zwischenzug (ZVI-shen-tsoog) — noun

A chess tactic in which a player, instead of playing the expected move, first interpolates another move, changing the situation to the player's advantage (such as gaining material or avoiding what would otherwise be a strong continuation for the opponent).

Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

King of Fillers: A King of Tokyo Review

We normally don’t play many fillers in our gaming group.  For the most part, we know each other well enough that we spend time catching up before we start playing.  I have been trying to curtail that, since we have plenty of time while gaming to catch up, and we are trying to limit the session to four hours.  A couple of weeks ago we had a couple of people running late, so a filler was in order.  King of Tokyo was what made it to the table, since it met the player count and wasn’t too long.  Did we like it?  Well, we finished with it too…

Promotional Image
King of Tokyo is meant to be a light game where each player takes on the role of a giant monster attacking Tokyo.  There is light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek humor which is evident from the moment players start selecting their monsters from the pool consisting of Meka-Dragon, Cyber Bunny and Alienoid.  During the course of the game, each monster will gain special powers, helping them defeat the other monsters (by doing damage) or lay waste to Tokyo (by gaining victory points).  Players win by either gaining 20 victory points or by eliminating all other monsters.

Here’s the thumbnail version of the rules.  On their turn, each player picks up a handful of dice and rolls them Yahtzee-style.  Each die has six sides with the same faces: the numbers 1, 2 and 3 as well as a claw, a heart and a lightning bolt.  The dice are rolled up to three times, with the player selecting which dice to keep and which to re-roll each time.   Rolling three numbers of a kind awards that many victory points.  In other words, rolling three 1’s gives 1 victory point; rolling three 2’s gives 2 victory points.  Rolling a claw is an attack, rolling a heart heals, and rolling a lightning bolt awards the player with an energy cube.  Energy cubes are the currency of the game, and are used to buy cards that give the special abilities mentioned before.  Players outside of Tokyo damage the one player inside the city (two in a five or six player game), and vice versa.  I won’t go into details on how one gets to Tokyo.  Suffice it to say that being in the city is a higher risk / higher reward position, and there are ways to force people into Tokyo.

I won with Alienoid in the first game, but he let me down
in the second! (Image by Raiko Puust)
This is a GREAT game!  In the first game, I won by being the last monster standing.  I had the chance to move into Tokyo on a turn late in the game.  On my next turn, I played an “Air Strike” card which dealt everyone – including me – three points of damage.  I then rolled four claws, doing damage to everyone outside the city and eliminating them all!  Since it was a six player game, it was just between myself and the other player inside Tokyo.  A couple of turns later there was a showdown and I barely won.

The second game lasted a little longer, and resulted in a victory point win for one of the other members of the group.  On one hand, this was a little less climactic, since only two people were eliminated (including me).  On the other hand, a longer game allowed more special powers to be put in play, and there’s some drama and humor to be gained that way, so it was just as fun!  Cards with titles such as, “We’re Only Making It STRONGER!”, this game begs to be played in your best B-grade creature feature voice.  In fact, part of the fun (at least for me) is going over the top with this.

The cards add special powers to the monsters, not to mention some corny humor!  (Image by Raiko Puust)
  At a half hour play time, this game has that in-between playing time that is a little long for a filler, and a little short for a full experience.  It’s kind of like getting loaded baked potatoes for an appetizer; should I stop here or order more food?  I am also not sure how well this will do with kids.  The theme is perfect for them, and they will easily be taught the rules.  However, being forced into Tokyo and then having everyone whomp on you just might be a little traumatic for some younger children.  I’ll still call it a good kids’ game, because I believe a typical 8 – 10 year old will be past that point.

The only other issue with this game might be finding a copy!  You will either have to go online or find a local gaming store to purchase it.  Do yourself a favor and find a way to get it!  When I recommended this on my 2012 Gift Buying Guide, I hadn't played it.  I based the recommendation on the games reputation, and it has more than lived up to it!  This is a great game that will be fun for many gatherings.  It will play well in both casual groups and in family groups across generations.  I plan to make it available at all of our game group sessions for quite a while, since it was a big hit with nearly everyone. 

King of Tokyo
                Ages:                    8 and up
                Time:                     30 minutes
                Players:                 2-6 (but I think it really needs at least three)

It’s Your Move

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dracula meets Frankenstein

Almost.  As it turns out, I was hoping our monthly group would get to play both Fury of Dracula and Fearsome Floors this month, but it didn’t work out.  We only managed to get in the former, which is one of my all-time favorites.  Rather than give a full review, I am going to give two mini reviews of these games.

Image by Brian (ColtsFan76)
Fury of Dracula’s storyline has its roots in the original novel.  In this game, Dracula has come back from the grave (again) some years later, seeking once again to establish his vampire brood.  He also has sought revenge against those who brought him down in the novel, turning two of them into his minions (Jonathan Harker and Quincey Morris).  The remaining members of that group have reformed to bring down the Count again: Dr. Van Helsing, Dr. John Seward, Mina Harker and Lord Godalming (aka Arthur Holmwood).  The game sets one player as Dracula, moving in secret throughout Europe as the four other characters hunt  for him, attempting to attack and kill him.  Dracula is more powerful at night than during the day, loses life when travelling by sea, and card play provides information to the hunters as well as arming them against Dracula and his accomplices.  This game is one of the most thematic games I own, and like so many other thematic games, the card play adds much to the theme by interrupting the normal flow of the game.  It is worthy to note that all five characters are in the game regardless of how many players are playing, leaving a good game for anywhere from two to five players.  (This is accomplished by players playing more than one role if necessary.)  It also means that it is a good game for someone to show up late to, or leave early from, with his or her character is picked up by another player.

That said, this is NOT a casual game.  In fact, I believe it is more complex than many of my other games.  The hunter roles are somewhat complicated, particularly with the impact of the cards, but they have each other to rely on.  Dracula is on his own, and is doing things in secret, so the potential is there for a completely screwed up game.  As it takes two to three hours to play, this can lead to a very frustrating evening.  This game is published by Fantasy Flight, and is typical of their style: very high Awesomeness Factor, but very complex.

(For those of you have been reading along, I never did paint the figures for this game.  My artistic skills are at the “paint by numbers” level, so I am incredibly nervous about trying to paint them.)

Promotional Image from publisher
I haven’t played Fearsome Floors at all, but that’s not going to stop me from reviewing it.  I have read the rules, and I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  In this game, the players have been imprisoned by an evil lord while trying to rescue a damsel in distress.  Now, they are poised for a massive breakout, but must avoid the monster that guards the exit.  Players have three or four disks each which represent their characters; the number of disks depends on the number of players.  The movement mechanics are simple, and the monster moves by its own rules.  As such, kids under ten could definitely play this, although they probably won’t play well.  The art is cartoon-ish, and isn’t really scary at all.  This is a good game for all players.  The one warning I have heard repeated  is that it can bog down in analysis paralysis, since the monster's movements can be figured out with enough thought.  The key is to play this as a light race game.  This game claims to take an hour to play, and can handle up to seven players, so it will fit most families and casual groups.

Below will be links to other reviews on this topic, including these games.  Personally, I am pretty selective about horror themed games, as well as movies, so Fearsome Floors is probably one of the very few “family horror games” I would play.  Other perspectives would be good.
The monster can be configured to look like the Frankenstein Monster -- or other horrors! (Image by Jesper Amstrup)

Okay, now that you have made it this far, I am going to add a few things about the Dracula and Frankenstein novels.  Dracula is in my top five novels of all time, and Frankenstein is also well worth reading.  They can be downloaded from Amazon or B&N to an e-reader for free, as they are in the public domain; they can also be downloaded as PDFs from the Gutenberg Project.  Similarly, LibriVox, a public domain audio book source, also has them.  I am currently listening to their dramatized version of Dracula as I drive around town, and it is excellent.  Do yourself a favor and read at least Dracula if not both novels.

 It's Your Move!

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