Saturday, October 4, 2008

Game Tips: Risk 2210AD Majors Add-On

Shortly after Risk 2210 AD was released, these 5 extra cards were given away at a Convention to promote the game. Each card pays tribute to one of the creators of the game with a portrait, but I could not honestly say who is who. If anyone knows, please fill me in. These cards are beyond impossible to get your hands on now, so if you'd like to add them into your games you'll have to fudge it a bit. The easiest way is to use the blanks that came in the box. If you've already used them or lost them then the best solution I can offer is to make a brand new set of command decks, including these (and any other custom cards you may have made). I will go in to detail on how to do this nicely in a future post. If you are going to include these cards in your games, you should be aware that they are rather powerful and may be a little unbalancing.

Here are the cards, and a description of each.

Major Power: Diplomat Command Card
Cost: 4 Energy

Play on you turn before your first invasion is declared.

Draw 2 cards from each command deck that you are able to. (You must have that commander in play to draw from the deck.)

This card can really tip the balance in your favour. Who doesn't want a fist full of command cards to broaden their options? This card is especially good value if you happen to have most or all of your commanders in play, and if you are in a strong position with a lot of energy in hand then this card could possibly win the game for you. If you are in a bad spot though, and your energy is low, it might not be worth your while as those extra cards are not going to help a lot if you can't afford to play them.Of course if you're not going to spend that energy anyway it might net you a few valuable defensive cards or at least thin out the decks a bit to your opponents' detriment.

Major Flöwerz: Land Command Card
Cost: 4 Energy

Play on you turn before your first invasion is declared.

Remove a devastation marker. This territory is now passable.

Major Flöwerz has a very unfortunate name, and you better believe he's hardcore to have survived long enough to become a major in spite of his girly sounding name. Major Flöwerz is all about the environment, and he's quite active in his attempts to save the planet. Now, I generally find the devastation markers to be rather useful where they are and I take full advantage of them and don't want them going anywhere... chances are your opponents have a similar opinion and knowing that you can't sneak through that deadly radiation, they leave the areas behind the devastation marker pretty poorly defended. This is when Major Flöwerz unleashes a lifetime's worth of passive aggression and bottled rage from all the teasing he received as a kid and ruins your opponent's day by stripping him of his beneficial little wasteland barrier for good. Bear in mind however that you probably are pretty weak behind that devastation marker too, so you're gonna want to play this in combination with a few Assemble MODs to beef up your attacking force, and hopefully have a few Stealth MODs on hand to protect your new border because the devastation marker is not coming back to protect you after the fight. Another use for this card, though a rather expensive one, is to generously clean up the pollution in one of your opponent's continents. While this seems a very kind thing to do, he will likely swear at you rather than thank you as the now clean territory is unoccupied and deprives him of the bonus he'd normally get for occupying the whole continent.

Major Death: Naval Command Card
Cost: 4 Energy

Play on you turn before your first invasion is declared.

Destroy all opponents' naval commanders that are in play.

Major Death doesn't seem to much like competition, and wants the water to himself. Use this card when you are planning a major water offensive, to quickly and efficiently eliminate the risk of pesky and nasty defensive cards being played on you while you conquer the oceans. If timed well, this card could really work in your favour, but at the very least it will cause a fair bit of inconvenience to your enemies by forcing them to replace their Naval Commander should they wish to continue in the waters of the world.

Major Pain: Nuclear Command Card
Cost: 4 Energy

Play on you turn before your first invasion is declared.

During this turn, all units attacking from the same territory as your nuclear commander use 8-sided dice.

This card is only as effective as the brain in the head of the person who plays it. You want to play it at the critical moment, when your Nuke Commander has lots of buddies to support him on his rampage. Definitely worth it to lay down some army building cards like Assemble MODs in combination with this one. You might also want to use Decoys Revelealed to get your Nuke Commander into the best position if he isn't already. It's probably not worth paying for this card if your Nuke Commander already has other commanders to back him up, since 3 d8's are only a tiny improvement over 2 d8's and a d6.

Major Destruction: Space Command Card
Cost: 4 Energy

Play on you turn before your first invasion is declared.

Roll a 6-sided die. Destroy this many enemy space stations.

This card can just be plain nasty. Space Stations are hard to replace because you can't buy one unless you have all of your Commanders in play, and then they cost 5 energy each. This card can effectively remove the threat of being attacked on the moon if you roll high. Apart from that the card can weaken your opponents defense considerably. Without the Space Station the MODs on a border will only get to defend with d6's, making it slightly easier to penetrate, and each Space Station provides a free bonus MOD every turn which your enemy is going to have to live without until he gets a new one.

For more on Risk 2210 AD have a look at this interesting unofficial expansion.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Game Tips: Official Risk 2210AD Expansions

Risk 2210 AD is a pretty rich game in itself, even though it is dramatically more simple than a game like Axis and Allies. Never the less it is the kind of game that is just begging to be expanded upon, in both story and tactics. Avalon Hill/Wizards of the Coast realised this and created more than a few expansion packs for the game over the course of a few years but, in a move that can either be called pure genius or utter stupidity, they never released any of them commercially at all. Instead they arranged a tournament circuit called Frontline, and each season organized the tournaments around a new themed expansion. The expansion paraphernalia were produced in very small quantities and the tournament centres were issued just enough to run their tournaments, with the expansion pieces being awarded as prizes.

Season 1: Mars
The familiar Earth map, was ignored this season and the entire campaign took place on the Martian Landscape of 2210AD. As with the Earth map in the box, the Martian map was based on modifed satellite photographs of the landscape which I presume they bartered off of NASA. Mars has been occupied and terraformed and the entire Northern section is one big ocean, with the southern portion consisting of a large land mass divided into colonies, rather than a multitude of separated continents that most risk players would be familiar with. The resulting lack of bottle necks meant that the strategy was dramatically different, requiring a blanket defensive strategy rather than the traditional "strong at the borders, weak in the middle" approach. I personally have never played this variation, but I intend to in the near future if I can get my hands on a map again.

Season 2: Tech Commander
This expansion was dramatically more significant than the Mars one that preceeded it. It consisted of a deck of Tech Command Cards with original art and a Tech Commander for each army. I was a little disappointed to learn that the actual commander piece was a piece of cardboard with a stand, and not an actual plastic figure to match the existing commander pieces, but this news made me less sad about having not been in a position to actually participate in any of the Frontline Tournaments. The Tech Commander is not unlike the Nuke Commander in terms of game mechanics, and uses a d8 for all his attacks and defense rolls, but the Tech Command deck is a true asset and adds a whole lot of new options to old strategies while creating a brand new set of new ones. Most significantly there are now cards that allow you to negate the effects of an opponents card, like a Counterspell in Magic: The Gathering. There are also cards that allow you to move your troops around more efficiently and that bypass the Devastation Marker rules to your strategic advantage. Most significantly there is a most powerful card that allows you to swap turn order with someone else, which can be as much to their detriment as it is to your advantage. You can find a great fan-made recreation of the cards in part of this interesting unofficial expansion.

Season 3: Factions
The Factions expansion consisted of 6 playmats, that had space for cards and energy marked out on them. The mats themselves were pretty inconsequential, but each mat was themed to a different faction with its own advantages and disadvantages. Each faction was dramatically different from the others and required a different style of play to achieve victory. It incorporated the previous season's Tech Commander and really improved the game. I will discuss this one in greater detail in a future post. You can find a great fan-made set of Factions cards in part of this interesting unofficial expansion.

Season 4: Invasion of the Giant Amoebas
This simple expansion was designed to shake up the mechanics by adding in a new level of randomness and a non-player invasion force. It consisted of a pile of glass beads (the amoebas), a deck of Amoeba Event Cards that controlled the Amoeba's attacks and fortification, and 3 additional Diplomat cards. I haven't played this one either, but it's on my list of things to do.

After Season 4 they turned their backs on Risk 2210AD, but there are a lot of unofficial expansions out there. I may explore some of them down the line, and I will definitely be adding some of my own in future.

For more on Risk 2210 AD have a look at this interesting unofficial expansion which includes DIY versions of some of the official expansions described above. If you enjoy board games, you might also enjoy Zombies!!!
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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Game Review: Why the Quest for Glory 2 Remake is Awesome!

I've just finished playing through Quest for Glory 2 VGA as a Thief, which is my favourite character class in these games, not for a lack of virtue, just that the thief and his roguish ways are so much more interesting to me. Thought I'd take this opportunity to go through the game and share some thoughts on what I really liked about the new version. There may be some spoilers ahead so if you haven't already played then rather stop reading this right now and go download it at!

The original EGA version of this game had some pretty impressive graphics by EGA standards, and I always loved the character introduction animations. Apart from a repainting with a broader colour pallette, the magic remains in tact in this part. This is just one of the many examples of how this game is a true tribute to the original.

In the VGA Quest for Glory 1 remake and in Quest for Glory 3 the shift from day to night was always a bit of a bugbear for me. They simply darkened the screen and made everything look really dull. The pale blue sky that looked so vibrant during the day remained but was now a pale dull grey and looked silly when you were expecting a black starry sky instead. In the EGA version of Quest for Glory 2 the night scenes were completely redrawn in a pallete of blues and greys with a starry sky, with constellations that though unrealistic, added a fair bit of flavour to the game. I would have liked them to have handled these a tiny bit more realistically but never the less I'm glad that they didn't take the cheap route they did in the other games and instead had separate night time art for each and every cell. They handle the transition by gradually fading the day scene out and replacing it with the appropriate night time image and it looks amazing for it!

Apart from updating the graphics, they added parts that were meant to be in the original but were cut for want of space on the 9 stiffy disks that the game was originally supplied on. They also adjusted certain things to tie the game to it's sequels. So you can ask Rakeesh about his wife now, and about Mordavia (the setting of Quest for Glory 4) for example. They've added in some of the mythology and backstory created by Lori Ann and Corey Cole, the original game's creators in the form of conversations that you can now have with Shema and Shameen after the close up the Katta's Tail Inn for the night. You can hear all about how they went about searching for you and find out how your character came to end up in Spielburg in the first place. To my knowledge this is all canon, but until now has never been released in any official way, and it's a very pleasant addition to the game. They've tied up a lot of continuity issues and cleaned up some logic issues. Aziza now explains that Julanar won't be free until someone who truly loves her shows up (which explains why she's still a tree) and sets up for Salim to rescue her after QFG3. In the original Khaveen's arc didn't get closure in the thief story line, and this has been corrected. The new saurus that you get on day 17 is now red and not identical to the green one that we all know wasn't a saurus at all. There's an neat little explanation for the new clothing you wear in Quest for Glory 3 as well, in the form of a merchant selling an outfit that's perfect for travelling in the savannah, ut it's out of stock for now so it's assumed that you only buy it after the game is done.

A really nice thing about the remake is the room in the inn. It's now interactive like the rooms in QFG3, 4 and 5 and features a chest to store your extra items so that you don't get weighed down. I never actually need to use it though, but i imagine i would have if I'd been stockpiling scorpion tails and ghoul's claws. As a useless bit of flavouring you can buy random items from the merchants to decorate the room. You can't take your money to Tarna with you in QFG3 so it gives you something to spend it on in this game.

The character sheet screen is really nice and is strongly based on the QFG3 one. Unlike QFG3's though, it isn't dull and dark at night. They keep it nice and bright and instead change the image behind the hero depending on the time of day. It looks really good to boot!

There is some true artistry in some of the new graphics and i really appreciate that part, being an artist myself. The famous "I love the smell of victory in the morning" scene was completely redrawn by someone with some real talent. It pays tribute to the original without being identical and i really like that! While I'm on that topic, there's a lot of completely original material in this game added in to keep the game fresh and new for even veteran QFG players. There is a magic game you can play to up your wizard skills, and a third job for the thief to pull off . The combat is possibly the best that the series has had to offer to. The trailer does a good job of illustrating it, but to truly feel it you have to play the game.

I really love what they did with the endgame, and I want to show you this comparison between the original EGA version, and the intro from Quest for Glory 3, and how they merged the two ideas to give us something that flows quite better with the continuity between the 2. The beginning of Quest for Glory 3 always bugged me for its inaccurate telling of events, but the efforts of AGDI have gone a long way to alleviating that. I still think they could have changed the hero's clothing to the newer outfit during the Zayishah scene though.

What could have been better?
I feel a bit like an ungrateful brat writing this section, but all of these complaints are pretty minor and I still feel this game is amazing in spite of what I'm about to say... but a review isn't a review unless it gives the bad along with the good.

Raseir has some really nice stuff in it! I was just a little disappointed that it was so similar to Shapeir. After all the exciting discoveries wandering through the alleys of Shapeir I was kinda excited at the prospect of exploring Raseir . When I got there, it wasn't as new and interesting as I'd hoped and the wear and tear looked a little fake. Would have been nice to have some random encounters and some thing different to idle away the hours while waiting for the obligatory pause between the events in the rigid time system to pass. On the bright side they do let you sleep through it now, which wasn't an option in the original.

Another thing that I found disappointing was that some scenes were virtually identical to the EGA version. To be honest, this is not a bad thing at all cos the as I have said, the EGA artwork was quite impressive for what it was. I know that this was a labour of love and I hold nothing against it, but I do feel that some scenes like the Harem here, and the whole conversation with Signor Ferrari were missed opportunities to take advantage of the game's new found graphics capability, and really take it to town. On the subject of graphics capability, the entire game emulates the pixelation of a 320x200 screen to keep it inline with the QFG1, 3 and 4, inspite being designed to run in 640 x 400 mode which is about the lowest resolution windows allows. This is either really awesome or kinda sad, depending on your point of view. I admire their dedication to continuity, and it's kinda cool in the way that a Black-and-White Schindler's list is cool, but I would have loved to see the beauty of this game given the extra crispness that the higher resolution would have offered.

In points the perspective is a bit of a mess, such as the alleyways with insanely long bricks on the side walls, but this i suspect is a result of the artist copying the original alleyway artwork, rather than redrawing them from scratch. In the intermission scene, they have brigands emerging over the mountains, and they reused a scaled version of the brigand sprite that is way to big given it's distance from the camera, so it looks like a giant standing on the peak rather than a human sized figure. The "arena" where magic users can play Keapon Laffin's game similarly suffers from distorted perspective in it's scenery where a background railing is the same size as a foreground one making it appear much larger and destroying the symmetry of an otherwise beautiful scene. This is probably nitpicking though, and I only notice it because of my trained artist's eyes. The average person playing this probably wouldn't give it a second thought, and in the name of fairness I have to point out that the EGA version had even worse problems with perpective, particularly in the alleyways.

The last complaint is probably a common one, and it's more of a tribute to the guys at AGDI than anything else... Quite simply, the other 4 games in the series are a little bit inferior to this one in terms of easy gameplay and flexibilty and it feels like a step down when you move over to the other games while playing the full series. I recently played through Quest for Glory 1 so that I could import my character and I found it a little frustrating not having all the convenient features that this one has included. I have to confess that I'm secretly hoping they'll decide to do "ultimate" versions of the other 4 that bring them inline with this game's absolute awesomeness!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Quest For Glory 2 VGA! It's about bloody time!

This is a little off topic from the general discussion of strategy board games, but it still kinda fits in for the role playing fans who've been at since the days when Kurt Cobain was still breathing, and cell phones that we'd laugh at someone for owning now were a very HEAVY luxury. Quest for Glory 2 has long been regarded as the pinnacle of Sierra's famous text parser adventure games. It was the last game they ever released in EGA and the story was, and still is, one of the strongest of any game ever produced by that company that owned our childhoods. Quest for Glory 2 is also a game that got cheated out of its destiny by being denied a VGA release, and was lost in the mire of subsequent (and frequently inferior) pointy-clicky games.Well... after 17 long years of waiting, and 8 years of insane amounts of donated labour from some very dedicated programmers and artists over at AGD Interactive we finally get to play this most amazing game in all it's pointy clicky glory, with stunning VGA graphics to match!

I downloaded it just a few hours ago and I'm already stuck in! It has EVERYTHING that made the original game great... and then adds about 500% more awesome to the mix! You can play with the classic parser method for old time sake, or use the point-and-click interface common to the rest of the series. The repetitive plain alleyways are still there, but now they are anything but plain and repetitive. Every section of town has it's own look and feel and there are a lot of added features that are more than just decorative. There are now extra merchants in the streets as well as the plazas, that you can actually buy stuff from, and extra rooms with extra things to do.

The combat is something truly special too. Quest for Glory 2 had a pretty good combat system in my opinion, certainly worked more smoothly than any of it's successors. My only complaint was that it was always just a little too easy to defeat anything. The updated combat system is possibly the best of any Quest for Glory game so far. It's got an added level of strategy and tactics, and the option of switching to a distance weapon midcombat without running away. You have a whole range of combat moves that i can only compare to the early Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games. On the whole the combat is more challenging too which is great!

Quest for Glory 2, like most Sierra games of yore, was always packed with little easter eggs and surprises... All of the classic ones are back and they've added a hefty helping of new ones too! I just watched the infamous Prince of Persia scramble over one of the alley walls. I can't wait to get deeply into this game and relive all my happy memories of the game that I unashamedly wasted my youth on, and even if you weren't around for the first adventure in Shapeir I'd heartily recommend that you have a look at it.

Quest for Glory 2: Trial by Fire VGA is available to download for FREE! Pop over to AGD Interactive and get your hands on it right now! Be warned though, it is a pretty large file at around 85mb so you don't wanna go trying this on a dial-up.
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Friday, August 22, 2008

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The Kev's Lounge Team
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Strategy Board Game Review: Risk 2210 AD by Avalon Hill

For those already familiar with Risk, I would say that Risk 2210 AD is the definitive version of the game. For those not, this is a good medium level strategy board game that is guaranteed to give an evening's worth of entertainment with some old friends! There is a slight learning curve, even for those who have played other versions of Risk because a lot of the game mechanics work slightly differently from versions that have gone before, but once you've gotten the hang of it it's pretty straight forward and relatively easy to get around.

Inside the box you will find:
  • A large fold-away rectangular game board, representing the Earth as they imagine it would appear in 2210 AD, divided into 42 land territories split over 6 continents, like "Classic" Risk, and 13 underwater territories split over 5 water colonies which are new.
  • A map of the moon, divided into 14 lunar territories split over 3 lunar colonies. This is an extension of the gameboard
  • 5 sets of plastic army pieces in red, green, blue, black and yellow ochre. Each army has a number of MODs (Machines of Destruction) representing either 1, 3 or 5 military units depending on its size, as well as 4 space station markers and 5 Commander figures. One each for Land, Navy, Space, Nuclear and Diplomacy.
  • 3 decks of Territory Cards, covering every Land, Water and Lunar territory. The Land cards include type markers in the fashion of "Classic" Risk, and a pair of wild cards, but only to allow you to play in the classic style, where you trade cards in for bonus armies. In Risk 2210 these cards are used only for randomly picking territories for certain Command card effects.
  • 5 decks of Command Cards, each tied to the 5 Commanders mentioned above.
  • A pile of Energy Tokens, which are used as currency in the game. They are traded for Commanders and Command Cards.
  • A score board and year counter. Just to keep track.
  • 4 Devastation markers. These are part of the new mechanics and are used to change the board from game to game.
  • 5 Turn Order markers. Another new mechanic.
  • A pile of dice.
If you have already played Risk, then you'll already be familiar with the combat mechanics. They haven't changed at all. A lot has changed tho:
  • The additional Water and Lunar Terrritories. These change the dynamics quite dramatically by adding in new avenues of attack as well as providing alternate positions to gain continent bonuses. For example, North America traditionally only had 3 borders with other continents, it now has 5 as 2 territories now connect with Water Colonies.
  • The Commanders and Space Stations. In certain circumstances a Commander is allowed to attack using an 8-sided die rather than a 6-sided one. A Commander will always defend with an 8-sided die, making him more likely to win. The Space Stations also allow every MOD in the occupied territory to defend with an 8-sided die.
  • The Command Cards and Energy Tokens replace the old-fashioned card trade-ins. In "Classic" Risk you would trade in a set of 3 cards in return for bonus armies every few turns, that is now gone. Each turn you get an amount of Energy equal to the amount of armies you receive from your territory count and continent bonuses. You use this Energy to buy additional Commanders and Space Stations, and to buy Command Cards. You can only buy Command Cards respective to the Commanders you control, so you need a Naval Commander to buy Naval Command Cards, for example. You also use energy to pay the costs of playing cards. Cards have various effects from giving you reinforcements, through imposing restrictions on other players, to destroying enemy units before or during combat.
  • Turn order is not guaranteed. Traditionally play would just proceed clockwise around the table. In Risk 2210 AD, you start off every round by bidding for your right to choose turn order. The highest bidder gets to choose his position first, whether it be First or Last turn. The position you take has different strategic importance at different stages of the game.
  • The game isn't about eliminating your opponents. "Classic" Risk went on til their was only one player left on the board, having wiped out all opposition. Risk 2210 has a limit of 5 rounds, and whoever is in the best position at the end of that wins the game.
  • Devastation markers mean you'll probably never play the same game twice. When setting up at the beginning of the game you randomly choose 4 Land territories from the land deck. Those territories are considered obliterated by nuclear war and can't be entered or travelled through. This can change the dynamic of the game considerably by closing off borders, giving a significant defensive advantage to the owner of the continent.
To close off, Risk 2210 AD is a neat little game. The dynamics are the best I've come across in this series of games to date. and it's thoroughly enjoyable. It has a learning curve, but not one so dramatic as say Axis and Allies or some of the other more realistic strategy board games. Definitely worth getting! Have a look at the manufacturer's site. Over there they have an online playable demo as well as a downloadable copy of the rule book.

If you enjoy board games, you might also enjoy Zombies!!!. For more on Risk 2210 AD have a look at this interesting unofficial expansion.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

Customising your game: Zombies!!!

Honestly, this game is great straight out of the box. It really is. There's no reason you can't add to the atmosphere with a little customization though...

Paint the miniatures. I didn't do this simply cos there's so damn many of them, and because the detail on the soft plastic isn't great for the fine paint work that I like to do. If you're the patient type, with lots of time on your hands then go right ahead. A good compromise might be to only paint the "shotgun guys", so that you always have your own custom playing piece to represent yourself.

Find modern era miniatures and paint them. If you're up for the added investment there are a few companies that make some really classy minis just right for this kind of game. Using custom minis can really add to the game, just because the character is more personally yours, and of course it just looks cooler. With a lot of the character models available you might want to think about coming up with character specific house rules, kids move faster, cops start with more bullets. Whatever! Here's a list of some companies with their websites and some sample pics of their products. Bear in mind that minis aren't sold painted so you'll have to do it yourself. I'll post some painting tutorials in the near future for those interested.

Wargames Foundry's Street Violence Range:

This UK based company produces a wide variety of miniatures covering virtually every period of human history as well as sci-fi and fantasy. The sculpting is exquisitely detailed and the casting is exceptional with few flaws making it quite easy to paint. The street violence range consists of over 50 different sculpts assembled into a variety of collections of 5 characters. Within the range you will find gangsters, beat cops, SWAT team members, thugs, groupies, Yakuza knights, private detectives, street kids, and even a blatant rip-off of the A-Team. Who wouldn't wanna be B.A. Baracus in a city of the living dead? In the Street Violence section of the you'll also find downloadable rules for a game called Street Fight, so you can always get more use out of your miniatures when not playing Zombies!!!

Monolith Designs' Graven Images and From Beyond ranges

Monolith Designs produces a range of miniature scenery for historical, fantasy and sci-fi wargaming. They also distribute these 2 ranges of miniatures for their respective sculptors. The Graven Images line sculpted by Jim Bowen covers a range of periods including World War II and some sci-fi stuff but notably includes a nice selection of urban gangs and the like. These miniatures look great! The From Beyond line by Kev Adams is mostly centred around horror, and you can find some interesting Zombies there as well as a neat lil Buffy inspired vampire slayer.

Wizkids Heroclix

Wanna be Batman or Spiderman in the City of the Damned? No problem! These miniatures are roughly in the same scale as the ones mentioned above and are used in Wizkids Heroclix game. They have different ranges covering the DC and Marvel Universes and an "indy" line featuring heroes like Hellboy and Judge Dredd. These miniatures are a little different from the ones mentioned above for a few reasons tho. Firstly they have a rotating base with stats printed used in the Heroclix game. It can be removed and replaced if you have no intention of ever playing Heroclix. Secondly the miniatures come ready painted, and randomly in sealed boxes so you never know which hero you might get. Of course, much like other "random" collectables there are folks out there who will sell parts of their collection loose. The rarity affects the price and the rarity is often based on the figures value in the game rather than just how cool it looks so you might find the figure you want costing a fortune for no good reason, seeing as how you don't play the game. All in all though, it's a decent set of figures and it could make for some interesting game scenarios when you get bored of traditional Zombies!!!

That about wraps up my discussion of Zombies!!! for now. Have a look at the other articles on it if you're interested. In my next post I'll be looking at Risk 2210 a long time favourite game of mine!
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Game Tips: Zombies!!! Gameplay

As I've said in my review of the game, Zombies!!! is a wonderfully simple game to play but there are a few tweaks you can do to get more out of it.

Before you start:
  • Colour the backs of the heart tokens red and the backs of the bullet tokens black. The tokens are only printed on one side and the plain white backs make it difficult to see whether an upside down token is a heart or a bullet, and with these fiddly little tokens that are hard to pick up it can get very annoying in the middle of a game. First thing you want to do is to separate all the heart tokens from the bullet tokens and find 4 closeable containers and a red and black marker. 2 of the containers are for the unfinished hearts and bullets and the other 2 are for the ones you've coloured. Whenever you have a lazy moment where you're sitting around watching tv or listening to music or whatever colour a few hearts and bullets and transfer them to the new container, and after a week or so you'll have worked your way through most of them.
  • Use a table cloth. Even without the extra tiles of the various expansions, there often comes a point late in the game where the table is literally covered with cardboard squares and plastic zombies, and you find that one edge of the table has a ton of space while the other has a few tiles perched precariously over it threatening to fall off. A table cloth makes it easy to shift all the tiles and zombies an inch in one simple move.
  • Refine the events card deck. Even if you haven't added in any expansions you have a big pile of cards and some of them are just plain sucky or don't fit with your groups style of play. Some make the game take forever, and some just waste space in ppl's hands. If there's a card that hardly ever gets used then take it out and keep it separate. If nothing else it will reduce the amount of groans during the card draw phase. It will also make the good cards show up a little more frequently and speed tha game up a little.
While you're playing:
  • Place the tiles logically. Try to keep the play area roughly square with lots of connections, and try not to close off any pathways except at the edge of the table where you wouldn't be able to continue anyway. it might seem strategically beneficial to have 30 tile long serpentine path to the helicopter pad but it'll make the game tediously long when everyone's died 5 times and 6 turns go by before you even run into a single zombie on the way there.
  • Use paper to keep track of your score. Sure it's fun to keep an ever growing pile of zombies in front of you as you rack up kills, but there are only 100 in the box and shortages develop quickly. A simple way of doing this is to keep your kills in front of you til the end of your turn, and then "cash them in", by putting them back in the reserve and adding them to your score card.
Game strategy:
  • Recirculate your cards often. Play a card every turn if you can and discard a card every turn as a rule. If there's an awesome card in your hand but you can't see yourself using it soon then rather get rid of it so that you can get 2 fresh card in your hand every single turn.
  • Play your cards during your opponents turns. You can only play a single card in any given round, and some times you might find yourself at a strategic disadvantage because you can't play the card you need to having already played your card for the round. Unless a card requires you to play it at a specific time, or if it would benefit you to play it at the beginning or end of your turn then the best time to play a card is generally right at the end of the turn of the player going before you.
  • Go after the bullets and hearts. The game is generally a lot easier to win if you don't die. Stay alive by constantly restocking our hearts and bullets.
In my next post I'll look at some ways to customise the game to take it to the next level of enjoyment.
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Game Tips: Zombies!!! expansions and accessories

One of the nicest things about Zombies!!! is the endless flow of extra material that you can add to it to enhance the playability. Here is a brief descriptive list of the official expansions and accessories available:
  • Zombies!!! 2: Zombie Corps(e) adds tiles for a military base, which the fiction suggests might be where the living dead started out. Good old government conspiracies. It adds a good few cards which really flavour the game and add some interesting strategic options, and includes 6 glow-in-the-dark zombies which in terms of the games mechanics are a lot tougher to kill and move a lot faster. The military base also features it's own helicopter pad, adding an additional escape point. The additional rules and cards add a lot to the game but compared to later expansions, this one is fairly bland as it stands. If you do decide to purchase it, then you might want to add some optional rules or players will probably avoid the military base in favour of the mall or town.
  • Zombie!!! 3: Mallwalkers is a fantastic expansion just for the extra cards and copious new weapons. The set also includes a deck of mall tiles that work like the town tiles. The mall seldom assembles itself in a logical or realistic way, but this is only a game and that can be forgiven, especially with a new mechanic that allows the players to move rapidly from tile to tile through the airducts in each shop. Naturally there is a helicopter pad to escape from and with the airduct rules, the mall is an attractive option. This expansion is definitely worth getting!
  • Zombies!!! 3.5: Not Dead Yet adds extra cards and nothing else. That is just fine though because the cards are enough. The new strategic options are fantastic and can change the game play for the better by allowing more direct control and for the frist time give you the opportunity to directly attack opponents rather than just put them at a disadvantage against the swarms of zombies. If you only buy one expansion, it should be this one.
  • Zombies!!! 4: The End, lies to you in its title because it wasn't the last one at all. It's easy to forgive it tho because this is a rather enjoyable expansion that takes an entirely different twist on the game. Rather than being in town, the players are now trapped in the woods. The human zombies are gone now, replaced with ravening zombie hounds that move faster, but do less damage. Instead of the helicopter, your mission is now to get to a cabin and find the Necronomicon and read the spell that lays the zombie hounds to rest once and for all. (Of course, as all fans of Evil Dead might have guessed, it doesn't do that at all and instead transports the players to the middle ages to battle an army of skeletons in the spin-off game Midevil, but that's another story.) This game is also less of an expansion than a sequel as you can play it on it's own without having any of the other sets.
  • Zombies!!! 5: School's Out Forever: adds yet more tiles and more cards, this time with a university theme. There is also the new Guts rule, which affects the amount of cards that you are allowed in your hand.
  • Zombies!!! 6: 6 Feet Under adds a subway stations to the town set from Zombies!!! and adds Sewer tokens that enable you to move around town more rapidly (though not more safely) There are also a few extra cards as you would expect.
  • Zombies!!! 6.66 Fill in the _ isn't really an expansion at all. it's a deck of blank cards. Fantastic if you love making up your own rules and customising your games, but otherwise completely useless.
  • Zombies!!! 7: Send In The Clowns takes advantage of the common phobia of clowns and carnival atmospheres and adds a carnival to the doomed city. It includes a bunch of plastic zombie clowns and some new interesting rules and mechanics.
  • Zombies!!! 8: Humans! is in development, the title implies what it's all about.
One thing about the Zombies!!! game is that there never seem to be enough of the living dead to keep the city swarming with them. this is especially tru when you're playing with a few expansions and the game board is suddenly huge! Twilight Creations sells themed Bags o' Zombies, each containing 100 of the little plastic buggers. So far you can buy bags of standard zombies, female zombies, glow-in-the-dark zombies, glow-in-the dark female zombies and zombie hounds, tho it's likely that they will keep expanding this range in the future.

In my next post I'll talk about some simple things you can do to get the most out of Zombies!!!
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Friday, August 1, 2008

Board Game Review: Zombies!!! by Twilight Creations Inc

If you're looking for a great, low effort, entertaining way to waste an evening away with a group of friends then Zombies!!! just might be the game for you. The only thing you need (apart from the game itself, and friends to play with) is a big table... this game takes a lot of space. The premise is quite straight forward. You play one of the survivors in a town that has become overrun with the living dead who are hungrily hunting all the survivors down with the intention of eating their brains. You start out in the middle of town and need to get the hell out of there. It's every man for himself and you win by either being the first to get to the helicopter or by killing 25 zombies. This is a little harder than it sounds because the zombies are pretty tough in themselves and there are hundreds of them, and because your fellow players are going out of their way to hamper your efforts in the interests of their own survival. If you get lucky you might make it through the whole game without dying, but more often than not your survivor is gonna kink the bucket and you're back at town square again with a new survivor desperate to make his escape.

Inside the box you will find a deck of square town tiles, a deck of "beautifully" illustrated event cards, a big pile of red Heart Tokens, and black Bullet Tokens, 6 plastic "shotgun guys", 100 plastic zombies and a pair of dice. Each player starts out with 3 event cards, 3 Heart Tokens, 3 Bullet Tokens and a "shotgun guy". You start the game by placing the "Town Centre" tile in the middle of your table with each player's "shotgun guy" in the centre square. Separate the "Helicopter Pad" tile from the deck and shuffle it then place the Helicopter Pad at the bottom so that it's the last town tile, and randomly decided who goes first. Each player takes a turn, starting out by placing a town tile and the zombies that occupy it, thus slowly building up the board. Movement is controlled by the dice as is the fighting. After a player has finished his movement and done fighting zombies he rolls the die again and moves that many zombies 1 square in any direction. Event cards add an extra level of strategy to the game by allowing you to bend or override rules for a turn, or by causing things to happen to your advantage or your opponents disadvantage. Some event cards give you "weapons" if you meet certain criteria when you play them and these weapons stay in play until you die or have them taken from you by an opponents event card. Play continues with each player moving around the ever expanding city and racking up kills. When a player dies (by losing all of his heart tokens) he ends his turn, halves his zombie kill count, discards any weapons he has in play and starts over at Town Square with 3 Heart Tokens and 3 Bullet tokens.

If I had to pick one truly outstanding feature of this game it would be it's simplicity. Zombies!!! is a very easy game to learn and anybody can go from beginner to master in the space of a few short turns. This makes it an ideal game for those nights that you have new people around. Another nice thing about Zombies is it's flexibility. At the time of writing this are already 7 expansions, adding new Event Cards, extra town tiles and additional rules that enhance the game greatly. Have a look at this game at

In my next post I'll have a look at the various commercial expansions and add-ons for this game
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Kev's Lounge: What is this all about?

I am Kevin and my lounge is a room with a million stories. Once or twice a week my friends and I will get together and forget about the drama of our lives and just enjoy each others' company while consuming vast amounts of Coca-Cola and enjoying one of the numerous games that we've collected over the years.

This Blog is about those games. Risk, Axis and Allies, Zombies, Mordheim, Settlers of Catan and Dungeons and Dragons are just a few of the games I'll be discussing here. I will be sharing some experiences and tips on strategy and etiquette, and possibly writing a little about house rules and some variations to breathe some new life into these great games when they start feeling a little repetitive. I also plan to do a few posts on miniatures with some advice on sculpting, converting and painting, or just showcasing parts of my vast collection for those interested in having a look, and I want to include some step-by-step diorama and scenery projects for the readers who enjoy the craft behind the hobby.

Please feel free to comment on any of the posts, and if there are any articles that you want to see, then please let me know and I'll see what I can do!
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