Boardgames, Tabletop

Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game – First Impression

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Had a great time soloing Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game. Up to mission two of the campaign now. I don’t think it’s as hard as people said it is, but I accidentally picked what to be considered the strongest character pair: the Waywatcher and the Warrior Priest. They work exactly as I imagined, with the Warrior Priest being a front line fighter utilizing his guaranteed damage on multi target attacks. The Waywatcher is a great support. While her attack isn’t too hot, she’s capable of dealing unblockable damage with her aid action (and boosting the Warrior Priest’s attack/other actions). She’s also great at controlling the battlefield. Sending enemies back to the shadows is absolutely priceless when you’re about to fly off a room.

I think the Sadlers are my favorite game designers right now. They knock it outta the park with Descent 2nd Ed, and now WQTACG is doing what other dungeon crawlers can’t. Even without a map WQTACG is doing great with forming the battle lines, differentiating the vanguards and the supports. WoW-like aggro mechanism is present, and it does feel like a swirling combat where you’re trying to manage your opponents with what you have. While it still suffers from minor “whittling the heroes” syndrome, there’s a pacing control here, as with each new room the tension is heightened once more. What’s better though, you have control on the pacing. Do you want to progress with enemies on your tail, or can you afford to delay while killing the monsters? The dice are fantastic, and I absolutely love when they explode.

The only mechanism I don’t like is the forced timer, but I do think that it’s a necessity to prevent heroes from turtling. And in this one the designers use it as a narrative device, which is a plus.

Finally, it being a card game means that you need to remember more rules than usual as card games are worse than board games on the subject of structuring a game.

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PC Gaming

Re-hooked on Minecraft

So, I’ve been playing Minecraft again recently. A picture worth a thousand words, so here’s a few thousands.

The main house
The main house
The whole farm
The whole farm
Closer view on the fields
Closer view on the fields
Viewing pastures from the attic
Path to expansion!
Path to expansion!

So I think the first base is pretty well established. I’m also not showing the mining shaft and underground giant mushroom farm.

Below are the pictures taken to the location of my new base, which is on a desert by the sea.

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Just showing you the winding way back to my original farm.

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PC Gaming

The Best Jedi Game is Not Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic

I love KotOR. I think it’s the definite Star Wars experience. But if someone asked for the best Jedi game, it’s not the game I would propose.

Instead, I will point them to Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. The game is the last in line of a very respectable series of Star Wars games. In this particular game, players create their own character instead of playing the series’ Kyle Katarn. While the character has a fixed name–Jaden Korr, players can customize race, appearance and even sex. This is great considering the character is fully voiced. Like the Bioware games, Jedi Academy performs excellently when immersing players in their games.

Jaden will start the game as Jedi Apprentice, and later climb in ranks as he/she goes through the missions and story line. Having the character starts as almost nobody and as an apprentice are what makes this game the best Jedi game.

But that’s not all.

You see, Knights of the Old Republic is a great game. So, what are other reasons that made me pick Jedi Academy instead?

Action Game At Its Best

Jedi Academy is a very, very good action game. That means, unlike KotOR, excitement is at all time high. There’s very few downtime. Players get straight to the action. And there’s a lot of action.

There are a substantial amount of missions, taking players to both familiar and strange place. But they’re all grand in their own ways. Missions are also greatly varied. Sometimes they take cues from the trilogy,others are more original.

Players will engage what seems very similar to train robbery, race, ride tauntaun, chased by rancor (twice!), invade sky-borne installation not unlike Cloud City, and, of course, the mandatory visit to Korriban. These are just small examples of the game’s mission. Jedi Knight features 15 selectable missions and 5 plot missions. And what’s a Jedi game without the chance to turn to the Dark Side?

Solid Saber Play

I adore the lightsaber gameplay in Jedi Academy so much that I think it has to have its own section.

The lightsaber controls will seem nonsensical at first, but once players get the hang of it, it’s a blast. It’s fluid & furious, with kickass movement, and there are people still playing the game just for the lightsaber duel.

You start the game already with a lightsaber–which you can customize by changing the beam color and hilt, and can potentially learn 2 new styles later in the game. Or if a lightsaber is not your style, you can choose to wield two lightsabers or a saberstaff!

Ages Gracefully

Jedi Academy still looks great despite its low-res textures and blocky models, the Quake III engine holding its own. The art direction is great, and the locale designs are exquisite.

The effects are amazing, especially those related to lightsabers. Rain droplets get vaporized on contact and bodies covered in searing wounds will make players believe they are truly wielding lightsaber. Contacting most surfaces will leave a temporary, but fun, lightsaber marks.

The game is fully voiced, featuring–my all-time favorite voice talent–Jennifer Hale as the female Jaden Korr.

Jedi Knight is available in Steam, but is not playable without a few tweaks. So consider yourself warned. I just recently rediscovered it again only to find it great as ever. It’s even an excellent game for young Jedi apprentices since, with the dismemberment turned off, the game is practically bloodless.

If you want a tight, direct-to-action Jedi game, none is better than Jedi Knight.

Boardgames

Why I’d Never Request for Splendor

Just last night I had the pleasure of visiting Folks after quite some time, and we played a game of Splendor, which is generally a very well-regarded game in the board-game-sphere.

Splendor in play - Publisher's image.
Splendor in play – Publisher’s image.

It’s a nifty little game. You have several types of resource in the form of gemstones. Throughout the game you’ll acquire gemstones that you’ll use to buy mines. The mines–practically–will provide discount to future mine purchases. Mines can provide points, and acquiring sets of mine can net you substantial bonus points. Players interaction is mainly the race to get mines–they are unique–and the bonus points.

It’s very easy to learn, a breeze to play, and also a joy to fondle due to its excellent components.

It’s also a game I’d never request to play.

Complexity in Simplicity

Splendor is what a call a complex simple game. That sentence is contradictory, correct, but that’s what I felt when I was playing Splendor. Examples of other games sharing this trait are Machi Koro and Five Tribes.

It may be too late to say this, but this is not a knock against Splendor as a game, but rather, an interesting observation on the Euro genre of board games.

One of the most different aspects between the AT & Euro genre is freedom. Despite presenting many choices, Euro games generally funnel players into several channels of play. More complex Euros introduce more rules, which, in effect, create more restrictions. On the opposite spectrum, big AT games tend to grant the players a great degree of freedom, and this often extends to off-table and off-rules negotiations.

Of course there are games which defy these conventions, and definitely a great many gamers will find themselves at disagreement with me. Splendor and other games aforementioned above are fine examples of these mold breakers.

Abundance of Open Information

This is mainly caused by the amount of available open information in the game. Splendor offers a great degree of freedom in what seemingly limited action choices. Machi Koro has quite a few buildings to choose from. And Five Tribes’ board are littered by dozens of meeples. While these games can be played casually, the dormant power gamer in me just can’t ignore all this information. The amount of possible permutations can be staggering, and the tactical nature of these games just exacerbate the issue.

The absence of designer-made paths in the game is very apparent. Even with the argument that in Splendor you can choose to play mines, bonus points, or anything in-between, the path ahead is still rife with choices that other players can ruin–both intentionally and accidentally. And unlike the points-salad sub-genre of Euro, there are best choices in these games.

Tea?

In the end, I probably would never request Splendor, although I will play it from time to time. For such a light game with somewhat weak theme integration, quite a bit of brainpower is required by the game, and I simply lack the will to devote mine. For the record, I don’t mind doing the same for heavier, highly thematic games–or for work, but that’s tangent discussion. If I were a tea drinker, I’d probably say that it’s not my cup of tea.

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Splendor – Publisher’s image

I would not be surprised if this is a plus–even a big one–for some gamers. If you like stripped down, analytic game, it might just be the cup of tea for you. Do you even drink tea?