Review – Gloomhaven

I will start with this: everyone should get your hands on Gloomhaven. It is a work of art, and an example of brilliant game design. It is a game which is more than a bunch of wonderful mechanics put together coherently. It is an experience, one that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Most of what makes GH interesting is the sense of cohesion throughout the game. There are many chances at drawing random event cards and resolving them, but while these are arguably random, the events somehow feel related to one another and relevant to the player characters. Many decisions throughout the game have long lasting consequences, be it adding or removing items from the deck, or leading you to another mission, there is a feeling that your decisions as a group has a real impact on the overarching story of the city of Gloomhaven.

Speaking of which, I am sure that many have already read enough about the game to know that characters can retire, and they do so once their life quest is up. This has led to some concern from some players, and honestly I too did not want to let go of my character as I had grown so used to it, but the way I see the game is that we are all telling a sweeping tale of the city of Gloomhaven. That is, the main character of this story is the city itself, and not our characters. This gives a very interesting feel to the whole game, where you are sometimes made to look at the game, the city and its environs from a much larger perspective.

While the game can be fiddly in some aspects, the game is really not that all complicated in terms of the rules. Perhaps it does have many moving parts, but I found a wonderful resource in the form of Gloomy Companion. This web application handles most of the tracking of hitpoints, statuses, as well as the enemy cards and attack deck draws. I am not sure if this is an officially sanctioned app by the creator, but it reduced the setup time and admin time so much that I can’t imagine playing the game without it at the table anymore. My only comment is that the AI is incredibly detailed, and might require multiple checks against the FAQ and forums to figure out. Interestingly, I have even seen training pages dedicated to interpreting the rules properly. That being said misunderstanding some of the rules doesn’t dampen the fun of the game at all. I am just not one of those people who need to get it all right all the time to have fun, and trust me, the game is hard enough already.

If you are interested to play a character in a city who wants to feel like your decisions really matter, pick this game up. Run out and get it. It is worth every cent you can get it for, and you will appreciate its genius once you actually play it. This is an experience you would not forget for a long time.




Review – Junk Art

You know, I’ve always had this desire to own a dexterity game. In the recent years, I’ve been having sessions with a group of 6 people, and have found it difficult to find a game that can accommodate more than 5.

My attention was recently piqued when I discovered a genre of ‘stacking/balancing’ games. One of them was the Kickstarter Beasts of Balance. It looked great, but I had not backed the KS then, so getting it at retail would be near impossible due to the insane shipping costs. Then I saw that there were several reviews referencing another similar game called Junk Art. After deliberating about it for a couple of months, I decided to take the plunge and put down $100 (SGD) for the wooden box set.

I shall not go into detail about the rules, but will generalise to say that the game involves the players trying to stack oddly shaped wooden blocks upon a general structure. This could be a personal structure, or a central one shared by all the players. There are many game modes provided in the ruleset, and all you need to do is to choose one of them to play and you are good to go. A game ends under various conditions, depending on the game you are playing: either one player is left standing (because the rest have collapsed their structures), or you have tipped over a certain amount of blocks during your turn (think of it as losing health for each block falling and touching the table surface).


Plus you get amazing results like this.

We had lots of fun, and there was laughter all around the table. The engagement was high, and even if you were not doing anything on your turn, you are constantly watching (and sometimes hoping) that someone would collapse his/her block tower. But when they do place their piece, everyone would clap. This is the kind of game that balances friendly competition and collaborative support at the same time, and is great for parties and children. You could even throw the rules out of the window and just try stacking the blocks just for fun. The blocks are immaculately designed, and it is just amazing that the blocks seem to somehow fit together in a very coherent, and balanced kind of way.

If you do not mind spending some money on a set, pick it up – you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend this for people who have larger groups of players, and want to have a 20-30 minute dexterity game. I think you may find that Junk Art might dominate your gaming night instead.

New Warhammer 40k 8th Ed

This should be considered old news by now, but Games Workshop has released the Dark Imperium Boxed Set to their new Warhammer 40k 8th Edition. This game advances the storyline, and brings forth new units to the Space Marine army – the Primaris Marines. It also comes with a full 1k point army (I think) for the Deathguard as well.

I picked up a box over my trip to London, and man, does the box look good. The box art is evocative of the 40k world, and it brought back memories of myself as a teen with not enough money, staring at the box art of the Warhammer games at the game store. The Primaris Marines look fantastic, and the real surprise for me at least, were the Deathguard. I’ve never been a Nurgle fan, but the look of the Nurgle-blessed marines and army really makes me want to enter the hobby.

The box is a fantastic deal for 95 Pounds, giving you 2 armies and a full rulebook for that price.

Tabletop gaming mats

I recently bought a table for my new place, and was thinking of ways to upgrade my gaming experience a little. I’ve realised that having a nice non-slip surface for playing boardgames, cards,  and rolling dice really makes a difference to the overall gaming experience, and it so happened that I chanced upon the tabletop gaming mats from DeepCut Studio. Since they were having a Black Friday sale, I splurged a little on a 3×6 star mat for general gaming and a 3×3 snow terrain mat for my minis games. Can’t wait to get them over the holidays.

Brexit and gaming

I would think that by now, most people out there would have know about the major event that has rocked the UK and the world, and it would be an understatement to say that big changes are afoot not just for the countries involved, but also the everyday man and woman who has benefited from some of the policies crafted by the EU.

I’m not too sure what the implications are for the hobby, but certainly the fall in the Pound against our currency does have it’s own fair share of benefits for the gamer outside the UK. I recently picked up a copy of the Dark Heresy 2nd Ed Core from Bookdepository for a price that was a lot more reasonable then when I checked it a year back. Pretty pleased with that. In fact, an online retailer based in the UK even emailed me telling me that my “hobby just got cheaper”. So I guess it is not just the consumers who are capitalising on it, but also some of the retailers who are using this as a way to increase their sales.

Well, it is an oversimplistic argument for sure, but I’m happy as long as more gamers get their games and more retailers get to sell more of their games.

Vietnam Gaming adventures

Heading to Ho Chi Minh for a good 7 days with my wife on our little getaway. As I’ll be putting up at a nice place next to my buddy’s, I’ll be spending a good couple of nights gaming away. Will be bringing the following games:

  1. Battlelore: 2nd Edition
  2. Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game
  3. Star Realms
  4. Shadowrun Crossfire: high calibre ops (to supplement his set)

Looking forward to trying out a couple of these games. Check this space for some updates in time to come. 

Streamlining in progress

Moved a couple of games up into the shelves, and packed some miniatures away for safekeeping. As much as it does not seem like much sometimes, I believe that moving things out of your line of sight does help in reducing the amount of mental clutter that we experience from time to time. I’ll probably do another round of putting things up on the second hand market at some point, but considering that most of my RPGs are printed from PDFs, they’ll probably go to my gaming group at some point, if any of them are interested in those games.

In other news, I’ve heard that Privateer Press has announced Hordes and Warmachine MK3. Seems about time, although I’m still struggling with catching up with the rules. I have an Everblight, Orboros and Cygnar army in my collection, fully painted which I am more than happy to bring to the table anytime. It is truly a great game which I recommend everyone to try at least once. A starter set game would take you less than 30 minutes to play.

Oh, and I’ve painted a couple more SDE figures, over the weekend. Got a couple of friends to suggest a colour scheme, and went with it. I think the non-metallic metal effect turned out pretty nice.