Stuffed Crocodile

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Tag Archives: Board game

Feline Horrors

Arkham Horror

Arkham Horror (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did I mention cats in my last entry?

Because… cats. If our tom wouldn’t also manage to be the sweetest of kittens in his good moments we would have sold him on ebay years ago.

So, after sleeving all the cards yesterday I decided to actually use today for learning the rules. My girlfriend was out with her colleagues and I didn’t have anything else to do. So I closed the door to the living room with the cats safely outside and set up the table with the Arkham Horror board.
Note to self: get bigger table, ours was only barely able to hold just the base game.
It went quite well until midnight. I was down to two open gates and had 2 locations sealed. Then, at midnight my girlfriend came home, opened the door and asked: “Why did you lock the cats out of the living room?”
“Because…” I managed to say, but our little Sherlock had rushed into this new mysterious room that had been locked for 3 hours, jumped on the table…

…and Arkham disappeared into a landslide.

“…I was afraid of this.” I finished my sentence.

 

As mentioned until then it went quite well. I was using three characters against Hastur. This made sealing the gates rather difficult, but some  luck with the Mythos cards had the monsters conveniently move out of the way in a few cases. I think I still have some issues with remembering special cultist powers though, and forgot to move them to the Sky (Hastur’s cultists all ride Byakhee obviously). I think I am slowly getting the hang of it though.

 

Card Sleeves and other scourges of the common gamer

I bought myself Arkham Horror last week and right away noticed that there will have to be some special measures. Both my cats decided that the trial first game I set up was the most interesting thing since pigeons started nesting in front of our windows (there are few things that fascinate both of them equally as much as tasty flying rats and, obviously, eldritch horrors in cardboard).

So I decided to invest money into card sleeves, something I never did before. Most of my gaming is roleplaying, and even when I was playing Magic the Gathering (back in 3rd edition times) I never really was into it so much as to sleeve my cards.

Now, Łódż has this tiny problem with games as such: there just aren’t any places to actually buy games that are not mainstream. I am not kidding, there was one shop that opened a few months back on Narutowicza, which was more of a Warhammer place from how it looked, and as for the last few months the the complete area around it is more of a wasteland than anything else, the last thing I heard was that it closed again. No, the local authorities don’t give a shit about small local businesses. They also don’t give a shit about normal people having to go to work, transit traffic that has to go through the city, or large companies that want to settle in this city. The traffic authorities have had plans since the 1970s, and right now they think it’s the right time to execute exactly those plans. Which were intended for a communist country where the cars, if there were any, were glorified shoeboxes…

Aaaaaanyway… there is another shop in one of the shopping centres (Galeria Łódzka), which doesn’t even have a proper shop space but is rather a kiosk in front of the Tesco’s there. And there is always the possibility of going to rebel.pl, which is where I got the English version of Arkham Horror to begin with.

Now, I wasn’t going to order a delivery from Gdańsk again, mostly because it’s a pain in the ass to be at the right time at the right place to receive the package (I only ordered it because I had two weeks of holidays and knew exactly where I would be for two or three days). So I went to the small kiosk in Galeria.

I asked the guy there for card sleeves for Arkham Horror (at least I think I did, sometimes I am not sure what I actually say), and he promptly presented me with the right size of Mayfair Games sleeves. They are cheaper than the FFG ones, but I read on BBG that there might be problems with them. Well, I thought, if they don’t fit they won’t be so much of a loss and I have a few other games that I could sleeve as well.

Turns out most of them fit. Two of the three packages of larger sleeves I bought, and two of the smaller ones fit perfectly. Which made it weird that the other package… didn’t. Oh, I managed to force the cards in, after a while, but they didn’t quite fit, were awkward to hold, had air pockets, and sometimes just ripped apart.  I  find this specific incongruity a bit strange. They seem to have produced a batch of a hundred sleeves just half a millimetre or so too small.

But Arkham Horror is sleeved. Now I can start playing it. Most likely with the doors closed though. Cats…

[Boardgames] Chińczyk

This is an actual board from a cheap collection of generic games I bought a while ago. I would lie if I said I did not buy this exactly for this board. I had hoped for a few more tokens and things in the collection that would justify buying it, but it turns out that cheap was nearly an understatement for the thing.

But anyway, this one I just bought for the political incorrectness.

Mensch ärgere Dich nicht!is one of the classics of German boardgames. It’s basically a streamlined Pachisi-derivative very similar to Ludo, or Parcheesi. It was invented by in 1907, and sold badly in the beginning, like all true classics.

It’s claim to fame can be traced back to the shrewd marketing moves it’s inventor made during WWI: he gifted a few hundred sets to field hospitals “so the poor injured soldiers have something to do.”

I guess I could have imagined better games to play when wounded and in pain, but the soldiers seemed to like it: the sales figures of the game went up astronomically after the war.

What people often forget about that war is that it was not just Germans in those armies on the German side. Prussia had a large part of Polish people fighting for them, Austria had Hungarians and Czech, and a few others. And all of them got these nice games to play. The result was that this game became popular, and was translated into various European languages. The game is one of the most public domain titles around, pretty much every game company in Germany has at least one version around.

Now, most countries went the route to just translate the title like that (“Man don’t be angry!” or something along those lines). Not so Poland. Here it was called Chińczyk (Chinaman). Why that only the gods, and some ancient half- forgotten marketing executive know. But the designers of the boards are milking that title for all it’s worth. And this board is one of the tamer ones.

I guess there is a reason for that casual racism, and that would be that Poland is a rather homogenic country, with a large part of the society ethnically Polish (and white), with nearly everyone having the same religion (90% Catholicism), and a strong national identity. Now, this picture is of course not completely correct. Poland has been one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Europe up to the end of WWII. Most of the Jewish population left after the war, was driven out in the 60s, some ethnic Germans are left in Silesia, some Muslims are left in Eastern Poland. For the last 60 years or so though Poland was inhabited mostly by Poles.This is changing very slowly: Vietnamese immigrants that came during the 70s and 80s do not actually intend to go back to Vietnam because they grew up in Poland, and some of the bigger cities are slowly attracting people from other countries.But all in all the populace is not really that welcoming for noticably different people. Racism and anti-semitism are incredibly casual, and a lot of generally intelligent, nice people I meet here don’t see anything wrong about making casual racist jokes about that black coworker, just to lighten up the mood a bit.

I guess it doesn’t help the the only way people meet Asian people in their childhood are either those in the Chinaman game, or serve bad knockoff of Chinese food in some hole in the wall…

[Boardgames] Real Monopoly

English: A German Monopoly board in the middle...

A Monopoly board in the middle of a game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia/Horst Frank)

Monopoly is one of these games everybody has played at one point or another. Everybody knows how to play that game. Hell, most likely everybody reading this has a set of that game handy somewhere.

You do?

Ok, tell you what. Go and grab that set. Open the box. You don’t have to do much. Just get the manual for the game and read what happens when a player lands on a field and doesn’t want to buy it outright.

Come on, do. I’ll wait.

Surprised?

It’s in the rules, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I haven’t thought about that either for a long time. After all, that’s not how you play the game, is it? (Actually, for additional fun: try to find the section on Free Parking, although most people know that that one is a house rule)

For those who did not have Monopoly handy: according to the rules property that is not immediately bought by a player after landing on it goes to auction among the other players. No set starting price.

No, that’s not a house rule, that’s in the actual rules. And yes, nobody plays Monopoly like that. I remember when my brother and me read the manual as kids and came across that section, and we decided: Fuck this, that’s not how you play the game.

Funnily enough, according to people who tried it, the actual rules make for a faster, better, and more interesting game, because it keeps people from having to make endless circles around the board just to collect the set of cards they need to even start building stuff. It does make the game more cut-throat though, and according to the article I linked, this might be the reason it is often left out: Monopoly is still a family game. Losing the game because the dice rolled wrong is still better for kids than losing because their siblings snatched away all interesting property and left only scraps for them.

I doubt even using the actual rules would make Monopoly a really good game, but it would certainly be more interesting than the game we played since I was a kid.

[Boardgames] Alternate Settlers of Catan Tiles

catan

Catan – Russian version? (Photo credit: ivva)

To my surprise nobody in my gaming group has ever played Settlers of Catan. Now, I am not a hardcore boardgamer, and Settlers, while fun and one of the best examples for modern games, is not the game my whole heart is dedicated to. I am a roleplayer after all, I always have been.

Still, when my players (and especially my girlfriend) talk about board games for them it comes down to 1) Monopoly and 2) Scrabble.

I cannot help to feel sad about this.

I will not get around actually buying both games for my girlfriend, but I cannot help to think that I really should show her a few other games. And my other players as well, while I am at it.

Now, Settlers of Catan in my opinion has always had one particular flaw that made me dislike it: the graphics on the game were awful. I really like the mechanics, I like the trading and civilization building, what I don’t like are those terrible graphics, both in the original and in the Mayfair editions. So I decided to make my own tiles.

OK, part of the reason for that is that I had the game somewhere at my parents’ place but couldn’t find it when I was visiting them. I don’t really want to spent 140PLN on a game I already dislike for it’s graphics. Luckily that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

The gaming material for Settlers is rather simple: the board itself is assembled out of a set of hex tiles representing a small variety of different landscapes, which give different resources. Other needed elements are: resource cards (easy to make), numbered chits (also easy), markers for settlements and streets (those are more difficult, my old set had wooden pieces and I would love to get some equivalents instead of cardboard markers, but I guess I will just create cardboard replacements), and a figure that represents the robber (hmm…easy, I guess).

I decided to create my own set of tiles, but I am still in the concept stage, so for further reference I  searched and found a few interesting other alternate sets. Most of the custom boards for Catan seem to be 3D variations of the board, which I think are absolutely awful, but I guess there is no accounting for taste.

What I found so far:

  • Lasercut Tiles: an early version of a project that now has a kickstarter page, a beautifully simplistic but well thought out variation on the gameboard, unfortunately it only makes real sense if you have a lasercutter around
  • Boardgamegeek-user Andre Viana offers a nice looking set with photographic tiles
  • Hexes of Kaathan (also on BGG) looks more sophisticated, the sets (multiple ones, also for the extensions) provide tiles looking completely different from each other.
  • Ryan Schenk offers these highly abstracted tile graphics. They look very nice, but not really what I am looking for.
  • The settlers of Oz is a complete graphical conversion to something Wizard of Oz themed. A bit too saccharine for me, but looks really nice. The largest army card is replaced by a “Most Munchkins” card, which almost makes me want to play this
  • The Settlers of the North Pole is the same, just Christmas themed. Kinda meh for me.
  • deviantart user murz has a set of tiles he made as a replacement when he didn’t have his original set available. For me a bit too close to the original (which, remember, I don’t really like)
  • Not really alternate, but well: tiles designed for colourblind people, based on the artwork from Mayfair games