Xmas Board Games

I went out to visit the family for Xmas (we have ours a few weeks early to get around conflicts on the day itself.) As I have done so the last couple of years, I took a few games out with me.

The Resistance has always been popular, but this year I took out The Resistance: Avalon. For guys and girls who don’t game much, the whole class-based system got a little confusing at times, but by the end of the weekend we had it all worked out. I was keen to try out the classes thing – I thought it actually sounded more fun than plot cards. After giving it a red-hot go, I’m not sure if I actually like it better. It’s nice for something different, but I wouldn’t say better. I think mixing it up is the key.

I also took out Fury of Dracula. One of my favourites. I thought it might work well, because one side is co-operative, so all I had to do was put the relative that was best at picking up the rules in Dracula’s seat, and have all the other players working together against them. Or, alternatively, get an experienced player (like my brother) to play as Dracula, while a bunch of relatives and I play as the hunters. The big problem with this game was its length – it’s honestly 2-4 hrs long, and although very good it’s hard to convince people to play. To my surprise, I did get a game in the first night and my little 11-year-old niece stabbed Dracula (my experienced brother) twice in the heart killing him and winning the game for us. She wanted to play again after that, but we just didn’t have the time.

The big success was City of Horror. This is no surprise – it’s a fantastic game. It’s not quite as easy to understand as some games (even a complex game like Mage Knight has more intuitive rules and easy-to-grasp mechanics) but after one game you get the hang of it and it all comes together for a great social game. The teenagers/early 20s loved it and were online looking to shop for their own version straight after that first game. I wasn’t sure people were really “getting it” so I was a bit surprised. The second game played out like a proper game of CoH, though, with lots of wheeling and dealing going on, so I guess people got into the swing of things.

Well, the actual point of this post was supposed to be to give a list of games stores to get these games from. I got three separate requests from family members, so I thought I’d post here as well. If my family visits my blog, they’ll get an updated list too, since I think I might have left a couple off.

These are my go-to stores in Australia. You have a much better selection getting things from the US or, in a pinch, the UK, but the shipping is extremely painful. By getting it from an Australian store you usually get it for about the same price (once you include overseas shipping), but much faster.

I got most of my information from this old Board Game Geek thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/47360/2009-online-australian-retailers-list-price-compa. Unfortunately, much of the information there is now dated, but I was still able to get a few nuggets from it.

http://allaboutgames.com.au/

http://www.fastbreak.com.au/

http://unhalfbricking.com/

http://www.milsims.com.au/

http://www.gamesparadise.com.au/

All sites I have bought from at one point or another. For me, it’s less about price and more to do with stock. It can sometimes be hard to track down a great game I’ve heard about and get it for less than $50US + $50US shipping. In Fury of Dracula’s case, I just happened to walk into a cosplay store a few suburbs from my house and saw it on the wall. I had searched everywhere online for that game and just couldn’t find it, so I was pretty chuffed.

If you have any other stores I might be missing (I’m sure I am) please let me know in the comments.

GTA Online Springboarding from GTA V

Basically what Rockstar is doing here is first they’re releasing GTA V in much the same format as the rest of their GTA series. The regular fans are sorted and secured. Then, they’re taking those same assets, with a bit of this and that tacked on, and making it persistent online.

It’s a pretty clever strategy. Come for the campaign, stay for the multiplayer. GTA IV dabbled with it, but it was laggy (in Australia at least) and somewhat limited. GTAO seems to throw all the shackles off.

I’m not sure how it will work, exactly. It won’t be a MMO – it’s only 16 players – but they do bandy about the words “persistent world.” I expect it is designed for semi-persistent servers like a lot of games before them. Something like a typical FPS, where the server is regularly rebooted, but is always around – just in this case the map won’t cycle. There’ll probably be servers designed purely for city-wide mahem, ones designed with co-op in mind, ones with team deathmatch within carefully designed zones, and I suspect people will be able to put their own servers up so they and their friends can roam around co-operatively without the scum of the internet dropping in. That’s my speculation, anyway.

I’m not sure it’ll be quite a long-lived as Rockstar is pitching – they’re talking about expanding well-beyond Los Santos, and regular content updates – but I do expect it to at least double the gameplay time. I’ve been wanting to share my GTA mayhem with my friends in more than just hacked together free-roam or unpopular deathmatches since GTA 3. I’ll definitely be giving it a blast, but I don’t expect it to be more than a couple weeks of messing around.

Speaking of Star Wars

The latest addition to my X-Wing Minatures Game arrived today (well, I’m in cahoots with two friends.) Isn’t it purdy?

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That brings the collection to:

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Keep in mind, these are all perfectly to scale.

The minis have been notoriously hard to get. There is still plenty of the core game available, but the expansions have been problematic. Wave 1 expansions (the X-Wing, Y-Wing, TIE fighter, and TIE advanced) are sold out basically everywhere in the world. I was able to find a very small supplier here in Australia and grabbed the last X-Wing and Y-Wing off him.

Wave 2 (the TIE interceptor and A-Wing) appears to be nearly as hard to find. How my friend found 2 INTs on Amazon, I’ll never know.

I was speaking with a small shop here, and I was told that no-one is getting the allocations they are asking for, because the demand is high and supply is low. As a result distributors are asking for even higher allocations than they need in the hope that when they are rebuffed they end up with what they wanted in the first place. This is just exacerbating the problem.

Wave 1 appears to be at the printers now (meaning sometime this month,) but if you’re looking to pick up these key elements to this game, I’d strongly suggest pre-ordering. With video games – AVOID pre-odering, but for this game, I’m going to go ahead and strongly recommend pre-ordering or there is a good chance all the reprints will be gone and who knows when another batch will come. Everyone is going to want the iconic X-Wings and TIE fighters. I’m sure the Y-Wings and TIE advanced will be popular in their own right.

The YT-1300 and Firespray are plentiful at the moment and I expect them to remain so. I can’t guarantee it will remain so, but I expect them to be less popular due to their extra expense and the fact they are less renowned for dogfighting.

Lastly, there is a new expansion coming which includes the HWK-290 (aka Moldy Crow), B-Wing, TIE bomber and Lambda-class shuttle. Other than the B-Wing, which I personally dislike, I expect this wave to be pretty unpopular. Strategically, it’s sound and the quality looks as good as any of the other expansions… but all 4 ships are noteworthy only for being particularly pedestrian. Or in the case of the HWK-290 – a crap idea melded to a shitty design.

If you aren’t familiar with the game, stay tuned – I’ll go into detail in a later post. Spoiler alert: It’s expensive, but awesome.