Wowzers, summer school kicked my butt then lethargy kicked my gut. I straight dipped out for a hot minute. Quite literally hot, there’s no A/C in my digs! But I’m coming back with a vengeance! My timing makes total sense… with fall semester starting in a week and all…
Anyway, Celesticon is this weekend and I will most definitely be there! I already know about the markers to signify open game sessions. I am prepared to jump in! I am also going to prep my mindbrain. I’m always burnt out after these things. I need to make a guide on how to decompress after a gaming weekend. Iddeeeaaass…
I was supposed to finally go to con in LA, but I apparently cannot resist the pull of the Bay! So, here I come, San Francisco.
On another note, I funded Poop the Game on Kickstarter! I’ll be reviewing it very soon!
Dubious Alliance is the perfect game to introduce noobs into RPGs! In my blog about DunDraCon, I mentioned that I immediately jumped into an open game and thus my winging-it-weekend was started. The game that I jumped into happened to be Dubious Alliance! It was an awesome way to really get into my first con and (later that day) my first D&D session ever. It drove my hunger for more RPGs! So, if you want to get your friends into D&D or MonsterHeart or whatever- or even just TEST them to see if they’ll fare well, play some DA with them first. It’s also a good pick-up game if you don’t have enough time to play a full on Role-Playing Game.
This card-based game calls for cooperation but leaves room for deception and brutal sabotage! Not too much, though, because if one person dies, everyone loses- definitely not something to be bumcakes about as it allows for some good push-and-pull throughout game play. You get assigned a player card which gives you survival points and a goal for prestige points. Everyone starts with as many cards as there are players (up to 5). At the beginning of a round, you’re given the opportunity to trade. Everyone puts a card face down and then can either bluff, be honest or outright lie about what they have. That’s where the shade comes in! There’s a trade tracker to keep see whether someone has just traded, hasn’t traded or if they MUST trade- at which point they can be forced to trade. You have to be careful with who you’re trading with because if you kill someone with the object, trap or monster you’re giving, then EVERYONE loses.
You signify that you’re done trading by doing the ‘tusks up’ signal.
So, don’t be too much of a jerk. It’s forced cooperation paired with some shiestiness! Designer, Brandon Raasch, compared the energy to Thanksgiving saying, “People kind of pretend to get along, but secretly they’re all mad at Grandpa and two of them are trying to leave anyway. There’s a whole secret dialogue going on in the background.”So true. You try to be good to everyone, but really you’re conniving. The designer went on to say, “It’s a bit of a hybrid because it’s clearly a social bluffing game but has an element of a competitive card game.” The idea of the game was born when Brandon met A Band of Orcs. They shared a love of gaming and thought it would be cool to have a game that echoed old pen-and-paper style RPGs that also featured the band. For the next year, Brandon worked on Dubious Alliance and has gotten to playtest it at hella cons- perfecting the orc mentality.
You and your orc buds are just rampaging around on adventures- finding treasures and falling in traps and fighting monsters- BUT ALL CONTAINED IN 40 MINUTES OR LESS! Shablah! This is another great party game, too, because it really generates conversation. Every time I’ve played (always with strangers), people joked around easily. So, it’s a good ice breaker! To make it even better, though, Brandon himself gave me some legit drinking rules: TAKE one drink every time you lose survival points or GIVE one drink whenever you gain prestige points.
ADVANCED DRINKING GAME VARIATION:
Take 1 drink for EACH survival point lost Give 1 drink for EACH prestige point gained
I feel like any dude or testosterone-driven person, gamer or not, would be down to play this monster drinking game. I am SUPER excited to try it out at my next shindig. I’ve recently befriended a bunch of frat boys and I am convinced they’ll eat this up. Dubious Alliance- joining geeks and bros everywhere!
Brandon is totally independent and I respect his DIY attitude. He’s created this awesome idea and there’s just so much I love about Dubious Alliance. It really transcends group lines which you might not assume when you see an Orc theme, but it’s easy to pick up and ridiculously fun with the little flourishes like the tusks up sign. It’s well-crafted and fine tuned- he thought of everything! Like the trade tracker and he’s now including a PDF of a sheet to keep score. The first time we played, I think we used 20 sided die to track scores. I like both ways, though.
The Dubious Alliance Kickstarter funded in its first 12 hours, but they have some awesome stretch goals that add extra cards to the base pack- 9 have been added so far! Backers can expect their DA packs by November. I’m already antsy! This is going to be a rad addition to game nights and I’m sooo excited that I’ll be one of the first to get my paws on it. *maniacal laughter* Just over 2 weeks left until the kickstarter ends! You can get a VANITY card (you know I’m so into that) that allows you to have your photo on a player card with your name and character type. Whhaaattt?! Yes. It’s amazing. Get in on it, bro!
I’ll be posting the whole transcript of the interview with Brandon Raasch soon. Play on, playas, but stay tuned!
This game is awesome for anyone.
Probably one of the best drinking games bc you add a little bit of roleplay with booze but it’s still manly
Drinking Game Rules: TAKE 1 drink when you lose survival points, GIVE 1 drink when you gain prestige points
ADVANCED Drinking Game Rules: Take 1 drink for EACH survival point lost, Give 1 drink for EACH prestige point gained
Gamers are fine. Not alright, not okay. They’re hawt. The best part is that they don’t know- okay, some do and some don’t. Anyway, I kind of frustrate myself because I don’t at all want to imply that all lady gamers want the D. I just happen to be a gamer that is a boy-crazy chick. One trait does not require the other, but I wanted to shout out the girls who share my plight. Yo, girl, what up. Here’s how to hunt at a gaming con.
DON’T OVERLOAD YOUR SENSES!
You gotta come in with at least a loose plan. Some guys are gonna get in your peripheral and jack your ish up, but you gotta keep moving. Check in, register, do whatever you gotta do, girl. These dudes are here all weekend, just like you. If they’re not staying the whole time, they suck and they aren’t down to ride anyway. Scope out your surroundings a little. Where the hell is the open gaming room and where is the bazaar from that? Don’t forget that you’re ultimately there for games and not dudes. So, sign up for your ish, bish!
Work it. Strut, strut, strut! Lady attendance at cons is getting higher, which is rad, but the gaming world is still overrun with a bunch of dudes. Some women I’ve talked to feel marginalized and often downplay sexuality because they don’t want to be over sexualized by some fool that doesn’t take them seriously. Eff that noise, son. I’m gonna peacock all day long, because that’s just what I like to do. My celebration of my vag doesn’t mean you can discredit my gaming skills. But I don’t have to tell you, I’ll just show you when we do it on the table. So, buck up and flaunt or don’t flaunt whatever the hell you want, girls.
TRY ANYTHING ONCE
I like to try things thrice, but I’m crazy. Jump into hella games, do some tourneys, go larp! Try anything and everything you can. That’s just so obvi at a con but if you’re boy-crazy like me, it’s easy to get side-tracked… which brings me to my next point:
DON’T BE A STALKER
You spot the kyutest dood evah. Come on, it’s that messy bed head, the fitted hoodie, the blank stare… *swoon* BUT STAHP IT! Don’t jump into games just because Blank Face is there… unless it’s a really good game… and the seat right next to him is open. It’s chill if that’s the intro point, okay? But don’t friggin’ follow that dude everywhere and don’t skip your tourney just to follow him over to foam sword battles.
BUT DO FOLLOW THROUGH
If you’re gonna look at a dude, look at him and smile when he turns to look back at you. Don’t friggin’ look away all crazy and then circle the area to catch eyes again. If you’re gonna send eye signals, you gotta follow through with the decision. Otherwise, you just look like you’re a weirdo. I guess we all are at cons, but still- FOLLOW THROUGH! A lot of these dudes have no clue when you’re interested, so playing those silly looking games is just confusing to both of you. Smile at a dude, hair flip, then get it, girl!
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Keep it PG around the kids. I mean, come on, duh. Don’t be interrupting gameplay, either.
PARTY ALL NIGHT!
Go to the late night sessions. Then there aren’t really any kids. But there are DUDES! Dudes that are super geeks but are down to party. Love it!
STAY FED AND HYDRATED
No one likes you when you’re hangry. YOU don’t like anyone when you’re hangry. Plus you probably won’t be doing well at anything. So, don’t forget to eat/drink, fools. It’s super easy to forget, but don’t forget snack tyme, yo!
Let’s end it with a cliché: HAVE FUN! Seriously, girl, flirt all day and night if you want to, but make sure you’re always having a blast. Keep going back to cons and you can make lasting friendships with a lot of people. Plus, hello? GAMING CON! Gaming all night, all day!
I thought all the dudes that played Magic: The Gathering at my junior high were lame-os… all whilst I meandered back to my dork squad to discuss pokemon. It took over 10 years for me to finally try it… and it’s pretty chill! I still don’t really get it… I mean, I get it fundamentally. You’re battling and you need energy to do certain moves. You also should know your deck pretty well and just hope to hell that your luck works with your strategy. So, you play a bunch of cards and then you tap shit and other shit happens and then people die, but that sometimes screws you up, too. This is less of a review and more of insight into the clueless mind.
All I know is that I played a bunch of cards, then I tapped stuff and then other stuff happened and then my friend was like, “Okay, use this and then this and tap these 6 things.” I just sat there, like, “…So… Did I win?” Hell, no, I didn’t win. I played with the conqueror, Ramen Noodles. After awhile, I figured out that move A went best with item 7 and move F should only be used if Creature D is dying. Child of the Night had my back… I think.
Yeah, I tapped that energy.
Well, maybe not since I LOST. I definitely need to try this out again. I feel like I was groggy after a long weekend of nonstop gaming (excuses, excuses). I seriously need to prepare myself mentally when I have a weekend of playing a crap ton of games I haven’t tried, yet. Con mode = beast mode. On that note, who will be at Kublacon?!
You should run a con. I’m not talking about running friggin’ GenCon. I mean you should dedicate a weekend to gaming, invite your buds over and just hardcore play a bunch of stuff ALL WEEKEND. Yes, yes, you do it already, don’t you? But it’s so much more awesome to give it a name and make it special. For my birthday, I had BDayCon. My sister and her family set up BeachCon for themselves and a couple of other close families. They had a cabin on the beach and we played games nonstop. They were pretty legit with their setup, though. They had name tags and medals. You may have seen one in my second Gravwell blog.
Speaking of friggin’ Gravwell… my win streak was obliterated. This kid. This friggin’ teenager that calls himself RAMEN NOODLES (sense the disdain?) stole my W. I literally collapsed in defeat. I didn’t even see that fool! He had been set on beating me and I was just unprepared. There I was… 4 – 1. So sad and alone in the void of space.
I’m blue- can you even see me at the very end?
Then these other DAD dudes tried to swoop in during my moment of weakness- perceived weakness. They thought they could kick me while I was down, but I clobbered those dads. Ppsshhaawwww. Get oudda here! Hmpf, I can deal with 5 – 1.
Anyway, run your own con. Dedicate a weekend to non-stop gaming and force your non-gamer friends to participate. You can compromise If you don’t have a whole weekend to dedicate or if your friends refuse to participate in your geekdom for 50+ hours. Just have a board game geek themed party! YAAAASSSSS!
Create a schedule of games and you can make it as loose or as tight as you fancy. If you have simultaneous ones running, make sure that they have similar gameplay times. Then you can fit in games that allow big groups in between. Serve Mountain Dew cocktails and homemade pizza bites! Include Power Hour where everyone stops what they’re doing on the hour and takes a drink. You can even larp it up if you want and make it, like… an honor to the Gods or whatever. That’s such a sneaky way to get non-gamers into larping. It’d be awesome. Gamer ragers have got to be one of the best parties evers. Please let me know of your party variations. Best believe I’ll be posting my own rager recaps soon.
Takenoko has the prettiest packaging I have evs seen. It took me a hot minute to get my masculine ass friends to play this damned game and now they’re always tryin’ to bust that ish out. Don’t be fooled by its absolute adorableness- this game is all strategy.
China and Japan have just ended a feud and to honor their newfound peace, China has gifted Japan with a friggin’ panda. This is where you come in. You and your buddies have to care for this panda by building and maintaining bamboo plots in this garden. You get objective cards that provide goals for you to complete. You start with one of each of the three objective categories: Panda, Gardener, and Plots.
The Panda is hungry as hell, so he just wants to eat. His objectives require you to get him to eat bamboo sections. Gardener is just trying to do his job, man. You can help him by growing bamboo in certain plots. Plot objectives get you to add to the garden, but to gain the points, you’ll need to match the diagram. You can see how much each objective is worth in the bottom left corner of the card.
Your player card will help you keep track throughout gameplay. It shows what every side of the die means, allows you to choose your actions for the turn and gives you a place to store reserves.
Each turn, you’ll roll the die (except for the very first turn) to determine what sort of power-up you’ll get for that turn.
Sun lets you take a third turn, instead of just the normal two. Water lets you add a bamboo section anywhere. Wind allows you to make the same actions twice- you usually are only allowed to make different actions even when you have Sun. Lightening scares the panda and makes him run to a plot of your choice. When he gets there, he eats a bamboo section to calm himself. I know, cutest thing ever. Clouds allow you to place a modifier on any plot that doesn’t already have one. You can also just keep the modifier in your reserves. Question mark is a wild card and you can choose any weather!
Some plots have modifiers built in. This first gray one signifies a fertilized plot. That plot can grow bamboo twice as fast- so, two bamboo sections per growth. Each plot can only hold FOUR sections of bamboo, though. Never, evers over. The red modifier with the panda x’d out means that the panda cannot eat any bamboo on that section. He can still go through the plot or land on the plot. I guess he could gaze at it if he wanted, but no eating. The blue modifier means that plot has a watershed in it and therefore does not have to be irrigated as it is naturally irrigated. Anything that doesn’t have a watershed or isn’t touching the pond piece is NOT irrigated. They won’t be able to grow stuff until they are.
When you choose your turns, you should mark them with the little brown action tiles. The long blue tiles are irrigation canals. You can add any those at any point in your turn, but taking one out of the bank counts as an action. The action options are: plot land, get an irrigation canal, move the gardener, move the panda or get a new objective card. The panda and gardener both move in straight lines through a wall in a lot. So, they wouldn’t be able to move out of a corner.
So, you couldn’t move from the pink watershed tile in the bottom right to the pond tile, but you could move to the green one beside it or the other pink one. When the gardener lands, the plot grows a piece. Any irrigated plot of the same color adjacent to that spot will also grow one bamboo piece. The panda just eats one piece from wherever he lands- not along the way, just his ending plot. He has to move over at least one plot to be able to eat.
You guys are kind of working in a community garden so anyone playing can add to it on their turn.
You start out with just the pond. You can add to any part of the pond piece, but to add plots elsewhere, they’ll have to be connected to two other plots. You can see how to add the irrigation tiles too. Now all the plots in the picture above can grow bamboo. Keep in mind that the only things can be taken away from the garden are bamboo sections and the only things that can be moved are the gardener and the panda. So, plot pieces can’t be moved around and modifiers can’t be overlapped or changed once placed.
The panda is so cute. LOOK AT HIM!
The first person to complete a certain amount of objectives triggers the last round of turns. That person also gets the emperor card because the emperor is impressed with that person’s work.
The recognition is sweet because you get two bonus points! The person with the most points wins, so you could win even without that snooty emperor’s praise.
I know it’s just, like, farming but this game is awesome. It’s ALL strategy. You can pay attention to what other people are doing and screw them over along the way. That part isn’t always that helpful, though. It can kind of just be funny, but it doesn’t always work; because you might inadvertently help them. You don’t want to do that. Besides the first three objectives you get, you can choose the type along the way. So, if you think it’s easier to get the panda to eat, you can do that. Those don’t always have very high points, though. If that’s your tactic, you may want to complete those super quickly before anyone has the chance to complete the harder ones worth more points. I like the gardener cards. I think they have the highest points, but they can be hard to complete because you need to make sure you match the the card exactly. You may need 2 sections of THREE bamboo sections, so a plot with 3 sections and a plot with 4 sections won’t work. They BOTH have to have exactly three sections of bamboo.
This is another game that is hella easy to get girly girls to play. Look, the instruction manual has a mini comic!
Go back and look at all the graphics! They’re just so… CUTE!
I don’t even know what the hell these tiles are for.
Are they dividers? Are they just for fun?
I DON’T KNOW BUT THEY’RE SO FRIGGIN’ CUTE!
I haven’t played this game with kids, but I imagine it would be a great way to develop their strategizing skills. Everything about this set is so adorable. I could see some little baby girly girl getting into competition and strategy through a game like this. Well, maybe not too little because they might just want to play with the panda figure.
I HAVE played this with my cool college buddies, though. They LOVE it. Like I said earlier, it was hard to get them to start. This one dude was like, “I’m not going to play that girly ass game.” Then my bestie and I tried it and realized how AWESOME it is. So, I forced everyone else to try and they all love it! It’s just so engaging, you really get into planning and there’s a healthy amount of competition. Four players max, so playing on a night-in makes more sense than kick back. If you still want to pretend you’re cool, you can add simple drinking game rules… Like EVERYONE takes a shot when lightning strikes. You can make it exciting by rumbling your hands on the table or stomping your feet or whatever. I kind of party like a frat boy, so I feel like there has to be some sort of warcry when taking shots. Maybe I’m trippin’. Whatever- live a lot!
Gameplay takes about 45 minutes, but you can play over and over. Even with all the strategy, it’s not like that stressful. There are some games that just make me bug out, but this is chill. Dudes, this is another game that may be easy to get your femme ladies to play. My friends didn’t take it seriously at first, but this is a solid game, bros.
Okay, Marrying Mr. Darcy is the most femme game evs. It’s a role-playing game (RPG) based on Pride and Prejudice. I am into old ass romantic stories, so, it wasn’t difficult to get me to play this game. You play one of the women in the story and the whole point is to get married. The person with the most points wins so you may be able to win even if you don’t get hitched, but you have a better chance if you do. Each character prefers certain dudes, so you’ll get higher points for marrying particular guys. The heroine cards show which suitors are preferred and the points that those suitors are worth. The women all have little advantages, too- like Caroline Bingley gets to draw extra cards and some other chick gets to steal cards sometimes.
These men all have their own standards as well; so, to even be able to get them to propose, you have to meet their criteria. Mr. Bingley wants a woman with either 5+ Beauty or 5+ Friendliness and Mr. Darcy just wants 5+ Wit but Mr. Wickham’s gold-diggin’ ass will settle for 2+ dowry.
So, on your turn, you pull an event card which allows you to do stuff like draw a character card and then play it on yourself (like beauty, wit, etc.). You might lose a card or get one that allows you to take other people’s stuff- these cards may also allow you to get cunning points instead which may get you first dibs in the proposal stage. Other events include party cards where everyone gets a chance to participate and then some scandalous surprise cards! I can’t even spoil it for you because there was one that I was like, “wwhhhaaaaaaat?!” It’s so deliciously dramatic.
The proposal stage happens after the event cards run out. You pull out the dudes that you’re eligible for, roll the die and if you get a 4 or higher, they propose. You can say no and move on the next dude, but you won’t get to take it back if you do turn him down. If no one proposes, you become an Old Maid and then you roll the die to see whether or not your life totally sucks. Sometimes it doesn’t and you get a good amount of points, but sometimes… it does and you get jack sh-t!
Yeah, girly ass game, but I love it so much. It’s really fun! Sometimes, you start out and everyone is going for different dudes, but then it gets difficult to meet standards and then fools are fighting for the same guy. Then everyone starts trying to sabotage and then there’s anger and then there’s arguing and then all of a sudden, there’s an all out brawl and then SUE SWEEPS UP AND STEALS COLONEL FITZWILLIAMS! Okay, it’s really not that cray but people do start going after the same dudes and it’s awesome. I got swept up trying to sabotage fools and then when the proposal stage came, I wasn’t eligible for ANYONE. It was a sad, lonely day.
If you’re still not convinced, there’s an UNDEAD expansion. If you become undead, you can steal dudes (regardless of their marital status) and make them your minions and everyone else gets screwed. IT’S AWESOME. Straight girls, you may want to try this expansion out if you’re having trouble luring your men into playing. I’ll give more dets on this expansion some other time, though.
This is a good kickback game, but you have to keep people’s attention in the beginning because it gets confusing. To the straight bros trying this out, this is an awesome opportunity to introduce your non-gamer ladies to RPGs.. or your moms or your besties (for those of you in the friend zone ;] ). It creates good conversation, though, and it’s super easy to follow once you get situated.
I played with a bunch of hetero ladies and a couple of their hubbies and it was great because everyone got into their character and would use silly voices. I guess it gives straight-laced moms an opportunity to misbehave- with all the man stealing and whatnot. It’s kind of hilarious because you should still be a little proper as it is set in the Georgian period. When I played with my young, lesbian friends, though, they weren’t as excited in the beginning, but got into it towards the end. They weren’t that bummed when they became old maids, though. It was cool for me, because no one was trying to snatch Fitzwilliams. The artwork makes for some top notch eye candy, by the way. All the dudes are hawt… well, not Mr. Collins.
Game time varies, but you can just cut the event cards if you need to; just make sure you have enough time to get character points. It really shouldn’t take longer than an hour.
2 – 6 players so good for a group (more fun with 6 peeps)
Good for parties (DRINKING GAME RULE: Take a shot whenever a party card is drawn.)
GREAT FOR LADY NOOBS
Ugh. I really want to watch/read/devour Pride and Prejudice now.
Did I seriously just win ANOTHER game of Gravwell? Hell yes. Hell yes! HELL YES! I am now 4 – 0. Forrealsies. I’m taking the Gravwell Champ title and clinging on for dear life. I may suck at whatever else, but I can safely say that I am a damned good Gravwell navigator- regardless of what happens to my win streak!
I talk a lot of mess, I do. It’s mostly to joke around and some of the time, I end up sweepin’. But when I come to the table, people don’t always count me as a contender. Probably because I’m a noob and definitely because I’m a chick. Don’t underestimate me, man! I got brains, son, and I’m not afraid to use ‘em!
As I said in the first Gravwell blog, it is anyone’s game for the first few rounds or so, but you should familiarize yourself with their strategies- just vibe ‘em out a little. Towards the end, you need to pay attention to what cards people are choosing and have a general idea of their patterns.
But be warned… You won’t figure out mine until I’m whizzing past you to a win. If you’re at Kublacon in San Francisco this year, let’s play a game!