Wednesday, 30 May 2018

It's All in The Mind

I had a flurry of boardgame purchases of late, some that I had been looking forward to for some time, but one that was more of an impulse buy. I'd heard good things, it seemed a simple yet interesting concept, and it was cheap. Nine quid from amazon, delivered. This cheap little gem is called The Mind, and we tested a few games last night. All enjoyable, but none had quite the surprise factor that The Mind had. For such a simple concept, we never realised how much fun could be had, nor how much tension could be generated. We had three grown men in a pub, yelling at each other and jumping for joy... because they managed to get three sodding cards in the right order!

So, how does this game work? Well, there is a deck of 100 numbered cards. In level 1 you get one card each. All you have to do is put them down in the correct order. The catch, you and your teammates are not allowed to communicate. In any way. No nods, no winks, no sneezes. You have to be like tibetan monks, absolute zen masters... until your teammate puts down a 57. A 57?!? What the fuck?!? How could you possibly think it was time for a 57? I've still got a 35 in my hand!

In this round, the player in the top left would be quite justified in thinking "surely someone must have less than a 75?" And the odds are with him on that one. Or not in this case. But the player with 82 has similar odds and similar thoughts, the question is who breaks first.

The little bunny cards represent lives and the stars are a special trick (you can earn more of both as you progress through the levels) If you want to use a star, you raise your hand. Anyone who agrees raises their hand. If the decision is unanimous, a star is used. Every player discards their lowest card. This not only reduces the cards you have to lay, but can also give a big clue going forward. "Your lowest card is 86? Right, we won't wait on you for a while then..."

If a mistake is made then whoever can see there is a mistake says "Stop" they remove a life card and then anyone who has been overtaken by the keen bean player discards any invalidated cards. This can mean if someone jumps several guns they only cost you one life... however, to avoid someone playing the 100 card first and thus clearing an entire level for one life (you may consider that a fair swap late game) you always must lay your lowest card.

This concept seems so simple, yet we had so much fun with it. We played for what must have been an hour. We failed on the tenth and final level and decided enough, we had to play a different game. Although to be fair, in that hour of play where we failed on the tenth and final level, we had only got past level 5 once. So that shows how good we were.

The highlight was the end of round 9 if I recall correctly. I had two cards, rich and scott had one each. We had a single life left, so no one wanted to fuck things up. We were up to 90. So 4 cards in 10 numbers to play.

Now I had 98 and 100, so knew that even IF one of them had 99, the other MUST have a lower card, so they must go before me. Rich had 99, so even if someone has 100, 2 cards must be played before his, so he was correct to wait. Scott had 96. So there are 5 cards lower than his, and 4 higher, so it's fairly good tactics for him to wait. So we waited. We just sat looking at each other, screaming silently inside, for what must have been two minutes, before scott tentatively put down his 96.

Thank God it was a 96. If it had been a 93 or 94 we'd still have sat there looking at each other, but when rich didn't IMMEDIATELY slap down a 97, I knew it must be me for 98, and the rest completed as expected. We roared with approval and relief. We spent the next few minutes talking about how close we came to messing it up. And that was one where two of the three players knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they could not play first, and STILL the tension was killing us!

This game is absolutely fantastic, and I cannot recommend it enough. I don't know if it's available in English yet, but I picked up the German copy off amazon cheap enough and it was a snap to find downloadable English rules from the Internet. It is good for up to 4 players, and if there's more of you, take it in turns. When 4 other players finished their 40k doubles game and came to join in with one of the other games we were playing, we forced them to play a few rounds of The Mind first. Just watching them start yelling at each other was highly entertaining for the three of us who had already lived through it once. So there is entertainment value in watching people play this game.

And you never know, one day I may even complete it.

Anyway, to paraphrase a song sung by a friend of mine, The Mind Is a terrible thing to waste. So pick up a copy now.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Discussing Scenery: Are Tournament Organisers Breaching the Social Contract?

I make no secret of the fact that I am not a tournament player, it tends to bring out the kind of lists that are not fun to play against, and while testing yourself against such lists may be fun for some people, it's not my thing. My tournament attendance tends to be smaller affairs, run with more quirkiness, such as Double Trouble, Fluffageddon, Blog Wars - events that have unusual comp restrictions or flat out make the best prize the raffle in the hope of encouraging people to play nice. So cards on the table, my views on this point are most definitely those of an outsider to the tournament scene.

I know several people are, as I write this, attending the London GT. And the feedback I have received has been one of poor organisation and scenery that is... somewhat lacking. Apparently the scenery was a big complaint last time, and promises were made to do better, and this is what they have provided.

Now as I said, I'm not a frequent tournament attendee, and I'm not sure what rules are in place regarding army painting at the London GT... I know the tournaments I attend expect a minimum painting standard for entering armies. We're doing the hobby equivalent of putting on a nice shirt, smart shoes, presenting our best selves before we go to meet someone else who is hopefully doing the same. And then we arrive at the venue, both dressed in our finest, to find walls that have damp patches, carpet with holes in, crackly speakers... it's disappointing to say the least.

I want to see my fully painted army clash with someone else's fully painted army on a nice table. I want to take pictures of the game to write battle reports or just to remember the event. The pictures will look a little underwhelming when you have two beautifully painted armies fighting over a piece of polystyrene that hasn't even been painted. You may as well be fighting over the fun size cornflake packets on your kitchen table for all the spectacle it produces.

I know I'm spoiled. I run a gaming club with a wealth of scenery, so I have a weekly opportunity to play on boards like this.

Expecting a tournament venue to match that standard is unrealistic, I appreciate that, but surely there must be some minimum standard? Especially if you're expecting a minimum standard of entrants armies, and charging them for the privilege.

Recently a friend of mine gave me a battle rundown of a game he'd played on "planet bowling ball" that hadn't gone well for his going second against a gun-line army tyranids... here's the battlefield.

Now that may be lacking a little in LOS blocking terrain, but it is all at least painted. I would rather wing it as best I could with an army on that table than fight around old VHS tapeboxes - hey, they block LOS so what are you complaining about?

There are alternatives. I picked up a lot of cheap, easy build, wooden scenery online for my own gaming table. It isn't great, and as my friend points out, there isn't much LOS blocking stuff in my home collection, but I'm sure with a little more effort the kits could be modified to provide what is needed. Would it take a lot of time and manhours to do 200 tables worth? Undoubtedly, although the amount I did to give me options would probably populate half a dozen tournament tables and it took me a week single handed if I recall correctly. I'm sure a team, organising an event that was criticised last year for poor scenery, could do better than I could.

If I was expected to single handedly do 200 tables worth of scenery in, I don't know, a week... then you might get something like this...

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Productive Week

Well, one thing to be said for glorious sunshine... it gave me plenty of time to hide in a cool apartment and get some painting done...

So, with all this time, managed to get the Mad Max themed Ork project ready for Double Trouble, a month ahead of schedule :)
I have since added a little more to the task, but I reckon I can get those done within a week easily, and as they aren't strictly necessary I'm happy to show this off as basically a completed project.

Immorkan Joe - Warboss on Bike

Wartrak with Skorcha

TOtal squad of 4 wartraks

Four warbuggies with rokkits

Battlewagon, centrepiece, soundsystem...

Truk for the mandatory troop choice of ten boyz

Showing off a bit? Perhaps, but let's be honest...

I need to find something else to show off in summer right?

Finally, picked up some female orc cheerleaders/bloodbowl players from Shadowforge miniatures... they shall be painted to represent Joes wives, and will act as objective markers...

Joe had 5 wives, so my sixth objective will be a hastily converted female ork...


I'll probably get my arse kicked, but hopefully will be in with a shout for best conversions, to defend my title from last year :)

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Witness Me!

Painted up a couple warbuggies for double trouble...

Get up! You can do it!

Witness me...


Witness him...


Mediocre, Morsov... mediocre...
It is possible some of you may recognise the sequence of events I am paying tribute to here...

Monday, 7 May 2018

Investigating the Underworlds: Khorne Cares Not that he's last...

A double post to finish us off, as I have never been a great follower of the blood god, and these two warbands follow similar "just hit it" design ethos, the difference being the hardiness of the troops in each party.

The weaker party first...

In essence, the objectives are based around killing stuff. I've given plenty of upgrades and ploys to facilitate that. I loved "mischievious spirits" and wish I could find room for it in my ork deck, but they've already got earthquake which fufills a similar task, so these guys (who care as much about objectives as the orks do) get it instead. Great way to mess with your opponents best laid plans in a final activation.

I had to revisit this deck as my friend pointed out that the warband specific deck came with killing the enemy leader with the hound, and saving the enemy leader till last... and I had added in victorious dual to score if my leader killed their leader. Aside from multiplayer games I am not gonna score more than two of those at best, probably one in a pinch, so I tweaked it. My leader gets to claim that particular skull... hopefully...

I upgraded the hound a bit. Basically nothing gets in his way, they can't push him away, and he can push people around... using his faster legs to drag enemies back into range of the slower moving party members.

I've given a couple upgrades to my head hunting leader...

Zharkus had some nice upgrades too so they both went in... and the next few can go on pretty much anyone. I am more likely to bolster either of the above, but it's nice to know that if push comes to shove Ghartok can have something too...

I then have ploys to protect my fighters...

Ploys to avenge my fighters...

Plus a final few miscellaneous cards to round out the deck.

I'm not gonna lie, these guys have had less thought put into them, but I'll play a few games with them and see how things develop. I wasn't a fan of Steelheart and his pair at first, but after building the deck, playing the game, tweaking it... they're growing on me. Perhaps the same will happen for khorne too. But thus far they've been victims of the release schedule... there's always new stuff I want to try, whether a new warband or a tweaked ork deck, and the khornate loonies haven't been played nearly as much as any other warband. But if this is the final of the 8 planned, at least for a while, they will have their day in the sun. Well, in the shade...