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Tuesday
Nov192013

Stak Bots Expansion Set now on Kickstarter

Follow us to the new bots!

I wrote of review of Stak Bots a few weeks ago. In the game, players pit stacks of tiny robots with a variety of powers against each other with the goal of destroying the other player's stack before they do the same to yours. It is a light, filler game that I've had good luck introducing to casual gamers, and the cute artwork really appeals to the younger gamers I've showed it to. I like it when I reviewed it, but I actually now like it a little more than I did when I first reviewed it. Why is that? Well, a big part of it is that I've been playing a ton of games on the free iOS app. The app includes a number of bots that aren't in the physical card game, and I really like the variety and not knowing what weird situations might develop as the stacks are revealed. The great news for me and those first exposed to the game by the app is that designer Tom Norfolk now has a Kickstarter up to fund an expansion for the physical card game that includes the best bots from the digital version and other new bots. This is a standalone expansion which can be added to the original release or played on its own. If you haven't picked up Stak Bots yet, this seems like a great way to jump in. Also, if you have never used Kickstarter, this is a cheap way to test the waters before jumping in full force or deciding crowd funding isn't for you.   

Friday
Nov152013

Hurrah! for a smooth launch (PS4)

Just wanted to add my voice to the "no PS4 launch day issues" list.  I got my console home about 2 a.m. last night.  The update downloaded and installed in less than ten minutes.  I downloaded Need for Speed Rivals, Blacklight, Resogun, and Contrast, played all of them a bit, streamed a little Resogun to the Nerdbloggerdan Twitch page, watch a ton of people play games on Ustream an Twitch--all without any issues other than a brief (roughly ten minute) PSN outage which occured at some point and paused my downloads.  After it was back up, the download resumed and everything worked great.

I'll write more on the system later, but here are my first impressions in pro/con form:

 

Things that make me happy:

  • Being able to instantly suspend a game, open the browser, watch some Netflix, etc. and then instantly pop back into the game is amazing.  Glad to see both next-gen consoles got multitasking right.
  • Streaming and otherwise sharing content works exactly as advertised.  I spent a good deal of last night watching and listening to people play games as I tried to decide what games I wanted to download fist.
  • Digital downloads.  Thank God that I can finally assume that any game for the system will be available for download.  No more retail stores for me--which is great considering I live in the middle of nowhere with only the evil Walmart coorporation to buy games from.
  • Both free games--Resogun and Contrast--are very cool (especially Resogun).  Nice to see PS+ get off to a good start on the PS4
  • Holy crap, the console looks great with its slick design and awesome use of ambient lighting.
  • The new PS4 controller is one of the best I've ever used and might actually be the best, though it will take time and a bunch of different game genre experience to be sure.
  • Party chat, finally.

 

Thinks that give me the feels:

  • My cable Internet connection is simply not fast enough to stream properly.  I'll need to boost my upload speeds soon if I want to get in on the action.
  • I'd like to be able to upload saved videos directly to my Youtube channel.  That feature needs to be there sooner, not later.  Who wants to share videos on Facebook? (The answer is problably a lot of people, but not me).
  • Since most of my friends of old were Xbox gamers, my friends list is too short to make good use of leaderboard features (add me, please: I'm Armchairdan)

That's it so far.  After suffering through the Sim City and Diablo III disasters last year, I was nervous about buying a console at launch and hoping to play games online.  I couldn't be happier with how smooth things went.  Here's hoping the Xbone launch goes just as well.

Tuesday
Nov052013

Facebook & Your RPG

Facebook is one of those things that can either do you a world of good or give you a massive headache.  For all the inane posts and memes you suffer through daily, there’s that friend across the country you’re keeping up with or that tidbit of information you just might not get from anywhere else.  My favorite thing about Facebook, however, remains groups.  What’s not to like about joining some like-minded folk to discuss your favorite obscure obsession? 

Recently, I created a group exclusively for the folks with whom I play games.  Besides the obvious socializing and sharing of links we do, we use it to schedule and reschedule gaming events.   The  group is a hodge-podge mostly, covering board games, rpgs, related books, comics , movies, novels, science and what have you.  So about a year ago, I  decided to go a step further.  Why not tailor a group to a specific rpg?  And why not integrate it into the actual rpg experience?  So I did.  And it worked fantastically.

Here’s what we do:

  1. Meeting times & Announcements. The obvious use.  I set meeting times and places, make special announcements and such.  Here, sometimes, I even create an event for those in the group.  Anyway, everyone knows when everyone else is available, and since we’ve begun doing this, there’s hardly been any last minute cancelations.  We general discuss what’s best for the most people.  Attendance has also been great, since you can tag people with reminders a few days in advance, and it’s tons easier to do than playing phone tag up to the eleventh hour.
  2. In-game information.  This application is the one I find the most fun.  I use posts to pass along world information.  In our Hollow Earth Expedition group, I’ve been using The Newspaper Clipping Generator to post actual and game-world headlines from the thirties.  The players can read about everything from presidential elections to the exploits of Doc Savage.  Some, but not all, will actually impact the game.  I’ve also tend to post the initial set up for the characters – describe the event that brings them together.  Players have used comments to describe actions in these situations and will message if they need to be sneaky. 
  3. Game Documents.  When I first create the group, I immediately upload a pdf of the players manual and any documents that will assist the players in understanding the rules, character creation and the game-world.  I also post any important maps to which the players’ characters would have access. 

Facebook has been very helpful with my recent rpgs.  My players come to the game familiar with the rules and the world, which makes everything flow easier during those first meetings.  Another boon is they don’t have to rely on me constantly.  Several will bring the docs up during play (yes, I don’t mind computers and phones at the table just for this reason).  Facebook is a tool.  It can be good or bad, depending on how you want to use it.  As for myself, I’ve discovered it to be a wonderful means to help enhance the gaming experience for my players. 

   

Monday
Oct212013

Review of Stak Bots from Dogeared Games

Review

Stak Bots by Tom Norfolk

DogEared Games (2013)

Click the cute bots to go to stakbots.com to find out more and buy the game.

In Stak Bots, players battle with stacks of little robots with a variety of unique powers. On a player's turn, he or she will draw a card then do the following actions any number of times: play a card, trash a card, or attack the other player's stack. The only restrictions on a turn are that a player can only attack with one robot and, at some point, a card must be trashed. If the player can't defeat one of the opponent's robots, then they are forced to trash their own.

When a robot is trashed, the next face down card in that stack is turned face up. Some cards have “come into play” abilities that trigger when turned face up or played from a hand. These abilities have a number of different effects that can greatly change the game state. Since the initial composition of the stack is completely random, these effects bring a lot of chaos to the game. Any time a player trashes the opponent's top robot, there is a chance that the robot under it will flip over and cause the attacking player to lose a robot. Or, it could cause damage to its own player's stack.

This random element means Stak Bots isn't a game of high strategy. Still, it isn't completely a game of luck either. The game does offer some tactical decisions that aren't meaningless. Unfortunately, a lot of decisions can be made moot by the ensuing chaos when cards begin to be flipped over.

 What I like about the game:

  • It plays quickly

  • The ability to do all the actions as often as I like makes for lots of options each turn

  • The chaos of the bot powers makes for unpredictable fun

  • "Toggles" exist to customize the game to fit different play styles 

What I dislike:

  • A player can make nothing but smart decisions and get squashed by a player only half paying attention

  • Way too chaotic when more than two players are playing

Overall, given its low cost, quick, fun gameplay, and the potential for cool micro expansions in the future, I can recommend Stak Bots for anyone not put off by the described randomness. It is an odd game. I can imagine some players will think it is awful while others think it is fantastic. I enjoy it. I've got five games going on the iOS app right now and I imagine I'll keep playing it there since it is about a perfect game for having multiple asynchronous games going that I can check in on a few times a day.

 

Score 3/5

Wednesday
Oct162013

(Update) Field of Glory: The Card Game Back on for Essen 

 

Update: just got word from Martin Wallace that the issues had been resolved and the game would be available at Essen.  I'm guessing we will never know what was going on, but it's good to know the game is on its way.

 

 

 

In weird and depressing news, since I was interested in the game, Treefrog just posted this on their web page:  

 

Slitherine, the licensees of Field of Glory: the Card Game have requested that we remove all mention of the product from our website and destroy the recently printed copies. Consequently, this game will not be available for sale, either at Essen or from our website. We have also removed all mention of the product from this website.

 

I'll note that the game has also been removed from the Boardgamegeek database.  I've got requests in to both Treefrog and Slitherine for comment.  I'll update this post when I learn more.  

 

Update: Marco from Slitherine sent me this email this morning:  

Hi Danny, thanks for pinging me.

The situation is fluid right now, so it’s a ‘no comment’ for the moment.

I’ll keep you posted on that.

 

By "fluid," can we hope that there is a way the project could still be saved?  Hopefully, we will get a better idea when we here from Treefrog.