April was a pretty good month for gaming all-told.
I spent part of the Easter weekend away at a show, leading to some new games getting played, made another impulse purchase, and got some much-needed run-outs for a few titles that had been gathering dust.
Zombicide remains one of the biggest occupiers of my dining table. We got a bit further through the Green Horde core box in April, although we also died quite a lot – Although the extra damage from Orcs is nasty, it’s been the double-activations that come from running out of Runners that keep doing for us. Those extra 4 runners that come with the second wave suddenly look like they’ll make a much bigger difference than anticipated. We also had a few Black Plague games with friends, after a slight lull in recent months whilst the attention was focused on Green Horde.
The City of Kings was March’s unexpected buy, and early impressions from April were really good – there were definitely some things that took a while to get my head around (1st play-through, I think I got at least half of the rules wrong), but the overall feel is great, and it feels thematically similar to a lot of old favourites, whilst definitely offering something completely new.
Escape the Dark Castle was a game I hadn’t planned on buying, but picked up on a bit of a whim, following a nail-biting session with the designer of the game. It’s been played a few times since I got back home with it, and it’s definitely fun, although the length/weight are making me start to doubt whether it was really worth the £49 price tag for base game + expansion. Fortunately, it was done with store credit rather than actual money, so not too big a worry.
10 of 10
As I mentioned back in March, 4 of the 10 on the Hardcore list are now all wrapped-up, meaning that I’m only looking at 6 specific title for any further progress on this. (14 sessions altogether for Zombicide, Arkham and Elder Sign, none of them impacting the 10×10 total).
The big mover for April was Gloomhaven, which got dusted off after too long sitting idle. It turned out that we needed to refresh our memories on a remarkable number of rules, but I really enjoyed our plays of this, getting 4 games in in 2 days (on each occasion we cleared the scenario at the second attempt), and coming back out for another session a week later. I also had single games of Mansions of Madness, Massive Darkness and Marvel Legacy. Currently sitting at 71/100 for the overall challenge, things are definitely moving in the right direction.
For the non-hardcore version of the challenge, Dragonfire was the 6th game of the year to reach 10 plays. Currently I’m at an H-Index of 7 – Arkham LCG, Zombicide, Pandemic Legacy, Hogwarts Battle, Elder Sign, Dragonfire and Marvel Legendary. With 7 more games on 5 or 6 plays, I’m hoping it won’t be too long before this number goes up again. (Of course, if I’d stuck with my original plan of counting Seasons 1 and 2 of Pandemic Legacy as 2 separate games, and Zombicide Black Plague and Zombicide Green Horde as 2 separate games, then I’d be nearly there…)
There were a few review titles that made it to the table in April for the first time. Definite mention needed for Rising Sun – this game looks absolutely fantastic, and I was very tempted to back it on Kickstarter for the miniatures alone, although I eventually decided not to, as I knew it would be a hard game to get played. It’s a 3-player minimum 2-3 hour epic, which involves making and breaking alliances, and battles aplenty. We’re not especially big on (what I now learn are called) “Dudes on a Map” games in our house, and I doubt that I’ll be getting my wife to play this any time soon, but I think this is a really good game, with loads going on, and many layers of subtleties to the gameplay – definitely one which rewards repeat plays. My currently dilemma is “Keep and Paint” or “Sell it now, rather than letting it gather dust.”
Like many Geeks, I am a die-hard Firefly fan, but have always struggled to find a Firefly game that really hit the spot – Firefly the Board Game is too long, and not especially interactive, whilst Firefly Legendary is painfully ugly, and feels a bit clunky. Would Firefly Adventures: Browncoats and Brigands finally be the game we were looking for? As someone who typically picks up a new game or two to review every month, I like to think that I’m fairly good at grasping how new games work, but the first time I got this out to run-through, I couldn’t even figure out what I was supposed to be doing – the rulebook is some way beyond incoherent, and the scenario set-up/objectives tended to be unclear and contradictory: Further investigation needed, but optimism fading fast. Beyond that, I still have the latest Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective box sitting un-played, and Dungeon Alliance is still only at the components-punched-and-bagged stage.
What got played?
Not all that surprisingly, Fantasy was the maintstay of April – well over a third of sessions, and 32% of time. Zombies (25% time, 20% sessions) and Lovecraft (16% time, 13% sessions) were the other big chunks, with nothing else making it into double figures. As tends to be the way, that reflected mechanically, with Completing the Quest and plain-old Survival” our key concerns.
The overall Kickstarter landscape is definitely moving in the right direction: There was table-time for Green Horde and Gloomhaven, along with some early pre-order prices for Green Horde, which suggest (as expected) that backing this will be another win money-wise. Kickstarter is never likely to match the standards of games I have in hand, simply because there’s always such a lag between spending the money and being able to play the games, but the current £/Hour rate has dropped below £7, which seems reasonable all things considered. Admittedly, that figure will rise again very quickly if I back any of the number of other project looming into view (see below)
For shortfalls more generally, Shadows of Brimstone and Gloomhaven both managed a good few hours of play, bringing the deficits as low as they have been all year. As something brand new, I haven’t started counting The City of Kings yet, but it’s making good progress and will hopefully be nothing worse than a short blip on the Shortfall track.
I spent less than £10 on games in April, which is always nice, but didn’t sell anything either – I’m working up to a moderate-sized cull at some point in the near future, which includes a few ex-review games that are big enough and in good-enough condition to hopefully raise more than a few pennies.
There were quite a few Kickstarter projects that caught my eye in April.
I had a bit to say here about the Zombicide: Invader Kickstarter, but so much ended up happening (and there are bound to be further twists in the last 48 hours) that I’ve decided to leave this for my next Kickstarter round-up: for now I’ll just say that this is a campaign that’s definitely caught my eye, and which had more than its share of surprises.
A campaign that I’ve been more convinced by from day 1, was The City of Kings. It’s a bit of a mish-mash, being simultaneously a re-print of the existing game, offering new expansions / upgrades for the retail edition (which is what I have), and a brand-new game set in the same universe.
Even though I’ve only just started to scratch the surface of this game, I’m really keen to get the mechanical add-ons, and for only £10, having miniatures to paint for the heroes is very tempting. Beyond that, it gets complicated with fancy offerings like plastic “anti-knock” trays (there’s a lot of info in this game to try to recover if you do accidentally clobber the character sheet mid-session) and box organisers (again, lots of bits, although they don’t take up that much space unless you upgrade to wooden resources), all of which push the price for an already sizeable game sky-high. Lastly, the gorgeous art/lore book would add nothing to game-play, but kept looking at me in a beguiling fashion. In a departure from my usual behaviour, I backed this for £1 on day one: it allowed me to get involved with the comments and, with no financial stretch-goals on offer during the campaign, there was no urgency to make a decision before the pledge manager.
The pledge manager for Folklore will be closing soon, so I need to make a final decision and take the plunge. I think that enough other things have caught my interest that I’ve ruled out an all-in pledge for minis and the like (although the ghosts are so pretty…), but I’m still tempted by the base game and possibly the main expansion.
Ultimately, I think that early May will be when I need to finally commit on these games. For now though, there’s plenty to keep me occupied.
All-in-all, April was pretty good – The City of Kings was a highlight in the “new” column, but it was also good to see Gloomhaven finally making its mark and old favourites continuing to tick along. Mansions of Madness will hopefully be getting a new expansion soon, so that ought to see some table-time in May. Beyond that, check back in a month!