Monday, May 2, 2016

Tabletop Review - Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice is exactly what it sounds like, a dice game with zombies. The banner above says it all, "Eat brains, don't get shotgunned."

It is a quick game, which can be played with as few as two people, with no real hard limit on the maximum. The object is to roll dice.

These dice, specifically. Each have a brain, a shotgun blast, or footprints. Green 
have more brains than blasts, red are the opposite and yellow are in between.
Each round, players take turns reaching inside the dice tube, and pulling out three dice at random. They roll, and check the results. Keep brain dice for score, keep shotgun blast dice (the hits and you're out), and reroll footprints. Before each roll, draw enough dice so that you're always rolling three.

The round continues until the player stops or when they've gotten three shotgun blasts. If the greed was real, and they got blasted, the player receives no points. Otherwise count up your brains and pass to the next person.

The game continues until one player has 15 brains, which begins the final round. All other players have one last chance to match or surpass the brain score without getting shotgunned.

With the set up out of the way...

When I said Zombie Dice was a quick game, I mean it is quick. The games usually last between five and 15 minutes, depending on the number of players.
It is an "in-between" game, which is best enjoyed either between sessions of longer games like Risk, or when you've got a few minutes to spare before going somewhere.
Due to it's ease and quick, competitive fun, Zombie Dice gets a Board of Dice rating of 3/5: I shot the law and the la-oh my god he's eating my brains!
If you want to see Zombie Dice in action, be sure to check out Geek & Sundry's TableTop episode:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

International TableTop Day

April 30, 2016 is International TableTop Day (ITTD), a day to gather with your friends and family at home, your local game store or wherever you like to play, and play.

Popularized by Geek & Sundry, tying into Wil Wheaton's TableTop YouTube series , ITTD has gotten bigger and bigger since its inception in 2013 by founder Boyan Radakovich. ITTD events were held in 64 countries in its first year, and the count jumped past 80 in its second.

For more information, be sure to check out Geek & Sundry's Twitter and Facebook pages.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tabletop Thursday Review - Coup

You've fought for, or against, The Resistance, and now it is time for a change in the bureaucracy. It's time for the noble elite to fight their tricky, backstabbing game of thrones and lies. It is time to stage a Coup.

Coup is a turn-based card game that pits you against your political rivals for complete control by any means necessary.

Like other games featured on Board of Dice, Coup begins with players being dealt cards in secret. Each will be assigned two character cards, each with their own effect and ability.
However, unlike some other games, you aren't committed to playing the hand you are dealt. Since the cards are played face down, and remain face down, the real fun and skill in Coup comes from bluffing your opponents.

Want to take out one of the rival's cards, but don't have the Assassin to do so? Just act as though you do. Want to gain a little extra coin? Bluff having the Captain or the Duke.
Each turn, the player chooses an effect from the list. They must pick one of them, but as said before it doesn't have to be one from the cards you possess.

The downside to the bluff is getting caught in a lie. Players can challenge any action taken by a player that involves a character skill. If you try to assassinate an opponent, collect tax or steal from another player, any player can challenge the action. At this time, you must present, to the table, the card whose action you're performing.

If you have the card, the one who issued the challenge must discard one of their characters. If you do not, you must discard one of yours. This is important, as the goal of the game is to be the only remaining player with character cards in play.

Eliminate all opponents through challenges, assassinations and coups and soon you'll be the only one with the influence needed to dominate the political world.

With the set up out of the way...

Coup, which was published after a successful Kickstarter campaign, is a quick-to-play game that can be played over and over again with the same group of people. Each player is given a list of the abilities of each character for quick reference, and soon it becomes more about out smarting each other on the path to victory.

There is an expansion to the game that adds another playable character type, and introduces alliances. Each player is given a card which puts them on what is effectively the red team and the blue team. You can pay to switch your own alliance or someone else's. This is beneficial as players are unable to harm players they are allied with.
With that said, Coup gets a Board of Dice rating of 4/5: When you play a game of coup, you win or you die.

Coup can be found on Amazon and at your local game store.
If you'd like to see a game of Coup in action, check out Geek & Sundry's TableTop, hosted by Wil Wheaton

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Loots & Lutes

Rewarding your players can be one of the more difficult tasks as a dungeon master or game master. Balancing between too little to maintain interest and too much to make the party overpowered is key.

So how do you make things interesting and rewarding while also being fair? Sorry to give a cop out answer but it really depends on your game and players. However, there are some easy ways to make the decision.
Gold, money or credits, whichever system your game uses, cold hard cash is a simple, shiny reward. It is basic, but lining the players' wallets goes a ways to keep thing interesting. You don't want to give them an early retirement, but gold can entice some players to keep adventuring.

It works as a lure as well. Instead of simply having your players fight a monster, give it a bounty they can collect. This gives them a reason to go out of their way to fight something. Some players won't battle baddies for the sake of it being the "right thing to do."
New gear is another good way to reward players for a hard-fought fight or deep dungeon trek. Pay attention to the way your players play their characters and their motivations. Is someone always running behind in combat? Find something that can be best used by that character and reward it to them. Make them work for it, of course, but it can sometimes be convenience sake the the players find something.

You will want to make sure you don't end up giving out too many magical items as a reward, however. They will lose their wonder and appeal if everything is magic. Knowing when and where is something you have to judge for yourself.

That said, you can also create dungeons around specific treasure. An ancient tomb that houses a specific sword might lure in players. Don't be afraid to experiment or run things on the fly, either. In a pre-made path, these things can be a bit more difficult, but in an open world of the GMs creation, having the flexibility to go where the players want is key.

Your game books may also contain tables for rolling dice for treasures. If even the GM doesn't know what the reward is going to be, the players won't be able to guess which dungeons will house the best loots and lutes.
Having found items act as a story hook is a wonderful way to kill two birds with one stone. You reward your players for a difficult challenge, and lure them toward the next without it railroading the story.

In the game I'm running now, my players have been finding a series of gems imbued with an unknown magical energy. After certain fights, or deep in select dungeons they have found these mysterious artefacts. Sure the barbarian doesn't care for trinkets that don't enhance his power output, but the elf wizard finds himself drawn into the wondrous allure.

Don't forget, you can also punish players for being too greedy. Keep them on edge with traps and monsters, but not enough that they avoid every chest. If their first destination in the room is always the treasure chest, however, you can throw a mimic into the mix once in awhile to take them off their feet.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tabletop Thursday Review - The Resistance

Are you a good guy? Or a dirty, dirty spy? Learn who your real friends are as you fight the oppressive government, or take down the resistance from within.

Much like the previously reviewed Bang!, The Resistance pits you against your friends with hidden identities to achieve your goal: have more operations go in your favour than the opposing side. It is played similar to the improv party game, Mafia, though with no eliminations.

The game changes slightly based on how many players are playing, but ultimately you are divided up into one of three roles:
  • The Leader of the Resistance
  • The Resistance
  • The Spies
Before each game, cards representing these roles are randomly dealt to each player, depending on the number of players. In a typical 5-person game, there is 1 leader, 2 resistance members and 2 spies.

After the roles are dealt secretly, each player closes their eyes. Then the spies open theirs, look to see who is their spy partner, then they close their eyes. Then the leader opens theirs, the resistance members raise their hands (while keeping their eyes closed) and then everyone goes back to neutral with eyes closed. After these steps are done, everyone opens their eyes and the game truly begins. Players must not reveal their roles during the game.
This pre-game is an important part of the strategy involved. The bulk of the game comes down to one player each round choosing which players to send on the mission. Then the table votes on the team. If a majority approve the team composition, the mission continues. If it fails, it falls on the person next to the previous chooser to decide the next team.

Spies want a spy on the mission, the resistance wants to avoid this. However, if three missions in a row are vetoed before they can commence, the spies get a victory point on the best-of-five.

It is during this time that you have to decide who is a good guy, and who is a spy. You can also trick other players, or try to persuade them one way or another. A trick I like to use when I am a resistance grunt is to pretend to be the leader, or act like I know who the spies are, with the hopes of throwing the spies off. If the resistance wins the best of five, the spies still have a last ditch, one-shot chance to guess the leader. If they are correct, they win.

Once a mission team is decided, each are dealt two cards, a success and a fail.
The selected members play their card face down, and place the remainder back in the card pile. When all have played their cards, the choices are shuffled a bit, and then revealed to everyone.

Resistance members must, and want to, play success cards. Spies have a choice, to pass or fail. If even one fail card is played, the mission fails. However, doing this allows the other players to know that a spy was sent on that mission, so it is unlikely that those players will be selected again. Doubt is cast on the whole team.

With the set up out of the way...

I love this game. It is one of those games that has a lot up front, but you get the hang of really quickly. Most of the time spent on the game doesn't have to deal with the components of the game box, but rather the discussion that occurs between rounds as players accuse one another of being a spy. Or defend themselves as being "a good guy" who you can trust. 

The roles change between games, but the stigma sticks. Someone who was a dirty spy in the last game may be on your team this game, but still carries the weight of being a dirty spy.

There are expansions for the game, but I can't offer any insight into them as I've never played them. The base game alone is wonderful enough for my friends and I.

The Resistance gets a Board of Dice rating of: 4/5 - I'm a good guy, I swear!

It may require more players than some games, but it is a blast to play when you have the right set up. Each game tends to only last 15-20 minutes, but you'll want to play over and over again.

The Resistance can be purchased on Amazon or at your local game store.

If The Resistance is the ground level forces in this game's universe, what is happening at the top level government? Find out next week on Board of Dice as we stage a Coup.

If you'd like to see The Resistance in action, be sure to check out Geek & Sundry's TableTop show with Wil Wheaton:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tabletop Thursday Review - Boss Monster

In most games you are the hero. The bright-eyed, well intentioned savior of the land. But what if we took a moment to see things from a different perspective. Wouldn't it be fun to create a dungeon, lure heroes and slay them? What about a competition between you and your other monster friends, who can lure and defeat the most heroes before falling victim to your hubris. That, my friends, is Boss Monster.

The first thing that caught my eye with Boss Monster was the design of the box. Modelled after an NES game box (and the expansion taking after a Game Boy game box), my attention was hooked from the moment I saw it at Sketchbook Comics.

The game begins by each of the two to four players selecting, or being dealt, a Boss Monster to control.
And if the box art wasn't enough of a give away, this is a parody game playing on video game tropes. The bosses spoof a variety of classics, from Dracula to Mother Brain to King K. Rool and more.

From here, players take turns placing room cards to build their dungeon. Heroes begin to populate the nearby town, and the room card draw heroes of certain types. Treasure rooms draw thieves and rogues, while monster rooms bring warriors. The goal is to entice heroes to your dungeon, defeat them and collect their souls.
Like the bosses, the heroes are also parodies. Above we see spoofs of Pit, Link, Arthur, Jon Snow, Nariko and Tom Cruise('s character in The Last Samurai). Many more exist in the game and it's expansion and sequel.

One initial drawback to Boss Monster is the perceived complexity of the game. To combat this, the game comes with a handy, quick start guide in addition to the larger rule book.
I say perceived complexity because the game is easy to pick up once you begin. Without knowing a thing about it before playing, my sister and I had a good grasp of the game's mechanics after only one round of play.

With the set up out of the way...

Boss Monster is a game that seems more difficult than it is. Everything you need to know about how to play the game is found (in order) on the quick start guide, and within a round or two, you'll know exactly what to be doing.

As a parody of video games and other pop culture, the humour is on point. Boss Monster isn't an ultra complex game of wit and strategy, though there are elements of both as you craft your dungeon and outplay your opponents.

The game can be played on its own, or combined with the expansion and/or sequel. The sequel is a stand alone game as well, able to be played without the original. The games typically last anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the amount of players. In our very first game, which had three players, we were able to complete in between ordering and receiving our dinner at Boston Pizza.

With that said, Boss Monster gets a Board of Dice rating of: 3/5 - Nostalgia Blast

Not the most complex game, but not the easiest either. Still, Boss Monster can be a lot of fun for 2-4 players who are looking to kill a little bit of time (and a few heroes).

Boss Monster can be purchased on the creator's shop page or at your local game store.

Stay tuned next Tabletop Thursday, where Board of Dice will be reviewing Resistance.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tabletop Thursday Review - Star Fluxx

A long, long time ago, in space, the final frontier. We explore in the starship Reference (it's bigger on the inside), collecting keepers and avoid becoming lost. We search for the meaning of life, but.. I can't let you do that, Dave.

Star Fluxx is short card game with simple rules. Well, rule. There is only one:
At least at the start of the game there is only one rule. Each player begins by being dealt three cards, and then each player takes a turn follow the rule(s). In the beginning, there is only Draw 1 Play 1.

You'll be dealt a variety of other cards. Each has their effect written down, and change the game accordingly.
  • Yellow card are New Rules, which impose hand limits or let you draw/play more cards.
  • Blue cards are actions, and have a variety of effect.
  • Purple cards are traps, usually played to cancel out one of the other types.
  • Pink cards are goals.
  • Green cards are keepers. In Star Fluxx, they are all sci-fi references.
Keepers and Goals are the ultimate win condition. Have the keepers matching the goal condition, and you win.
But if you play a goal and SOMEONE ELSE has those keeper, they'll win instead. Why would you ever do this? Sometimes you don't have a choice; if a new rule comes up saying you have to play ALL your cards, you have to play ALL of your cards, even if it makes another player win.

There is another class of card exclusive to Star Fluxx, the Creeper:
When one of these comes up they can ruin your day. They don't count as a draw or a play, and you cannot win while you are in control of one (unless the goal specially mentions that creeper).

With the set up out of the way...

While the packaging suggests Star Fluxx be played with 2-6 players, there really isn't a limit to how many can join. Depending on the luck of the draw, or tricks played by other players, games can last a few minutes to much longer. I think my personal record is a game having lasted nearly an hour before a winner was declared. But that was a rare occurrence, most games last about 15 minutes.

The biggest draw of the game is the randomness to it. No two games are going to be alike. The goals are always changing, the rules are always changing. You could be "one turn away from victory" only to have the hopes dwindle away by the next player's choices. It can be played while waiting for friends to arrive, in between other, larger, time-consuming games or just on its own - over and over.

Star Fluxx get an unworldly Board of Dice rating of: 5/5

I can't speak any more highly of this game. It is fun, fast and competitive. No two games are alike, but you'll start to find certain keepers become your favourites. 

Star Fluxx can be found on Amazon or at your local game store. There are many varieties of Fluxx, from Monty Python to Lovecraftian Horror to Batman.

If you'd like to see a game of Star Fluxx in play, check out Wil Wheaton's TableTop. This episode first showed me the game, and I went out to buy it right away.
Stay tuned next week where Board of Dice will review: Boss Monster.