The Lords of Rock: Description and Review

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The Lords of Rock, by Dave Killingsworth of SolarFlare Games, mixes the unlikely thematic duo of mythology and a cosmic battle of the bands.  In this game, 2-4 players will take control of a mythological Pantheon of gods and attempt to out rock the others for control of the universe!

 

The review copy that I received is a late stage prototype that appears to have much of the final art and fairly complete rules.  Some rules may change before the end of the upcoming Kickstarter, but this review is based on this version alone.

 

Game Overview

 

In Lords of Rock, players will select a mythological pantheon (Greek, Aztec, Norse, or Egyptian) from which to create their band.  Each pantheon has two band leaders, one male and one female.  A player must select one of these no matter what.  After selecting a leader, players select the rest of their band from the available gods as they wish, but must have exactly four band members with each having a different primary skill: Vocals, bass guitar, lead guitar, and drums.  When selecting the make-up of their band, players will also want to consider the secondary skills of their performers as these can come into play depending on where the gigs are played.

Venues

Prior to choosing the gods in their band,  all players will be given four random venues, two of which they will use during the course of the game.  Each venue has a size, a list of the skills to be used, a set of reward based on the where players finish, and some even have an additional bonus for the winner.  Players must consider the venues they have in hand when deciding which gods to choose for their band.

 

Gods

As mentioned earlier, each player will have a band made up of four gods.  Each god has a primary skill and a secondary skill that may be used if they are applying the other during a gig.

 

Set Lists

Each player will take 7 set list cards at the start of the game.  These will be played during shows at the various venues during the game.  They generally consist of positive modifiers that players play face down in their own area, negatives that are played face up on other players, and roadies that can help to deal with negatives a player has been targeted with by another player.  The use of these modifying cards is to help players raise their strength or lower that of their opponents as the total will determine the winners at each venue.

 

Game’s End

After all players have selected and resolved their second venue, the player with the most souls is the winner.  In the event of a tie, the players involved in the tie have one last battle of the bands at a random venue with the victor being the winner of the game.

My Review

 

The Lords of Rock is a light and fun game that perfectly integrates its unique thematic combination of mythology and rock music!  The art of the mythological figures as “Rock Gods” is perfect and really adds to the flavor of the game. While The Lords of Rock is short on strategy it is long on fun.  Clearly, it is designed as a filler game, but there is still room for some clever decisions and sneaky moves.  Although many players dislike “take that” mechanics, and The Lords of Rock certainly has that element, the game is short enough and humorous enough that it adds rather subtracting from the game.

Screenshot_2016-08-01-21-11-44-1

I have very little in the way of negatives to say about The Lords of Rock. Obviously, it is lighter than my normal tastes in games, but it is exactly what it is trying to be.  If you are looking for hardcore strategy look elsewhere, but if you are in the market for a humorous game this will not even be a negative.  It can also be a little heavy on the mathematic computations, as each battle of the bands is essentially a sum of modifiers and skill totals.  I do not generally have an issue with this, but people often do, and thus it is worth mentioning in a review for potential buyers/backers.  That being said, these are minor details and The Lords of Rock will be a big hit for you and your group if you are its target audience.

 

Overall, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed The Lords of Rock.  It is very much in the vein of other products from SolarFlare Games that I have played, having a tweaked sense of humor, simple rules, and quick play time, but is their best to date in my opinion!  If already a fan of their games you will not be disappointed, making this a must back/buy.  If you are not familiar with their work, but like social games that are funny and easy to play chances are that you will have a good time with The Lords of Rock as well!  The Lords of Rock hits a perfect note for the type of game that it is trying to be, and that is all any game can try to do!

 

 

Let it be known to all readers and government officials alike, that Life in Games received a free copy of this game for the purpose of providing an objective review.  No further compensation of any sort changed hands between myself and the publisher.

 

 

Gen Con Is Coming: A Wife in Games Guest Post

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This article was originally posted at storyofabetterme.wordpress.com/

 

As I look through the memories of Facebook this morning, I realize that this day in 2015, we were at GenCon. Dubbed the “best four days in gaming”, it is truly a nerd girl’s paradise! There are plenty of costumes to admire (and yes, there is Wonder Woman shirt for every day of the con, buuutttt, this year I have my tiara to wear with them – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!), fantastic fantasy and nerd art, but my pull is the endless rooms and infinite piles of games…  it is a great place to let my geek flag fly!

Although I joke about being a nerd, or a geek, or gamer girl, I really do pride myself on my intelligence, and as you know, part of the campaign of #becomingabetterme does have to do with the full me, not just the physical… and gaming is a fantastic way to exercise your mind. I do not consider myself a strategic game as much as I do a tactical gamer, but by playing different styles of games, with a laundry list of different mechanics, I am getting better. That is not to say I am as good as the group of friends that we game with, but I can hold my own against them in several of the games we do play.

Just like with exercising your body you have to make sure that your brain cells are fully charged to keep the synapses firing… FOOD. Food in important. I did mention this was a convention, so by definition, it will be at a convention center, which is not the best place for food. Dried out burgers, greasy pizza, and “what is that really” chicken sandwiches, not exactly what one would consider healthy.

Knowing this is what we are looking at, I had a nice conversation with my hubs about how this was not going to work for me, we decided to make a trip to Fresh Thyme and get some healthy snacks to keep us fueled and alert. I am sooo ready! SO. READY.

I know this isn’t really like my traditional posts, but as this event gets closer for me, the more excited I get, and I am really just using this post as a reminder that I can still remain on my journey and enjoy all the nerdiness that life has to offer.

bbb.jpg

 

 

 

As I look through the memories of Facebook this morning, I realize that this day in 2015, we were at GenCon. Dubbed the “best four days in gaming”, it is truly a nerd girl’s paradise! There are plenty of costumes to admire (and yes, there is Wonder Woman shirt for every day of the con, buuutttt, this year I have my tiara to wear with them – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!), fantastic fantasy and nerd art, but my pull is the endless rooms and infinite piles of games…  it is a great place to let my geek flag fly!

Although I joke about being a nerd, or a geek, or gamer girl, I really do pride myself on my intelligence, and as you know, part of the campaign of #becomingabetterme does have to do with the full me, not just the physical… and gaming is a fantastic way to exercise your mind. I do not consider myself a strategic game as much as I do a tactical gamer, but by playing different styles of games, with a laundry list of different mechanics, I am getting better. That is not to say I am as good as the group of friends that we game with, but I can hold my own against them in several of the games we do play.

Just like with exercising your body you have to make sure that your brain cells are fully charged to keep the synapses firing… FOOD. Food in important. I did mention this was a convention, so by definition, it will be at a convention center, which is not the best place for food. Dried out burgers, greasy pizza, and “what is that really” chicken sandwiches, not exactly what one would consider healthy.

Knowing this is what we are looking at, I had a nice conversation with my hubs about how this was not going to work for me, we decided to make a trip to Fresh Thyme and get some healthy snacks to keep us fueled and alert. I am sooo ready! SO. READY.

I know this isn’t really like my traditional posts, but as this event gets closer for me, the more excited I get, and I am really just using this post as a reminder that I can still remain on my journey and enjoy all the nerdiness that life has to offer.

As I look through the memories of Facebook this morning, I realize that this day in 2015, we were at GenCon. Dubbed the “best four days in gaming”, it is truly a nerd girl’s paradise! There are plenty of costumes to admire (and yes, there is Wonder Woman shirt for every day of the con, buuutttt, this year I have my tiara to wear with them – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!), fantastic fantasy and nerd art, but my pull is the endless rooms and infinite piles of games…  it is a great place to let my geek flag fly!

Although I joke about being a nerd, or a geek, or gamer girl, I really do pride myself on my intelligence, and as you know, part of the campaign of #becomingabetterme does have to do with the full me, not just the physical… and gaming is a fantastic way to exercise your mind. I do not consider myself a strategic game as much as I do a tactical gamer, but by playing different styles of games, with a laundry list of different mechanics, I am getting better. That is not to say I am as good as the group of friends that we game with, but I can hold my own against them in several of the games we do play.

Just like with exercising your body you have to make sure that your brain cells are fully charged to keep the synapses firing… FOOD. Food in important. I did mention this was a convention, so by definition, it will be at a convention center, which is not the best place for food. Dried out burgers, greasy pizza, and “what is that really” chicken sandwiches, not exactly what one would consider healthy.

Knowing this is what we are looking at, I had a nice conversation with my hubs about how this was not going to work for me, we decided to make a trip to Fresh Thyme and get some healthy snacks to keep us fueled and alert. I am sooo ready! SO. READY.

I know this isn’t really like my traditional posts, but as this event gets closer for me, the more excited I get, and I am really just using this post as a reminder that I can still remain on my journey and enjoy all the nerdiness that life has to offer.

 

 

Consider visiting Heather’s blog, Story of a Better Me, for tons of great content!

Whelps to Wyrms: Description and Review

Whelps to Wyrms, designed by Rick Perez, is the latest offering from Lamp Light Games and is a game for 2-5 players. The players take on the role of dragons striving to acquire the greatest hoard of gold in the realm.  Everyone begins the game controlling a relatively weak dragon whelp, but as they gain experience from doing what dragons do best: eating livestock (and people), destroying structures, and exploring unknown lands, they will grow in strength and power possibly even reaching the status of Wyrm!  With careful planning, strategic use of your unique dragon powers, and a little luck you can emerge as the richest and most feared dragon in all the realm!

 

The copy that I received was a late stage prototype with a few rough edges, having neither the final rules nor components. As such the final product may well differ to some degree from what I describe in this article.  However, based on my two previous experiences with Lamp Light Games I am quite confident these concerns will be more than addressed by the final product.

 

Game Overview

 

The player sheet for the mighty Red Dragon!

The player sheet for the mighty Red Dragon!

 

Players begin the game by taking the game sheet for one of the five dragons:  Red, Blue, Black, Green, or White.  At the start of the game they are a lowly whelp  with all dragons beginning in the center hex of the board, the Nest.  The nest is then surrounded by a number of hex tiles equal to the player count, plus one.  These tiles are made up of four terrain types: Plains, Mountains, Forests, and Lakes.  The first three have their own improvement decks and one from the appropriate deck is place on each of these.  Lakes may not be improved and require extra movement to fly across.  Next, shuffle the objective cards and place a number equal to the player count face up in a display.  Now, take the top nine cards objective cards and place them face down in an objective draw pile.  Lastly, randomly determine a first player and give them the starting player marker.

 

The player sheet for the chilling White Dragon!

The player sheet for the chilling White Dragon!

 

Each round of the game is made up of a number of phases:

Ready Phase: The starting player token is passed to the right, the top card of the objective deck is revealed, and camps/farms receive their livestock/gold.

Action Phase: Players now take their turns beginning with the starting player and progressing in clockwise order.  A player may move a dragon a number of spaces up to its speed and perform a number of actions based on its current size.  Actions may be used to do the following:

  • Attack-The dragon may make a combat roll against a lair, slayer, or another dragon.
  • Eat-The dragon may consume a creature on its current hex which awards experience points.
  • Search-If on a hex that does not currently have an improvement, the player draws the top card from the appropriate deck and places it on the hex, gaining one experience.
  • Explore-The dragon reveals a new hex and places it on an unoccupied edge of its current tile, gaining one experience.
  • Raze-The dragon may spend both actions to remove an improvement from its current space rewarding the dragon with gold and freeing up the space to be searched again.
  • Skill-The dragon may utilize one of its powers that require an activation that has been purchased with experience points.
  • Pass-Players may end their turn while still in possession of unspent actions, to gain one experience for each such action.

At any point during a player’s turn, as a free action, experience points may be used to purchase powers on the dragon’s “ability tree” and/or increase its size.  If this results in the dragon gaining additional action cubes, they may be spent on this turn.  It is important to note that, players may only purchase powers of a lower or equal level to the current size of their dragon and only those which the player has all of the earlier versions.  Players may also take any objective cards in the display whose conditions they have met.

Slayer Phase:  In each round after the first, the current holder of the starting player token draws the top card of the Slayer deck and places it in play.  In addition, all slayers are moved during this phase, either towards dragons to harm them or away in an effort to deny points for defeating them.  After all slayers have been resolved, the round is over and play returns to the Ready Phase.

During the game, combat may occur with slayer or other dragons.  In the event that a dragon takes a wound from combat they roll a six sided die and place a marker on the correspondingly numbered action space on their player board.  That action may not be taken until the dragon heals.  If there was already a token on that action an additional token is placed on top making it even more difficult to regain that action.

 

Play continues until there is not an objective card to reveal during the  Ready Phase.  At this time, players receive gold from their completed objectives, any they may earn from the end game objectives, and combine it the gold they have on hand.  The player with largest amount of gold is the winner!

 

The modular board spreading out from the nest.

The modular board spreading out from the nest.

 

My Review

Whelps to Wyrms is an interesting game in that it places players in a dragon’s scales for a change, and they discover that their goals are much the same as the adventurers players are accustomed to playing…loot and experience!  Whelps to Wyrms is fairly easy game to grasp with its straightforward mechanics and relatively basic goals, but the large number of possible outcomes in tiles and improvements creates an array of challenging tactical decisions.  Overall, my fellow players and I thoroughly enjoyed the game, both for its theme and mechanics.

From a mechanical standpoint, I always enjoy a nice modular board, and especially one that grows the world during the course of the game.  This, along with the improvement tiles, really works in tandem with the exploration/adventure elements of the theme in a wonderful way.  I also liked the manner in which the starting player token is moved around the table, by making the previously last player the new starting player with play then continuing in clockwise manner.  This maybe less important with fewer players, but with five it met with approval from everyone.  The wound system was also a fairly original take on such a thing, and although random, I rather enjoyed the chance to gamble on what might get damage if I wanted to raze one of the auto-wounding improvements.  It allowed me to decide how much risk I wished to face and make that decision based on whether or not I thought the reward was worth it or not.  This is the correct use of randomness!

While the mechanics are solid, it is in its theme where Whelps to Wyrms really shines.  The simple, yet genius idea of having players start out with a small dragon piece and replace it with larger ones as it grows is great!  I know, in the grand scheme of things this seems like nothing, but it helps players feel a true sense of progress as they advance and it really adds to the immersive nature of this game.  Speaking of immersion, the skill tree allows players to customize their already unique dragon both for flavor and strategic reasons.  The mixture growing your dragon’s size and skills really gives the game a great feel.  Even if a player loses, they can still have fun by realizing how far their dragon has come!

 

From little whelp to mighty wyrm!

From little whelp to mighty wyrm!

 

There was very little that I disliked about Whelps to Wyrms, and those things that I did mostly fall under the umbrella of personal taste.  That being said, there were a few issues that I feel are worth mentioning.

Perhaps it was due to playing with the full five players, but the objective cards seemed to dry up very quickly.  I am not sure what could be done about this, as they are also used for a round timer.  It just seemed like the initial display was quickly gobbled up and then they trickled in one at a time from then on.

I also could not help but feel that the dragons, while unique, pretty much have a baked in strategy or two for each.  This is fine, and they do offer a different play experience, but it makes the game far more tactical than strategic.  Your strategy will mostly be dictated by your dragon, but there will plenty of short term decisions to keep things very interesting.

In Conclusion

I really enjoyed Whelps to Wyrms as did those with whom I played.  Everyone agreed that it was fun to play as the dragons rampaging throughout the realm!  Even those who lost commented how they enjoyed the feeling of progress derived from growing their dragon and advancing its powers.  As a light to medium weight game with room for some strategy, tons of tactical decisions, that provides feelings of adventure, and offers tremendous re-playability due to the modular nature of its board, Whelps to Wyrms is a great success!  If those are features that appeal to you or your gaming group, I recommend adding it to your hoard!

 

 

 

 

Let it be known to all readers and government officials alike, that Life in Games received a free copy of this game for the purpose of providing an objective review.  No further compensation of any sort changed hands between myself and the publisher.

 

Whelps to Wyrms is live on Kickstarter now!

 

How an Idea Becomes Reality

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During the most recent update the Strife: Shadows and Steam Kickstarter campaign, Jake from Vision 3 Games showed the process an idea goes through on its way to becoming a fully realized card.  Even as the game’s designer, I was not fully aware of how this worked and thought it was fascinating!  I decided this is just the sort of inside baseball game junkies love, and chose to share it here as a blog post.  Obviously, if you like what you see, checkout our Kickstarter which is running for about another week!  Either way, thanks for reading!

 

Curious as to how we develop our amazing artwork? Well it really relies on the magic of our artists, but we thought we’d show you with the process we just went though with Claudio for our first Event card: A Race for Resources.

The first thing that happens (after Chris makes sure the rules are buttoned up of course!) is that we’ll send a brief description over to the artist, along with the rule(s) and a working title. For these event cards, we definitely let the artists take the reigns and creatively interpret them. For this card, we sent the following,:

Race for Resources – Combat always begins at the location with the highest base vp value. If there are multiple locations tied for the highest base vp value, combat begins on the one located furthest from the location deck.
Concept: possibly an airship race between two airships? Or a locomotive vs an airship?

So what happens next? Claudio sends us three quick sketches. These are just to show form and function, as well as establish a color palette for the scene. Here’s what he sent:

Initial concept sketches from Claudio.
Initial concept sketches from Claudio.

From there, we bounce it around a bit internally, and make a call on what direction we like best, along with any comments or revisions we might think necessary. We’ll send feedback to the artist, who’ll take it back for another slightly-more-polished pass.

For this card, we gravitated to the bottom one after a little debate, but felt that we didn’t want it to look like one of the airships was capsizing. We also noted that we wanted to convey speed, not just a leisurely jaunt. So how’d Claudio take that feedback and run with it?

Claudio's second draft of the chosen concept.
Claudio’s second draft of the chosen concept.

You can clearly see he’s emphasized speed more, added details and played with the coloring. That horizon is looking stellar in the background! From here, we’ll give any more feedback as necessary. On this particular piece of art, it wasn’t. “Move forward!” was the cry. So how’d the final illustration end up? Check it out:

Final artwork from Claudio.
Final artwork from Claudio.

Stunning, isn’t it! We’re constantly amazed by Claudio’s efforts. Simply outstanding. But we’re not done yet! There’s still one more crucial step – graphic design and layout.

We’ll take this final artwork and lay it into our Event Card template, and make any adjustments we need to on the overall color balance or contrast on the artwork, while accounting for the cropping we need to fit all the rules text in there.

Final "A Race for Resource" card layout.
Final “A Race for Resource” card layout.

And there you have it. A card ready for the printer! The entire process takes roughly about 2-3 days. As you can see, there’s a lot of effort and love poured into each card. Here at V3G we pride ourselves on the quality of our games, and we hope it shows!

 

 

 

Strife: Shadows and Steam-Designer vs Publisher Showdown

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I recently dropped by V3G HQ to battle Jake Leeman,, the publisher of my Strife series of games, in a head to head, take no prisoners, epic grudge match in Strife: Shadows and Steam!  Despite some early technical difficulties, the video below shows nearly the entire game. For those of your who have never heard of the Strife series, this will be a quick introduction.  For those of you who have, it will a look into how the new set works and how a full match plays out.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

 

 

Remember, Strife: Shadows and Steam is currently up on Kickstarter.  If you are interested in learning more click on the widget below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 01

The Lords of Rock: Description and Review

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The Lords of Rock, by Dave Killingsworth of SolarFlare Games, mixes the unlikely thematic duo of mythology and a cosmic battle of the bands.  In this game, 2-4 players will take control of a mythological Pantheon of gods and attempt to out rock the others for control of the universe!

 

The review copy that I received is a late stage prototype that appears to have much of the final art and fairly complete rules.  Some rules may change before the end of the upcoming Kickstarter, but this review is based on this version alone.

 

Game Overview

 

In Lords of Rock, players will select a mythological pantheon (Greek, Aztec, Norse, or Egyptian) from which to create their band.  Each pantheon has two band leaders, one male and one female.  A player must select one of these no matter what.  After selecting a leader, players select the rest of their band from the available gods as they wish, but must have exactly four band members with each having a different primary skill: Vocals, bass guitar, lead guitar, and drums.  When selecting the make-up of their band, players will also want to consider the secondary skills of their performers as these can come into play depending on where the gigs are played.

Venues

Prior to choosing the gods in their band,  all players will be given four random venues, two of which they will use during the course of the game.  Each venue has a size, a list of the skills to be used, a set of reward based on the where players finish, and some even have an additional bonus for the winner.  Players must consider the venues they have in hand when deciding which gods to choose for their band.

 

Gods

As mentioned earlier, each player will have a band made up of four gods.  Each god has a primary skill and a secondary skill that may be used if they are applying the other during a gig.

 

Set Lists

Each player will take 7 set list cards at the start of the game.  These will be played during shows at the various venues during the game.  They generally consist of positive modifiers that players play face down in their own area, negatives that are played face up on other players, and roadies that can help to deal with negatives a player has been targeted with by another player.  The use of these modifying cards is to help players raise their strength or lower that of their opponents as the total will determine the winners at each venue.

 

Game’s End

After all players have selected and resolved their second venue, the player with the most souls is the winner.  In the event of a tie, the players involved in the tie have one last battle of the bands at a random venue with the victor being the winner of the game.

My Review

 

The Lords of Rock is a light and fun game that perfectly integrates its unique thematic combination of mythology and rock music!  The art of the mythological figures as “Rock Gods” is perfect and really adds to the flavor of the game. While The Lords of Rock is short on strategy it is long on fun.  Clearly, it is designed as a filler game, but there is still room for some clever decisions and sneaky moves.  Although many players dislike “take that” mechanics, and The Lords of Rock certainly has that element, the game is short enough and humorous enough that it adds rather subtracting from the game.

Screenshot_2016-08-01-21-11-44-1

I have very little in the way of negatives to say about The Lords of Rock. Obviously, it is lighter than my normal tastes in games, but it is exactly what it is trying to be.  If you are looking for hardcore strategy look elsewhere, but if you are in the market for a humorous game this will not even be a negative.  It can also be a little heavy on the mathematic computations, as each battle of the bands is essentially a sum of modifiers and skill totals.  I do not generally have an issue with this, but people often do, and thus it is worth mentioning in a review for potential buyers/backers.  That being said, these are minor details and The Lords of Rock will be a big hit for you and your group if you are its target audience.

 

Overall, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed The Lords of Rock.  It is very much in the vein of other products from SolarFlare Games that I have played, having a tweaked sense of humor, simple rules, and quick play time, but is their best to date in my opinion!  If already a fan of their games you will not be disappointed, making this a must back/buy.  If you are not familiar with their work, but like social games that are funny and easy to play chances are that you will have a good time with The Lords of Rock as well!  The Lords of Rock hits a perfect note for the type of game that it is trying to be, and that is all any game can try to do!

 

 

Let it be known to all readers and government officials alike, that Life in Games received a free copy of this game for the purpose of providing an objective review.  No further compensation of any sort changed hands between myself and the publisher.

 

 

Jul 31

Gen Con Is Coming: A Wife in Games Guest Post

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This article was originally posted at storyofabetterme.wordpress.com/

 

As I look through the memories of Facebook this morning, I realize that this day in 2015, we were at GenCon. Dubbed the “best four days in gaming”, it is truly a nerd girl’s paradise! There are plenty of costumes to admire (and yes, there is Wonder Woman shirt for every day of the con, buuutttt, this year I have my tiara to wear with them – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!), fantastic fantasy and nerd art, but my pull is the endless rooms and infinite piles of games…  it is a great place to let my geek flag fly!

Although I joke about being a nerd, or a geek, or gamer girl, I really do pride myself on my intelligence, and as you know, part of the campaign of #becomingabetterme does have to do with the full me, not just the physical… and gaming is a fantastic way to exercise your mind. I do not consider myself a strategic game as much as I do a tactical gamer, but by playing different styles of games, with a laundry list of different mechanics, I am getting better. That is not to say I am as good as the group of friends that we game with, but I can hold my own against them in several of the games we do play.

Just like with exercising your body you have to make sure that your brain cells are fully charged to keep the synapses firing… FOOD. Food in important. I did mention this was a convention, so by definition, it will be at a convention center, which is not the best place for food. Dried out burgers, greasy pizza, and “what is that really” chicken sandwiches, not exactly what one would consider healthy.

Knowing this is what we are looking at, I had a nice conversation with my hubs about how this was not going to work for me, we decided to make a trip to Fresh Thyme and get some healthy snacks to keep us fueled and alert. I am sooo ready! SO. READY.

I know this isn’t really like my traditional posts, but as this event gets closer for me, the more excited I get, and I am really just using this post as a reminder that I can still remain on my journey and enjoy all the nerdiness that life has to offer.

bbb.jpg

 

 

 

As I look through the memories of Facebook this morning, I realize that this day in 2015, we were at GenCon. Dubbed the “best four days in gaming”, it is truly a nerd girl’s paradise! There are plenty of costumes to admire (and yes, there is Wonder Woman shirt for every day of the con, buuutttt, this year I have my tiara to wear with them – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!), fantastic fantasy and nerd art, but my pull is the endless rooms and infinite piles of games…  it is a great place to let my geek flag fly!

Although I joke about being a nerd, or a geek, or gamer girl, I really do pride myself on my intelligence, and as you know, part of the campaign of #becomingabetterme does have to do with the full me, not just the physical… and gaming is a fantastic way to exercise your mind. I do not consider myself a strategic game as much as I do a tactical gamer, but by playing different styles of games, with a laundry list of different mechanics, I am getting better. That is not to say I am as good as the group of friends that we game with, but I can hold my own against them in several of the games we do play.

Just like with exercising your body you have to make sure that your brain cells are fully charged to keep the synapses firing… FOOD. Food in important. I did mention this was a convention, so by definition, it will be at a convention center, which is not the best place for food. Dried out burgers, greasy pizza, and “what is that really” chicken sandwiches, not exactly what one would consider healthy.

Knowing this is what we are looking at, I had a nice conversation with my hubs about how this was not going to work for me, we decided to make a trip to Fresh Thyme and get some healthy snacks to keep us fueled and alert. I am sooo ready! SO. READY.

I know this isn’t really like my traditional posts, but as this event gets closer for me, the more excited I get, and I am really just using this post as a reminder that I can still remain on my journey and enjoy all the nerdiness that life has to offer.

As I look through the memories of Facebook this morning, I realize that this day in 2015, we were at GenCon. Dubbed the “best four days in gaming”, it is truly a nerd girl’s paradise! There are plenty of costumes to admire (and yes, there is Wonder Woman shirt for every day of the con, buuutttt, this year I have my tiara to wear with them – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!), fantastic fantasy and nerd art, but my pull is the endless rooms and infinite piles of games…  it is a great place to let my geek flag fly!

Although I joke about being a nerd, or a geek, or gamer girl, I really do pride myself on my intelligence, and as you know, part of the campaign of #becomingabetterme does have to do with the full me, not just the physical… and gaming is a fantastic way to exercise your mind. I do not consider myself a strategic game as much as I do a tactical gamer, but by playing different styles of games, with a laundry list of different mechanics, I am getting better. That is not to say I am as good as the group of friends that we game with, but I can hold my own against them in several of the games we do play.

Just like with exercising your body you have to make sure that your brain cells are fully charged to keep the synapses firing… FOOD. Food in important. I did mention this was a convention, so by definition, it will be at a convention center, which is not the best place for food. Dried out burgers, greasy pizza, and “what is that really” chicken sandwiches, not exactly what one would consider healthy.

Knowing this is what we are looking at, I had a nice conversation with my hubs about how this was not going to work for me, we decided to make a trip to Fresh Thyme and get some healthy snacks to keep us fueled and alert. I am sooo ready! SO. READY.

I know this isn’t really like my traditional posts, but as this event gets closer for me, the more excited I get, and I am really just using this post as a reminder that I can still remain on my journey and enjoy all the nerdiness that life has to offer.

 

 

Consider visiting Heather’s blog, Story of a Better Me, for tons of great content!

Jun 30

Whelps to Wyrms: Description and Review

Whelps to Wyrms, designed by Rick Perez, is the latest offering from Lamp Light Games and is a game for 2-5 players. The players take on the role of dragons striving to acquire the greatest hoard of gold in the realm.  Everyone begins the game controlling a relatively weak dragon whelp, but as they gain experience from doing what dragons do best: eating livestock (and people), destroying structures, and exploring unknown lands, they will grow in strength and power possibly even reaching the status of Wyrm!  With careful planning, strategic use of your unique dragon powers, and a little luck you can emerge as the richest and most feared dragon in all the realm!

 

The copy that I received was a late stage prototype with a few rough edges, having neither the final rules nor components. As such the final product may well differ to some degree from what I describe in this article.  However, based on my two previous experiences with Lamp Light Games I am quite confident these concerns will be more than addressed by the final product.

 

Game Overview

 

The player sheet for the mighty Red Dragon!

The player sheet for the mighty Red Dragon!

 

Players begin the game by taking the game sheet for one of the five dragons:  Red, Blue, Black, Green, or White.  At the start of the game they are a lowly whelp  with all dragons beginning in the center hex of the board, the Nest.  The nest is then surrounded by a number of hex tiles equal to the player count, plus one.  These tiles are made up of four terrain types: Plains, Mountains, Forests, and Lakes.  The first three have their own improvement decks and one from the appropriate deck is place on each of these.  Lakes may not be improved and require extra movement to fly across.  Next, shuffle the objective cards and place a number equal to the player count face up in a display.  Now, take the top nine cards objective cards and place them face down in an objective draw pile.  Lastly, randomly determine a first player and give them the starting player marker.

 

The player sheet for the chilling White Dragon!

The player sheet for the chilling White Dragon!

 

Each round of the game is made up of a number of phases:

Ready Phase: The starting player token is passed to the right, the top card of the objective deck is revealed, and camps/farms receive their livestock/gold.

Action Phase: Players now take their turns beginning with the starting player and progressing in clockwise order.  A player may move a dragon a number of spaces up to its speed and perform a number of actions based on its current size.  Actions may be used to do the following:

  • Attack-The dragon may make a combat roll against a lair, slayer, or another dragon.
  • Eat-The dragon may consume a creature on its current hex which awards experience points.
  • Search-If on a hex that does not currently have an improvement, the player draws the top card from the appropriate deck and places it on the hex, gaining one experience.
  • Explore-The dragon reveals a new hex and places it on an unoccupied edge of its current tile, gaining one experience.
  • Raze-The dragon may spend both actions to remove an improvement from its current space rewarding the dragon with gold and freeing up the space to be searched again.
  • Skill-The dragon may utilize one of its powers that require an activation that has been purchased with experience points.
  • Pass-Players may end their turn while still in possession of unspent actions, to gain one experience for each such action.

At any point during a player’s turn, as a free action, experience points may be used to purchase powers on the dragon’s “ability tree” and/or increase its size.  If this results in the dragon gaining additional action cubes, they may be spent on this turn.  It is important to note that, players may only purchase powers of a lower or equal level to the current size of their dragon and only those which the player has all of the earlier versions.  Players may also take any objective cards in the display whose conditions they have met.

Slayer Phase:  In each round after the first, the current holder of the starting player token draws the top card of the Slayer deck and places it in play.  In addition, all slayers are moved during this phase, either towards dragons to harm them or away in an effort to deny points for defeating them.  After all slayers have been resolved, the round is over and play returns to the Ready Phase.

During the game, combat may occur with slayer or other dragons.  In the event that a dragon takes a wound from combat they roll a six sided die and place a marker on the correspondingly numbered action space on their player board.  That action may not be taken until the dragon heals.  If there was already a token on that action an additional token is placed on top making it even more difficult to regain that action.

 

Play continues until there is not an objective card to reveal during the  Ready Phase.  At this time, players receive gold from their completed objectives, any they may earn from the end game objectives, and combine it the gold they have on hand.  The player with largest amount of gold is the winner!

 

The modular board spreading out from the nest.

The modular board spreading out from the nest.

 

My Review

Whelps to Wyrms is an interesting game in that it places players in a dragon’s scales for a change, and they discover that their goals are much the same as the adventurers players are accustomed to playing…loot and experience!  Whelps to Wyrms is fairly easy game to grasp with its straightforward mechanics and relatively basic goals, but the large number of possible outcomes in tiles and improvements creates an array of challenging tactical decisions.  Overall, my fellow players and I thoroughly enjoyed the game, both for its theme and mechanics.

From a mechanical standpoint, I always enjoy a nice modular board, and especially one that grows the world during the course of the game.  This, along with the improvement tiles, really works in tandem with the exploration/adventure elements of the theme in a wonderful way.  I also liked the manner in which the starting player token is moved around the table, by making the previously last player the new starting player with play then continuing in clockwise manner.  This maybe less important with fewer players, but with five it met with approval from everyone.  The wound system was also a fairly original take on such a thing, and although random, I rather enjoyed the chance to gamble on what might get damage if I wanted to raze one of the auto-wounding improvements.  It allowed me to decide how much risk I wished to face and make that decision based on whether or not I thought the reward was worth it or not.  This is the correct use of randomness!

While the mechanics are solid, it is in its theme where Whelps to Wyrms really shines.  The simple, yet genius idea of having players start out with a small dragon piece and replace it with larger ones as it grows is great!  I know, in the grand scheme of things this seems like nothing, but it helps players feel a true sense of progress as they advance and it really adds to the immersive nature of this game.  Speaking of immersion, the skill tree allows players to customize their already unique dragon both for flavor and strategic reasons.  The mixture growing your dragon’s size and skills really gives the game a great feel.  Even if a player loses, they can still have fun by realizing how far their dragon has come!

 

From little whelp to mighty wyrm!

From little whelp to mighty wyrm!

 

There was very little that I disliked about Whelps to Wyrms, and those things that I did mostly fall under the umbrella of personal taste.  That being said, there were a few issues that I feel are worth mentioning.

Perhaps it was due to playing with the full five players, but the objective cards seemed to dry up very quickly.  I am not sure what could be done about this, as they are also used for a round timer.  It just seemed like the initial display was quickly gobbled up and then they trickled in one at a time from then on.

I also could not help but feel that the dragons, while unique, pretty much have a baked in strategy or two for each.  This is fine, and they do offer a different play experience, but it makes the game far more tactical than strategic.  Your strategy will mostly be dictated by your dragon, but there will plenty of short term decisions to keep things very interesting.

In Conclusion

I really enjoyed Whelps to Wyrms as did those with whom I played.  Everyone agreed that it was fun to play as the dragons rampaging throughout the realm!  Even those who lost commented how they enjoyed the feeling of progress derived from growing their dragon and advancing its powers.  As a light to medium weight game with room for some strategy, tons of tactical decisions, that provides feelings of adventure, and offers tremendous re-playability due to the modular nature of its board, Whelps to Wyrms is a great success!  If those are features that appeal to you or your gaming group, I recommend adding it to your hoard!

 

 

 

 

Let it be known to all readers and government officials alike, that Life in Games received a free copy of this game for the purpose of providing an objective review.  No further compensation of any sort changed hands between myself and the publisher.

 

Whelps to Wyrms is live on Kickstarter now!

 

Feb 15

How an Idea Becomes Reality

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During the most recent update the Strife: Shadows and Steam Kickstarter campaign, Jake from Vision 3 Games showed the process an idea goes through on its way to becoming a fully realized card.  Even as the game’s designer, I was not fully aware of how this worked and thought it was fascinating!  I decided this is just the sort of inside baseball game junkies love, and chose to share it here as a blog post.  Obviously, if you like what you see, checkout our Kickstarter which is running for about another week!  Either way, thanks for reading!

 

Curious as to how we develop our amazing artwork? Well it really relies on the magic of our artists, but we thought we’d show you with the process we just went though with Claudio for our first Event card: A Race for Resources.

The first thing that happens (after Chris makes sure the rules are buttoned up of course!) is that we’ll send a brief description over to the artist, along with the rule(s) and a working title. For these event cards, we definitely let the artists take the reigns and creatively interpret them. For this card, we sent the following,:

Race for Resources – Combat always begins at the location with the highest base vp value. If there are multiple locations tied for the highest base vp value, combat begins on the one located furthest from the location deck.
Concept: possibly an airship race between two airships? Or a locomotive vs an airship?

So what happens next? Claudio sends us three quick sketches. These are just to show form and function, as well as establish a color palette for the scene. Here’s what he sent:

Initial concept sketches from Claudio.
Initial concept sketches from Claudio.

From there, we bounce it around a bit internally, and make a call on what direction we like best, along with any comments or revisions we might think necessary. We’ll send feedback to the artist, who’ll take it back for another slightly-more-polished pass.

For this card, we gravitated to the bottom one after a little debate, but felt that we didn’t want it to look like one of the airships was capsizing. We also noted that we wanted to convey speed, not just a leisurely jaunt. So how’d Claudio take that feedback and run with it?

Claudio's second draft of the chosen concept.
Claudio’s second draft of the chosen concept.

You can clearly see he’s emphasized speed more, added details and played with the coloring. That horizon is looking stellar in the background! From here, we’ll give any more feedback as necessary. On this particular piece of art, it wasn’t. “Move forward!” was the cry. So how’d the final illustration end up? Check it out:

Final artwork from Claudio.
Final artwork from Claudio.

Stunning, isn’t it! We’re constantly amazed by Claudio’s efforts. Simply outstanding. But we’re not done yet! There’s still one more crucial step – graphic design and layout.

We’ll take this final artwork and lay it into our Event Card template, and make any adjustments we need to on the overall color balance or contrast on the artwork, while accounting for the cropping we need to fit all the rules text in there.

Final "A Race for Resource" card layout.
Final “A Race for Resource” card layout.

And there you have it. A card ready for the printer! The entire process takes roughly about 2-3 days. As you can see, there’s a lot of effort and love poured into each card. Here at V3G we pride ourselves on the quality of our games, and we hope it shows!

 

 

 

Feb 04

Strife: Shadows and Steam-Designer vs Publisher Showdown

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I recently dropped by V3G HQ to battle Jake Leeman,, the publisher of my Strife series of games, in a head to head, take no prisoners, epic grudge match in Strife: Shadows and Steam!  Despite some early technical difficulties, the video below shows nearly the entire game. For those of your who have never heard of the Strife series, this will be a quick introduction.  For those of you who have, it will a look into how the new set works and how a full match plays out.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

 

 

Remember, Strife: Shadows and Steam is currently up on Kickstarter.  If you are interested in learning more click on the widget below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 31

Strife: Shadows and Steam overview and Introduction

This video is a brief discussion of some differences between Strife: Legacy of the Eternals and the Strife: Shadows and Steam.  It also delves into elements of strategy for the new set and gives an overview of the champions. Strife: Shadows and Steam is currently on Kickstarter here.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

 

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