Geek Economy – Considering to Switch to LCG’s for Good

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.

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My Thoughts on Splendor v Century Spice Road

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?

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Little Gamers: 3 Board Games to Play with Kids

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!).

Gandalf is Actually a Dwarf

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”

To Bard or Not to Bard? 121 Guide on How to be The Cool Kid with thyne Lute

This is something that bothers me endlessly, and lately there has been a few conversations or situations where the topic has come up and I’ve really decided to put my foot down for once and for all. It is no surprise in the geek circles I move, bards always get all the crap thrown down their way – ALL the memes in the internet are about bards did or didn’t. Bards are useless characters. Bards can’t fight. They can’t think either, cause you know, apparently the only stat they know how to use is something charisma related and sometimes not even that. Bards are no good in social situations, they certainly are not made for politics, or war…God damn it, so What Are Bards Good For?! :0

Well, guess what?! The true answer is EverythingIF you know how to use them.

It all comes down with how people play games, and how many, many people choose to play bards cause they think it would be cool and adventurous…or that is what they tell their mates. In reality these people ain’t got a clue and would just try to see if they can get away with the rock star behaviour, cause that seems like a legit enough connection to reality. This is the way everyone’s idea of a bard in an RPG looks a bit like Assurancetourix (which for some bizarre reason in the UK is called Cacofonix?! missing the joke btw, cause in French the name sounds like assurance tout risque o assurance tous risques – an all risk cover on your insurance policy…But hey…).

Admit it: you are the kind of horrible human being that just laughed and thought of a friend because of the many, many times something like that has happened in-game. Well let me tell you, if that how you think this works, you don’t know how to rock n roll – which for sure means you immediately do not qualify for the job!

Continue reading “To Bard or Not to Bard? 121 Guide on How to be The Cool Kid with thyne Lute”

Divines Amongst Us: American Gods, and Fantasy Beyond Fantasy

Just this Sunday gone was the season finale of American Gods, and oh boy, did I enjoy that!!

I have noticed, however, that the series is still a bit low-key in the audience markets I am familiar with: the UK and Spain – and actually, from what I hear, it has not really made much of an impact in Europe yet. This has got me wondering and coming back to something I talked to you guys a while back, about modern fantasy and the certain decline we are experiencing these days. I wonder if perhaps American Gods has fallen a bit out of the radar because of that. But of course, here we have another problem to factor in, which is the network that distributes the show: STARZ. STARZ are the fellas that brought us the wonderful Black Sails, and I feel American Gods is having the same distribution issues. We do not get this network here in the UK, so it may become more popular when probably Sky decides to strike a deal for its consumption. Nevertheless, at the moment the only place where you can watch it in the UK is through Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime have been very clever about their deals particularly in what regards high budget TV shows of a geeky content: Vikings, Black Sails, Gotham, Lucifer, etc…So, we are having some of the coolest TV shows one can have these days, but thanks to network shenanigans, some of you folks are, sadly, missing them.

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Europa V America: Reflexiones sobre los tableros de Aventureros al Tren

Hoy voy a daros la chapa un poco sobre algo a lo que le llevo dando vueltas desde hace ya un tiempo, y que por fin he conseguido asentar, al menos conmigo misma. Este es el dilema que me llevo planteando desde hace un par de años sobre las dos versiones standard de Aventureros al Tren: el mapa de los EE. UU y Europa. Salí de dudas el pasado fin de semana cuando fuimos al torneo, o liguilla, que tienen montado todo este mes en Board in the City – del que seguro ya me habéis oído hablar con anterioridad; el café de juegos de mesa en Southampton (UK). Esta liga se juega con el mapa europeo, por tanto, fue con esa versión con la que jugamos. Éramos cuatro, y todos hemos jugado con ambos mapas, y la cosa que tiene cuando juegas con gente que conoces y con la que has jugado más veces, es que más o menos sabes por dónde van los tiros. Así que, este era buen escenario para observar y cuantificar, en comparación con otras partidas que hubiésemos jugado con el otro tablero. Así que aquí os dejo mis reflexiones; muchos supongo que habréis llegado a la misma conclusión; o tal vez no, tal vez vuestras experiencias sean completamente distintas, pero ya que hay tanta gente que pregunta en que se parecen o cual el mejor para principiantes y distinto tipo de jugador, pues aquí dejo esto.

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