A new years recap – gaming over the break and mini-reviews of many games.

Hello and welcome to 2012! If you’re like me, you’re going to cram as much gaming into this year as you can because come December, well that’s it for the entire world.  Not that I believe that, but I’ll take any excuse to get a few rounds of Dominion in, or an extra Palladium Fantasy RPG session on the boards.

It’s been a while since there was a lot of activity on Troll in the Corner, due to several factors beyond my control.  Here’s a quick recap on the content front, and then we’re going to dive right in a talk about gaming with a bunch of mini-reviews.

First and foremost, I had to have my left shoulder surgically altered so that the bicep tendon is no longer attached to my arm inside my shoulder joint, but rather a bit lower down on my humerus. In spite of any obvious comical links, it was not a fun time. I’m still in a sling and taking life mostly by the right hand – but able now to type in short bursts. Things are getting better and I’m looking forward to getting back to writing to finish off two ongoing projects – Aruneus and Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places.

Second, a number of my go-to writers and editors have found themselves either too busy with every day life, or moving on to other projects, which leaves most of the writing load on me and my poor, abused left shoulder.

With those two factors hitting me hard, the content on the site has fallen off dramatically, and over the past three weeks I’ve been pretty much unable to contribute to it, or write for either of my two projects.  Good news is on the horizon though – the somewhat stalled Aruneus project is back in motion, with more art flowing in and me gearing up to write furiously on it.  Same with Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places.  The outline for EPP is complete as is about 75% of the layout work – now it’s just a bunch of creative writing, editing and some finishing up with the layout once the full text is in place.

Over the break, despite the dead weight of my left arm, I did manage to get a bit of gaming in. Here’s what I played, and what I thought about it.

Enchanted Forest is the first game I got to really dig into since surgery. My six year old received this from the big guy over Christmas, and she loves this game, considering it her first “grown up” game.

The premise is simple – there are 12 trees, each with a different magical treasure hidden underneath. The king has ordained that the first person to return three treasures to the castle, will follow him and reign completely over the realm.  Along with the 12 trees, there are 12 thick, cardboard cards emblazoned with the same 12 treasures. One at a time, the cards are turned over to show the players which particular treasure must be reported to the castle.

From there the game becomes a memory game, you travel through the forest, using two six sided dice to determine your moves.  You can move separately for each die, so if you roll a 3 and a 5, you can move either 3 or 5 spaces first, and then continue on or reverse direction for the 2nd roll. As each player lands on a space with a tree, you (and you alone) can look under that tree to see which treasure is hidden away.

Once you find the location of the treasure needed at that moment, you head back to the castle and report it to the king. If you are correct, you’ve collected a treasure! Three in total are needed to win the game.

Players can send each other back to the home space (in the village) by landing on each other. Also, if you roll doubles you can use ‘magic’ to perform some special abilities, such as moving to any tree space not currently occupied, moving closer to the castle, or changing the card and the treasure needed to win that item.

Both my 6 and 8 year old kids love this game, and I enjoy playing it with them. With adults it can get a bit cut-throat. Which leads me to my next game.

Cutthroat Caverns was a favorite on New Years Eve. We played with six players and had a blast, although our last encounter (a giant, floating gas bag) was a bit of a let down.  I love this game, which for me has just the right amount of cooperative backstabbing needed to make a game fast paced and fun. To me it feels just a bit more ‘grown up’ than Munchkin, in that you have to preserve your party for as long as possible in order to survive yourself until the end.

Essentially, you have 9 encounters for your party to get through. The person who takes the prize for each encounter is the one who lands the killing blow (not the most damage!) The encounters scale to your party size however, so if you go into this with a party of six players, you don’t want to find yourself with two of them dead on the 5th encounter.

For a closer look, see my post from Pax East 2011 where I detailed my Cutthroat Caverns experience.  For us recently, there was plenty of fast action back-stabbing and a number of times we laughed or Oooo’ed out loud.

Poo is a game I got for Christmas. I’d heard a bunch about it and was eager to try it out. Finally a few days ago my wife and I found time to play five rounds.  Here’s another great game that goes quick and comes with lots of laughs. The premise is that you’re a monkey/ape/primate in the zoo. It’s been a tough day and something wasn’t quite right with your dinner.  What do you do then?  Why, you fling poo of course!

Everyone starts off Poo free.  Once you reach 15 poo (i.e. you’re covered in excrement) you’re out of the game. The last monkey standing wins. There are standard poo cards, giving you 1-7 poo to fling at each other. Then there are special poo cards (Devil Poo being a favorite) which allow you to fling poo with a bit more pizzazz.  There are also cards to allow you to block flying dung, cards that allow you to trip up other poo flinging players and event cards which affect the game in different ways.

An average 2 player game lasted about 10 minutes for us. We played 5 games, with each of us winning 2 and the last ending in a filthy stalemate.

The last new game I’ve gotten to try out was Dungeon Raiders, a little card game my wife received as a gift.  It’s another fun, fairly simple and slightly back-stabby game in which your party goes through five dungeon levels.  The one to make it out with the most money and then the most life, wins.  Killing off the other party members is also a choice.

Set up is a bit more complicated than I expected, with many different card types, all used differently. But once we got the hang of it, a game lasted about 15 – 20 minutes. Of all the games we played over the break, this was the one I’m least likely to head towards. That being said, it’s not a bad game and can be quite fun with the right crowd. The mechanics were a bit clunky though and it just didn’t flow as nicely as I would have liked.

You have 30 dungeon cards, of which you use 25 in a game. Each set of five cards represents one dungeon level.  Of the 25 cards used, 12 are turned face up when the shuffling happens. These represent lit dungeon rooms. Other rooms are dark (so you can’t see what you’re getting in to). There are several types of rooms you’ll encounter. The first is a monster, which you have to kill, or take damage from. The second is a treasure room, where you get your gold. The third is a trap, which can cause wounds to your party, or make you lose gold. Lastly there are rooms in which you can purchase equipment.

Each of the five characters start off with different levels of gold and wounds. Some come with equipment as well. A torch lets you look in to dark rooms that others can’t see.  A key allows you to better open treasure. A sword gives you an extra advantage in an encounter. A crystal ball allows you to see how others will play before you do.

Each person’s hand consists of five cards, numbered 1 – 5 and any extra equipment they start with or purchase.  For each of the five dungeon rooms, you have to play a card, 5 being the best option in most cases, and 1 being the worst.

Not a bad game, but not my favorite.

That was my winter break! Lots of recovery with some gaming interspersed. Hopefully you’ve gotten to play your fill as well!


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