Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Dominion Expansion

Arriving in May:


Dominion: Alchemy


This is the 3rd addition to Dominion. It adds new Kingdom cards to Dominion and as it is an expansion, you will need Dominion, or Dominion: Intrigue to play the game.

Number of players: 2-4
Age of players: 8+
Length: 20-30 minutes

There are strange things going on in your basement laboratories. They keep calling up for more barrels of quicksilver, or bits of your hair. Well it's all in the name of progress. They're looking for a way to turn lead into gold, or at least into something better than lead. That lead had just been too good of a bargain to pass up; you didn't think, where will I put all this lead, what am I going to do with this lead anyway. Well that will all be sorted out. They're also looking for a universal solvent. If they manage that one, you will take whatever they use to hold it in and build a castle out of it. A castle that can't be dissolved! Now that's progress.

Dominion: Alchemy is an expansion, and can't be played by itself; to play with it, you need Dominion, or a standalone expansion to Dominion (Dominion: Intrigue). Those provide the Basic cards you need to play (Treasure, Victory, and Curse cards), as well as the full rules for setup and gameplay. Dominion: Alchemy can also be combined with any other Dominion expansions you have.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eco Fluxx

Just got in a review copy of the revised EcoFluxx game from Looney Labs, 110 cards plus a color instruction sheet, Suggested retail price $16. Packaging is the same as the format Looney Labs had adopted for the revised new versions of all of their games, a 4" x 5" sliding box with a divider in the center to keep the cards from shifting.

Besic play is the same as in all Fluxx games, start with thre cards, draw an card and play a card. The Goal and Keeper cards all have ecological themes, as do several of the Rules and Action cards. There are a couple of variants in the Creeper and Goal cards included. While any of the three Creeper cards, Fire, Flood or Drought, are in play, no one can win, so it's to all players' advantage to get them removed from the game as quickly as possible.

Added to the Goal cards is the "Eats" card. When an "eats" goal is in play, such as "Spiders Eat Insects", you win if you have the Spider card in play and someone, you or another player, has the Insects card down. This increased the complexity level slightly, to the point that the rules suggest you remove these cards from the game if you've never played Fluxx before.

Looney Labs' social sensibilities are in full bloom here. There's even an Pledge Allegiance to the Earth card (not as part of the game, just a promotional piece) that notes Looney Labs will donate 5% of the proceeds from EcoFluxx to environmental groups. I've had customers asking for this (not as much as Stoner Fluxx though) since it went out of print so I'm glad to see it available again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Review--Rifter #49

Since Palladium Books comes out with a new product so seldom (at one time the joke was that Palladium didn't have release dates, it had release years) and they sent me a copy, I wanted to take a look at the new issue of the Rifter, #49.

The front cover gives us a pretty good idea of the focus of this issue: vampires. Sure enough, insides there's a 35+ page article on expanded rules for vampires in Nightbane. There's also stuff on the stage magic occupation for Heroes Unlimited and material on the Free State of Lazlo for Rifts. Two short stories and a very good article for GMs on how to kill off the entire party and make the characters like it. Well, they'll like it afterwards and it's usable with any game system, not just the Palladium ones.

There's also about 10 pages of Palladium news, including a number of upcoming releases and a plug for the 2010 open house as well as a really annoying (from my point of view) full page ad soliciting subscriptions to the Rifter.

All in all, a good issue if you are a Palladium fan. The short fiction is pretty well written and the "Kill the entire party" article is a brilliant idea.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why We Don't Stock a Game

Every once in awhile, someone comes in and ask why we don't carry this or that game. The answer can usually be boiled down to "Nobody around here plays it or buys it." A recent case in point was Arcane Legions from Wells. In case you're unfamiliar with it, it's a quasi-historical collectible miniatures game that launched last fall with quite a bit of fanfare. We received several promotional posters and even a couple of very nice demo kits.

The upshot was that, after showing it to a number of customers, nobody showed any interest in playing the game, much less buying it. Given that no-one was willing to commit up front to play or purchase the game and the up front cost of stocking the starter assortment (around $600), we decided to pass on it. Based on the feedback we'd received, more accurately the lack thereof, I felt we would likely wind up holding the bag on this one.

Turns out I was right. Not one person that I know of has come into the store asking if we stocked Arcane Legions, much less if anyone in the area played it. Moreover, I'm hearing stories from other stores around the country that, after a brief spurt of interest at the original release, play of the game died out quickly and several have now moved it to their clearance tables.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Eurogames vs. American Games

I've had a few people ask what the difference is between a Eurogame and an American game. The main difference, I'd say, is that American games rely much more on the luck of the player and dice rolls to win. Take a look at a classic of each. Settlers of Catan and Monopoly. Both utilize dice extensively but in far different ways.

Monopoly relies on dice for random movement on your turn and your turn only. If you don't land on the space you want, you don't get to do anything and no other player gets to act during your turn. You win by driving the other players out of the game.

Setters of Catan also uses dice as a major mechanic, but each time you roll, even though you get to take the majority of actions, everyone has the chance to participate through the chance to receive resource cards as a result of the die roll. You may also particpate in the acting player's turn through trading resource cards with them. Nothing like that happens in Monopoly. In Catan, you win, not by driving the other players out of the game, but by being the first person to accumulate a specific number of victory points.

In Monopoly, the board is fixed, Park Place and Boardwalk are always in the same location, as are the utilities. This means the same strategies work over and over. Acquire the same certain properties and you'll probably win. Since the board changes each game in Catan, the same general strategies work i.e. get wood and clay early on and the other resources later, but the specific ones change from game to game.

This use of a morphing game board and less use of the luck of die rolls as a method of winning are what I view as the major qualities that cause an "Eurogame" to differ from an "American" one.