the highest card wins the trick. When you all run out of cards, you count and tally your points and repeat for the next round. At the end of the 7 rounds, whoever has more points wins. The mechanics here a bit a more difficult perhaps, and the box does say this is for 10+ children. However, I guess it depends on the case. I was playing ordinary card games with a normal deck with my great grandparents at the age of 8, so just judge whether the kids would be able to follow the process. It is a bit more restrictive in terms of number of players, however: you need a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5.
In any case those three should be plenty to get you started and get the little ones hooked up on the magic of board games 😉
Hopefully they won’t get a salty as my lil monkey :p ( I love her, honest!).
We may be seeing a bit of a comeback in WW2 videogames soon, what with the new Call of Duty going back to its roots, perhaps influenced by Battlefield’s decision to aim in a similar direction with their WW1 setting. So if you fancy trying out some of the best WW2 games that are currently available, then allow me to share with you my favourites!
1. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
Now with these lists I generally don’t intend to rank the games in any particular order, and the same goes here, with the little exception of this game. Red Orchestra 2 is perhaps my favourite WW2 game and First Person Shooter of all time. Despite being released in 2011 and reasonably old now, it still holds up. The gameplay has such a good mix between realism and enjoyability. The graphical and sound design are brilliant, with some of the best modeled weapons, and best weapon sounds I’ve ever seen. Even the voice acting is top notch, with the team you’re playing as speaking accented English that somehow doesn’t sound cheesy, and the enemies speaking either Russian or German. The combination of the fast yet thoughtful and deadly gameplay, the necessity of team cohesion from squad to commander level, and realism where it counts is a brilliant combination. Continue reading “My Top 5 WWII Games”
I come here today to spread some of my utter nerdiness and knowledge acquired through my fun but painful PhD. Part of my research of course involves looking into Tolkien and his effect in medievalism; the vast majority of the time from the perspective of the Vikings. And as Alex has gone all high brow lately with his etymology, I decided; “hell, isn’t that what I do anyway?!”.
So, you probably would be thinking: “what is she going on about? How can Gandalf be a Dwarf?!”. Well, I mean he isn’t exactly a dwarf, but then, the terminology is confusing. As you may know, Tolkien took a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology whilst creating Middle-earth…In fact, the very name Middle-earth is what Midgard means in English: the land in the middle which isn’t Asgard, Nilfheim, or any of the others. Norse cosmology includes nine realms, and Midgard is just where the humans live. It gets its name from the fact that it is somewhere in the middle of Yggdrasil – The tree of life. Okay, so that was some easy trivia which you probably knew already. Same if I ask you the name of the dwarves from the Hobbit right? Okay let’s see if this list rings a bell: Continue reading “Gandalf is Actually a Dwarf”
There are a lot of RPGs out there that contain a lot of words and rules and stuff. I know that a good system of rules and setting info can really structure a game and give you something to sink your teeth into, but it can sometimes be freeing to get rid of everything but the bare essentials; the DM, the players, and the premise. This is especially true when you just want a quick game at short notice, or a one shot.
Because this games don’t have a lot of structure to work around and build on, they could potentially be a bit difficult for an inexperienced DM to run, especially if they aren’t fairly confident with their improvisation skills. However, with the right DM I think these games can show off the silly fun that can be had with an RPG in a far more easy to digest way for newer players. Rather than giving someone the impression that RPGs are all about numbers, loot, and killing things, these games show off the side of RPGs that are about teamwork, inventive problem solving, and just having fun by telling stories with friends! Continue reading “4 Tiny RPGs Good for a One-shot”