Friday, July 29, 2011

Yeah, I Admit It - I Bought the Smurfs Game

Last night after my monthly game night at The Guardtower with my friend Dan I bought a new game from Wizkids.

The Smurfs: No Smurf Left Behind.

I'll admit it. The 80s were a big time for me. It wouldn't be right for me to say that I'm a "child of the 80s" 'though. I was born in 1965. I'm more a child of the 70s, really. But, the pop culture of the 1980s was huge in my my life. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. GI Joe. Thundercats. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those were huge to me, and still are.

And, then there were the Smurfs. They were extremely prevalent back in the day. I watched the cartoon here and there, but never bought any Smurfs toys because they weren't articulated. I wanted my toys to be able to move and Smurfs were just cute, static little guys (and girl) that really didn't have any play value.

But, I did have a fondness for the little blue folk.

So, here were are in 2011 and there's a big screen movie, The Smurfs, opening today. I don't expect we'll be hearing much about The Smurfs come the time for the Academy Award nominations to be announced. But, I am still looking forward to taking my daughter to see it at our local theater tomorrow. I've made it safely through two Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, Hop, G-Force and Cats & Dogs 2. I think I'll be fine with The Smurfs. And, besides, my daughter is really excited about it.

So, Wizkids came out with a board game called The Smurfs: No Smurf Left Behind. So, always on the lookout for games to play with my daughter, I picked up The Smurfs. Here's the description of the game:
Smurf for your lives! The Smurfs are trapped in the heart of New York City's Central Park! The only way back home is through a magical Smurf portal that only opens once every Blue Moon. But wait! Gargamel has also found his way to Central Park, and he has ensnared Papa Smurf in one of his nefarious traps. Now it is up to the Smurfs to free Papa Smurf from Gargamel's grasp and find their way to the Smurf portal before Gargamel closes it with one of his magic spells. Will the Smurfs make it out in time or will Gargamel succeed and trap the Smurfs in the human world forever? Play as the Smurfs or Gargamel to find out!
The game come with 6 very nicely done pre-painted miniatures (Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Gutsy Smurf and Gargamel), a fold out game cardboard 12" x 12" game board, 25 movement cards and a rules sheet.

Gameplay is all about the movement cards, and the movement icon printed on each figures base. When you play your movement cards, you may move the characters depicted on the card the designated amount of spaces in any direction allowed by the icon on the corresponding characters base. Papa Smurf begins the game in jail (captured by Gargamel) and you have to get another Smurf character adjacent to Papa Smurf to free him. Then it is a race to one of the blue Portal squares marked "Escape!" When a character reaches a portal it is removed from the board immediately. If all 5 Smurfs escape, the game is over and the Smurfs are victorious.

Meanwhile, the Gargamel player is trying to prevent the Smurfs from escaping by closing the portal with his magic spells. Gargamel doesn't use movement cards. He can move 3 spaces in any direction indicated by the icon on his base. The movement cards do come into play for casting magic spells, however.

It's not a strategically deep game, but then it's not meant to be. It does look to be a fun game to pass the time with my daughter. And that's not a bad thing at all!

Hands on with Hasbro's Battleship Galaxies

I've been looking forward to Hasbro's Battleship Galaxies boardgame for some time now. Like many, I grew up playing the original Battleship game (along with many of it's variants and offshoots) over the years. So when this latest iteration was first announced it immediately caught my attention. The starship combat theme certainly didn't hurt, either!

Last night was my monthly game night with my friend Dan. Dan emailed me the other day asking what I was in the mood to play this month, and mentioned that he had just picked up Battleship Galaxies. Without hesitation I jumped on the opportunity to check the game out first hand!

First thing you notice upon opening the box is that it is just packed full of fabulous components. The board is nice quality cardboard, as opposed to a simple, folded paper map. The starfield artwork featured on the board is very attractive.

There's a bevy of cards used in the game. Some detail the information on each of the starships, while others feature special weapons or heroes that can be attached to certain ships.

The real stars of the game, however, are the 20 ship miniatures. These plastic minis are very detailed and well done, especially for a mass-market game from a company such as Hasbro. The ships fit atop hex bases of one of three sizes: single hex, double hex or the large multi-hex bases used by the capitol ships. The bases feature holes in which blue plugs are placed to represent the ship's shields or red plugs are placed to represent damage sustained. These plugs are one of the places where the game evokes it's Battleship roots.

Last night, Dan played as the Intergalactic Space Navy or ISN (the human good guys) and I had the alien Wretch (full name: Wretcheridians). We clunked our way through the rules, learning as we played. Dan had previous given the rulebook a quick read, and I had just listened to a detailed review of the game on the current episode of the D6 Generation podcast. So, we had a pretty decent grasp of the basics.

We just played through the first scenario from the rulebook which was pretty much a straight up combat encounter between our two forces. It was a good start to give us a taste for the game, and how the mechanics worked. Combat featured another nod to the original Battleship. The game comes with two D8 dice. One die features the numbers 1 through 8, while the other features the letters A - H.To determine whether or not you hit when attacking an enemy vessel you roll the dice coming up with a result something like G-4. The result is then compared to a diagram on the target's corresponding ship card. If G-4 matches up with a part of the diagram representing the ship (marked in grey) it's a hit. If it matches up with a while square on the grid, it's a miss.

Both Dan and I made the newbie mistake of forgetting to read the details on our ship cards or on our special event cards that are drawn on each turn. But, that's part of learning a new game. Most importantly, we had fun.

I definitely recommend Battleship Galaxies if you are looking for a relatively light starship combat game. Honestly, I am still on the fence about picking up a copy for myself, especially now that Dan has it. I'm still looking forward to both the upcoming Star Trek: Fleet Captains game coming from Wizkids as well as A Call to Arms: Star Fleet coming later this year from Mongoose Publishing. Time will tell. But, there is no denying that Battleship Galaxies is a good, solid game.

For more information on Battleship Galaxies check out, or go to Battleship (right now that redirects to Hasbro's general Battleship page, but I expect Galaxies content to be added soon).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spin Master Playing Big at Gen Con 2011

Spin Master is excited to make its debut at this year’s Gen Con with the launch of its exciting new Trading Card Game, Redakai™ as well as featured games from Spin Master Games; Stomple™ and the 50th Anniversary of Stratego™.

Spin Master has a strong history of launching hits. Their balance of innovation and love for classic gaming is a great fit for Gen Con. Seeing children react to Redakai™ is awesome; we are glad to have such strong support in the Family Fun Pavilion,” says Scott Elliot, senior director of sales for Gen Con.

Featured in the Family Fun Pavilion, Spin Master will be hosting a variety of events over the course of convention. The Redakai team will spearhead Learn to Play techniques, Sealed Pack Events, Constructed Events, and a Championship Tournament while The Spin Master Games team will host Adult and Junior Tournaments for both Stratego and Stomple.

Gen Con is extremely important to the game industry,” says Mark Sullivan, EVP of Marketing for Spin Master Ltd. “Supporting the Family Fun Pavilion will be a great opportunity for so many people to learn our new games, Redakai & Stomple as well as play old favorites, such as Stratego. After all, they say it’s The Best Four Days In Gaming.”

Redakai™ is an all-new boys action property, which features fresh new strategic gameplay, amazing Blast3D™ technology and a televised series on Cartoon Network produced by Spin Master Ltd and Zodiak Kids/Marathon Media.

50th Anniversary Stratego™ for half a century, the red and blue armies of Stratego have battled in homes across America. The Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition honors the heritage of Stratego with the original nostalgic theme, an elegant folio package and all the strategy and excitement that have made Stratego a family favorite. Experience exclusive never-before-seen cannon game pieces that allow you to name and destroy your opponents pieces. Enter the epic strategic battle with the 50th Anniversary edition of Stratego!

Stomple™ is a strategic marble stomping game. Outwit your opponents by stomping their marbles before they stomp yours and out maneuver by leading their stomper trapped with no escape. If you outstomp the competition, you win!

Schedule of Events:

Learn to Play
· All new players can stop by the Events area or their Booth in the exhibit hall to learn how to play the game.
Sealed Pack Events
· Any player who buys a structure deck or championship tin product at their booth or events area is eligible to participate for free in one of their many sealed pack events throughout the show
Constructed Events
· They will also have daily constructed events for Redakai experts to bring their custom collection of cards to take on all challengers.
Redakai Championship
· The whole event culminates in their first ever Redakai Championship on Saturday morning
· The winner will be named their first Champion and win an ipad2!
· Other exciting prizes, online coverage of the event and winning players/decks, and appearances by the design team behind Redakai make this an event not to be missed.
League Prizes all con long!
· Everyone who plays in any events in their Events area during Gen Con is eligible to win league exclusive prize cards just for playing!
· Earn stamps for each game you play and get achievement cards as you play more!

· Players win two rounds and they advance to the championship on Sunday (Junior & Adult)
· Winner of Tournament receives – $500 American Express Gift Card, Games Prize Pack and the EXCLUSIVE Stratego 50th Anniversary Edition
· 2nd Place – Exclusive 50th Anniversary Stratego Game & Stomple Game
· 3rd & 4th Place – Exclusive Stratego 50th Anniversary Edition

Daily gaming events culminate into a championship event on Sunday for Stratego

· Each Stomple game is a stand-alone tournament played daily
· Meet and play the inventor of Stomple each day
· Each day in the training room, play the giant game of Stomple every day!

All finalists get a t-shirt for the Stratego and Stomple events

For more information please visit and visit them at The Spin Master Booth #219.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Buckeye Battles V - Warhammer Tournament

Buckeye Battles V was held this weekend on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.

Buckeye Battles, now in it's fifth year, is a good sized Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40K tournament event. Things kicked off on Friday morning and are just wrapping up as I type this. Friday was the 40K RTT (Rogue Trader Tournament), while Saturday and Sunday were the Warhammer Fantasy Indy GT (Independent Grand Tournament) events.

I was surprised to see 40K relegated to a one-day tourney, while Fantasy had two days as the general consensus is usually that there are more 40K players than Fantasy players these days.

We had family visiting from out of state this weekend, so desptite OWU being about 10 minutes from our house, I wasn't able to get there until today. I stopped by for a bit this afternoon to check out the action. Being new to the world of Warhammer gaming, and still in the midst of acquiring and assembling my army, I wasn't able to play in the tournament this year. But, I very much wanted to see what it was like.

As I approached the entrance to the Chappelear Drama Center I could hear the buzz of activity coming from within. It grew stradily louder as I made my way through the lobby and into the theater. Upon first glance it looked like there was quite a crowd...

...there was a nice banner bearing the name and address of Hobby Central, which is our friendly local game store here in Delaware. There was some merchandise for sale, as well as a smattering of snack foods, candy bars, etc. I could see tables laden with terrain and various armies from the Warhammer world. All the action was up on the stage of the theater.

As I got closer to the stage I saw the true breadth of Buckeye Battles V! I neglected to count the tables available, but there were a lot and they all seemed full. According to the last update on the website, they said they had 80 registrants and were only going to accept 6 more. I don't know if they got their final 6, but the place was packed. It was a very exciting environment. This is the largest Indy GT in Ohio.

Everyone looked to be having a fantastic time. Seeing the activity going on has really got me excited for Warhammer, and I really want to play in this event next year. That leaves me with a lot of work to do in the interim, but it's also giving me a goal to shoot for. It just looked like a ton of fun, and isn't that was gaming should be about? In fact, fun is a stated goal for the event. Check this out from the website:

We believe in a fun event, where everyone can compete and have a good time. Our banding format and scenarios lend itself to this belief. It’s a great compliment from our players, when they say that they don’t feel burnt out after our event.

Sounds great! It's so cool to have an event like this happening in my own backyard for a change. So, here's to Buckeye Battles VI in summer 2012. And be sure to follow my adventures right here at The Rural Gamer as I get my forces ready for next years event.

If you're a Warhammer player, 40K or Fantasy, in the midwest then you need to do yourself a favor and check out Buckeye Battles for yourself. You can find their website here, and also be sure to check out their Facebook page here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Writing a Game Off Too Soon

I'm a miniatures gamer at heart, and I know that sometimes that causes me to hold certain biases when it comes to new games (and even older games, I suppose). If I game doesn't feature miniatures of some kind it is much more difficult to grab and hold my interest.

Recently, Summoner Wars from Plaid Hat Games broke that cycle for me and got me to look at the card game. And, I'm glad I did!

So, awhile back one of my favorite companies, Wizkids, announced a product called Quarriors. It's essentially a deck building game (a la Dominion, Ascension, et al) but with dice. Here's how Wizkids describes the game on the official site:

A unique blend of strategy and chance featuring a revolutionary dice building game mechanic!

As a Quarrior - a mighty mystical warrior - only you have the power to capture dangerous quarry from the untamed wilds!

But your rivals plot against you! They will send their own Creatures and Spells to destroy your Quarry before you can deliver them to Empress Quiana and claim your reward! Summon your Creatures and protect them from your foes and you will earn Glory for yourself.

The first player to earn enough Glory will be hailed as the Champion of the Empress.

OK. I admit it. I rolled my eyes when I read the press release and, in my mind, I wrote the game off. Wasn't for me.

However, while I was at Origins I was speaking to uber-reviewer and game industry guru Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower. I asked Tom what game stood out for him at Origins and without a moment of hesitation he said, "Quarriors! I love it!"

Really? Quarriors?

Then this past week I was listening to the latest episode of the Game On with Cody and John podcast (episode 67). At one point the guys were talking about games they were looking forward to picking up at Gen Con in August and both said, "Quarriors".

Really? Quarriors?

So, I got to thinking. Was it just my own bias towards having minis in my game that was turning me off from even the basic concept of Quarriors? Quite probably.

While I'm not sold yet, I will check this game out at Gen Con next month. I'll get in a demo or two and see how it plays, and be better informed before I pass judgement. It's all part of being, as Cody and John would say, a well-rounded gamer.