Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Belfort: the Expansion Expansion

Product– Belfort: the Expansion Expansion

Producer– Tasty Minstrel games

Price– ~$20 here http://www.amazon.com/Belfort-The-Expansion-Board-Game/dp/1938146832/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414638034&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=belford+expantion

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-2.5~3 hours (2 to 5 players)

TL; DR– Some great things, some ok things 93%

 

Basics- Belfort was one of my favorite games (reviewed here http://throatpunchgames.com/2013/12/10/ring-side-report-board-game-review-of-belfort/).  I loved to play it, but I wanted some new options to spice up a classic.  The Expansion expansion enhances the game by adding new building expansions (hence the expansions expansion) that add on to your current building as well as providing assistants who help you throughout the game.  The building expansions provide new ways to get points at the end of the game while the assistants provide new powers like preventing other players from building in an area to avoiding paying taxes all together.  Other than these additions, the game is played exactly the same.

 

Mechanics– This is a (semi)mixed bag.  I love the addition of the assistants.  They provide new powers that really shake up the game.  The assistants change each turn with the players with the fewest points choosing first and working up the point scale to choose each assistant.  You might get stuck behind the eight ball on who gets what assistant if you run away with points, but the assistants help prevent the runaway point problem happening through some elegant game design.  That I really liked.  However the building additions are a bit more cumbersome.  I like the expansions in theory.  But, you have to have the base building, and most of the costs to build are a bit too cost prohibitive.  It makes a player do more calculations to decide if building an expansion is worth it, but I feel most of these costs are a bit too much to make them worthwhile.  Also, building expansions are collected when a player doesn’t use an assistant’s power.  However, if you’re playing smart you won’t have a turn where your assistant isn’t hard at work. 4/5

 

Theme- The addition of the small elements in this set really does hammer home some themes missing from the first one.  All the assistants do things that their fantasy races would do.  It makes a ton of sense and does draw you in a bit more.  The building expansions also all make sense like an inn getting a pool.  The costs to build some of these items are a bit off (sacrifice a token to build some buildings).  But overall, this expansion has a ton more theme than the original game. 4.5/5

 

Instructions– These instructions are short and to the point.  Also, each part of the expansion gets a write up to help you understand the finer points of how the building and assistants works and how to build and use them.  I love when instructions answer the difficult questions that will come up during game play.  There is some humor in this book, but it’s all in good fun as well. 5/5

 

Execution– This is small box, but not an empty one.  The box comes with several cards for the expansions, cards for the assistants, and wooden blocks for some of the assistant’s powers. In fact, this expansion fits into the original box.  I’m not complaining.  For the cost, you’d be hard pressed to pick up other expansions out there that are done as well!  5/5

 

Summary-Overall, I like this expansion.  The best thing this expansion does is enhance the theme of the original game.  The game does feel more fantasy now with the addition of the assistants.  Before, the theme was there but a bit too dry.  What I don’t like is the building additions.  I don’t think you get enough bang for your buck for building them.  Maybe if you play smarter than I did, you will see some combinations I didn’t.  I had fun, but the random nature of the buildings you can build means the starting buildings in your hand and their additions will dictate how you must play the game.  That’s not horrible, but it can be a bit of a pain.  Nothings in bad here, and if you want some added life and strategy in your Belfort, this is a great expansion. 93%

Want to Game in Jackson, MI?

Here is a list of all the games I’m running for the next month.  Hope to see you at a few of them.

 

Upcoming Game Days at Nostalgia, Ink!

November 10th at 6PM Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG https://www.facebook.com/events/289215234620783/?context=create&previousaction=create&source=49&sid_create=2082536730

 

November 17th at 6:30 Mage Wars November Duel

https://www.facebook.com/events/1489993764606906/?context=create&previousaction=create&source=49&sid_create=3471724992

 

November 22nd is Dual the Pathfinder/DnD Encounters Day.  Pathfinder at 1PM

https://www.facebook.com/events/283105571886971/?context=create&previousaction=create&source=49&sid_create=2175093272

 

DnD Encounters at 6PM

https://www.facebook.com/events/567949346670672/?context=create&previousaction=create&source=49&sid_create=1607767652

 

Shadowrun Missions November 23rd at 1PM

https://www.facebook.com/events/1562145917349079/?context=create&previousaction=create&source=49&sid_create=1090991124

 

Want to go to some Cons?  CritCon is November 8th.  It’s primarily a Shadowrun con, but I will be running a few games there.  Contact me if you would like to ride with me to the con.

 

U-Con is November 14th-16th in Ann Arbor.  This con is a little bit of everything.  If you want a ride, contact me.

 

And as always, don’t forget DnD and board game every Thursdays starting at 5PM.

Daily Punch 10-27-14 BioReactor for Shadowrun 5e

Tired of always having to pay Horizon’s exorbitant fees when your buying back you own cells for your BioGel?  Well here is a way to get around that!

 

BioReactor

Cost Rating Quantity Produce
10,000Y  x BioReactor rating  BioGel rating x 2 BioReactor Rating x 10 units

 

Make your own BioGel!  Using this BioReactor, you produce the indicated quantity of BioGel in one day spending 1/5 of the cost of the BioGel you would normally spend.  To use the BioReactor, you must make a Biotech+Logic check with the DC equal to the rating of the BioGel being produced.  If you fail, the reagents used to make this batch of BioGel are lost.  This check is made at the end of a day producing BioGel.  The BioReactor produces the BioGel unassisted, so you you may do other things during a day when you produce BioGel.

 

 

Thoughts?

Daily Punch 10-23-14 BioGel item for Shadowrun 5e

Tired of mages looking right through you?  How about an option to keep those pesky mages at bay?  How about BioGel from you friends at Horizons!

 

Item         Avail               Cost

BioGel                    Rating x4           Rating x 1,000

 

BioGel is a living product that closely mimics living tissue.  A cybernetic equipment can be modified (costing one capacity and 1,000Y) to allow BioGel to be implanted into a specialty compartment that provides give a -1 dice pool penalty to all assensing checks.  The lowest level BioGel is made from bacterial cells, with high levels being cultivated yeast cells, mammalian cells, culture immortalized human cells, and finally the highest level cells are made form cells culture from the person who has the cybernetic equipment.  Each does will last about one week as the cell will die after that point.

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Pathfinder Society Scenario #5-22 Scars of the Third Crusade

Product– Pathfinder Society Scenario #5-22 Scars of the Third Crusade

System-Pathfinder

Price-$4 here http://paizo.com/products/btpy96i8?Pathfinder-Society-Scenario-5-22-Scars-of-the-Third-Crusade

TL;DR–  Great roleplaying, but nothing for the combat heavy characters. 87%

 

Basics-Murder is afoot!  Pathfinder agents have been arrested, and you are sent to determine if they are guilty or not.  Can you prove the innocence of your fellow agents while in a town that already doesn’t trust the Pathfinders?

 

Mechanics or Crunch-This one has exactly one or maybe two fights scenes in it, depending on how the players proceed.  Most of the time, players are investigating the murders.  If you have a combat heavy party, they will just be bored.  Also, the combats that are present will be somewhat underwhelming to most parties in the level range.  The module presents some rules for investigation, misinformation, and events in town.  Some of these events are arbitrary as well as the rules for these events being somewhat unclear.  It just might need a bit more to keep some people involved. 3.5/5

 

Theme or fluff-This is where this module shines.  You as the GM get to scream at the players if they reveal that they are Pathfinders.  Most of the people in town don’t trust the Pathfinders, and players tipping their hands make this module come alive.  The town is well described and the personalities in it are fun to run.  Everybody here has a story, and the players have to try to figure out who did it over the course of the adventure.  I loved what I saw here.  If you want a mostly roleplaying module, this is the one to look for.  5/5

 

Execution-This is a wordy one.  To get all the information a GM needs to run the mod, lots of words have to happen in a very short amount of space.   I do like that the town has a town map to help you and your players understand all the places they can investigate.  In addition, the investigation methods are presented decently as well as providing the GM with a worksheet to help GMs keep track of all the information at hand, but this chart could use another column to help me keep track of what I and haven’t told the players.  I’d have liked a few more divides in the words, but the module is set up well. 4.5/5

 

Summary-I liked running this module.  I have no problems standing up at a convention and screaming at the top of my lungs about how I hate the Pathfinders and such.  When I ran this at a con with about five other tables, I did get a few stares.  If you want to have some awesome roleplaying with your characters, then this is the module to run.  If you what a hack and slash fest where lots of things die, then do not even consider this one.  I would like some changes to the module, but overall it was a great if you have the right group.  87%

Book Bout-Book Review of The Atrocity Archives  

Book-The Atrocity Archives

Author– Charles Stross

TL; DR-90%

 

Basics-Cthulhu is real, Turing’s death wasn’t a suicide, and the world’s fate rests in the hands of the guy from the IT department.  The Atrocity Archives follows Bob Howard as he deal with monsters from beyond time, creatures summoned from hell, illegal software updates, and a boss who really isn’t from hell because he’s seen what the real hell looks like.  This is the first book in a series called The Laundry Files.

 

Characters-This book has a large cast, but most of the book focuses on Bob Howard.  He’s as a fun character who is a tech geek who’s dragged into a world he never really wanted to be part of.   However, he makes the most of it all while feeling like he’s a real person.  I never felt like he was unrealistic even as he dealt with unreality.  I felt some of the other characters such as his managers from hell were a bit too much.  The world is going to die, and you’re fighting about flex time?!  That’s good comedic effect, but it does hurt some of the seriousness of the novel. 4.5 /5

 

Setting-This book takes place in a shadow world of spies, Lovecraftian horror….and IT computer help desks.  It’s an interesting balance as Bob has to split his time fighting internal politics as well as ice giants.   I did feel like I was where Bob was.  I could see the crazy, and I could see the normal.  Everything felt real. 5/5

 

Story-I liked the story, but some things were a bit much.  Get ready for techno babble.  I have a Ph.D. in biochemistry and some of the finer points of math went over my head.  There maybe a bit too much techno babble for the books own good.  It does establish Bob as a genus, but it also kind of drives the reader away.  The main plot is about Bob fighting either monsters from another dimension trying to get a foot hold here or the misuse of a government program.  Those in broad strokes are fun, but the details get a bit muddled as the Bob has to fight a bit too much with his bosses over time management.  It’s funny, but it’s kind of a bit jarring.  It makes you laugh at its nonsensicalness, but that hurts some of the more dramatic moments.  If you can get past that, it’s an fun, fast-paced ride. 4/5

 

Summary-This was the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a long time.  The book moves fairly quick, the characters are fun, and the world feels real.  It’s modern Cthulhu mythos, and that always makes me happy.  Especially when you have some snarky characters in way over their heads.  It’s not perfect as I felt a few things were taken too far, but overall, I couldn’t put this one down and can’t recommend this enough.  If you want some modern office madness in your Cthulhu, you can ‘t go wrong with this one. 90 %.

 

Audiobook Extra- Gideon Emery does an excellent job with this book.   He sounds techy, geeky, and British enough to make an English CS nerd in way over his head come to life.   His voice really helped me picture the main character going through all these actions and emotions.  He was Bob Howard for me.  5 /5

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Tiny Epic Kingdoms

Product– Tiny Epic Kingdoms

Producer– Gamelyn Games

Price– ~Not out yet, but ~$20

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-30 minutes (2-5 players)

TL; DR– Truly a pocket-sized, quick 4X game! 94%

 

Basics– Tiny Epic Kingdom is a 4X game where players try to out expand, out exploit, out evolve, and out build there opponents.  Each player starts with some resources (corn, ore, and mana), a territory card in front of him/her, and two meeples on one location within that territory.  What makes this game interesting is the way these actions are handled and the game speed.  The current lead player chooses an action: move a meeple within a territory, move to another territory in front of another player, build your tower, research magic, make more meeples, or trade resources one for one.  When the player chooses his/her action, he/she must choose to take an action that hasn’t been taken for at least five turns.  When an action is selected, a wooden shield meeple is places on the action selection card, and the card is only cleared when five actions have been taken.  After the lead character chosen action is done, each other player in order chooses to take either the same action or gather resources.  When you gather resources, you gain corn, ore, and mana from each space you occupy.  Each action is also very simple.  Moving across a territory or to a new territory simply moves a meeple, but can result in wars.  When two meeples from different factions meet, the players must go to war.  War results are decided by how many resources each player is willing to spend.  Mana provides two war recourse, ore one, and corn none.  Each player then decides how they are willing to spend by secretly placing a 12 sided die down to indicate how much they will spend.  When this is done, the player with the most spent wins, but both players must spend all the resources.  However, each player can declare peace resulting in an alliance and sharing the space.  When you build your tower, you spend ore equal to the next level of the tower you’re building and move up a victory point track.  When you make more meeples, you spend food equal to how many meeples your currently have plus one, and gain another meeple on a space with only one of your meeple.  When you research magic, you spend magic equal to the next space on the magic track, and gain a special faction specific ability.  The trading action is a catch all action that allows you to trade one recourse for one of any other.  The game end is triggered when a player either: has seven meeples out, has fully built their tower, or fully researched their magic, and the game completely ends on the turn when the last of the five action marker shields is placed on the action selection board. Points are scored by ranks on the tower, magic research, meeples in play, and extra magic point powers.  Player with the most points is the winner.

 

Mechanics– This is an amazing game.  There is no randomness, no fiddly bits, and no wasted turns.  Each turn and action will somehow allow you to build you your faction.  I also can’t say enough about the action selection.  I love games where every player is always active somehow as opposed to some games where when you’re off turn, you might as well not even be in the same room  If you can out maneuver your opponents you will win and feel like a winner.  When you do something is almost as important as what you do and who does it. I’ve played quite a few 4X games, and this one feels the least fiddly.  Nothing here is tacked on for some odd aspect of balance.  Everything here feels smart and balanced.  Instead of dice, combat is an exercise in outsmarting your opponents and resource management.  The hidden dice wager mechanic here is amazingly fun and amazingly tense.  There are multiple paths for victory (ALWAYS a plus!).  And all of this is packed into a game that takes 30 minutes for FIVE players to play!  Hands down awesome. 5/5

 

Theme- This isn’t the most thematic game out there, but you have to keep in mind this game is designed to be played in less time than you get for lunch at work.  The races mostly feel different because of their magic powers.  The undead can get more food when people die.  You can eventually build constructs out of ore.  Those little things drive home what theme is in this game.  The player interactions do tell a story, but this isn’t a game where you can expect the Lord of the Rings to just happen.  You will feel like you’re in a fantasy world, but don’t expect RPG level of immersion. 4/5

 

Instructions– The instructions do a decent job of explaining the rules.  The rules are short, well written, and overall great.  However, there are a lot of powers and interactions that could use a set of FAQ’s or some further information and explanation.  It’s nothing game breaking, but an extra page or two on the seven pages of rules would really help me understand exactly what the designers meant in some cases.  However, if your group has some common sense, it won’t stop this game from being fun. 4.75/5

 

Execution– This game comes in the same size box as Dungeon Heroes which is a small box about one inch high, by six inches long, by four inches wide.   That’s a pretty small box.  But what you get in it is anything but small.  You get a ton of wood pieces, player boards, territory cards, and action boards.  All of this is done on good quality cardstock.  I also know Gamelyn Games prides itself on its wooden meeples, and this was no exception as all the wooden tokens and meeples are well done. With all the stuff you get in here, this box feels like a Tardis. 5/5

 

Summary-This is a fun, quick, well done game.  It’s small enough to fit on a bar table top and easy enough to play you can learn and win in under an hour.  My only problems are the game’s theme isn’t its strongest assets and the rules are a tad ambiguous in a few places.  These are not in any way major problems.  And, I promise if you want 4X that you can play in less than a weekend (looking at you Twilight Imperium!), you will have a blast with this game.  I have never played a game of this that didn’t end with all the geeks standing around the table assessing the other players, and that’s when you know stuff gotten real!  And, for the price, you can’t beat this game. 94 %