An update for March on my 2016 Gameplay challenges
10 of 10
March was a surprisingly good month for the 10 of 10 challenge, with a few new games coming in unexpectedly and quickly forcing their way onto the most-played list, taking me up to 7 of 7.
A Co-operative, Dice-Rolling Pirate-themed game sounded like fun. Curse of the Black Dice turned out to only be semi-cooperative, but we gave it a go anyway.
This was a game I acquired free to review for another site, so it got played a lot in a fairly short period of time. Unlike the previous game, it didn’t actively cause distress for any members of the group (Hocus wasn’t a badly designed game, it just really wasn’t the thing for the person I game with most often). I played this several times with different-sized groups, trying out all four missions, and some solo games.
Curse of the Black Dice is a fairly light game. The theme is fun, and doesn’t feel pasted on, but it’s not particularly immersive. In Solo, it’s very easy (I’ve never lost a solo game, even after tweaking the rules to make things more difficult). In multi-player, it becomes more about playing off against the group than against the game itself, and most of the value in this game feels like it come from the social side.
As already mentioned, this game made it up to 10 plays fairly quickly (you can get through a whole game in about 20 minutes), but is now back on the shelf. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to playing this again, but I’m not sure it has enough going for it that it will be clamouring too loudly for our attention in the near future.
By contrast, Zombicide Black Plague has really caught the collective imagination. This is a long game – realistically 2 hours minimum unless you die quickly and horribly (that does happen), but nonetheless, we were into double-figures of play-throughs barely a week after receiving it. Another free review copy, this is a Medieval/Fantasy Co-op where you fight off Zombies. It’s made by Cool Mini Or Not, which means that it comes with lots of nicely-sculpted Plastic Miniatures, there are a lot of Kickstarter exclusives out there, a ton of high-spec add-ons available (or at least, there will be) and a lot of Angst on forums and the like about components reaching retail before KS Backers.
Putting all the meta-issues to one side, this game is REALLY good fun. As I noted on the review I did of it, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a new game. The components are great (I particularly like the little plastic things which hold your character card and equipment, keep track of your skills/life points). The miniatures make it bulky (and expensive) but are actually a really nice touch. There’s something about seeing your character surrounded by a dozen or more zombies which just can’t be conveyed in Cardboard tokens as well as it can in plastic minis.
Even with quite a bit of non-gaming stuff going on, this made it to ten plays quickly and without difficulty, and the discovery that the first expansion was released last week answered my wife’s birthday present dilemma.
1 of 23
The “un-played” challenge continues to move more slowly. I have realised that the starting target was only 24, not 26 (this is what comes of making a spreadsheet, and not starting at the very top of the page), but otherwise it’s slow going. I’m already pretty-much certain that not all of these games will get played this year, and that some will need to be moved on. Looking over the list, there are some really good games on here, along with a few that are probably duds, and it’ll still be interesting to see how it pans out.
For March, the only game to exit the “un-played” list was Commands and Colours: Ancients. This is a game I was playing a lot of 4 or 5 years ago, but had faded into the background. The Commands and Colours system was designed by a guy called Richard Borg, and has spun off into various games over the years: Battlelore (Medieval Fantasy) Battle Cry (American Civil War) Memoir 44 (WWII) and the “Commands and Colors” titled series which include Ancients (Romans, Greeks, Carthaginians etc) and Napoleonic Wars.
Commands and Colors Ancients is one of the heavier implementations of the C&C system: there are lots of troop-types, and you’ll be playing the game with a couple of A4 reference cards a lot of the time. That said, it’s still a remarkably simple and straight-forward Wargame, with units being activated by a deck of cards, hand-size representing the extent of command and control / Fog of War, and some custom dice to determine hits.
Most games in this series have received a number of expansions, and taken to the extreme, I’ve found these to be a bit too complex for non-Wargamers, whilst remaining insufficiently complex (or miniatures-based) for true Grognards. Games that are strictly 2-player and competitive tend to struggle for table-time in our house, but going back to the basic set-up for this one has been fun and I’ve enjoyed the games we’ve had. I don’t anticipate it will be a large-scale renaissance, and this probably won’t make it onto the 10 of 10 list, but I do look forward to dusting off some of the other versions in the collection.
At this stage, things are looking pretty good for the 10 of 10 challenge. I’ve already mentioned that there are some games coming later in the year, which I expect to get plenty of play-throughs, and there are a few other games which get played once or twice a month, so are likely to stagger to 10 by Christmas.
The un-played list is another matter. At the moment I’m averaging 1 per month, which would mean less than half of the games on the list being played by the end of the year. There are a few which I could push more actively, but some are going to be difficult.