Sunday, 28 August 2016

Blitzer the First

It's about this time of the year, if you are into such things, that a collection of Olympic grade athletes, power lifters and big guys reaffirm their devotion to football ( American Football ) with the start of a new season for the punishing game. Because why be an Olympic level athlete and do Olympic things, when you can be Olympic standard AND get to hit people into the dirt AND get to play every year, not every four years AND get to earn more money in a single day of your career than an Olympian sees in their entire life.

When you put it like that, it's a no brainer - and speaking of that it also assumes you're a guy that is ok with being repeatedly hit hard enough to lose your marbles and literally be a no brainer by the time you're oh, let's say, mid 30's. Which is a thing. That everyone is trying desperately hard to ignore the science of at the moment. Repeated head blows are a bad thing. Who'da thunk it ? Certainly not those who have already received repeated blows to the head that's for sure. Too soon ? Too soon.

Into this heady mix of top level athletic capability, crowd pleasing bone crunching, and the unsettling can of worms of the long term consequences of any contact sport slowly killing people, Blood Bowl this week made an appearance at the Mash Tun.

Blood Bowl is by and large the board game equivalent of American Football. If you drop a lot of the clever strategy, double down on the maiming, and introduce a wide and interesting variety of fantasy races into the competition to give you contests such as the faffy elegant elves versus the more brutal punch you in the face orcs.

Blood Bowl is a pre modern era game - it was around before all this elegant modern Euro game design nonsense came onto the scene with the likes of Agricola - and has a lot of hangover from that older era. Namely in the form of dice being the driving force of the game, and a luck / random number generator factor that is so far off the charts, they study the quantum effects of the ensuing player rage that is generated when that stupid goddamn goblin fails his dodge test YET AGAIN at the theoretical physics lab at Oxford. One of the first core lessons of the game is - try not to roll the dice until you really have to. Really. I'm not making that up.

In a modern sense, Blood Bowl has been around forever ( * IE about 30 years ). It is fun, silly, brutal and has a brilliantly compelling season / campaign set of rules, where you can nurture your players into better players and even into Star Players before inevitably, like all things in Blood Bowl the dice roll bad and your carefully developed player ends up with their legs torn off. The game is also up there in the category of most rage inducing experiences ever. Which after seeing something you've worked on over real time weeks of play suddenly crash and burn because of the most ridiculous dice roll ever with no takesy backsies is not hard to imagine. Particularly in those with a glint of rage already in their eye. There are some players that after particularly bad matches swear off the game forever and never return. It's that bad.

Fortunately there are always new recruits to this old game. And Sam and Joe were experimenting with Blood Bowl this week. I can't recall ever actually seeing it at NoBoG before - although it has been discussed a plenty, and even played online. But it might be the first ever NoBoG show of Blood Bowl. The official record keeping goblins would have to confirm.

Anyway, Joe has his own report on what went on -

Blood Bowl, Sam's orcs teach the stinkin' 'oomies a thing or two
I was going to write a beautifully eloquent review of my glorious defeat of Sam's slow and clumsy orcs.

I would have spoken of the flair shown by the human catcher "Catchy Catcherssen" receiving a long ball from "Throwy Throwerson" in the dying seconds and running in a 4th score following the death of Sam's second black orc, "Fikkuz Krudd", after a ill-fated attempted to turn through 90 degrees.

I could retell how "Blitzer the First" managed to rack up 5 blocks in a row, with 2 killed outright, 1 injured, 1 knocked out and another stunned.

You could marvel at the story of "Jonny Commoner" a lowly lineman, was drafted in at the last minute as a replacement for his brother who was killed in the last match against the orcs, and who made a goal line blitz in what seemed to be a definite score for the orcs, and then went on to run the length of the pitch weaving through the orcish defence like a like a thread of wool thread through grandmother's oversized tea-cosy to selflessly hand-off to "Blitzer the Second" so that he might pick up the glory in front of his young son, watching for the first time.

Unfortunately, none of that happened and Sam beat me 2-1, with my having made one too many unnecessarily risky plays. So here's a picture of Sam's orcs running in the winning score right at the last moment. Boo.

Beautiful. Thanks Joe ! With character naming skills like that you should think about screen writing for a living. With Idris Elba as Banky McBankRobber and Brad Pitt as Officer Negotiater the First. Although Sixth Sense might have been a whole lot less clever with Bruce Willis as Deadface McDeadDoctorDiedAlready.

Moving on. Terra Mystica was on table again, David keeping up its renewed interest at NoBoG , and in something of a week for  "longer games that are getting rattled through at quite the pace", David reports on completing this somewhat crunchy Euro with five players in an astonishing 2 hours and 10 minutes. No mention of whether electric cattle prods were used or some other form of motivation.

Scythe. And the ridiculous tractor like yellow mecha.
If Norfolk designed Mecha, they might look like that.
Scythe was also present again this week at NoBoG. It's getting a lot of plays in at the moment, but I'm still yet to see anyone who has painted their stuff up. C'mon. Paint those clunky steam punk mechas ! Kickstarter backer James reporting on what he thought the game was like was that it was acceptable but not outstanding - which I think is very fair. And typical for Kickstarted games. Not a big surprise when you take game publishing decisions away from a hyper critical, risk averse single publisher, and put it into the hands of generous, cash rich, not too picky crowd sourcers ( Kickstarter ). You end up with much more game choice with Kickstarter. Some amazing hidden gems and risky game concepts that might not otherwise see the light of day. But you also get a whole gaggle of average unspectacular games that pander to easy popular ideas without ever really delivering, and a bunch more hot messes and outright failures. I'm sure at some point we'll go full circle with Kickstarter, everyone will get fed up with the mediocrity and randomness of final product and start demanding an elite, critical, picky service that presents only the very finest of designs.

Robot Wars.
Lee reflects on the bullying going on.
Classics Ticket to Ride and Lords of Waterdeep were also going on at the Mash Tun this week, along with a very excitable game of Robot Wars which seemed great fun.

In the second time in as many weeks I got to play Ora and Labora again, Alfie tried this and loved it - he assured me it was not because he had ended up winning. Pfah ! I struggled to get my ducks in a row this time around, buildings were bought just before I could get to them, timings were off on when others were using their own buildings, and I made some mistakes with building placement. Super enjoyable though. I'll do better next time.

Ben back from Japan for a couple of weeks spent one of his final nights with us again at NoBoG. Because of course. NoBoG is that good. He reports that he has been corrupting his colleagues over in Japan with the delight of board games and plans to give Tokaido a try out in the near future. Very cool !

We got to finish the evening with a raucous hand of Secret Hitler, where Ben was the obvious fascist, I called 2 out of 3 fascists, wasnt quite sure of Hitler, and got shot in the face for literally "being too good at this game, I've seen you win this before and you could be Hitler." I wasn't. Shooting me for not being able to tell if I'm lying and it being safer if my smart ass mouth was dead is just.... pfft.

Ora and Labora - my team yellow gals getting it done.
The game was awesome fun and very funny, Andy battled hard to call out the fascists who were throwing his card choices back in his face, but didn't help himself when he started supporting the most obvious fascist at the table. The game ended in deadlocked votes, and a close up til that point game ending with a couple of fascist winning random policies added to the board. I'd like to say I told you so, but, the fascists had the bullet card, and no matter what they would have very likely shot me in the face regardless.

Eliza is still muttering about making a re-themed Secret Hitler where everyone is Jedi. Which on balance, sounds like a bazillion times more popular and marketable than Secret Hitler and an extremely good fit. Albeit with the pesky uber litigious Disney in control of the IP. She's been threatening to draw up some art for it lately.

Codenames, Thiefs Market and veritable NoBoG grandee Betrayal at House on the Hill also got a play, Thiefs Market looks cool, I need to give this a go. And don't forget, an expansion to Betrayal at House on the Hill is going to be released this Autumn, for all you Betrayal fans - another 50 scenarios to blitz through ! Make friends and then stab them / turn them into zombies ! Fun times.

Well done to Sean this week who decided to give the game roll call a whirl, and then took on duties of organising any left over newbies and undecideds into their gaming groups. Good job sir - I got the night off to concentrate on all the Ora-ing and Labora-ing.

Monday NoBoGs continue to hold steady with its small cuddly number of players. A couple of tables of roleplayers, and a couple of tables of board games this week, Dominant Species on one table, and I got to introduce Isle of Skye to people who had never played it before. And I won. Muah ha ha.

Numbers - 18 on Monday. 44 on Tuesday.

Thanks to all and sundry for submitting their photos and text for the Blog this week. Good going guys !

Outta here. Enjoy your bank holiday for you Brits. And for our offshore readers / lurkers, I guess you get to enjoy work. Never mind. Read some old NoBlogs to cheer you up.

*drops mic*
A very handsome set of boozy monks in Ora and Labora. Alfies team green who went onto win.

Aw'right boy ? The Tractors move in. Scythe.

More meeple-y things than you can shake a meeple stick at. Scythe.


'Weird' Lewis Walker said...

I will have to bring just the Tasty Minstrel small box games one evening - Harbour, Cthulhu Realms and Thief's Market - for you n' I to partake in. Seems like a decent range for an evening when you have your eye on a couple'a these already.

Mind, prior to this Tuesday, I must attend to a pick-up point near my workplace. Something has finally arrived... >:)

Minitrue said...

Sounds good, I'd be up for that.