Saturday, September 20, 2014

Systems Saturday - Spyrium (2013)

Spyrium (2013) is a game for two to five players that generally takes a bit under one and a half hours.  I've played this game about a dozen times, mostly with seasoned veterans of boardgaming, and have found it to be as fun with two as with five, and likewise in between.  Recently, playing with just Tom Wham and myself (seen below getting out a die to determine first player), I tried a new approach than usual, but more on that later.

The description of the game from Board Game Geek is as follows:
Spyrium is set in an alternate world, an England set in a steampunk-based universe. Players build factories, needing workers to manage the production of a commodity previously unknown to us called "Spyrium". Producing Spyrium in one factory, then processing it in the next results in victory points (VPs) for that particular player. Alternatively, Spyrium can be purchased, but the material is rare and expensive, and players are constantly scraping for money.
Only those who from the beginning of the game manage to increase their regular income or their base of permanently employed workers (who can be used again and again to raise money) will be flexible enough to get their hands on the important end-of-game buildings to generate many VPs.
The circular nature of the game is flexible as each player can decide for himself when to move out of the placement phase and into the activation phase. With the two tracks in the game, those involved with delivery during the worker phase can then be used to raise money, to purchase an adjacent card, or to work on their own in an idle factory. All of these things are important, but in the end only the player who has dealt best with the lack of money, workers and Spyrium will win.
Often when I play Spyrium, I jump aggressively toward accumulating early Victory Points (VP).  This has often left me scraping for coin during at least two rounds.  This time around, I made sure I had enough coinage all the way through with the exception of the very last action.  I made sure to collect a handful of end-game VP buildings that also could keep at least two of my workers busy away-from-market each turn, adding some flexibility to how early I could switch from placement to resolution.  Although it was a tight game, and but for one or two plays could have gone either way, I managed one of my higher scores.

A look under the hood of various Games, Rules and Systems.
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Tabletopper Friday - Caverna: The Cave Farmers (2013)

Caverna: The Cave Farmers (2013) came out last year and I've seen it played several times but have yet to get the chance to play it myself.  Perhaps I can rectify that at the Gaming Hoopla next weekend or at one of the two local gamedays this weekend.

The description from Board Game Geek is as follows:
Following along the same lines as its predecessor (Agricola), Caverna: The Cave Farmers is a worker-placement game at heart, with a focus on farming. In the game, you are the bearded leader of a small dwarf family that lives in a little cave in the mountains. You begin the game with a farmer and his spouse, and each member of the farming family represents an action that the player can take each turn. Together, you cultivate the forest in front of your cave and dig deeper into the mountain. You furnish the caves as dwellings for your offspring as well as working spaces for small enterprises. 
It's up to you how much ore you want to mine. You will need it to forge weapons that allow you to go on expeditions to gain bonus items and actions. While digging through the mountain, you may come across water sources and find ore and ruby mines that help you increase your wealth. Right in front of your cave, you can increase your wealth even further with agriculture: You can cut down the forest to sow fields and fence in pastures to hold your animals. You can also expand your family while running your ever-growing farm. In the end, the player with the most efficiently developed home board wins.
You can also play the solo variant of this game to familiarize yourself with the 48 different furnishing tiles for your cave.
Caverna: The Cave Farmers, which has a playing time of roughly 30 minutes per player, is a complete redesign of Agricola that substitutes the card decks from the former game with a set of buildings while adding the ability to purchase weapons and send your farmers on quests to gain further resources. Designer Uwe Rosenberg says that the game includes parts of Agricola, but also has new ideas, especially the cave part of your game board, where you can build mines and search for rubies. The game also includes two new animals: dogs and donkeys.
  A recent Starlit Citadel Reviews episode had me thinking about it again.  Watch it here or below.  Enjoy.

Mostly about card games and board games,
unless they have a decidedly wargamey feel.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nostalgia Thursday - Dragon Dice Live!

A recent post on featured an advertisement from TSRHobbies, Inc. for their set of Dragon Dice, a set of polyhedrals with a crayon for coloring in the numbers.  It reminded me of the Dragon Dice (1995) game, similar in name only, designed for TSR by Lester Smith, now of Popcorn Press (his own imprint/company).

This description from Board Game Geek:
Players use colorful dice to represent armies of different fantasy races which battle to control essential terrain in this fast-rolling game. Any number of players can join the struggle, although it's designed as a multiplayer game. The first player to capture two terrains immediately wins the game, or you may try to obliterate your opponent's dice. Spells and layered strategies benefit certain races as you try to control the odds in this dynamic game full of surprises!
UPDATE: New 2-Player Starter Sets, including completely rewritten rules, were released in 2007. These rules are available online at []. The new Starters have perfectly paired racial armies, not random assortments like the old retail packaging, plus four terrain dice, two dragons, the complete rulebook, and new army placement cards. The races are paired up as Coral Elf/Lava Elf, Dwarf/Goblin, Feral/Undead, and Amazon/Swamp Stalker. Hybrid Dragons were offered in 2008. Acolytes of the Eldarim (a large expansion of the Eldarim race) was released in August 2009, along with a re-release of the Dragonkin. The Battlefields expansion (new major and minor terrains) was released in August 2010, adding exciting new options and strategies. The Dragoncrusader and Dragonzealots (new Eldarim Champions) were released in 2011. Dwarves and Goblins were re-released as kickers in 2012 and now include a 5th monster for each race. Magic Items were also re-released in the Battle Chest expansion in 2012. Coral Elves and Lava Elves were re-released as kickers in 2013 and now include a 5th monster. Amazons were re-released as kickers in 2014 and now include a 5th monster.
Interestingly, a group called the Windy City Rollers gets together regularly (and has for years) at Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL, to play Dragon Dice.  Their next meeting is at the store at 6 pm on September 27th (as noted here if you scroll down).  Roll well!

Focusing on the roots of current tabletop gaming
with an eye toward the last century and before.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wargaming Wednesday - Ars Victor (2013)

Ars Victor (2013) has been around for over a year but seems to be getting little press.  Until I saw a recent review on Play Unplugged, I was unaware of it.  It came from a Kickstarter project that funded at the beginning of June last year.  Stephen DeBaun of Ventura, CA was the project creator and saw it fund decently above its initial goal, though they only managed to get to the first of five stretch goals.  The Kickstarter seems very well put together and aside from the iconic artwork for the units, which doesn't appeal to me personally but looks like it will serve well enough, everything had a professional and unified theme and feel.  There are some excellent videos tied to the Kickstarter and the Rules and Quick Reference Sheet can be downloaded through there as well.  I'm going to have to get a closer look at this one.

A closer examination of board and miniatures Wargaming.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Terrain Tuesday - Red Kobold's Blue Dungeon Tiles

After running a very successful Kickstarter that funded last April, Red Kobold has been fulfilling their funders' backing this week and even put their wares up for sale through their website here.

For purposes here, the term Terrain is used broadly
to cover 3D and 2D maps, foam, felt, and such.
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Minis & Modeling Monday - Painting Reaper Ranger Kieron for D&D

Over on his Painting Clinic YouTube channel, Doctor Faust has a two-part video series up on how to "Painting Reaper Ranger Kieron for D&D."  Enjoy.

A look at prepping and painting Miniatures,
crafting buildings and paper Models,
and other non-terrain stuff for the tabletop..
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Sunday Miscellanea - How to Make a Sword Tutorial

Over on the epicfantasy ( YouTube channel, there is a nifty video titled "How to make a Sword - Complete tutorial."  Enjoy.

Essentially, a clearinghouse for topics on
not covered elsewhere or wanting a particular focus.
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