Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Random Number Generator - RNG

Random Number Generator. A device, process or action that can generate a "random" number, or at least close enough to random so as to be indistinguishable from true random to a human observer, used for encryption, scientific study, games, and upsetting certain gamers with it's non deterministic bullshit. See reference Roll to Move is a travesty, Monopoly blows, and This Game makes no Sense. Most popular physical incarnation - dice.

A quiet week at the Mash Tun last week, possibly due to Halo 5 releasing on the very same day, or possibly just those random fluctuations, in any case a very Douglas Adams 42 turned up to get their gaming on. And yes. 42 is now officially a quiet number. Previously this same number may have been viewed as "bonkers busy", but context is everything. 42 for the population of your bathroom would be "unacceptably busy and there's no bloody hot water left"*. 42 for the population of China would be "there's no one here".

Cthulu and friends go on a world tour.
Pete had Cthulu Wars out on table for a second week running with Richard IV also joining in again declaring he knew what was going on now and would fare much better. With the heady scent of chinese plastic permeating the air ( it really was very apparent... that's what you get for having all that plastic ) Richard was the man to beat, getting into a strong position and fending off attacks from all comers. The game went on considerably longer than it's first outing, mostly due to a good deal of trepidation about deploying gates for fear of having them stolen. I think Richard won this in the end, clearly he did know what was going on.

Whilst Cthulu and his chums were devouring the world, on another table a whole different kind of
Zombicide -A sim for teaching you the basics of the Zapocalypse
devouring was going on with Zombicide, a game all about tooling up and killing zombies B movie horror style. Mechanically there is not much to look at here and it follows all the other point shoot, roll a dice type games, but thematically does a great job of having nice miniatures and an attractive modular board setup which really looks the part. If you ask me this is about typical for many of those kind of kickstarter games. Long on the eye candy. Short on everything else. Perhaps I am getting kickstarter fatigue. Nevertheless Zombicide looks good fun, and who doesn't like gunning zombies down !

Last week I got to partake of the Francis Drake euro board game ( another kickstarter ), which pits the players into a competition of exploiting the West Indies in the 16th century of gems, goods and uhh looting towns and castles and sinking ships. It was an ambivalent age, what can you say. The game runs for three identical rounds, so you get three cracks at the Euro puzzle, where first you pick up "stuff" which amounts to fuel for your upcoming worker placement, with things such as guns, crew, trade goods and barrels, and after everyone is done loading their ship you get to place your actions out - up to four of them by default. Actions are then resolved in player order and action number order, with a competitive edge of the first person getting to act in a place gets the bonus rewards.

There are the usual spread of Euro things going on here - points for set collection, points for action set collection - as well as just plain outright points for doing things.

Nothing we haven't seen before, and packaged and themed in a nice way.


One huge bugbear for me.

The game has a small RNG contained within it that determines whether you'll actually be able to afford the actions you are selecting or not - they'll vary in "price" from 0 - 6 resources ( and on average you'll probably pick up 3-4  resources of a particular type, less in some, more in others ) And you won't know if you can afford it until it's too late - you've already collected your resources, and picked your actions. And therein lies the rub.

For all the usual careful euro calculation and plotting of X actions, and Y points ultimately your game can hinge on whether you've luckily or unluckily hit a roadblock. And this isn't trivial, a full fat 10 bonus points await someone who can get all their planned actions swinging correctly, 4 points if you can half do it, and a single point if you limp across the line. This unfortunate RNG to see whether your plans work this turn tends to make everything else a bit of a sideshow.

And god forbid you actually have bad luck to foul of this two turns in a row ( out of three ).

Which is exactly what happened to me. You can only look on and watch as someone else picks up mucho victory points whilst expending ass all, and your own action cripples you for half as many victory points.

Blah. In our game, my third turn was spectacularly good as I managed to get into an area uncontested, and then sat back and let the turn play itself. I literally had no choices to make - and earned big points from doing so.

Nevertheless, it's an enjoyable game, nicely turned out, and if you can avoid or just plain ignore the lurking RNG devil waiting for you in the background, then it's a nice race to see who can grab the most things.

Agricola however, it ain't. Perhaps Agricola should put an RNG on each of its action spots for extra excitement. On a 4+ sorry pal, you trip on the way to plough a field. No ploughing for you this turn. And on that day, a thousand Euro gameplayers cried out as if in pain. . .

We finished with Isle of Skye which went down very well. Darren and Dave got locked in some mental high priced bidding war between the two of them, and switched lands on just about every round for outrageous prices.

BSG. In a surprise to no one move, Monika was the cylon.
There was also some fantabulous Battlestar Galaticaing, which rather confusedly went from four players to six, to five, to four. But through all this. The inevitable. The perpetual. The predictable. Monika was a cylon. It's amazing she still plays the game to be fair. Anyone with any experience would just push her out of the air lock. But you just... can't... quite... tell... I mean. Surely. SURELY. No one can be the Cylon that often. You're a good guy this time, right ? Wrong. Pete suggested she rigs the cards to always be a cylon.

7 Wonders. This table is a wonder in itself.
We also had the most epically large table 7 wonders on the go. It was fantastic. With a crazy seven people. There were so many players that some were in different weather systems and time zones to other players. Amazing. You couldn't even tell - or care - what the player on the other side of the table was doing. Lots of military ? Who cares ! I am 3 neighbours removed from that filthy warmonger ! Good stuff.

Elliott brought along Cauldron again, and on the front tables some Lords of Waterdeep got a bash. It's been a while since Waterdeep was out. Once upon a time that was almost a permanent fixture on one table of the ribs. That and Betrayal at House on the Hill.

Some end of night Resistancing went on. And Lewis complained that there wasn't enough time left in the evening to play fillers. Despite this, Lewis left early, and played his own main game til late. I noted he was actually just complaining about himself rather than anything else . . . .

The gallery...

* making the assumption that you do not have Roman Emperor levels of bathroom space and aren't in the habit of inviting 50 of your closest allies, senators, their partners, their offspring and assorted livestock around for a bath.


Elliot Symonds said...

Well done again sir.

Peter Chinkin said...

For the record: Owain grabbed the win in Cthulhu Wars. T'was a fun game.