Thus spoke Zarathustra

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And like the great blackness from 2001: A Space Oddessy, Phil Eklund’s two games raise back up out of the ground in a new kickstarter:

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Many questions have been asked of me about these two games.  Mainly: should I get them?

Um, maybe?

So rather than try to hash out exactly why or why not you may want these games, why don’t I sit down and play out a few hundred thousand years of human existence and see whether you like it or not.  At the very least it should be entertaining to see me flail around in the ice and snow trying to keep my tribes together.

So we should start chronologically with Neanderthal.  This is a 1-3 player game which starts you as a group of non-vocal hominids who slowly evolve until you can possibly become tribal and vocal.  Throughout all this, you’ll hunt, you’ll intermarry with other species and possibly domesticate animals and build simple tools.  Let’s get started!

Setup

Firstly of note, all pictures will be from the first edition because the new edition obviously isn’t out yet, and I wasn’t involved with the playtesting or anything cool like that.  Sorry.  Moving on:

In the solitaire game, there are only a few changes to the basic rules.  The first major change is the tribes aren’t trying to mess each other over at each possible chance.  Oh, playing this 3-player is a joy, because you’re constantly fighting over scarce resources and watching your opponent get slaughtered by a bear is oh-so-fun!

Anyway, I will be controlling all three species and the goal of the game is to have at least two survive ’till the end of the game with one or more domesticated animals.  There is a (wonderful) variant that lets you only play one species, but this way I can show you as much of the game as possible, and I can let it blend into Greenland, so this will be better.  It’ll also force me to play at my best, because I want my tribes to be strong in Greenland, so I need all three at tip-top shape at the end of the game.

I’m also allowed to swap a disc or an invention amongst the tribes, but this rarely happens because you have to be allowed to negotiate between species….it’s hard to be able to form words yet, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

Finally we’re forced to take trophies if we roll that result.  That scores us points (which is irrelevant for the solitaire game) and makes the hunting grounds more difficult to play in.

I handle auctions a bit differently to up the difficulty, but I’ll show that when we get to it.

So first, let’s look at our three species:

heads

All three look fairly similar except for: 1) Color & 2) The Disc in their head.

Color is used simply to show turn order and to recognize your pieces (which in the 1st ed game are just cubes, but in the kickstarter version will have shapes and cool stuff like that).  But what are these discs in your brain?

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In this interpretation of (pre)humanity, you’ve got three “Domains” in your head.  They have names (Technical, Social and Nature).  Each connection between these domains (which also have names: Venus, Shaman & Bison) can have colored discs placed on them.  That’s you learning words and getting smarter!

Smarter leads to Netflix.  Smarter is good.

Don’t worry about the names for the Domains and the connections, they are not really all that important.  The colors are.  Take a look at the picture again:  You see the Venus domain has a black and orange color under it.  Shaman has Orange and White and Bison has White and Black and already has a White disc there!  The two colors under these connections are what discs can be placed there.  Easy peasy.  Once one Domain has all three possible colors attached to the (The White Nature domain has Orange from Shaman, Black on Bison and White on either of the two), you are able to unlock a new ability.  You can see the ability unlocked in the picture there, it’s called “Trapper.”  Cool!

Moving discs around is a LARGE part of this game.  You want to get discs in your head because you get smarter and unlock abilities.  Also, once you get six discs (or 5 in a 2-player game) in your head, you can flip your species card to the Tribal side.  That’s when you can start building tools and domesticating animals, you smarty, you.


But I’m getting ahead of myself:  So the difference between the tribes are color and the first disc you have in your head.  Archaic Man starts with a White disc in Bison.  Neanderthal starts with a Black disc in Venus, and Cro-Magnon starts with an Orange disc in Shaman.  It may not sound all that asometric, but this will affect play at the very beginning of the game.

There is also one other thing that makes players different at the beginning of the game:

SEX!

Yeah, you heard me.

sex

Each player is given a random Sexuality card.  Each card has two sides, and you can select from one of the three possible sexualities based on what you’re dealt.  Each has its own special ability (listed in small print under the title), point values for end of game scoring (the chart on the left side of the card) and “Male Parental Involvement,” which is a number of discs that will be placed on the card and stuck there, removing them from play, making things a bit more difficult for you.

For those looking to play multi-player, the real fun is that each time you hit “Chaos,” you can flip your sexuality card over, changing the number of discs you have available, your special power, AND HOW YOU SCORE YOUR POINTS.  It’s a great way to change strategies at the end of the game to sneak in a win.  I’ve gotten a totally unearned win by changing to Promiscuous near the end and just breeding uncontrollably.  That 2 points per hunter can really add up, and is a great way to catch up if you aren’t getting Inventions or Trophies.


Finally we set up our Hunting row:

Hunting

This includes prey to hunt, predators to run from, inventions to discover, animals to domesticate, herbs to gather and all sorts of other things to interact with.  This will all be explained as we interact with it throughout the game.  Let’s start the game by interacting with the last bit: The Daughter/Event deck.

Events

Here I show our first Event card flipped both ways.  First we look at it as the Event side.  We see four events along the right side of the card: A Glaciar, A Shooting Star, A skull with a die on its forhead and two wings with eyes on them.

How can you not know what to do?

Okay, the first icon means: Add another Event to the bottom of the deck.  The Event deck starts at 10 cards.  You’re never quite sure how many turns the game will go for.  This is how the game length will be randomized.  So I stick another card there.

The next symbol is the SYMBOL OF CHAOS! MWUAHAHAHAHAHAH!

This is a mechanic to keep you from making your species too big.  If you have too many members, infighting will cause them to kill each other.  Then you have to discard half (round up) of your hunters and one of your elders.  That’s a lot of death.  How do you know if you have too many hunters?  You compare them to how many spare discs you have (spare discs are also called “Vocabulary”).  Each player starts with 15 discs, minus what you had to put on your sexuality card, minus the 2 discs you put on your species card to start with.

That means Cro-Magnon right now can have 13 hunters without dropping into Chaos (15 – 0 – 2 = 13).  Neanderthal can have 10 (15 – 3 – 2) and Archaic Man a measly 7 (15 – 6 – 2).  Every player starts with 6 hunters, so no chaos on that first turn.

The next symbol is called “Elder die-off.”  Yup.  Being old sucks.  And elders are hard to keep a hold of.  Each tribe will roll a 1d6, and if it corresponds to the number of a certain elder, that elder will die.  All players start with an immature Firestarter, which is in position 6, so it’s possible that before the game starts, we’ll already have someone dying.

After three rolls, Archaic Man lost their firestarter.  While that stinks for him, it does free up the black disc that was sitting under the elder (designating it Immature, more on that later).  Since Archaic Man has the least amount of discs available, that may not have entirely been a bad thing.

The last icon(s) are Wanderlust icons.  If you lost the most people in the chaos event, then you’d be able to take cubes from your dead pile and put them in other people’s tribes.  You can’t control them, but they count as points for you if they survive ’till end game.  Since no one lost any cubes to chaos, no wandering will be done.

Finally the last symbols to look at are the little bits in the row in the center.  You see an Orange and Black disc – this tells you what you can bid in the upcoming Daughter Auction (it’s not as offensive as it sounds), and then the Green with the exclamation point shows that Green will go first, followed by Yellow (the other color shown there), followed by Red.

(This is unlike Bios: Genesis which stuck with seating order after first player, but I believe all games are switching to this kind of player order from now on because no one remembered to stick with player order in Bios: Genesis.)


Now we can auction off a human being!

Let me try to continue without feeling awful about myself.  So we’re looking at the Generous Woman here.  There’s icons there for when folks are trying to marry her, but for auction purposes, the bits on the right of the card are important.  She says:

Phase 1 – May bid while Tribal as if Vocal.

Phase 6 – Place Venus Portal

These are the two powers that will be available to the species that either has her or marries her (or both, if you’re a Pair Bonding species).  Her first power is not very useful right now:  “Going Tribal” is later in the game once you have 6 discs in your head.  Once you do that you can no longer bid on any more daughters, effectively stalling your evolution.  She, however, gives you this ability.  The other effect is what ALLOWS you to place things into your head.  Otherwise you can’t.

So, looking at this, I know that Archaic Man already has one disc in his Venus Portal (why does that sound so dirty?), so I won’t have him bid, so it’s between the other two.  I’ll go with Cro-Magnon because a) He has the most available discs and b) he has to marry his daughters before he can use their abilities, so I want him to have all his daughters early in the game.

Now usually in solo games, you can just bid 1 for all the daughters and move on, but to change things up, I put 1 of each possible disc on the daughter, so it can cost from 1 to 3.  It makes the game a little more difficult.  In this case, a Black disc and an Orange disc are taken from my unused “Vocabulary” pile for Cro-Magnon and placed onto the Generous Woman and she is placed into Cro-Magnon’s tableau.

Now we move on to Phase 2: Hunter assignment.

 

Which I’ll have to tackle tomorrow…..

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Natural light! AH! Get it off! Get it off of me!

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Hello and happy New Year!

Typical year end business has kept me from doing any real thinking about games or planning and writing play sessions for the blog, so that’s why there’s so much dust around here, but I’ve got something different coming up that I wanted to mention, so here we go.

Dragon Thrones!

My eleventh anniversary is this upcoming Saturday (yes, the anniversary of STEEL! *insert big manly rawr here*).  As a gift, we were given tickets to this event happening IN A CASTLE in Philadelphia.

Yup.  Fantasy gaming in a castle.  That’s how lifelong nerds roll on their anniversary.  What can I say, I’m a lucky, lucky man.

So what does talking about a big ol’ Larp have to do on what is primarily a solo-boardgaming blog?  I’ll tell you what, and stop projecting questions into my head.  It’s weird.

One of the things that will be happening at the Larp is what they call their “MegaGame,” a grand Boardgame that will be simulating what is happening outside of the castle, while the side quests, diplomacy and other shenanigans happens in the Larp-space.   But the grand scale will be held on the tabletop, moving armies, collecting resources, spending those resources to field spies, collect information and subvert enemies.  You know, the fun stuff.  Depending on what you do in that boardgame will give bonuses and other advantages to the players as they go out on their adventures throughout the castle and how they interact with other players.

“Sure, you can withhold all of your information from me, but I know 80,000 men sit at your castle gates, perhaps you should be a little more forthcoming.”

“While we waste time on words, our crops are dying and the people are revolting!”

“We just don’t have the money to repair the Armor of Smiting +3!”

Okay, I don’t know EXACTLY how any of this works, so I doubt these quotes will actually occur, but you get my drift.

It did get me thinking about other MegaGames that could be done, however.  What about combining a game like Churchill (a grand strategy game about the meetings between the Big 3 during WWII), and have the results of each turn impact games of D-Day of Omaha Beach or some of the other million WWII games out there?

How about playing a game of Terraforming Mars in the middle of a game of High Frontier to see if your space colonies are successful?  Or The First Martians, or Martians: a Story of Civilization or some of the other Mars games coming out?

And now that I think about it, play Leaving Earth, your score on that will affect your starting stats in High Frontier.  Take the space program from 1950 to 2250.

I’m sure there’s many more ways to do this, and it would be grand to rope other people into this.  Have a group play one mega-strategy game, while others play the “lesser battles.”  Hell, play chess and have two other players play a skirmish wargame during every capture to spruce things up.

Any other ideas of MegaGames?  I kinda want to try this, but I’m not sure where to start.

A Rear End

Woops, I meant a Year’s End.

Nothing too exciting to post here.  The typical craziness that happens around this time of year in America is turning up to 11, and I’m caught in the middle of it.  So I guess I’ll be putting the blog on hold again like I did at the end of last year.  It probably won’t be as long of a break as I did last time since I’m enjoying doing this more and more, so no worries if you’re an avid fan.

Hey, there could be an avid fan out there.

You know, like a fan of Avid, the editing software.

How’s that for niche humor?

Anyway, I plan on trying some things in the “MegaGame” category, which is a post in itself, but to sum up: Playing games that link to each other, so what you do in one game affects what you do in another.

I should be receiving Fog of Love in a few weeks, which looks to be a hoot of a game to play with the Mrs, so I’ll probably write something on that as well.

And I also have other ideas floating around, as well as the typical conventions in February and July to look forward to, and even more “classic” games to pull out and thrust upon you all.

But for now, I bid you all a Happy New Year, and hope you get to relax a bit.  I know it’s a crazy time right now, but remember as these nights get longer, that just means you have more time to snuggle on the couch with those you love, or at least with a beer and a solo game.

’till we meet again.

Adam

Freeing the Shadow

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Thi Nu Av!

27

Were you right? I hope so.  What this shield does is block anything of the Quantum, Mind or Soul sphere (which is anything the Shadow does!) 3 times.  Luckily, I also have enough Voice that now if I have this shield up I a) Gain 1 Harmony per turn and b) gain 1 Harmony each time the Shield blocks an event.

Booya.

Good thing I was able to wrap the shield around me as yet another claw came towards me, ready to separate me from the Universe.  Instead Karma told the Shadow to sit down and said that I, in fact, deserve to be here.  I knew that the shield wouldn’t hold up for long, so I had to strike, and strike hard.

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I began to fill my “wool” with energy.  LOTS of energy.  The way the fabric was woven, it would be able to store it for a while, and then detonate damaging a target.  I hope between a glowing fabric of death and a beam of light ready to zap It’s face off, I can distract the Thing enough to-

Yup, another singe off of the side.  It’s a war of attrition, one I hope to win.

Sadly Karma didn’t seem to like my attack, or felt everything was evened out.  Eastern Philosophies are picky things, because my Karmic Debt was dispelled soon after.  That’s okay, I wanted to try something dangerous anyway.

29

Gestation hadn’t worked, and I havn’t had the Resonance to get it back into my codex, but I still had this one available.  It gives me a Resonance and effectively does the same thing as Etheric Eternae without needing Focus.  It Evaded the initial damage, but having to dodge twice each maintenance phase will work out great.  The 2 action thing stinks, though.

I watch as the Shadow turns its interest inside itself, wondering what was going on.  I couldn’t see anything, but in my head I think I just created quantum foam inside True Nothingness.  I wonder if I destroy him, will I create a Big Bang in another universe?

It just gained Resonance at the end of the turn, and at the top of the next turn we roll a 10, giving us 5 Resonance (him 6) and I lose another Harmony.  Great.  He also evades both possible hits. *sigh*  I need to heal some Harmony here, but at least my Explosive Compound will be going off soon.

With all the energy in the air, the Shadow weaves a huge spell, shattering it against my shield.  Good thing, too, that one looked like it would have knocked me silly.  I need to get on the defensive.  Lin’li-n!

Ah, much better.  When the light clears from my eyes, however, I see that the Thing has somehow destroyed the beam of light that has been my rapier throughout this entire fight.   But I have to shield my eyes yet again as the Philosopher’s Wool explodes in a shower of energy.

Which the Shadow Evades.  However, he did take damage from the Blood Plague, so I’ve been whittling It down piece by piece.

And I’ve made It mad.  It’s Spectral Claws, so easy to tear into my own Reality, now tear at my shield.  Finally a weakness is found, and It pulls my shield apart like a nervous actor pulling apart the curtains.  I cast a quick spell to make sure I can survive whatever it will deliver: Shuk Av Khur, filling my cells with the ability to heal themselves with a bit of energy.

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But rather than tear into me, it silently brings itself to its full height.    Hoo boy, it’s big.  I can see, though, the “Foam” inside, bubbling and boiling, and before its next move, I take advantage of that and use my “connection” to my previous spell, and begin moving it back and forth, throwing the Shadow this way and then, bending it into shapes it probably wouldn’t want to be in (Even a creature of shadow would hate to be a Klein bottle, don’t you think?).  I put everything I had into these motions, and it was exhausting, but it was totally worth it.  I could feel the Shadow weakening as I bent it through four or five dimensions.

31

I sent 2 Will to enhance this spell.  See the grey bar on the bottom of the card?  Those are advancements you can add onto a spell if you invest extra power (Voice, Resonance, etc.).  Each Will can move you from left to right 2 slots, so the first Will made it an Area attack (no big deal with only one enemy), but the other increased the damage by 1.  Now it will do 2 damage per attack.  It didn’t Evade the first shot!  I have it down to 3 Essence!  You’ll notice, however, that it cost me 3 Harmony to cast.  Very dangerous, but I’m only at -3, I think I’ll survive.

The new turn begins and while It evades Malignant Transformation, It does not evade Blood Plague.  Another Damage.  2 to go!

Suddenly, I feel a slap to my forehead, the Shadow separates the connection from me to my spell.  I can’t move the Creature around anymore.  I can see the foam still roiling around inside It, but I can’t reach out to it anymore.  More frighteningly I feel separated from the Universe, but only briefly.  Ouch.  I shouldn’t allow myself to get that deep into the Shadow.

His action #1 Disrupted the Malignant Transformation and caused 2 Harmony damage while It was at it.  Okay, now I’m at -5.

But even when it slapped my head, I could feel its weakness.  It’s resolve was barely there.  I don’t think it really wanted to defend this location anymore.  No more subtlety.

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Ol Fas Rak!

Good Ol’ Fasrak.  College buddy of mine.  We got in a lot of scrapes together…Anyway.

The shoulders of the Thing were beginning to slump.  It simply didn’t want to fight anymore.  Neither did I, but I didn’t want It to know that.  I simply kept walking towards it, getting ready to Dissolve it some more.

Dissolve Tissue is a Bonded spell.  That means it doesn’t count towards your “1 per turn” to get a spell back into your Codex AND it only costs 1 Resonance.

Maybe it was just leading me on, or this was a death rattle, but quick as light (or in this case, as quick as dark), a tendril shoots from the Shadow, piercing my heart.

Uh oh.

I can feel myself separating from Reality.  And worse, I can feel myself not minding.

3 more Harmony damage from our Encounter!  That puts me at 8 Discord (or -8 Harmony, depending on how you want to look at it).  As soon as you pass 7 Discord, you have to make what is called a “Discord Event.”  Then, each maintenance phase afterwards you have to continue making Discord Events until you get your Discord back under 7.  It can escalate quickly.  An Event is the simple roll of 2d10.  If you roll less than your current Discord: WHAP!  The Universe hits you for an unblockable, immediate 3 Essence damage.  This is how the Shadow kills you.  I avoided it as long as I could, but I’m only at 8 so far, let’s roll those bones:

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Just fine.

Am I really going to leave this reality because of a Shadow in a Dog Food factory?  Am I going to leave my friends, the 1 player guild, my wife, my daughter, because this…thing doesn’t want me here.

Hell no.

I’m not leaving them for anything.  I don’t care if the universe doesn’t want me here.  I’m staying.

Ol

The spear of darkness that was in my heart falls limply to the ground.

Fas

The Shadow begins to fall back from me, one last soundless scream emanating from its lack of body.

Rak!

And just like that, I’m no longer looking at a shadow-creature.  I’m looking at the shadows of a dog food factory.

In the coming days I’m going to have to spend some time here to find out why this spot was so interesting to the Shadow, but for now I think I’m going to head home for now.  I’ve got a little girl who could use a few snuggles.

When you start getting Discord events from Shadows, that’s when the downhill slide begins and you can very quickly lose the game.  I’m glad I could finish it off when I could.  I’m sure I didn’t play as well as I could, but I showed you a lot of different spells and strategies available, but there’s a whole lot more (I never even touched the Quantum or Mind spheres!).

So if you’ve ever wanted to play in the Dresden Files world, or thing Mage: The Ascension is pretty neat, or Magic: The Gathering is getting stale, look for a used copy of this game.  It’s quite interesting.  There’s a bit of fan-made material out there as well, so even if you can’t find an opponent, you’ve got quite a few different Encounters you can play against, and they are all VERY different (Beware Krumpus!).

Hope you enjoyed this Playthrough.

Now go hug a member of your family if you can.

The tango

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Now the waiting game began.  Karma had to build, in a literal sense, before I could do anything.  So I prepared for defense as best I could, keeping my eyes on the kaleidoscope of nothingness without falling into it.

During each maintenance phase, you’re allowed to put one spell back into your codex.  It costs you Resonance, however, equal to the “level” of the spell +1.  The spells range from level 1 (the weakest) to level 4 (World changing).  As a Void Speaker, it costs me one less Resonance to grab a Soul spell back, so it only cost me 1 Resonance to put Channel Self back into my Codex, where it then immediately was readied into my front page.  I figured it would keep me pumping and with plenty of Resonance and Will so I could start my come once the Karma started flowing.

This focus didn’t allow me to draw much energy in-

Rolled a 1 for Resonance, so I only got 1 this turn, the Shadow getting 2.

Rather than casting a spell and giving me the Karma I needed, the Thing merely lashed at me again, using its Dark Claws to try and rend me from this existence.  Dangit, why won’t you just go into my trap already?

It hurt.  I knew, however, I could heal most of the damage with a few simple words.  Lin’li-n!

The energy flowed through me again, blinding me to all around me.  I hoped the Shadow would view this as an opening for it to cast a devastating spell.

Instead, it jammed another Claw into my self, my self, and pulled, removing further from reality.  Think of it like a migraine for the soul.  That’s what it feels like.  No matter how many times I could cast Channel Higher Self, these claws would undo me.  I have to think of another plan.

Only being able to cast Channel High Self as my only action in a turn was hurting me, but I was rolling in Will tokens at this point, which helped, but I was gaining quite a bit of Discord.  Time to think tactically and stop relying on Karma to save me.

I breathed in more energy and walked towards the Shadow, it struck me again with its Claw (OW!), but this time I ignored the pain, I pushed it away and told the Universe with my own sheer determination that I WAS HERE and I WOULD REMAIN.

Here after yet another 3 Harmony damage, putting me at -6!,  I spend a Willpower point to gain 2 Harmony.  Screw this guy.

I place my hand in the familiar Soul position (index and thumb towards the palm) and sweep it in a half circle towards the Thing.  I don’t bother with trying to use my Voice for this spell.  It is a bit out of my expertise and I just put my faith that my own Codex understands my intention and the words inside were written clearly enough to affect the space.

I knew it did when a pillar of light descended onto the Shadow.  The Shadow quickly shifted to avoid the light, the opposite of a cat and a laser.  I kept my eyes on the Shadow, but tried to keep my concentration on the light, moving it occasionally to try and burn the Shadow when it wasn’t paying attention.  It may have dodged now, but it couldn’t dodge forever.

19

It costs a lot of juice, but you see it has “Duration F” on it.  That means it will remain on the table as long as I “Focus” on it.  Each magi has one “Focus Stone” that they can place on any spell to be focused on it.  You can have your focused removed by Disruption, and there are also powerful mental magics that can give you even more Focus stones (I have a mental deck that works on giving you something like 5 Focus stones).  So it’ll cost 1 Resonance to keep working each turn, but it will also do 1 Dmg each turn.  It tried to do 1 Dmg as I cast it, but the Shadow evaded it, but it won’t be able to Evade forever…will it?  And besides, I gain a Harmony from the spell, too.  Win, win!  Shame I didn’t spend the time to try and figure out how to say “Eternal Harmony” in the Serpents Tongue.  But as you see, the more powerful spells have harder words to say, and a less clear translation on them.  I could memorize it for future games, but I’m not that much of a geek.

But in case you’re curious:

21

The bringing of the light into the factory apparently was a great insult to the Shadow.  It withdraws from me, seething (as I give it more emotions than it probably has).  I see it draw more Darkness into itself.  I fear what it has plans to do to me next, so I meditate on my own actions, focusing on the right moments to move my Etheric Light to burn it.

So It simply gained 2 Resonance and Reshuffled, so I do an action that you can do no matter what: Meditate.  It simply gives you 2 Resonance and 1 Harmony.  Good way for me to slowly heal from all the claws I’ve received, and allows me to easily pay for keeping the Etheric Eternae around next turn.

We start the turn with gaining 3 Resonance, and It evades the damage from Etheric Eternae.  However, I still gain +1 Harmony from it anyway, so it’s still good to have around.

Having the Light in the room is doing me good, though I never seem to be able to actually get it to hit the Creature.  Its lithe movements never seem to make enough sense for me to know where it will be at any one time.  The tango is disrupted briefly as it tries to overcome the light, attacking IT rather than me.  It fails, much to my happiness, and I am able to try my Plan B.

Yes, it still hasn’t actually cast a spell since I cast Karmic Debt.  So I left my Soul cards in the Codex and are using the few Bio cards I hold.  Usually spiritual Encounters will have some kind of resistance to Soul and Mind magic, but this one strangely doesn’t, so I’ll use everything in my arsenal to get it.

If you have to absorb everything into your Void, perhaps you can choke on something that likes to be absorbed.  I just finished a Scott Siegler novel, so this is doubly fulfilling.  Khaifi  Shakhera!

22

Oh, and the Bio hand shape is kind of like a claw, or like you’re holding on to an invisible baseball.  And since this is an attack, it’s the same half circle action as Etheric Eternae.  Getting all the casting rules?  Neat, huh?

The Shadow Draw’s Darkness again (it only had 1 Resonance and drew Red again) so more Resonance for it, but not much going on, so I might as well keep up the aggression.  I burn a Will token to get 3 more Resonance so I can shout:

Khur Fas Rak!

23

That’s one sick Shadow.  Now in the next 3 turns, I can pick a time to spend a Resonance and do 1 Damage.  I can wait for when the odds of It evading are the best.  And the spell almost sounds like Kirkpatrick.  Is this game biased against the Irish?

Clearly having things inside itself is not what the Shadow wants.  Well, things enjoying being inside the Shadow.  Usually those things simply fade into the nothingness and become one with it.  Nope.  Now there are things thriving and multiplying.  Suck it, entropy.  While it seems distracted, I quickly move my beam of light to the edge of the shadow, singeing it.  It screams, or rather, silence fills the room, causing my ears to grasp for a sound, any sound.  I can’t even hear the normal ringing in my ears I’ve had ever since that Aquabats concert I went to in 1998.

The response was quick and brutal.  It was an explosion of darkness that dropped me on my butt.  I didn’t feel it go through me, and I was able to keep my focus, but when I regained my composure, I saw that the Void was empty again, everything I had gleefully filled it with mere moments ago missing in its endless depths.  Dangit.

During the maintenance phase, he pulled a yellow disc, so I was finally able to score my first hit on the Creature!  However, his first move was then a free action to Dispel all curses.  For a relatively simple AI, it does certainly play like it knows what I’m doing to it.  As its actual action it draws in Darkness, gaining more Resonance (we only gained 1 from the Resonance roll this turn).

Plan C?  I only know two spells from the realm of matter and creation, but now might be the time to use them.  With a wave of my hand the laws of physics are broken yet again as something is created from nothing, a fabric weaved from existence itself.  To make my scientific brain comfortable, I just say I’ve made the quantum foam merely create and affect the odds of that creation resulting in fabric very, very likely.  It could happen if you waited long enough.  Like two million times the life of the universe.  But that’s a non-zero chance.

As I day dream about how Dr. Hawking would view this mess between the Shadow and me, the Thing merely jams its claw into my person again.  I suppose it’s okay it’s not casting spells as Karma lost interest when the Creature did whatever it did to remove its infections.

Clearly I need to keep my mind sharp to beat this.

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No way I can pronounce that yet.

So I meditate as my second action, both for the Resonance and to stop all this Harmony loss.

Bzzt!  Another hit with my light.  Ow!  Another hit with It’s Claw.  I am totally going to lose this battle.  Karma?  Buddy? Are you watching this?  No?  Okay, well watch, darn it! Ow!

Going in circles a bit.  Another hit from the Etheric Laser of Doom(tm), but a Claw and a Lash hits me for another 4 Harmony.  I have to finish the turn with another Meditate after I cast Karmic Debt again.  On the plus side, I now have enough Voice to get the first tier of my Specialty.  Now I can cast any Dispel as a free action. MWAHAHAHA!

At this point energy is flowing freely around the room.  I’m having a hard time concentrating.  I can almost feel the Universe judging me, deciding on whether it wants to keep me around or not.  It was a bit like Gym class in High School.  The Shadow, on the other hand, knew it didn’t want me there, and it drew in a LARGE amount of energy-

I rolled a 10 for the turns Resonance roll.  5 Resonance, -1 Harmony.  Great.

This doesn’t look good, but that’s why I learned how to say Thi Lan Nu!

And now I say that as a free action!  And it was casting Purge the Light on me, so a Karmic charge was created.  Thank you, Universe.

I felt the Universe judge the Shadow’s actions as well, and used that contempt to build a shield around myself, protecting myself from further attacks.  For a while, anyway.

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At this point, you might be able to cast this spell yourself.  You know all except for the last word.  And since it’s a level one spell, you don’t need to know how you move your hand for Defense spells, you only need to have your hand in the shape for Soul spells.  Remember what it is?

Seriously, think about it.  I’m curious.  Also look at the key on the lower right.  It tells you what the magic words are.  The first two words have been used quite a bit so far.  I don’t believe the third has been used yet.

You’ll get the answer in the next post.

Ain’t I a stinker?

Click here to remove the stink.

 

 

None. None black.

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The inside of the factory let in little light from the barred windows.  What light was available came in straight beams, lighting the dust floating through the air like small sprites flying this way and that on some important errand.

But it wasn’t the light that drew my eye.  It was the darkness.

By definition, darkness doesn’t actually exist.  Darkness is merely lack of light.  The darker something is actually represents how little light is reflecting off of it.  But this darkness.  This was darkness as a noun.  Darkness as a being.  These shadows formed whether there was light to reflect off of it or not.  The light fell into its depths, never to return.

The shadows themselves fell off the pillars and discarded machinery, seemingly ordinary.  Were I a squatter or a drug addict looking for a place to hide for the day, I would not have noticed anything amiss.  It hid well.  But when it “saw” (felt? smelled?) me, it did not hesitate to coalesce into a vaguely human form before me.

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So here is my opponent for the day.  The “Lesser Sentient Shadow.”  Don’t let the “Lesser” in the title fool you.  It took quite a few battles before I figured out how to beat him.  As a goal, this creature drains you of Harmony and fills you with Discord, effectively causing the universe itself to reject you from itself.

Let’s take a look at the card.

 

Wow, those are blurry.  I’m going to blame the animated shadow.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  First, in the upper left, is the big ‘2’ which shows how many actions per turn the Shadow gets.  2 is fine, it’s how many I get.  If you see the little itty bitty +1 under the 2, that’s the modifier for multiple players.  So if I had a buddy with me, he’d have 3 actions/turn.  If there were three of us, 4/turn etc.  The big red number there is a 10, the Encounter’s Essence (Hit points).  That’s two points less than what I start with, so that’s nice.  It’s +2 per extra Magi, so it could escalate quickly.  The lower left shows: A yellow symbol that shows “Soul,” which means all the Encounters effects are Soul effects.  Which could effect cards I play.  It also shows the Essence bonus the Encounter receives.  Every turn we’ll be getting Essence (the points we use to cast spells), and he’ll be getting 1 more than I do every turn.  The jerk.  (+1 for each extra magi).  Finally that REALLY blurry word is “Lowest” followed by the Harmony symbol.  So he hammers away on whoever has the weakest grasp on reality and waits until that reality rejects them before he moves onto the next target.  Not a big deal when it’s just me playing, but I can summon allies and who knows?  I could make a friend.

I could!

Shut up, mom!  I’m hip!  I’m groovy!

Anyway.

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So, blurry picture #1 shows how the Encounter will act.  There is a Draw Bag mechanic.  We’ll put 4 red chips and 2 yellow chips into the bag.  The other bit in that shot says “Bag reset: 3 red and 1 yellow chip drawn” so now we know when to put everything back in the bag.  Good, so there will be points where I’ll have a good idea of what the Encounter will do next, but never perfect information.

The next is the range of things it’ll do depending on which color comes out, and how much Essence it has.  So if a yellow comes out, it has 3 Essence and a Soul or Mind Curse on it, it will “Roll on Ability chart A” which will make it attempt to stop the curses.  If not, we’ll check to see if it has 2 Essence and if I’m Focused, if so it’ll roll on Chart B and try to Disrupt me (and make me lose focus on my spells).  If none of those are possible, then it’ll just do Dark Lash, which attacks the whole area, is Subtle (goes through shields) and causes 1 Harmony damage.  Nothing fatal, but still stinks.  The red side is similar, though more offensive and no charts to roll on.  Just pain (and kind of readable.

The last bit shows its defensive Response Ability.  Any time I play an attack that does Dmg, it will spend 1 Essence and pull a chit from the bag.  If it’s Red, it will Evade the attack.  So I’ll have to time my attacks when there are fewer red chits in the bag, or just throw a LOT of things at it so it has very little Essence, otherwise I won’t be able to touch it.

Like I said, it’s not exactly easy.

So now I get my Codex ready.

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Yup, it’s a book.

The book is wonderfully illustrated, but each page has a little plastic sleeve on the bottom where you can slide your cards.  It’s a little bit of a pain to flip through sometimes, but once you get a system down, it’s a breeze.  Unlike most CCGs, you don’t “Draw” your hand at the beginning of each turn.  Instead, you prepare 3 spells by putting them in the first page of your book.

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And then you get to choose from those 3 during the 2 actions you get in the turn.  You can still cast Response spells, so I usually have those available on page 2 or 3 for quick grabbing.

I felt it in my brain, or more likely, I felt it NOT in my brain.  An empty hole trying to communicate by emptying my thoughts of all but the words it wanted me to know.  In this case: “Leave.”  I began tasting the air around me, trying to pull in some Resonance to start the throwdown.  It would seem that even magic tended to avoid this place as I found very little.  It merely said: “No.”

You start every turn with a Resonance roll.  It’s a simple scale on a d10: 1-3 you get 1 Resonance, 4-6 you get 2, 7-9 3 and 10 you will get 5, but suffer a loss of 1 Harmony from the shock of collecting so much at once.  In this case, I only collect 1, but the Shadow collects 2.  You know, because he’s a jerk.

Before I know it, the shadows move, pulsating around the factory.  I stand motionless, focusing on what I need to do to protect myself.  Then the coldness sits in.  Coldness like a graveyard at night in a lonesome October.  Coldness like a pawnbrokers diamond ring.  Coldness like a crumpled dollar bill at the bottom of a drug dealer’s car.  It was in me.  Oh God, what had I gotten myself into?

Initiative is based on Harmony.  We both begin the game with zero (in fact, the Shadow does not have a Harmony stat, it will stay at zero for the remainder of the game).  The next deciding factor is Resonance, which the Shadow has more of me (*coughjerkcough*) so it goes first.  I pull a red disc and it uses its two Resonance to fuel “Spectral Claw” to do 3 Harmony damage to me.  I now have 3 Discord (negative Harmony).  Bad things(tm) start to happen when I hit 7 Discord.  I can’t let that happen.  Sadly its Claws are not spells, so I can’t even cast a Response in my defense.  Time to get myself prepared.

But I didn’t spend years as a good soul just to have that soul torn from my body.

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Bending my index finger and thumb towards my palm, I held my hand towards the Shadow and slowly drew my hand in a square.  Lin’li-n!  I shout, feeling the energies of creation filling the void the Shadow had left.  The energy is intense, blinding me for a few seconds, but I need all of this to handle the danger before me.

Hand signals?  Oh yes, those are part of the game.  See that little circular doodad in the lower right?  That’s a pronunciation guide.  It corresponds to a page in your codex.  If you start at the circle, bounce to each dot and finish at the line, it will spell L, i, n, ‘, l, i, n.

And if you check the language page, you see that you add “Lin” to words to make it show “More of,” so it’s understandable that “Higher” would be made up of the word “More.”  Amazing.  Anyway, if you play with another human, you can hold the card up and show the back of the card to the other player and say the word and use the hand signal.  If you’re correct, you can “Voice,” a currency you can use to unlock your specializations as well as gaining a few other minor bonuses when you get a lot of it.

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Originally, you were REQUIRED to speak all spells cast, but I can understand why they removed that requirement.  I still try to figure out what the word/hand signal are for all spells, even when playing solo.  It’s just neat, and yet another thing that makes this game unique.

So anyway, what did my spell get me?

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First, it let me GAIN 6 Resonance (Blue numbers are good).  Then I GAIN 2 Harmony (offsetting the 2 of the 3 I just lost from the Claw).  And then the little symbol above them as well as the words beside Chi (which is just a keyword that interacts with other cards) show that it gets me 1 Will.  Will is a resource you start the game with 3 of.  You can cash them in for 3 Resonance, 2 Harmony or 1 Essence.  You can also cash them in to make your spells more powerful.  This is a nice and powerful boost.  However, next to the ‘!’ you see it cost me both of my actions for this turn.  No matter, I’m building up.

While the raw energy flowed through my being, I felt the Shadow moving all around me.  It again flowed through me, trying to erase part of what made me, me, only this time it felt more distant, as if I had a phantom limb, and it was itchy.

I opened my eyes and breathed deep.  I saw the Shadow in front of me, and felt energy rush into my lungs.  There was more there now, drawn in by calling for it.

I rolled 3 Resonance for this turn, so I’ve got a pocket full of energy, but I still have negative Harmony, so it goes first.

The Shadow pulls back, using the energy itself, distorting it in a strange backwards way to my own.  The darkness begins to spread and pool towards me, like staring into the darkest part of space and realizing your suit is no longer attached to anything.

Again my finger and thumb touched my palm and I held it towards the darkness.  Inside my head I hear myself giggling, “I’m attacking the darkness,” but outside I shout “Thi Lan Nu!”

And just like that, the Darkness went away.  If the Shadow had emotions, it would probably be surprised, or angry, or…well, instead it just kept drawing energy, knowing I won’t be able to block everything it threw at me.

Universum Negation is a Response spell that Dispels anything coming at you.  You’ll probably see it a lot.  Unfortunately it costs an action, so you collect what’s called an Interrupt Stone when you act out of turn like that.  You can’t do much while holding an Interrupt Stone until you spend an Action to get rid of it, which is what I do.  The Shadow then simply “Draws Darkness” which refills its Resonance by 2 since it blew 4 to cast Purge the Light at the top of the turn (which would have hit me for 5 Harmony damage, by the way).

The Shadow may have been trying to convince the Universe that I don’t belong there, but I can try to convince the universe that the scales needed to be evened out, and one way to do that would be to remove this Shadow from the world.

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This is a Permanent Curse (it will last until it is actively dispelled by a player).  All it does is collect tokens each time an Offensive spell is cast.  Not a big deal, but a lot of my spells rely on discarding these tokens, or at least the target possessing a few tokens.  Of course, not all of the Shadows actions are Spells, but I’m hoping that it does enough of them for the Debt to be effective.


Continued here

Eggs and bacey

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I was at work when I Awoke.  One minute, I was a mild-mannered accountant, probably browsing BoardgameGeek rather than actually doing work, and the next, I was Someone else.  I Remembered.  I was Immortal!  But what the heck was I doing here?  What was I doing before?  Apparently my name had been Yves, living my life in France where I had been a…where I had been an accountant for the shipping industries around the turn of the 19th century.  It was then that I heard of Sehimu Thinara, the hidden language of magic.

In the world of Serpent’s Tongue, you are playing “yourself,” only you have been Awakened to find that you are an Immortal who has been reincarnating in different lives since the Tower of Babel.  However, in the 1800s, The Speakers (or The Awoken or The Magi, depending on who you talk to) stopped reincarnating, until a bunch of them popped up in 2012 and began coming back.  Why?  Who knows.  That’s the fun of the game, and would probably be introduced slowly by the company and other players.

I don’t remember much of my lives before that, most of them fading in and out like fragments from lost home movies.  Shame to think that I’ve been given this amazing gift, yet I was still a boring accountant in the Age of Sail.  I suppose it could be worse.  I used my knowledge of Sehimu Thinara to stop a lot of evil magic that was plaguing our seaport.  My soul magic became like a universal antibiotic, spreading healing where needed.  I stayed low, though, trying not to get involved in the politics of the Magi.  Those guys were intense.  But now here I am, another accountant, but now in America, trying to remember the words and phrases and hand gestures that can put me in touch with my old powers.

I began crafting a codex.  I needed a well-loved old book, so I pilfered a copy of Trixie Belden and the Mysterious Visitor from a friend of mine.  She has pretty much every Trixie Belden book, so I doubt she would miss it.  Or notice right away.  I don’t know which.  She probably needs help.  Either way, a quick muttering of ur’ya’me-sa caused the books words to be hidden to me, so that I may write upon its pages to become my Codex, while the rest of the world would still see Trixie’s face upon the cover.

Though a grown man walking around with a Trixie Belden book at all times may be a bit odd.  Eh.  I made my choice.

Sehimu Thinara, the language of the game is very VERY well thought out.  If you want to see it in action, head over to The pages on it.  A lot of the pages are disappearing as the game fades from existence, so it’d be nice if a few kept the knowledge alive.  Someone clearly put a LOT of work on this, and I’d hate for it to simply be lost to the internet’s archive.  By the way, ur’ya’me-sa means “Do not show” in Sehimu Thinara.  See?  Actual language.  Wacky.

Anyway, your Codex is your “Deck.”  This game, at its base, is a CCG.  You make a deck of 27 “spells” plus a possible Specialization and one Artifact.  The starter box gives you enough cards to make 2 very complete decks.  I’ve only added 4 “booster packs,” each adding 12 cards, and I feel I have a large pool to dive into.  The other cool thing is every card is also available on the Serpent’s Tongue site, so if I really needed a card for some reason, I could print it out and proxy another card or find some other way to use it.

Again, I would get it now while the site still exists.  Purchasing from becomemagi.com may be a bit iffy.  I have anecdotal evidence of orders never being fulfilled, but I also have first hand evidence of a 4 booster pack order arriving to me in good and quick order.  So buyer beware.

From what I could remember, I knew a lot of spells that affected the eline, the kind of Soul, I guess you could say.  I was what they called a Void Speaker.  Someone who could cause others negative words to simply disappear.  Oh to have that power for television!

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I apologize that the high resolution image doesn’t appear to work.

 

But that Void felt bigger around my own home (outside of Philadelphia).  As if there was something out there, purposely hiding itself, or hiding secrets from the Mute (what we call those unable to speak the Tongue).  A quick walk through the city has me stumble upon an abandoned industrial plant.  From the signs, and seemingly stronger, the smells, this used to be a dog food plant of some kind.  Yet it’s something that I don’t think I’ve really ever noticed until now.  Nothing new in this world.  Often the Mute purposely avoid places where magic and their world collide, as if ignorance was just simply easier.

They’re right, it is.

But I had to know who, or what, was inside.  Anything that in touch with the Void could be linked to something I should have my hands on, and something I could learn from.

Or it could be something I should probably not allow have access to that kind of power.

Ducking under the loose chain holding the gate closed, I venture inside.

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My codex is ready (I told you, it’s pretty!), my adversary is set, tomorrow, we begin the encounter!

Continued here

In a world…

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What follows is a tale of ambition unchecked.  A tale of grand ideas smashing against a reality that wouldn’t allow them.  A tale of fortunes made and lost.  A tale of a game that was to be, and then wasn’t.  Pieces of it still exists, strewn to the four winds of the world, strangely mimicking the game world it created for itself.

So sit back and prepare yourself to learn of the horrifying tale of the game called: Serpent’s Tongue.

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picture lifted from becomemagi.com – Serpent’s Tongue “official” site

It all began in 2012 when Kickstarter was a relatively new site.  Games back then weren’t bringing in the multi-millions regularly you now see today.  One man put up a game called Serpent’s Tongue – Become Magi, a collectable Card game that was also a coop game, that was also a RPG that was also a Alternate Reality game that was also IT’S OWN LANGUAGE.

Woah.

And it was inexpensive!  For $45 you got a box with two codexi, a bunch of cards, a timer, chits and a whole bunch of pretty, pretty stuff! And free shipping Domestically!  WOW!

1,261 backers later and $195,101 transferred, the project was to become a reality.  Now we can speak of printing delays and the like, those come and go, but problems began as shipping charges increased as time went by, but the money was going into all these pretty, pretty things.

And people didn’t just get the $45 dollar base game, but CASES of more packs of cards, adding more weight to their packages.  The price of the cards became more and more, but the money raised again was the same.  Development on the promised 40+ hour solo campaign was reliant on workers who were getting paid, and now they became volunteers due to lack of funding as the money dribbled away to printers and shippers.

Writers left.

Shippers began refusing to ship pallets due to money owed.

Customers began complaining that their packages weren’t received.

Customers had bid at the “Lifeline” level, which meant they would receive one of everything for the life of the product line.

They now questioned if the product line would HAVE a life.

More and more skids full of boxes got stuck in customs for failure to provide fees.

More demanded their money back for lack of product.

The amazing idea put forth in 2012 melted away by 2014, and very little has been heard since.

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But the game still exists in a few people’s hands.  Some of the Lore is floating out there.  Some fans create more and more for it, allowing some RPG like play.  Occasionally you can stumble upon a site that has an old duel on it, roleplayed out and you think of what could have been.

The secondary market is still alive, and I couldn’t resist.  I found a base set for a very reasonable price and picked it up.  Dang, it IS pretty.

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I don’t doubt for a second, that if the kickstarter were dropped today, and the tiers started at $95, instead of $45, this would be a million dollar game.

However, inexperience now leaves it in the realm of obscurity.

But I’ll play it here anyway.  I’ll introduce some of the lore, I’ll fight a monster (either one I create or one from the game itself) and you can see the mechanics at work.  Then you can be added to the other 1,300 or so people who dream of what could have been.

Let’s start our game!

I’m everywhere!

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I just received word from “Chroma” that his game The Ward is going to be published and the physical book should be available in a few weeks at Metatopia in New Jersey!

Hooray for him!  He worked very hard on this game and I know for certain that it’s a great game because I’ve been playing it for a while now (It’s an RPG about doctors that runs from Scrubs to ER to House to M*A*S*H to General Hospital).  It’s great.  I’ll post links on how to get it once it’s available to the public.

The other cool thing is that the character I’ve been playing in it appears in the book.  Look for “Sarge.”  Poor guy has been through a lot, so give him some love when you see him.

That made me think: Wow, I’m starting to appear in a lot of game related products.  I did a tally.

2006: Cthulhu Live 3rd edition – name and nickname under “Contributors.”  Solo picture of me.

2012: Leaving Mundania – “Young Man” thrown into a portal during her Cthulhu Live game.

2016: Bios: Genesis – name under “Playtesters”

2017: The Ward – Character in Actual Play chapter

2017(?): Bios: Megafauna 2 – Actual Play written by me – name under “Playtesters”

2018(?): Operation Zetta – Possible drawing on one of the Crew Cards (!)


Written out like that, it doesn’t seem like much, now that I see it.  But dang if it doesn’t look kind of awesome when I think about all those times when I was a kid and thought about how cool all those people must be in the gaming industry, and now I know I’ve played InSpectres with Fred Hicks of Evil Hat Games and exchanged emails with Phil Eklund and played a COIN game that doesn’t even exist yet.

I’ve also raised ~$500 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia through gaming, of which I’m almost more proud.  I know it’s next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it could be $0, so I’ll take it.  (It’s through Extra-Life.org)

I’ve met awesome people who live hundreds of miles away from me, but who I would consider friends through gaming.  Not even “internet friends,” but friends.

Due to Vassal and other online platforms, I’ve played games with Swedes, Nords, Germans, French and Japanese (and probably others I’m missing).

All because I love the little microcosm that a game lets us play around in.

Weird.

And I bet my parents thought I was wasting my time.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll start playing something again soon.

Let’s go somewhere else…

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What if I don’t want to go to that M class star?  What if I was told that Stefan, the poor guy tasked with putting together the wonderful program I’m using has put an update together AND it has the new PSG on it, would I use it.

Can I get a heck yeah?

*listens, realizes he can’t hear anyone, moves on*

Expedition ZettaMap

Look at all those cards and numbers!  It shows me the type of star, the size, how old it is, if it’s a part of a cluster, the type of galaxy it’s in….OH THE NERDY JOY!  There will be a resource document at the back of the rules that will explain what all of these bits will mean (I’m told), so I’m really looking forward to that.  The other thing this does is give me a REAL cost in energy to go to places.  Once I’m done making my new star system, I’ll be flipping the “H” card over and using the number there right beside the letter.  Now that I’m seeing a 12, this solo game may be more difficult than I thought.  So let’s roll some dice:

8,8,1,2,4,6,6,6,8,7,8

You can just roll once and use that number for all cards and you’ll STILL have a plethora of random locations and probably never have the same one show up twice, but why not make the chances (ahem) ASTRONOMICAL?  So I rolled for each card.  The card shows 1: Which orbit it’s referencing, 2: which Discovery Value it’s referencing (Substances, Exoproducts or Life) and whether there’s a planet there (and what type if there is), so let’s hop on through and see what we get.

A shows our star, and it’s a type G, nice and Yellow.  And 8 shows -2 to Yellow, which is Exoproduction.  The stat starts at 2 (all stats do), so we drop it to 1, which is as low as all stats go.  And we move on to the next.  Card B tells us to raise Exoproduction up to 2.  Ho hum.  C bumps it up to 4, finally, a chance to build things!  D cranks it to 7 AND shows GGI, which means there will be a Gas Giant in orbit D.  I place the planet down, roll to see where (11) and put the Trojans before and after it.  E moves our Substances check up to 4.  F drops it down to 1, yuck.  G brings it up to 2 and adds a Gas Dwarf in the G orbit.  Again, I roll and place it on the board.  H knocks our Substances down to 1 again, but puts a Planetar in its orbit.  I drops our chance of finding life to 1 (Yikes!  Tough neighborhood), J brings that back up to 4 and adds another Planetar (which is double good since you can always find life on Planetars, even outside of Goldilocks zones).  Finally, the last card shows where the Mothership appears, and that’s in Orbit A, but it also adds 3 more steps to finding life!  So my final board looks like this:

map

Few bits of note, the Mothership “Model” is actually in the A 4-6 space.  The vector of the model is in the ship itself, not in the base, which makes it look a little strange on the board.  You get used to it.

Anyway, here I am, with search values of 7, 1 and 7 for Exoproducts, Substances and Life, respectively.

Glad I got Substances last Warp.

So let’s flip my card and take a look at how much energy it took to bring me here.  Can’t flip it in the program, but I can look at the next card, and it shows 8.  Ouch.  I’m down to 4 energy.  I guess I should get rid of my Radioactive substance for 4 energy now so I can breathe easier (and because there’s no point in holding onto it).

So, I have 4 actions here before I Warp again, and possibly not have enough Energy.  Ziggy says I won’t Warp until I break up with the woman he’s cheating with an….woops, wrong thing.

Am I dating myself with that reference?

ANYWAY.

I think I can spend a turn doing a research action because a) It might get me a warp token which will lower all future Warp costs. b) It doesn’t cost any energy at all and c) I haven’t done it yet, so why not?  It’s not like I know a strategy or anything yet.

So Turn 1, I don’t move (and don’t spend energy), and then draw from the knowledge bag.  For full disclosure, when you start the Lone Star scenario, you can remove from 0 to 12 different normal discs.  0 for a challenging game, 12 for an easy one.

I removed 12.  Ain’t I a stinker?

So let’s see what I get.

A Warp token!  Boo ya!  One seventh of the way to victory!

So, I kind of want to get way out to Orbit J.  You see, if I land there, I get a White Gas Substance.  With that, I can combine that with the Black Metal substance I already have and build Sol-Gel-based Ceramics.  The reason?  I can finally land on Gas Giants!  Which would be nice because the Gas Giant that’s only a few spaces from me would give me Radioactive Substances just for landing on it.  But it’s a whole lot of energy just to get there, and I don’t want to burn it all just to get there.

So instead, I’m just going to burn 1 and get to the Trojans in Orbit D to start with (which doesn’t cost anything to “land” in because they have little to no gravity themselves) and do a Scavenge action there.

I found some gems floating out there.  I can’t fuel anything with that, but they’re a big part of a lot of Exoproducts, so at least that’s something.  I move the planets again for the Trajectory model and look at Turn 3.

It’s 8 steps to get to the planet I want to get to!  So effectively I will burn 2 energy to get there, 1 energy to land to get something that will give me 4 energy.  Which is net 1, sure, but….JEEZ.  Of course, I could also find life, which can make things interesting (and give me more skills).  And I could also fail at finding life and get more knowledge.  Or I could just say to heck with it and gain 2 knowledge and leave this system knowing I can’t get much from it because I lept in too far away from the “good stuff.”

Where’s the adventure in that?  I’m here for science, dangit!  Burning 3 energy, let’s land on that rock!  I immediately earn a Gas Substance for doing so.  And now Rutger puts some Slight Wear on Exo Life Device A so he can roll his 1 die to find life on a moon around this Planetar.  Of course, because of the +2, I’m actually rolling 3 dice to get a 7 or less.  I like those odds.

6 – 4 – 12

Boom.  I have found LIFE OUTSIDE OF EARTH!  And let’s see what it is!  Could it be an intelligent civilization?

life

Nope.  It’s goo.  Something I can’t even get to survive in Bios: Genesis.

Ah well.

Looking at the map, there’s not many places I can go without spending more energy than I want to, so I’m going to sit down and do some research and hope I pull another Warp token and hope I can survive the next Leap, er, Warp.

The fun bit about knowledge tokens is that in multiplayer games, you don’t show them to other players until you use them, so if I drew a, say, Gas Giant skill, other players may write off my ability to land on them and ignore a Giant for a few turns to go to other prey that I could steal from them, and BOOM, I swoop in and grab the glory and fame before they do because they didn’t know I was reading up while they were busy watching old Scott Bacula reruns.

Well what do you know, I drew another Warp token!  That ends the turns here, I could stay longer and damage my crew, which actually might not be a terrible idea considering I NEED fuel, but I don’t know how desperate I am, so I’ll just go by the seat of my pants.

One more energy gets me back to the Mothership and off we go!

Our new start is against a hot burning, blue star which only gives us 2 turns before we Warp again.  And this time, the card states it costs 6 energy, but due to our Warp knowledge, that knocks it down to 4.

And I only have 3.

So here is our ship’s final resting place.  I think we would take up residence on that Desert world that appears to be tidally locked to the nearby Gas Dwarf?  Perhaps eons of pelting from its smaller moons has caused its surface to become so eroded that it appears to be sand to our new human dwellers.

Well jeez, now that I know how rare energy is, I’m going to have to be more careful with it.  If only this were real and not virtual I could sweep my hand over the table and start over again.

Sadly, I think it’s going to take LONGER to start it in virtual space than it will in meat space.  But I suppose it’s time for me to call it a night, anyway.  I’ve been trying to get this game in during every spare second I had, so I hope this did at least a small service to all of you readers out there who are curious about the kickstarter.

I may have not shown all of the intricacies of the multiplayer version (though you can see a bit with the Preparation phase and the hidden knowledge tokens, be sure to read about the Warp module in the rulebook, though, for some REAL fun), but maybe if I can get in a game tomorrow I’ll talk more about what would be done with multiple players.  For now, let’s look at what my final fame would have been, had anyone been alive to tell our tale:

Life+Exoplanet cards = 10

Gas & Metal tokens = 2

Gems & Radioactive tokens (2pts each) = 2

Leveled crewmembers = 0

Bonus for fully leveled crewmembers = 0

Final score = 14

Will your final score be less pathetic?  Let me know!