Monday, February 27, 2012

Thunderstone Advance

I am a bit fan of Thunderstone, out of all of the current deck building games to me it has the best theme and enough variety to keep me interested. I also really like the fact that most of the cards will fit into a single box which makes getting the game played easier.
As much as I love Dominion, its a pain to take anywhere because of the large boxes of cards and unless I setup some decks before hand we generally just use the base set and an expansion. With Thunderstone I am happy to put more cards in the box and just randomize things.

My issues with Thunderstone have been teaching the game. The cards have a few icons on them and the light penalty takes a few plays. But mainly its the battle effects. When are they applied? Before, after or during combat. It just seems a little messy. For the first few games we were adding disease cards to the battle itself. Needless to say the first few games took a while to play.

Dragonspire was released and with the help of its board and a few rules tweaks things have improved. But now Thunderstone Advance is about to hit the shops and it looks like Alderac have revamped everything and from what I can see all for the better.

The cards have had a revamp with new borders and artwork. I am still not sure about these as the new art style is different to previous cards. I am sure they will grow on me but for now they just look a little odd. The icons are still there but they look refreshed and more readable. I think the main differences on the cards seem to be the text area. It looks bigger and they have put the battle effects into different areas so you can see what is a battle effect and what happens after the battle. This should clear up any confusion and make for a better play experience.

Dragonspire was the first expansion to use a board as well as ditching experience cards for plastics tokens. Thunderstone Advance has upped the ante, there is now a full board with spaces for the village cards as well as the dungeon. It's also double sided enabling you to play a wilderness variant on the other side.
There are also cards for a new game mechanic, familiars. I am not really sure what they do as yet, I need to read up the rules but I am sure they will add to the game experience.

Thunderstone Advance looks like the natural progression with the game, its almost like its version 2.0 with all the irks ironed out. It hits the shops next week, around March 5th and there is a bonus set of cards for people buying from local shops.
My copy has been ordered and I'm really looking forward to giving it a try.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Its alive Jim

There are always a few topics that are bandied around message boards. They include, what games can my kids play, what game will my wife enjoy and what game can I play solo.
So generally it seems like some gamers out there have trouble finding other players and are trying to boost the gamer numbers with family members.
I'm lucky, I have a good group and my kids are willing to play games. i also have some really good solo games.

There are some games that i would love to play more often, Power Grid is one of them. I have had a copy for years but with the cult of the new taking place it doesn't get played as much as usual. One of my friends loves it, but playing it with 2 players just doesn't work. Luckily Friedeman has created some lovely robots to help bolster the game. I was initially unsure about them, but as they are pretty cheap I ordered the set.
You get two thick stock cardboard sheets for your money, with each sheet containing 3 robots. The robots themselves are made up of 5 pieces. To prepare for a game you just pick a random head, feet and 2 body parts and put them together. Each part will tell you how the robot will perform in each phase of the game. Plus each robot will have a special power to help it through the game.

For our first game we created a single robot, so the game was set up and played as though there were 3 players. Our robot seemed pretty hard to beat. His power meant that he got his first city for free in phase 4. He quickly became the leader of the game and we were playing catch up.
Eventually the robot won the game by being able to power one more city then the rest of us. He had built 17 cities and powered 16 of them. Frankly he was one tough robot to beat.

Playing with the robot was very interesting, initially it was hard work as we had to continually refer to the rules to go over what he would do. But after a few rounds it started to sink in. I think this is the worst part of the expansion. It doesn't quite feel intuitive enough. I am not sure if I would want more than one robot in the game, but maybe things will improve the more they are used.

Finally, it blew our meta game of winner packs up.

Would I recommend Power Grid Robots? Yes, if you like power grid and can't get it to the table often enough because of player count. Or want to try with some hard players then its well worth it.