Jan 232012
 

This week on UnderDiscussion we officially upgrade frequent guest Hooligan into the third host of UnderDiscussion, and what better way to do that than with an actual play of one of the best games of 2011: Quarriors! Slacker joins us for a surprisingly long game of what is usually a snappy dice game. This one clocks in at just under fifty minutes.

Dec 272011
 

Welcome to the new Game Night Blog Carnival! This is a feature we’re doing once a month with a few other RPG blogs. If you have an RPG blog, and would like to participate, check out the FAQ at the main Game Night page.

Quarriors

Image copyright Wizkids

It is a well documented fact that I love dice. Quarriors is all about dice. This was a match made in heaven. Quarriors is a dice version of a card building game, like Dominion or Thunderstone. The premise is that you are a Quarrior out to gain glory by capturing creatures and protecting them until you can deliver them to the empress. The other players are trying to stop you using their creatures and spells. The creatures and spells are represented by the dice. There are three basic types of dice that don’t fall into either of the above categories. They provide the most basic of creatures called Assistants, the basic “currency” of the game called Quiddity, and a way to get more dice to roll on your turn by using Portals.

Quarriors uses cards to define the different abilities that the various dice possess. The cards are arrayed in the center of the table and the dice are placed on top of the matching card. There are 130 dice in Quarriors, 55 of which represent the basic types of dice with the rest representing the creatures and spells in groups of 5. There are three versions of the card for each die type featuring different special abilities and costs to increase variety in the game. Since not all types of dice are used in every game, Quarriors provides a different game almost every time you play.

Quarriors comes with a 19 page rule book that is very thorough, easy to follow, and features several diagrams showing examples of set up and play. Despite the length of the rules, Quarriors is very easy to pick up and after a game or two plays smoothly. The game generally plays quickly as well. We can usually get in a few games in an hour unless the dice just don’t cooperate. That is actually one of the things I really enjoy about the game. In a card building game, the cards are always the same. Once you have it in your deck the only surprise is when it shows up. With dice not only is it random when a certain die will come out of the bag but which face will come up when it is rolled. This make the game more interesting to me. Just because you have manage to buy something impressive doesn’t guarantee success. It adds excitement to the game.

Quarriors comes in a tin shaped like a die. In fact the top is a facsimile of one of the faces of a die in the game. The art on the cards is sharp and the dice are easy to read and look fantastic. Every thing fits nicely in the packaging and plastic bags are provided for each type of die. The dice bags are holding up well after several plays. Overall the presentation is top notch. Quarriors is made by Whizkids and retails for $50, which is surprisingly low considering the sheer amount of dice in the game.

I highly recommend this game to anyone. We always have a blast playing it. With all the dice rolling, it has an obvious appeal to role players beyond the fantasy theme. This is quickly becoming one of our favorites. Quarriors would be a great way to spend those Christmas gift certificates.

The next stop on the Game Night Blog Carnival is Glimm’s Workshop. Be sure to check out the main page of the Game Night Blog Carnival!

Oct 032011
 

This week on UnderDiscussion Hooligan, Kat and Slacker join WDR and myself to talk about Gaming Paraphernalia, all the extra stuff that can improve gaming. We talk about minatures (taking the time to pimp Reaper), tokens, standees, battle maps (like Gaming Paper), cardstock terrain (like Fat Dragon), the D&D 4e terrain, Paizo Gamemastery stuff, the basics like pencils and paper, Digital stuff like character builders (Hero Lab is a good example) or digital character sheets on a laptop or tablet, the Sultan Gaming Table, and the ultimate piece of gaming paraphernalia: the custom gaming cave! We also give a shout out to Obsidian Portal and Perram’s Spellbook. This episode clocks in at just over 42 minutes.

Aug 302011
 

Welcome to the new Game Night Blog Carnival! This is a feature we’re doing once a month with a few other RPG blogs. If you have an RPG blog, and would like to participate, check out the FAQ at the main Game Night page.

As an old school role player, I love dice. I also have a soft spot for cold war era science fiction. Thus, Martian Dice by Tasty Minstrel Games appeals to me on several levels. You are a Martian and are trying to abduct Earth creatures. It is a quick and easy to learn press your luck game that generally plays in 10-20 minutes. The more players the longer the game. One nice thing about Martian Dice is that it can accommodate any number of players. The object of the game is to be the first to score 25 points.

Martian Dice

That packaging looks familiar. (Image copyright Dayton Ward)

Martian Dice comes packaged in a dice cup that contains the 13 dice needed to play and an instruction booklet. The dice are black and feature five different symbols, one of which repeats. Each symbol has its own color. This makes it easy to quickly see what has been rolled. The symbols and their colors are red tank, blue human face, yellow chicken, white cow, and a green flying saucer which is on each die twice. The instructions are a full color two-sided fold out sheet that features clear rules and directions and a sample of play. The game is so easily picked up the instructions really will only be needed for first time play.

Once someone is picked to go first, that player rolls a 13 dice and sets any tanks rolled to the side. Tanks represent the Earth resistance forces and can prevent a player from scoring if they are not countered by death rays represented by the green flying saucers. After the tanks are set aside the player can choose one type of symbol to set aside. The human, cow, and chicken can only be chosen once on a players turn. Death rays can always be chosen. All the dice featuring the selected symbol are set aside and then the player can choose to reroll the remaining dice. This continues until the player decides to quit rolling, can’t keep anything, or runs out of dice. Once a player has seven tanks their turn is effectively over as well, since it is impossible to equal or exceed the number of tanks with death rays. Presuming that the player manages more death rays than tanks they score one point for each human, cow, and chicken. If a player manages to get at least one of each of the scoring symbols they get a three point bonus. This means that a perfect series of rolls that produces only scoring symbols would score 16 points. I’ve yet to see that happen but it is possible, so theoretically some one could manage to win in two turns. When one player reaches 25 points the current round is played to the end, possibly allowing another player to catch up and overtake the leader. In the case of a tie each player rolls 6 dice and the one with the most death rays wins.

Martian dice is an ideal game when you are waiting for folks to show up for a game session. It moves pretty fast but there is enough decision making and strategey to hold folks interest. It is certainly easy enough for kids to play and promotes some critical thinking. This one is super quick and fun as well as boasting a $15 price tag. We have played dozens of games and have had a blast. We’ve even named a roll featuring nothing but tanks and death rays a “Michael Bay” since it is all explosions and no points.

This one is worth it for anyone who plays games on a regular basis.


The next stop on the Game Night Blog Carnival is Glimm’s Workshop. The previous stop is The ID DM. Be sure to check out the main page of the Game Night Blog Carnival!

Jul 262011
 

Welcome to the new Game Night Blog Carnival! This is a new feature we’re doing once a month with a few other RPG blogs. If you have an RPG blog, and would like to participate, check out the FAQ at the main Game Night page.

Awesome kung fu flip picture by richardmasoner

I wanted a Kung Fu picture and this one was awesome! Photo by richardmasoner on Flickr.

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, martial arts as practiced in Asia became somewhat of a fad in America. Bruce Lee was at the top of his career and badly dubbed “chop-socky” movies were at the drive-in. The game I’m going to be discussing this month is called Cookie Fu and uses dice to simulate a one on one “fu” fight. It is a collectible dice game from Blue Kabuto. Normally I don’t bother with collectible games since I like to know exactly what I’m getting for my hard earned cash. I made an exception for this game because it is easy, cheesy, fast, and fun. The premise is that there are 3 clans preparing to fight against the forces of the Dark Cookie threatening the land of Fu. The clans are the Chocolate Ox, Vanilla Hare, and Coconut Monkey. You are a Fu Fighter from one of these clans training in the Way of The Cookie. Each of the clans has a different style that is reflected in their clan specific chi moves. Chi moves are the most powerful moves in the game.

So why is a dice game called Cookie Fu? The chi moves for each clan are provided as fortunes inside fortune cookies that come with the game. Surprisingly, I have not encountered any stale cookies thus far. I am told that the makers of the game take great pains to ensure that the cookies are as fresh as possible. I must admit that a game that comes with its own snack is hard not to like.

The Fu is Strong!

Mahon and Eric playing a game of Cookie Fu!

The care taken with the cookies is indicative of the presentation of the game. Cookie Fu is packaged in facsimiles of Chinese food containers. There are two different sizes of container. The small ones are used for booster pack which come in four varieties, one for each clan and a standard non clan specific booster. The larger container is used for the Battle Royale pack which provides enough dice and cookies for two people to play using the Chocolate Ox and Vanilla Hare clans. It is the most cost effective way to start playing Cookie Fu and lets you get straight to the fighting. The instructions are designed like a tri fold take out menu and present the basic moves and standard chi powers as menu items. They also double as screens to hide your dice rolls from your opponent.

Everybody was Cookie Fu Fighting!

Grey playing some Cookie Fu!

Cookie Fu is above all a dice game and the main course of the game is the dice. There are two kinds of dice provided with one type having several subsets. The first type of die is referred to as the Clan Fortune die and is used to determine initiative. Each clan’s die is color coded and has one of three portraits of fu fighters on it. The other dice are Fu dice and come in four varieties each corresponding with the level of “fu” the die represents. The color of the icons on the dice tell you the die type. There are six icons representing “fu” moves. The basic fu dice have white icons and one of each of the six icons. The dice then advance up in “skill” levels by adding more duplicate icons per die allowing a player to customize their fu. The learned dice have two of the same icon followed by master with three of a kind and finally grand master with four of a kind. All levels of dice have a single chi icon. The learned dice icons are yellow, master icons are orange, and grand master icons are green. The dice are a rich dark brown so the icons are really easy to see.

Art from the Battle Royale packs

You want Battle Royale Packs! Seriously, they're awesome!

The game is simple to play. Each turn both players roll their allotted Fu dice including the Clan Fortune die. Players then reveal their Clan Fortune die rolls and use what is basically a modified version of rock, paper, and scissors to determine initiative. Once initiative is set then the first player presents dice to attack and the other player defends with the players alternating attacks and defence until they both run out of dice. Turns continue until one player runs out of hit points. When a player hits zero hit points he may do a “parting shot” consisting of his remaining dice to the opposing player. It is possible for both players to be knocked out. This all sounds very mechanical and unexciting. The joy in Cookie Fu is in the presentation by the fighters. This quote from the rules explains it much better than I.

Important note: Cookie Fu moves work best when shouted with a dramatic stance. STAND UP, have fun, get into it and give it your best “Hiiiiiiyaaaa!!” Facial expressions and gestures are encouraged.

The Cookie Fu moves that use chi have great names like “Sugary Nerve Strike” or “Bourbon Bean Hamstring” which are a blast to announce old school chop-socky film style. The fact that the game is relatively quick to learn and understand does not detract from a players ability to use good strategy and make wise decisions. We have had a blast playing this one and I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s been like a Carl Douglas song around here lately. Get out there and show that your Fu is strong, Grasshopper.

The next stop on the Game Night Blog Carnival is Glimm’s Workshop. The previous stop is The ID DM. Be sure to check out the main page of the Game Night Blog Carnival!

May 122011
 

I’m 8one6 and I have a problem. A dice problem. Well, that’s what my friends tell me anyway. I own a lot of dice. Sure, it’s not as many as Kevin Cook, but damnit, I’ve only been collecting for a decade. I have an emergency set of dice in my car. I’m “that guy” when it comes to dice.

A very small part of my collection.

A very small part of my collection.

I’ll be honest here, I own more dice than I could ever use. I recently re-cubed my collection and it took more than two cases of empty poly set cubes from Chessex to do the job. Heck, I had to build a dice case shortly after that picture to the left was taken because my dice bag got too small to contain all of them.

I can only sort of describe the reason I’m compelled to buy new dice sets when I see them. I like the shapes that dice come in. I like the huge variety of colors and patterns. I like the sound that dice make when they roll across a table.

Most importantly I think is that I like to use dice. I like them as part of a game’s resolution mechanic. I like that D&D uses all the classic polyhedrals to resolve different things, like the d12 for a barbarian’s hit-points, or the d8 for a longsword’s damage, and the d20 to resolve almost every action in the game, and giving you a 5% chance to succeed at almost anything.

Fate Dice by 8one6, on Flickr

WDR's collection of Fate dice.

Of course, some games don’t use the regular dice that we all know and love. Nope, some games have to be special, like Fate/Fudge. Those two use dice with an equal number of pluses, minuses, and blank sides spread around a d6. As each die (a dF in this case) is generating a result from -1 to 1 it’s essentially a d3-2. I’m told that this results in a very “flat” bell curve centered on “0.” I’m currently playing in a fate system game (basically Dresden Files) and I own a single set of dF’s. I’ve been strongly tempted to buy the “wizards’ set” at the FLGS (with glow in the dark dice who wouldn’t be tempted), but the biggest barrier in my mind is the fact that, other than using them to speed up luck rolls in a Hero system game, I don’t see myself using them once the game I’m currently playing in is over.

Another game that uses a lot of fancy, custom dice is the most recent edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.Depending on the “stance” the character is currently in and the fickle winds of fate they could be rolling any combination of different colored d8’s, d10’s, and d6’s. There are dice rolled for your attributes (characteristic dice), your skill (expertise dice), the aforementioned stance dice that replace characteristic dice (conservative and reckless dice), dice that are there just to make things more difficult (challenge dice) and dice that represent fate smiling on you or deciding that today just isn’t your day (fortune and misfortune dice, respectively).*

 

I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the oddball dice. These are dice that are sometimes called for in a game, but the designers expected you to to just roll a different die and divide by 2, like calling for a d5 roll. Well, now you don’t have to do any of that pesky math. Gamescience, one of my favorite dice manufacturers (that’s not a weird thing to have a favorite of), sells dice with 3, 5, 7, 14, 16, 24 and even the Zocchihedron, a 100-sided die invented by companies founder Lou Zocchi. I happen to own one or two of each of those. They’re great if for no other reason than to break out an actual d5 when the GM calls for a roll.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay dice by 8one6, on Flickr

Little more than two core sets worth of WHFRP dice.

One other category, a sort of special mention, are custom dice that function as one of the regular polyhedral dice, but are still unique. There include the one-face custom dice that companies, blogs, and special events give out as little promos to dice like the IronDie d6’s (like we recently gave away on UnderDiscussion) or the exceptionally sweet looking skull dice that came in the Piratology game.

*Please note that there is more to the fortune dice that what I’m writing here, but that would be better discussed in a review of the game.