Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Friday, October 27, 2023
I have described Alone Among the Stars as the journaling game you have to try to figure out if you want to play any others. That’s because it is both very flexible and accessible and can be as king or as short as you want it to be.
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
On Monday, October 23, 2023, our little gray cat Slater passed away.
Monday, October 23, 2023
Last November, I didn’t want to prioritize my time to participate in NaNoWriMo. (You know, National Novel Writing Month) However, I did observe it by learning and playing journaling RPGs. There’s a surprising number of ways to play RPGs solitaire but I do find that journaling feels very natural.
Thursday, October 19, 2023
Since the Netflix One Piece got me back in a One Piece of mind, I let myself get drawn back into reading the manga.
Tuesday, October 17, 2023
As I’ve mentioned before, Alexander Shen has a gift for making neat coffee break-sized games and puzzles. Making five-minute games might not be as impressive as making six hour epics that break dining room tables but damn if it still isn’t a cool gift.
Take What You Mine is a game where you fill a pack with gems and treasure chests and slime that you dig out of the ground. It has just enough theme to have some quirky charm.
Mechanically, it’s one of those Roll and Writes where you’re filling a grid with symbols. You have a five-by-five grid where you out the stuff you want to get points for. You also have a five square grid (a square with one extra space sticking out) for putting stuff you don’t want in your backpack but those will be worth negative points.
The basic idea is simple. Roll one die, consult the chart and draw the item in. Each item has a different sent of scoring rules (gems have to be in a set, stone has to be an even number) but it’s the slime and the treasure chests that make the game tick.
Slime, excuse me, _pure_ slime is worth a respectable four points. BUT it can’t be placed next to another slime and it renders anything it’s next to worthless.
Treasure chests take up four squares and their value is determined at the end of the game with a die roll for each chest. And treasure chests are the worst. They take up a lot of space and the best return you can get is 1.5 points per square.
The game ends either when you choose to end it after a placement or when you make a roll you either can’t or refuse to make. If the game ends the second way, you lose as many points as that final die roll.
Take What You Mine has some definite limitations. Any Roll and Write that uses only one die limits both what the dice can do and your ability to play with the odds. And Take What You Mine doesn’t have any dice manipulation so you have to cope with what you get.
That said, between the fairly generous placement rules and the discard pack, you do have more control than I was honestly expecting. The game is an interesting balance of being just big enough to offer actual choices while being small enough that the limitations don’t get annoying.
Take What You Mine does a very good job of making an interesting five minutes. If it was even just twice as long, it would need more. However, it’s excellent with a cup of coffee.
Friday, October 13, 2023
I try and learn at least one or two games a month but October has been a month where finding the time and focus to do that just hasn’t been there. Then I realized that a good place to look would be Alexander Shen’s catalog.
Now, that might sound like a slam on Shen’s design skills but it’s the opposite. Their short and deceptively simple games and puzzles serve a very real purpose and need. And the way Shen keeps on creating games that fit so neatly the coffee break niche means it’s not an accident.
Quests Over Coffee: Danger Room is a game I have periodically looked at, in no small part because I feel that Quests Over Coffee is Shen’s strongest game.
Spoiler: Danger Room has nothing to do with Quests Over Coffee.
The board, score/time track and rules for Danger Room take up just one page. You just print off that page, add some tokens and dice and you’re done.
The board is a seven by seven grid. There are four three-square L-shapes that divide the board into bottlenecks and paths. There are also eighteen scoring spaces on the board, each with a dice pip on if.
You put a token in the middle of the board to serve as your pawn. The scoring token goes at the start of the track and the time goes on the end. Each turn, you roll three dice and assign one to movement, own to scoring and one to time.
Move is obvious. Move your pawn that many spaces with no backtracking. The time die moves that many spaces down the track. Scoring is a little weirder because the pip symbol doesn’t mean that that actual pip. You actually check a chart to see if the die you assigned earns one to three points.
The game ends when the score token and the fine token either meet or pass each other. At that point, your score is your score.
Wow. A lot of Shen’s games and puzzles are minimal but Danger Room really pushes it. Both in flavor and in content, it just felt like there wasn’t anything there. As a contrast, Shen’s Blankout is just as minimal but has some pattern recognition and development that I enjoy.
There are some nice touches. Lower numbers tend to score better so you have a choice to slow the time token down or try to get points. If I was told that Danger Room had been created as mental exercise, I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a solitaire Roll and Move with very few moving parts.
I found the idea interesting enough to play Danger Room a few times but it feels more like an experiment than a game. That said, I also tried another Shen solitaire at the same time, Take What You Mine, and I enjoyed that one a lot more.
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
October is Halloween month. Which is the perfect time for Lovecraftian horror but also a good time for more harmless Scooby Doo
Monday, October 9, 2023
As I mentioned in my last blog, I decided to read a couple micro RPGs. The first one, Holy Mountain, was just what I expected. Wreckdivers.. was not.
Friday, October 6, 2023
I went through a period of reading a lot of micro RPGs. That’s kind of given way to reading and playing journaling RPGs but it’s still fun to do it every once in a while.
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
It’s been about a year since I last wrote about the late Henry Kuttner, author of wonderfully pulpy works in the thirties through fifties. While I had read some of his stuff as soon as I was old enough to find it in library anthologies, I hadn’t realized he was part of the Lovecraft Circle. (To be fair, the internet really wasn’t around when I was doing most of my Kuttner reading)
Monday, October 2, 2023
During September, most of my gaming was playing Roll and Writes. They just fit well into limited time and space needs while still giving me a full gaming experience.
Sunday, October 1, 2023
My main goal in September Print and Play crafting turned out to be mostly building up my R&W folder but I got a ‘big’ project in as well.
Dice Spray (12th R&W contest)
Here’s why I made what I made. I have a half-size clip board that I use for smaller Roll and Writes, like Criss Cross or Wurfel Bingo. I don’t know if it’s a sign of laziness or addiction but I like having such a minimalist way to play some Roll and Writes. It takes up the same space as a tablet but I am actually playing analog style.
(And I have made copies of Dice Spray and 13 Sheep before but I was making alternate boards to make more variety for me. Sadly, I don’t think the site that created random 13 Sheep boards is still working but I saved a number of sheets when it was)
My ‘big’ build was Super Slopes, a Button Shy game I hadn’t even heard any buzz about but is a decent little game.
Honestly, I figure October will be more of the same.