Sunday, 5 April 2020

Gaming with Tabletop Simulator

So, you've joined the NoBoG discord, you've picked up Tabletop Simulator for Steam, and now you're ready to play games !

What do you mean you've done none of that ? Details on how to join the NoBoG discord can be found on the handy dandy guide here on the blog - http://norwichboardgamers.blogspot.com/p/virtual-nobog.html

In Tabletop Simulator you're either going to be hosting a game, or joining a game. If you just wanna join someone elses game, that's very straight forward, wait for the invite, pick your player colour, and that is pretty much it. Hosting a game is a bit more tricky, but here you get total freedom of finding games you want to play, and seeing if you can entice other people to play with you. We'll go over both how to host and how to join here.

Hosting a Game

If you are not planning on hosting a game, and just want to join others games, then you can skip this and go find the Joining a Game guide below. But at some point you'll likely get the itch to setup your own game. . . .

As well as purchasable DLC for Tabletop Simulator, there is an enormous library of board games available as a "mod" through the workshop. The chances are if the game has been around for more than a month, you're going to be able to find it on Tabletop Simulator - copyright strikes not withstanding.

If you've already hosted a game on TTS before, and have downloaded it already, you don't need to find it again - it will be saved locally for you - you can skip to the Creating A Hosted Game part if you need a reminder on how to do that. If however, you are thinking of a cool game to host and want to see if it's available then you need to search the workshop.

Finding A Game You're Interested In

We'll go through an example here at every stage. I want to host a game of Archipelago. Let's see if we can find that in the workshop for TTS. In our game library within Steam we make sure Tabletop Simulator is selected which should show us a page like this :
Screenshot 1

 Circled in red in the screenshot is the link for the Workshop where we will be able to find all the games available in TTS. Clicking on Workshop will take us to the Workshop screen. If your screen doesn't look like this, you can't see a Workshop link and instead has three dots like this :



Then the navigation bar is simply a bit compressed. Click on the three dots to open a drop down menu and select Workshop.

Within the TTS workshop page there is a search facility. The screen should look like this, the red circle shows where the search is.




So in our case, we want to go looking for Archipelago. Is it available within TTS ? We type in Archipelago and hit return. . .
What do you know, there are in fact many versions of Archipelago that people have uploaded. There is even one with the expansion ( War and Peace ) included. So we'll take a look at that one. Click on the item takes us to its workshop page.


We can scroll about on this page and check out the comments and the like to see what people have to say about it, but, to grab this for ourselves we simply click on the Subscribe button.

Once we've subscribed we are done in the workshop, now we fire up Tabletop Simulator ( the big green Play button in Screenshot 1 ).

Creating a hosted game 

When TTS has loaded, hit the Create button and select Multiplayer :

We get to name our table, possibly add a password and set the max number of players ( if you'd like people to spectate, note that max players will limit *all* players including spectators ).
Hit the Create Server button ( not the big Create button ), and you'll be taken to a screen which allows you to choose what game you want to host. Here you can pick from "classic" games which as a hardened board gamer you probably wont be interested in, DLC that you might have bought, or, for us, as we grabbed something from the workshop, a workshop mod. In this screenshot you can see that Archipelago is now visible as we subscribed to it.
Clicking on Archipelago will fire up the game with the mod. If it is the first time you've done this, content will now be downloaded from the workshop ( very quickly ), and the game setup.
Hooray. Archipelago is now loaded for us ! Right mouse button rotates our camera, W,A,S,D will move it about, and mouse scroll wheel will zoom in and out.

To get playing this fine game you're gonna need to pick a Colour. At the top right of the screen will be your name, clicking on this will reveal a menu to Change Color or Change Team. By selecting Change Color you will get to pick from being a spectator or one of the players. Lets click on it.

TTS is now asking us to Choose Color. We do this by clicking on one of the colour circles scattered around the tabletop. Player colours here are Green, Yellow, Purple, Red and Blue, whilst spectator colours are Grey. Lets pick Red by clicking on the red circle.
And that's it. It has now played our name as the Red player, and we get access to the red secret area. Note that in TTS some areas are coloured in your player colour - this means anything you place in there is hidden from other players, so you can flip your cards or the like and they wont be able to see them. You might also in some games have a similar area for a hand of cards where people will be able to see how many cards you have, but not what they are.

All you need now at this point is people to play with ! People can either join by finding your server, or you can invite them in . . . At the top right of the screen there is a plus icon. Clicking on this will open a Steam window allowing you to invite people from your friends list.
Clicking on the invite button by a players name will send a Steam invite to that player to come play your game. If they accept they will join your game and automatically download the game you're playing from you. No need for setup !

And that's it. You're ready to play your hosted game in TTS !



Joining A Game

So you wanna join a TTS game that someone else is hosting. You can do this in a few ways.

Invited

The easy lazy way is to get them to invite you into the game. And this is pretty much how you probably want to join a TTS game. In order to do this however you need to be a Steam Friend. Assuming that is the case ( and if it's not check out elsewhere how to add a Steam friend ), you can receive an invite from them. If you're already inside TTS it will look something like :

Here it is telling us we've been invited to a game and to "check steam overlay". The steam overlay can be accessed by pressing SHIFT + TAB to make it appear / disappear. If we hit SHIFT + TAB we see -

Clicking on play game will join us into the server ready to play the game. Note that it's not required you already have TTS running for this - Steam will also fire up the game for you if it's not running, and you won't have to muck about with the "Steam Overlay" either. After joining the game, you'll get a download progress bar and eventually join their game :
... and we'll be prompted to pick a player colour. Click on one of the coloured circles to do that.

Join via Steam Friends Join Game

If someone is playing TTS on your friends list - and for some inexplicable reason they haven't thrown you an invite - , you can invite yourself to join their game ( assuming enough space... ) !Right click on their name in the Steam Friends overlay and then click on Join Game
Good etiquette would obviously state that you have permission or otherwise of the person with the game.

Join via Server Search

Another way you can join is via finding their game on the main search from TTS. Click on the JOIN button inside TTS where it will ( slowly ) download a list of all available tables. This is a slower clunkier way to join games, but useful where you either don't know the person at all, or they are not on your friends list. Eventually you'll find the server you're looking for. You can filter this by name, or by friends to help sort the chaff from the wheat !
Here we can see a server called "Hello Bork." hosted by Weird ( Lewis ! ). Selecting this and clicking Connect would allow us to join the game. ( Note that there are a massive 2825 gaming tables currently being played on !! )

The (very) basics of Interaction

There are many tips and tricks you can use inside TTS to help play the game. But for the most basic of interactions. . .

Picking something up

You can pick up a game piece, card, pretty much anything, by left clicking on it and holding down before moving your mouse. To release the item, let go of the mouse button. On decks of cards, a short hold of mouse button before moving will take one card from the deck. If you hold the mouse button down for a longer period you will take the entire deck.
Picking up a pawn in Colonists. Note the shadow beneath indicating where
it will land if you drop it.
You can also select ( and then pickup ) many things at once by drag clicking a selection box :
And to move all those things, once again left click and hold down.
Moving lots of things at once !

Right Click

Whilst many hot keys and shortcuts exist, by and large you can explore the full range of interactions with something by simply right clicking on it to pop up a context menu. Here we right click on a deck of cards to show us what we can do here.

Shuffling is a very common action when it comes to a deck of cards, and you can do that from the popup menu. More veteran users of TTS may shuffle a deck by picking it up and "shaking" it. An example of one of many such UI tricks in TTS. Search is also another useful command for a deck of cards - showing you the whole deck at once and allowing you to quickly pull a card out of it.

Between the left click and right click interactions you should pretty much be able to master most of what the TTS UI has to offer.

Player Area

A special area will exist in front of a player where you can place cards into your "hand". This area allows you to flip cards without anyone else seeing them, and also places cards at the bottom of the screen for ease of viewing. Hovering over any of these cards and pressing ALT will zoom the card up. You can place items into your own area by simply picking them up and dragging them into the highlighted box. For cards you can also deal yourself cards from the right context menu, or hovering over a deck and hitting a number on the keyboard indicating how many cards you want to deal yourself. These will go straight into your hand.

A single card in my hand. Note that it appears on the tabletop
as well as fixed at the bottom of the screen.

To check out all the keys available to you in the game, click on the Menu, Configuration and Controls Tab.
The F Key is your best friend

That's it ! All of the above should get you well on your way to successfully gaming in TTS.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

One Old NoBoGers Experience Getting Set Up With BoardGameArena for a NoBoG Virtual Tuesday.

I’m a long-time boardgamer who loves being at a table with other gamers, moving wooden pieces around on gaudily-printed cardboard mats.  The lockdown has stopped all this, but hasn’t stopped me gaming!  I’ve never been much of an online player; the last PC games I finished were Castle Wolfenstein and Prince of Persia 1 (yes, the originals, when they came out).  So I thought I’d share my experience of getting set up to play a game this week at Virtual NoBoG, in case it helps anyone else who’s also missing our gaming gatherings.   This post describes Board Game Arena (BGA for short), there are several other ways to play at NoBoG which will be covered in other posts.
On Tuesday at NoBoG I played Puerto Rica on BGA:  www.boargamearena.com

Board Game Arena is a free-to-join&play online boardgame site where all you need is a browser: it works with PC / Mac, iOS and Android tablets, smartphones, Wii U, Playstation, Xbox One, ....  You don’t need to install anything on your PC.  When you open the site you’ll see this:
Scroll down……and further down..… all the way to the bottom of the page, and you’ll find where to join.  Chose a player name (it will tell you if you’ve picked one that’s already taken).   This is the name that others will see when you play.  Once you’ve got a player name, enter your email and make up a password, and it will send you an email for confirmation.  You don’t need to wait for this email to arrive, you can start in straight away.

You can chose some games that you know to add to your profile, or you can skip to the game tutorial step….

Here you can get a game tutorial.  I suggest you give it a try, to get the feel of how the controls work.  You could skip this, but it’s quite useful and very friendly to newcomers.

Once you are done with the tutorial you get to the main site.  Since you are new to the site it will point you to a few of the home page controls (it’s only 4 steps, and is useful info):

Welcome to online boardgaming.  By now you should have received the email they sent you;


Click on the link in the email.   If it asks, confirm you’re not a robot, and you’re in!

Now you’re all ready to join Virtual NoBoG on a Monday or Tuesday (via Discord) and get into a game.  Bork’s excellent & easy-to-read post on on getting started with Virtual NoBoG has covered Discord for beginners and beyond, and there are NoBoGlins out there who will help you get set up if you’re having problems, just post on the Facebook page to ask.

To get back on BGA the login button is on the top right:


At NoBoG Tuesday in the Virtual Brewhouse various gaming options were discussed.  Me, Stu, Sam and Tim decided to play Puerto Rico by Andreas Seyfarth.
In this game  players take the roles of colonial governors on the island of Puerto Rico, getting victory points by shipping goods and constructing buildings on Caribbean islands.  Each player uses a separate small board with spaces for city buildings, plantations, and resources. Shared between the players are ships, a trading house, and a supply of resources and doubloons.

First we had to “friend” each other on BGA, via the Community page:


Stu has played Puerto Rico online a lot, so he did the teach session.  I had played the real game, Sam and Tim hadn’t.  The teach was OK, although doing it online took a bit longer than in real life.

The interface to the game is pretty intuitive and doesn’t take long to get the hang of.  If needed you can start a game for the teach, play a learning round or two, then if everyone agrees to “abandon game” there are no lost reputation points and you can start afresh.  We played a no-pressure, long time-per-turn game, but if you like speed boardgames that can also be done.   We continued to talk on Discord so could ask Stu questions and have some table chat as the game played.  It worked well and was fun.

Here’s the final board, a win for Stu with a close game, just 5pts between 1st and 4th:

With all the games on BGA you can watch videos and get online tutorials, and there are plenty of game review and teaching channels on YouTube.  On a NoBoG night don’t worry if you don’t know a game that others are suggesting, tell people and they will be happy to have a chat about whether this game is something you might enjoy, and will do a teaching session first.

You can also find NoBoG on BGA: the group is called "Norwich Board Gamers".  You don't have to join the group, but it will make it easier for other NoBoGlins to find you and invite you into a game.

One note about premium membership of BGA.  There are many games you can set up and play free, and you can play at tables of all of the games on BGA without premium membership, but many of the more complex eurogames require premium membership if you want to start your own table and invite your friends to play.  Here’s the message you get:
Plenty of NoBoGlins have BGA premium, so they will be setting up the games.  If you want to go premium you can join for just one month (£3.90) or for a year (£22.80).  BGA is not pushy about this at all, but premium does give you some cool extras like game stats, ability to chose your colour, and hotseat play (all playing on the same PC).

The BGA site is seeing heavy traffic at the moment, and the admins are doing a great job of increasing capacity daily, but there are limits so it may be frustrating to get logged on sometimes (USA evenings mainly).  Don’t give up too quickly, you’ll most likely get through in 5 mins and they’ve sorted it out so that once you’re playing a game it usually runs OK (if it seems to freeze in-game just refresh the browser - F5 on a PC - and it should catch up).  It’s a site run by gamers for gamers and they’re doing a great job of keeping people playing.

I hope this helps you get into the new Virtual NoBoG.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

NoBoG Rebooted


The Machines Have Rebelled !

NoBoG has gone virtual - gaming online on Mondays and Tuesdays 7.30pm ish on a virtual board gaming platform of your choice.

Join us on Discord for the usual pre game chatter and board game arranging !

Discord link - https://discord.gg/g8AHGqr

NoBoG - down, but never out, gaming in a socially distancing brave new world.

( btw this is NOT an April Fools post ! )

Friday, 13 March 2020

COVID-19

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT



Hello one and all,

I am sure it hasn’t escaped anyones notice that the corona virus or Covid-19 has had an impact on our shores and is something we have to take seriously. In short a virus that is easily spread and can have massive complications, especially on those who either have underlying health issues or those who are elderly/children. People can spread it without showing any symptoms.

Therefore discussions have been had about our regular Nobog meetings. It has not been taken lightly or has been an easy decision. But it has been decided to postpone our regular meetings until the medical advice allows gatherings like this again. We want to be a place where people can meet and enjoy playing games. However this brings us into close contact, sharing meeples and cards etc. At the end of the day the health of everyone and their families have to been taken seriously to combat the spread of corona.

At present we will look to continually review this and all going well we'll be back in the late spring/early summer, and back to playing games together; ones where 'virus’ and 'quarantine' are purely on the board and not a reality.

Both venues have been made aware that as the Nobog we won’t be attending the usual nights and are understanding of the situation.

Overall please follow the advice of health experts, goverment, and W.H.O.

From,

The Nobog council of Jarls

P.S please pass this onto to others you know that arn’t on social media etc.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Spes the Final Frontier

In the last couple of weeks at NoBoG the recently released game Black Angel has made it to table to confuse and bemuse amongst the stars Euro style.


Designed by the same guys that brought you the 2010 Euro game Troyes, the game borrows the core mechanics from that game, tacks on a bunch of extra things, twists a few others and spins the theme from the middle ages of Earth into the far future of spaaaacccce. Which is a rubbish description if you have no clue what Troyes is. Suffice to say, some people regard Troyes as the Best Game Ever, and so Black Angel comes with a certain amount of hype, glee and disappointment depending where you stand on Troyes.

Set onboard a sleeper colony starship that is safeguarding the last remnants of humanity - The Black Angel - the players take the role of overseeing AIs that are looking after the ship on its hazardous journey towards a planet called Spes ( pronounced confusingly "space", from the Roman god of hope ). Along the way you get to send your robots off to do various tasks around the ship and also explore the passing systems to fulfill abstract "missions" for various rewards. But as an AI governing your small army of robots, it's not all about sweeping the floors and flying around in your swanky scout ships, the Black Angel is under attack from an unrelenting alien species, the Ravagers ( *cough* Reavers *cough* you cant take the sky from me ! ), who are intent on destroying you, your robots, and your sleeping cryo colonists by turning you into tiny pieces of space debris. At which point everyone loses.

A semi co-operative ?! I can see how you'd think that, but actually no. Despite the game having a built in antagonist who can trash the ship and end with you all "losing", you still compare points - albeit much reduced - and see who the best loser was. In other words, it doesn't really matter at all and is not semi co-operative.

The game is strikingly colourful, with hot pinks and electric neon colours decorating space in something that's very far removed from your typical space trope of black and blue. The artist responsible for the design agreed to do the artwork but on one condition - they didn't want to do Yet Another Space Game that had a massive black backdrop with a few points of colour. Which is understandable but liable to upset some space purists out there. I can't remember the last NASA shot of space that was quite so... pink.
Space - a lot more Hot Pink than you might have guessed

There are arguably three main core mechanics to Black Angel. The first is that your actions are tied to the dice you roll. This is one of those, workers are dice, and you stick the dice on an action space kind of a game. This bit of the game is very close to Troyes in that each player has their own pool of differently coloured dice, there's a possibility of not only using your dice, but taking others dice, and you stick those dice down into action slots to perform an action. The Black Angel has six actions you can take, two each in three colours, and it is these you can place your colour matching dice into to activate them.
End game player tableau. Look at all those black bonus tiles ! Ridiculous !
The second main mechanic is your player tableau which forms a 3 x 3 grid where you can place "tech" tiles which give you bonus actions at the start of your turn. These are activated as a group either as a column or row, and with some funkiness about "injecting" tiles and pushing them all along, there is something to think about here about what kind of actions you want on your board, where they are being pushed to, and whether you can get nicely efficient rows or columns of actions to activate all at once, further complicated by end game scoring tiles really wanting to be pushed *off* your board in order to score more points for them ( but possibly destroying your delightfully efficient grid in the process ). If you've ever played Santa Maria with its 5 x 5 grid and column or row activations with dice, it's pretty much exactly this but in smaller form, and you can shuffle the tiles about.

The third main mechanic of the game is within the ever scrolling space exploration board. Here you can move your little robot scout ships out from the Black Angel to place missions on nearby systems. These missions either form a new action space for you to place dice on in addition to the six available onboard The Black Angel, or form bonus tiles that will trigger when they "fall off" the back end of the board. The space board continually refreshes, losing its rearmost set of hexes, and adding a new set of hexes at the front, pushing the Black Angel on towards its destination - and possibly triggering "ejection" missions.
The main Black Angel player board
Throw in some card hand management, a minimal sprinkling of resource management spending and a whole bunch of timing of when you go into a reset turn to reroll your dice, and you pretty much have the game.

Stripping the game down to its essentials, what you'll basically be doing in this game is trying to get some favourable missions to nearby systems, planning what actions you want to put in your tableau, having one eye on what scoring tiles you can pick up and in order to do all those things running your robots around the ship.

Enough of brass tacks. How does it play ? The game has a good number of moving parts to it which at first glance is tricky to wrap your head around. It's critical that you get out into space and place some missions down - these do you two things, earn you points and materials, but crucially when they are ejected, set you up to possibly allow you to score more points from your bonus tiles. The sheer variety of these missions is pretty much impossible to track unless you've played the game a lot - there are 60 of them, all with different costs and rewards. This is further complicated by the division of the entire game into three different colours - each colour can only be activated by the matching colour, bonuses will only stack on the same colour and so on. Meaning that you kind of have to track three separate states - how are my yellows doing, how are my blues doing, how are my greens doing, am I concentrating on blues, how many dice of that colour do I have ? Getting any bit of that wrong can lead you into awkward situations of not having much useful to do or doing something you probably don't care so much about. Painting yourself into a corner here where you've inadvertently screwed yourself over by either not having the right colour dice available or the right colour card is a real possibility and takes a bit of planning to avoid.

To do the oh so important space exploration malarkey, you're gonna quickly need to get some kind of robot and spaceship availability production going, otherwise you will be faced with having no robots or ships to go explore with. This is also something you're gonna need to keep track of, not only for this turn, but probably a few turns out. And to do that, you'll need to be aware of what cards you're burning to activate your tableau - and whether you've now run out of a colour and maybe need to trigger a dice to get some of those cards back... but that also requires you to have timed the action of that dice so you can properly use it.. and.... oook. If you get any of those things wrong, you're back to the whole I've painted myself into a corner issue again.

One comment from the game on Monday halfway through the playthrough was "I don't think I'm clever enough for this game", and as you invariably cock something up in a screeching car crash of inefficiency at some point it maybe can feel a bit like a car ride where you're only somewhat in control of where you are careening. Everything in the game is interconnected, and pushing at something in one place can take away from something else in another area, possibly not to your overall benefit.

This general feeling of moving parts is also not helped by an absolute wall of iconography everywhere. Which makes it nicely language independent. But also raises a new hurdle of everyone having to understand the sci fi themed hieroglyphics plastered to missions, actions, tech and even the assaulting aliens.

Don't get me wrong. You can certainly play this game. No problem. Playing this game *well* however is another matter. And you'll know that you're not playing it well. It'll tell you. When you end up not being able to perform that action for lack of something. When your tempo is all over the place and you end up wasting cards.

Fortunately the game isn't anywhere near half as crunchy as it seems once you've learned how the game ticks along, and after you've played it once, the game is straight forward enough. Under a sit down and play this game for the first time kind of metric, I'd rate this game as a pretty unfriendly experience - depending on who you are this might put you off, or you might just be intrigued with the cool theme and interlocking actions. A combination of keeping track of states of your colours, your player tableau, dice, the chicken and egg nature of a lot of those factors, a bit of upkeep pain, a wide variety in missions and their points rewards and a wall of hieroglyhpics all add up to a bit of a beginner fog settling over the board.

After all that, overall the game is very nice, has a lot of different things to think about and has bags of replayability hiding within its broad set of interlocking mechanics. The theme is enjoyable if you like your sci fi stuffs and the ever moving space board is something pretty fun and unusual and ties in a beautiful way to track the game timer and is thematically very strong. There is a very fine balance in determining whether a mission card is worth it or not - the game is incredibly short action wise, you'll probably get something in the region of 15 ish actions before the game finishes, which means every action really does count. Something that is entirely not obvious on your first game. The game definitely has an edge of allowing you to happily do stuff that is appallingly bad for your end game, but it feels like you're achieving something Euro style. The game has numerous of these "Euro pit traps", be wary of blindly applying your expert Euro skills over to this game. The tip here is to stay very focused on what earns you points, and how many actions it takes to achieve those points. Laying down a pointless mission or two, or spamming for dice - or spamming for anything - is going to cost you.

The game is very much Troyes 2.0 Electric Boogaloo in my humble opinion, where the core mechanics of Troyes have been taken lock stock and transplanted into a sci fi theme, but with more bits on the end to increase complexity and in a move that feels like someone has sat down and said I like Troyes but how can we make it More. Some reviewers say the games are very different - I'd disagree, even to the point that the transplanted different colour dice from Troyes don't make a hell of a lot of sense in Black Angel. Whilst in Troyes thematically the dice are very seperate spheres of actions ( Red - Military, White - Religious, Yellow - Civil ), in Black Angel that thematic and actual action separation is gone, they are just abstract different colours for the sake of it. It feels super arbitrary and needlessly fussy in places. Of course it's a key part of the game, with everything divided into three colours, but to me it feels like the result of transplanting Troyes directly over without considering whether a modified design would actually fit better and make for a more streamlined elegant game without losing any of the breadth of strategic options available.

Nevertheless a great game when you get to it and have learned how to gauge its heart. But those with a nervous disposition and fans of lighter fare will probably want to stay away.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Have I Got A Bargain For You

This week we have Bargain Quest, a kickstarter ( in all proper senses of the word ) game based on being a fantasy shopkeeper.



Not of course to be confused with afternoon British TV stalwart Bargain Hunt presided over by the will never not be creepy Lord Spraytan First of His Name, David Dickinson. But if Double Dee floats your boat you can imagine yourself in game slinking around dressed like a spiv to suddenly pop up out of nowhere, leer over an unsuspecting member of the public before disappearing the way you came with only the faintest smell of fake tan on the air. You do you fam.

A self published kickstarter from an unknown designer the theme of Bargain Quest flips the familiar trope of fantasy stuffs that sees you take on the mantle of derring hero thwarting all before you, to instead imagine you as the NPC the GM scrambles to plausibly flesh out when you turned left instead of right, and have you as a shopkeeper selling your crap fine wares to unsuspecting discerning shortly to be dead legendary heroes.

Gaining victory points from just amassing more wealth than everyone else being a no brainer, you also however gain victory points if the hero you just kitted out manages to successfully assault the villain threatening the village and, even more shockingly, survive the encounter. Glory by reflected association whilst doing little yourself. The best kind of Glory. The Glory of Management if you will. You can also imagine this a bit like sponsoring the hero with your gear. Like a football strip. If say Paddy Power existed in D&D. Or perhaps this Wizard sponsored by Johnny's Kebab Emporium. Come try our Rat on a Stick !

So with the premise firmly set, therein follows a modest card drafting and even more modest hand management game. Draft a whole bunch of interesting adventuring type items into your hand - each of which can appeal to different heroes, and each of which are more or less useful to their incumbent and priced somewhat accordingly.

Three heroes are set available to all, but crucially, each of which is only interested in and can only be equipped with items in their particular expertise and only has a limited amount of money to spend.
The hapless Heroes of Bargain Quest. David Dickinson not to be seen.


Players get to place one ( or two, or three ) items from their hand into their shop window, where, bizarrely, window display items cannot be bought, but will entice adventurers in to buy from your store." We're out of stock mate. Only got the one on display. No you can't have it. " . Players get to select which hero not already chosen comes to their shop to buy stuff, the turn order decided by whoever has the most exciting items in their window.

And thus we get to the crux of the game - there is some consideration going on when drafting - what are the current heroes looking for ? Melee things, magic, holy items ? What cards am I seeing in the round robin draft ? What should I place in my window to set my turn order, and what should I leave free to sell ? Placing great items in your window is all very well, but if that then leaves you with little to sell the chump coming through the door, that's not going to get you - or them - anywhere. Conversely, stick some crap in the window and keep the "good stuff" behind the counter is fine and dandy but ensures you'll have last pick of heroes and possibly be stuck with someone you can't cater to. Someone having more enticing items in their window than you and sniping the hero you had your eyes on is very real.
Heroes with money to spend and a villain to face down.

After everyone has sold crap to their sponsored customer the heroes go off to battle the visible villain and match their offence and defence against that of the bad guy. Heroes earn money for surviving ( Which is then used to buy stuff from your shoppe in future rounds ), and earn points for their sponsors by landing a hit and also surviving. After a round of adventure the heroes carelessly lose all their equipment and are once again available to all shopkeepers to squabble over. Or more likely most if not all of them die and a new set of heroes rock up to try their luck.

The game is short and not super taxing with a lovely theme and nice art that works really well and pitched from a viewpoint that is unusual in that it sets you to be the supplier rather than the hero. There is plenty of rich theme and fun to be had with the various items that you can grab from the deck, hitting all the familiar tropes of magic helmets, cat familiars, beserker axes, potions, scrolls and all sorts. It's nice, if you dig that kinda thing. Which I'd guess most RPGers will.
My Shoppe of Wondrous Delights. Nothing at all at the moment.
Might be getting a delivery later guv. Come back then. I Can order it in for you ?
A world before Amazon.
The game also has a somewhat cheeky undercurrent going on, with some items downright crap for heroes - the wineskin, appeals to all heroes, reduces defence by 1, and costs them 10 money. A poor way to prepare a hero. But does make you money. Or perhaps the swindler you can hire as a shop help, who simply fleeces the hero that walks through the door of 15 money with nothing to show for it. Harsh.

All of this can set up a bit of light narrative tacked on top of the game, which with the right crowd will make the game memorably funny. Like Honest Tim the Honest Shopkeeper - enticing heroes into his shop with a wineskin. No use to anyone. Just booze. The lowest of the low. Or at least we thought so until the next turn he simply had a "fake potion" on display. A bottle. Of water. In the window. Or at least you hope that yellow liquid is water. After selling a hapless Cleric some goods, Tim then proceeded in the following round to send out a thug to beat the hero up, leaving him senseless in some dark alley. See that holy cleric over there ? Go duff him up ! Shocking. The very worst kind of shopkeeper. Chaotic Evil. I suggested Tim was actually a criminal with an adventuring equipment fake front and a sideline in protection rackets. Honest Tim. A nice chap. Moral. Avoids social deduction games because it helps you practice lying. Not averse to beating up holy men in dark alleys however. Just beware if he ever opens a shop eh ?

An impressive Magic Lamp on display entices the young
hero into my shop. Who was doing astonishingly well until
the deck of random halved their surivability. BS ! TABLE FLIP !
 If there's one minor fly in the ointment to this easy going Beer and Pretzels kind of game then its the random card that gets dealt on top of a hero before they go fight the villain. These can range from - no effect, to effectively cutting your offence or defence in half ( or both if youre really unlucky ), to boosting both by 50%. There is no way to mitigate this. None. Nada. Pick a card, any card. Oh bad luck, you lose. WHAT ?! Needless to say this is monstrously swingy and can and often does make the difference between success and failure and who gets points regardless of your careful curation of equipment.

It does mean there's always a chance for you, and always a chance a smug player will get smacked down. But it works both ways. And is arguably too much. But also somewhat needed to make things a little uncertain. In any event should you really hate them you can just do away with them, or trim the deck to take the worst swingy offenders out. And in the end the game is not supposed to be an AP perfect information paradise, but more of a fun romp watching ill equipped heroes die at the hands of a Goblin King.

And for those that intensely dislike mean spirited take that kick your neighbour kind of games, Bargain Quest is light on the doing the dirty to everyone else kind of actions. They are in there, but none of them are terribly impactful. Think more an occasional light hearted interference rather than a devastating razing of your neighbour.

Bargain Quest - a great bargain ! *leers at you with a David Dickinson creepy ass smile*

PS. Do you think David Dickinson walks around everywhere like that ? A fanned fistful of 20's in his hand. Here he comes. To the supermarket checkout. Fanned 20's. David points at his fanned 20's and leers. Yes. Very nice David. Well done. No I don't have any bargains for you. Why are all these 20's smeared in orange ?

Glory to Rome

A sample set of the now complete custom personalised version of Glory to Rome !