Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shadowrift - Another One the Wife is OK With

In the midst of the toy soldier painting frenzy this Spring I have tried to play some new games. A few weeks ago I stopped by Myriad Games and heard about a game called Shadowrift. The woman working that day described it as a cooperative, deckbuilding, dungeon adventure with lots of room for developing your own character. That hit pretty much all the right buttons and so I picked it up.

 I had heard the rules were pretty poor so the wife and I watched a video on Boardgamegeek in which a man and his loving and extremely patient wife played a few hands of the game while he explained the rules. The irony of the situation was lost on no-one and we launched in to a game.

It turned out that Shadowrift is quite a lot of fun and lives up to the sales pitch exactly. In the game your job is to defend a town against rampaging monsters. Each turn the monsters automatically act first and may attack, spawn more monsters, or somehow make your life harder. Then in the player's turn you can fight monsters, buy better equipment, or recruit villagers to help you. You have limited choices in each turn and so you have to make some tough decisions. Do you want to develop your attacking abilities, defeat a creature, or repair some element of the town. There are a lot of choices and the pressure from the attacking creatures is quite tangible.

Shadowrift is also a deckbuilding game. As the game goes on you add abilities, magical items, and resources to a deck of cards and then draw five cards from it each turn. One player might invest in healing spells, another might try and accumulate magical attacks or lots of resources. Each player isn't given a specific character class per se but the cards you choose will very much change how you function in the game. We definitely liked that aspect of the game.

The main downside to Shadowrift is the rulebook, which might be kindly referred to as not ideal. I think to play the game you'll need to watch the gameplay videos on Boardgamegeek.  After a few rounds the game philosophy becomes clear enough and things move pretty smoothly.

Rulebook aside Shadowrift is a great game and a nice surprise. I've played similar deckbuilding games which seemed either too divorced from theme or lacking in exciting and meaningful choices. Shadowrift delivers its theme very well and each turn is full of interesting and fun choices to make.

And the wife is OK with it.

Armies in Plastic to the Rescue!

Today I got some more troops in the mail from Armies in Plastic (AiP). AiP has a huge line of 54mm toy soldiers which are well suited for playing Funny Little Wars or any sort of large scale game. I've also let the kids play with them and they're a big hit. Plus, unlike metal figures, they're safe for children to play with, handle, or even chew on.

I was excited today to find that in addition to my expected reinforcements the folks at AiP had included some prize support for the upcoming Funny Little Wars game at Huzzah. Two nice boxes of figures which I can give away to the best dressed players or most sportsmanlike players or who knows what. So lots of thanks to Armies in Plastic for helping out with the upcoming game. Now back to painting...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

King Marko's Loyal Guards

Named after the famed King Marko* this regiment of soldiers upholds Veglian tradition and martial pride. Their distinctive red hatbands refer back to Markian legends** dating back centuries, their green uniforms reflect the green land of Veglia, and their spirit is fierce and brave. The Loyal Guards are ready to defend their homeland or venture beyond in search of glory and battle honors.

*"King Marko was almost certainly never a king of ancient Veglia and is unlikely to have existed in any form or even be faintly related to any existing king or person. This has given complete creative freedom to centuries of Veglian storytellers. The catalog of Markian stories is enormous and varied. It has been said in fact that any story in any tradition could refer to King Marko. J.L. Borges is said to have been highly influenced by Markian tradition, cf. "The Lottery in Babylon"."
Encyclopaedia Fenwickia, 1895 edition

**Including The Red Rake of Plenty, Red Gnarl's Saga of Red Bloody Vengeance, and the Ten Adorable Red Bunnies Meet the Squirrel Family

The Sive Boje Vukovi!

From the forests and fields of Veglia come the fearsome Sive Boje Vukovi* Regiment. These brave men are well trained regular soldiers but rumors abound of mysterious initiation ceremonies and eldrich traditions dating back centuries. Is there a legacy from the old time when Veglians took on Romans, Mongols, and Bordurians and walked away victorious? The Vukovi just smile grimly and remain silent on the matter.

*"The Sive Boje Vukovi are fanciful creatures from Veglia legend. The resemble vampire bats but weigh up to fifty kilograms, have long pointed ears and snouts, lack wings entirely, and hunt in packs. They are reputed to howl at full moons. The Vukovi represent another example of the fertile Veglian imagination, as they are clearly a creation of a primitive, almost primal tradition.
Encyclopaedia Syldavia, 1865 Edition"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Movie Night!

So the kids were well behaved yesterday and I decided it was time to introduce them to movies about hidden lands filled with dinosaurs. We don't have cable and so the children haven't yet seen Star Wars, any Pixar films, or really much of anything movie-wise. I'm in no rush to get any of that started but I have been feeling lately that a well rounded person should be well versed in hidden dinosaur lands.

Speaking of which, see if you can come up with four or five different routes to reach hidden regions crawling with dinosaurs. There's a good number.*

I rented The Land Unknown from Netflix based on vague childhood memories and was happy to discover it is even better that I remember. Let's run down the list: Hidden Land? Check. Tough and capable Navy men? Tough and beautiful girl reporter? Check. Dinosaurs? This movie features men in suits, stop motion, mechanical life size monsters and real lizards in close up! Lots of checks. Also a cool helicopter, footage of penguins, fistfights, torch fights, monster fights, and occasional double entendres sneaking their way through the 1950's Hayes Code monitors. What an awesome movie.

I'm not sure how every kid would respond to this movie. The effects are pushed to the limit but it's the limit of 1957. I would at least recommend it for nostalgic adults who pine for hidden dinosaur lands.

*Speaking of which: Tarzan gets to see dinosaurs in Pal-u-don in Africa and through a hole in the North Pole into Pellucidar. The Challenger expedition finds them in South America. Jerry Cornelius and Amelia Underwood travel back or forward in time to get to them. The X-Men have to visit the Savage Land. Verne's explorers find them as they travel to the center of the earth. Cowboys find dinosaurs in the Valley of Gwangi in the Southwest. Multiple rocket expeditions in the 1960's find dinosaurs on distant planets, and in one notable case strand a male and female astronaut on a distant dinosaur planet known as....Earth!