Category Archives: Boardgames

Thanos Rising – Finally Beat that %&^@!^ (A Review)

I’m a sucker for Marvel. I grew up on a steady diet of comic books from all studios back in the day, but I always Made Mine Marvel first. Iron Man is my hands down favorite super hero along with Batman. I appreciate they have no super powers other than their keen minds (and phat bank accounts) and have very human flaws. But I digress. The MCU has been the kid in me’s dream come true, can’t get enough of it and love it all even with some of the films being not so hot. But the genius of Marvel is telling a story that took a decade to pay off and pay off in spades with Infinity War. Great movie for anyone, but for those of us tied into the decade arc (Decarc…can that be a thing? Better than The Decimation…) it was glorious. Cue the Thanos Rising boardgame…

 

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“I’m so ANGRY!!!

Thanos Rising is a great co-operative dice roller. In it, players take the roles of themed super teams fighting to prevent Thanos…well..rising. It’s fun for many ages. My 12 year old daughter loves it, as do I. I think she’s more crushing on Thor and Loki than anything else, but always has a blast. Before I had it in hand I questioned the mechanics from what I could see online. The huge superfluous Thanos statue, the oddball Infinity Gauntlet board, funky dice. All suggested the game was like so many other boardgames based on IPs…derivative cash grabs. I don’t feel this is one at all. It’s a solid, fun game, and I think would be successful even without the Marvel trappings.

Each round players try to defeat Thanos’ minions and recruit heroes to their teams before he can Rise. Players win by defeating 10 minions, ranging from his grunt hordes to the big bads like Proxima Midnight and Corvus Maw (hate those two). Thanos wins by either: 1) defeating 10 heroes, 2) activating all 6 Infinity Stones, 3) defeating any one player’s full team of heroes. Yep, one way to win for the heroes, three for Thanos. Yeah, it’s that rough.

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I really didn’t like the statue concept at first, now I love seeing him rotate around the sectors in a game…as long as it’s away from my team!

On their turn players first decide which of the three zones they’ll interact with, either to fight his minions and/or recruit heroes. Then they roll the Infinity and Thanos dice and resolve what he does on his turn.

The Infinity die adds a counter to one of the six Infinity Stones, when that stone has five counters, it flips and from that point on rolling that color activates the stone’s ability. Abilities such as adding a counter to all stones with the fewest, healing active minions, and so on. Gotta love that. Also, you get to move the swanky stone from the tracker onto his gauntlet – props are fun.

You also check the Thanos die to see what he does. He may turn to a different sector, stay where he is and activate ALL sectors, or require you to roll the Infinity die a second time, adding another counter to a tracker. When Thanos activates, he deals one damage to all heroes in the sector he stops on, including the hero team members and then triggers the effects of all minions in that sector. This can stack damage on heroes quickly, add Infinity counters, or even heal minions (thanks, Q-Ship).

After this the player pools their dice based on their hero team and rolls, assigning one or more dice to one or more of the cards in the sector and then rerolling the remainder until all are assigned. If the dice faces match the requirements on a hero card, the hero joins the player’s team and removes all damage on it. If the dice faces match the requirements on a minion card it suffers one damage and the player draws a boost token that can have varying effects. The hero cards also have different special abilities that activate once a player has them on their team – not to mention a themed team ability for the four different teams.

The player dice have four themes. Red dice are fighty, black dice are space, blue dice are tech, and green dice are mysticism. All themes are represented on each die, but the colored dice that represent the theme have three faces matching that theme, one of which counts as two symbols.

The game plays fast and furious as long as players keep it going. There’s a temptation to overthink the odds of rolling X or Y on a turn and slowing things down. I recommend players do their best to push forward and not stall things out with probability models on their phones. It’s at its best when the action is fast and the tension is high. Did you choose the correct sector and avoid Thanos’ attention this turn? What is the best tactic to ensure he doesn’t remove ANOTHER hero this turn? Oh, come on, that roll just wiped out 3 heroes on the board! It has enough randomness and strategy that I have yet to get bored with it.

That said, many players may find it frustrating they don’t win against Thanos more often. I enjoy games where defeat is often snatched from the jaws of victory as long as we felt there was a chance along the way. Thanos Rising does this in spades. You may be progressing well only to have a batch of rolls not go your way and then Thanos takes the momentum, and then back to the players, and then Thanos. Some games will feel very lopsided due to the draws in the deck. I enjoy the level of randomness in the game. It’s a dice game where the dice interact with random draws from a deck…um…random game will be random.

I think we’ve played the game about 15 times with groups of 2-4 and lost the last 14 times. Some were slim losses, others blowouts. Last week we finally WON. The minions trickled out slow enough we were able to get our teams supported a bit before having to deal with them. I was also fortunate enough to get what was just about my ‘dream team’ for heroes in the game with some of my favorites from the comics. Double victory for me. We were still on the edge of a loss, however. Thanos had activated three Stones and had eliminated 8 heroes by the time we defeated the tenth minion. I might have shouted at the statue.

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The Dream Team.

If you enjoy dice rolling games, or Marvel, or co-op games that are a challenge to win, give Thanos Rising a try. Also, USAopoly has several promos out there for the game. You can find them on ebay, but I wrote to them and they mailed me the current set they had for free. No idea if they’re still doing this, but worth an email. Although we really do hate that Q-Ship.

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HAHAHA! SUCK IT, THANOS!!

Here’s a little something to watch for in the game…notice the Collector in the picture there? No Benicio face on the image, just his silhouette. There’s at least one other card I believe like this in the deck. Not sure what licensing issue there was with his likeness (my search-fu is weak I guess), but there you go.

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Missions Deck [Shadows of Brimstone]

One of the great things about Shadows of Brimstone is the depth of the missions available for the game. The core boxes alone both contain 12 missions (with 6 overlapping). Along with the Enemy expansions and the Deluxe sets a collector of the full game is looking at 87 unique missions to enjoy!

With so many options choosing missions other than going straight through them one at a time can be a challenge. There are plenty of options out there, but I prefer a deck of cards (because SOB needs more cards!!) that I can modify as the play group goes. We can remove missions we’ve already played or tailor a batch of missions in the draw, whatever style of draw we’d like.

The deck I created also includes a checklist for posses to track their wins/losses and when they played a mission.

Hopefully this comes in handy for your play group too! SoB_mission_deck_072017


Game Transport and Storage Solutions for Shadows of Brimstone

I’ve posted here before about my infatuation with Flying Frog’s Shadows of Brimstone game. I heavily backed the Kickstarter, and am hoping to see the last of what I backed here sometime this summer (after 3 years of development, adding on to it, shipping and printing issues, and so forth – you know, a Kickstarter, not a preorder system).

Anyway, one thing SOB has going for it, at least for me, is stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Cards, tokens, map tiles, enemy reference cards, did I mention cards? I’d have to count them up but it’s hundreds of cards if not upwards of a thousand plus now. Oh and lots of miniatures.

I don’t game solely at home so my SOB collection needs to be both transportable and easily stored when not in use. Here are my current solutions to both problems. So far everything’s worked great.

MAP TILES
This might be the simplest of the storage solutions. Hanging file storage box and folders. I Picked up this guy at Staples and has worked great. It currently holds all the map tile releases through the 1.5 mailing and Trederra, but not the Derelict Ship or Blasted Wastes. I think I can get them to fit, but may need a second one once I get the contents in hand. Process: I was loathe to do it, but for this game you need quick access to the materials, so I went ahead and printed up small clear Avery labels for each tile and the relevant Map cards. Instead of coding by room name (as seen in the picture, I’ve since reworked things) I went ahead and did a simple system. Each boxed set has a letter, such as T for Trederra, then a number for the tile. The two cards referencing the tile (the Mines Map deck and corresponding Otherworld Map deck) also get a sticker with the same number. Like I said, I hated putting stickers on anything, but it’s worked like a dream for speeding up game play. “Map tile T-12.” Bam, go to box and grab T-12, profit.
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TOKENS
Brimstone has a loooot of tokens. It’s token overload for some players and the different types can take up a good amount of table real estate during a game. I wanted a way to easily transport and then access what we needed during each game no matter where we were. Also to have containers to pass around so all players had easy access to Wounds or Sanity or Corruption (yay) while we played. Solution: The Stanley 25-compartment organizer. This thing is amazing. It has different sized compartments for varying size and quantity components. I ran out of room with one so I bought a second and haven’t looked back. I even keep the map tile end cap pieces in one of these, dice, badges for our Marshal and Sheriff, and so on. Best thing? Modular. These compartments can be rearranged and removed for use during a game. What I’ve done with them is anything we need for setup (objects, terrain, and so on) are all in one of the organizers while the pieces we use in nearly every game are in the second. Cannot recommend enough (and they have handles!). Sorry for the blurry pic, I’ll get a better one in here.
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CARDS
There are loooots of cards for SOB as well. Keeping track of what you need, having them ready for play in the game, storing and sorting outside of the game. Kind of a hassle. I used to keep them in a selection of Upper Deck card boxes, but that became unwieldy, especially if any were left behind. I still keep our campaign characters’ current cards in a large card box so they don’t get mixed up with the other character cards, but that’s it. Currently everything else is in a Hobby Lobby Artist Supply Sketch Box with a Broken Token insert made specifically for the case (it’s in the insert description, but remember it FITS THAT CASE SPECIFICALLY). I preferred the darker color linked above, but there is a plain wood style case as well – stock number is in the BT insert description. I also ordered an additional set of dividers knowing how many card types there were in the game. Be sure to order the divider pack referenced in the Broken Token item description. I found a generic set from BT that looked the same size at my LGS, but turns out were off about 1/16″ and that was enough to make them useless for this project. The cards are sorted by world and type where possible. I’m running out of room in this and worry that when I do get the last sets, including the monster add on packs I may need to get another one or relegate some of these back to card boxes (looking at you money cards, and character cards…and scenario deck). But until then it’s awesome and makes finding things very easy. In game we use a Hold-It card organizer for the most commonly used cards (actually two now, love them so much).

MINIATURES
The miniatures for this game posed a unique challenge. I wanted to keep them protected, but at the same time needed them to be easily accessed during a game. I started with standard miniature cases I had already lying around, but those only covered the smaller models and not always with their odd sizes and shapes. The larger stuff was relegated to a Really Useful Box that I also kept my poker chips (for XP), darkstones, doorways, town board, and other miscellaneous items for the game I couldn’t store elsewhere, like the awesome resin Depth Tracker.

Eventually I bit the bullet and decided to magnetize all my SOB miniatures. I bought additional Really Useful Boxes (Staples, Orchard Supply Hardware, online) with heights that worked for the varying sizes of models, and lined them with simple roofing shingles. I glued in rare earth magnets from Amazing Magnets and went to town. Oh look, I even posted on it: https://shinypennymusings.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/shadows-of-brimstone-model-storage-option/
But here are a couple pics to show the results:

RULE BOOKS/REFERENCE CARDS
I won’t bore you with pictures of the standard 3-ring binder I have for the tall monster cards as well as reference sheets and rulebooks all in sheet protectors. What I will bore you with is the solution for the smaller monster cards, special town cards, and character reference cards. These are all in a mini 3-ring binder, all in sheet protectors . Works great. Depending on your mood, you can pull the entire sheet out of the binder or just remove from the protector. The binders are both tossed in a backpack I use just for SOB.

IN GAME FUN

Once we’re playing I leave the map tiles sorter and miniatures boxes off the table. I pull out what we need as we go, and as I stated above the Really Useful Boxes make it easy to see the minis I need rather than spend time digging through trays to find what we need. The card binder allows easy access to monsters in game, I just remove the protector they’re in from the 3-ring and use as needed. Can even make notes on the protector with dry erase as needed.

For the cards, we use two of the Hold-It card organizer through Amazon. One’s enough for a Mines-only run, even if we do sometimes need to dig out an alternative Artifacts deck or Traits deck for a monster we’ve drawn, but they work great and don’t take up too much space. And, like the rest of the collection, they’re very portable. And and…I can use them for other boardgames we play that involve several decks (looking at you Touch of Evil and Eldrich Horror!).

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And that is how I store and transport my Shadows of Brimstone collection. It works great, easily packed and unpacked and can be set aside once the needed components are pulled out for the game session.

Tune in next time for an article on my current selection of  props we have made to the game so far.


Coming Soon…Shadows of Brimstone Dime Novels

Would like to try something different than the usual play session report for a game. Coming soon: Kel’s Shadows of Brimstone Dime Novels, a series of narrative experiments using game sessions of the Flying Frog Productions Shadows of Brimstone game line as their foundation.

Look for Volume 1 in early June…it’ll be a hoot!


How I Spent My Memorial Day Vacation by little Danny Weber (age 45)

Welp, the blur that was Kublacon has come and gone. Both Jason Ellis and I survived the experience, ready for next year!

Had a great time and met some great people, and I’m already itching for more boardgaming and some miniatures gaming as well.

Day 1: Thursday
Thursday was the drive up. After a late start (about 4 hours later than planned) we rolled up the I-5 in the Kia Optima. The nice thing was that the late start did dodge all the rush hour traffic the early start was also supposed to dodge. 🙂 Passed Magic Mountain and got a look in person at the new Twisted Colossus ride they were opening that weekend…need to go back and try that monster out.

The ride up was fine, we did pass an open field where a smallish ‘tent’ of some sort had been erected and someone had placed a bicycle and three dressed mannequins outside. That was more than a little creepy

Shout out to Jason’s parents for putting us up for the night. A tradition he has with his folks, Jason gets to Fremont and visits with them before heading to Kcon on Friday morning. I had tacked myself onto his drive so I was in it for the visit as well. Wonderful people, had a great time with everyone there! Was introduced to a great Mexican food restaurant while I was there, apparently it’s a family tradition for his family: La Milpa. I try chicken mole whenever I find it on a menu and theirs was AMAZING! Would like to have that again. 🙂

Day 2: Friday
The drive into the con was uneventful (no mannequins stalking the car in the morning). We were a bit behind, so after getting the room key and lugging up some basic luggage I helped Jason set up his Ground Pounder demo game then had to set up the first run of Brimstone.

Ground Pounder is a generic skirmish ruleset Jason has been working on for years. It’s a great system and hopefully it’ll be available to the public soon. His table looked AMAZING. Lots of hard work. (And somehow, the pix I took have wandered off…)

Brimstone had 13 signups and 5 players who actually showed. Had the spread of players who owned the game but hadn’t played it yet, were interested in it, and were just curious. The painted miniatures and little details (actual gemstones, money cards, poker chips) really made the game pop. The table was a bit small for it, but we still had a blast. They defeated the Big Evil just at the 3 hour mark, so teaching/character selection/etc worked perfectly for a full demo. As you can see, the table was long, but narrow. Glad the map turned back and didn’t head to the table edge.

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After that, dinner then a demo of the Malifaux 2E rules. Astute readers may be wondering why I needed an M2E demo…well, I never did see the final product for M2E and I haven’t read through the new books (although I have them) since its release. Crissy DuBois was kind enough to accommodate me and show me the final product. Had a fun time and am grateful for her demonstration (even if she is a stickler for measuring).

Then it was prep for the Kcon Flea Market. I didn’t take pictures of the madhouse, but should have. It opened at 11pm (ran for 2 hours), but people started lining up to buy outside of it at about 8 pm. At least 100 in line by the time the doors opened, if not more. We both did well. I took less than Jason had, and left with maybe 1 or 2 items. He returned with a box, but also sold a good chunk of what he brought. Of course, some of that money went back into the Flea Market. 🙂 Found a nostalgia copy of the TORG RPG as well as bought a copy of the old Supremacy boardgame to combine with my old set that’s missing pieces. Also got a few miniatures for a song (NIB Ork Skorcha and 12 assembled Bretonnian Knights each buy for $15).

Day 3: Saturday
The breakfast buffet was great at the Hyatt, fueiling me up for the day to come. I wandered the smallish dealer room, met some folks, then ran my second Brimstone game in the afternoon. 20 on the signup sheet with about 10 showing. I did accommodate 7 players. They also defeated the Big Evil, and because their game ran shorter I had time to show them how visits to Town worked. Everyone had a blast and I did receive some compliments on my paint jobs (always nice to hear). The table for this game was also wider, making it more comfortable for everyone.

After that gamed with some of Jason’s local friends – a great group – and played Rise to Power, a great little card game.

Also had the chance to see Harry Coit, a friend of mine who used to live local, but we seemed to only meet up at conventions out of the area (like Gen Con).

We also played Camp Grizzly, a very fun and hilarious satire of the 1970’s/80’s slasher movies. My character didn’t survive, but it was a great game regardless. Can’t wait for their expansion for it (Electric Steve!).

Demo before the game purchase.

Day 4: Sunday
Sunday was more boardgaming. I played a marathon length game of Relic with the Haits, we had a BLAST, but it did eat up about 6 hours of the weekend. Won’t be playing with the Daemon finale again if I’m looking for a quicker game. Played a few small games including:
Yes, this happened.

I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever finished reading P&P, after the game I think I want to. 🙂
Then 6 of us played a full expansions Firefly game. Time was called before the game ended. I wasn’t doing well, but still enjoyed the time and the game.

Day 5: Monday
Monday the fatigue was beginning to take its toll. Jason had his second Ground Pounder event at 11 am, and once it was over we’d be hitting the road. After packing up the car I wandered the dealer room and made a couple purchases. There was supposed to be a Flea Market on Monday that I wanted to check out, but it was so small and so many people tried to get in they ended it earlier than I was downstairs!

Played Rise to Power again, plus a zombie card game called Zombie Fried that was mediocre, but fun for players of the right age or sense of humor.

Once Jason was finished with his game we said our goodbyes to the local pals, and hit the road. Hit a bit of traffic and didn’t get back to SoCal until nearly midnight, but even that wasn’t too bad of a drive. Fortunately it was dark enough we couldn’t see the tent and mannequins on this run…or was it they couldn’t see us…

Would definitely recommend Kublacon for boardgamers who can get there. A great con for boardgames. The last time I went (years ago) it was also great for miniatures gaming, but this year it was fairly lackluster. Hoping that changes in the years to come!!

Roadkill Spotted Count:
5 possum
2 raccoon
1 skunk
1 hawk
8 unidentifiable
1 ewok

Random con pix
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