Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rum & Bones.. Not really a dice-fest attrition grind, but almost.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love the pirate genre and the Golden Age of Piracy (1660-1720). I loved it long before those silly Johnny Depp movies. Indeed, I even have an art print of Blackbeard on my wall.

So it was a no-brainer when my friend Jeff popped over on this Sunday for a quick game of the latest craze, Rum & Bones, by Coolminiornot. I've been posting my paintjobs on Cool Mini when it was a relatively unknown website, but in the last couple of years they exploded with one Kickstarter hit after another.

The premise of Rum & Bones is that Davey Jones has escaped or something, and we pirate scum are fighting over his treasure and magic. Or something like that.

In the core game, humans fight the undead as we board each other ships. There is thus no ship to ship combat, just a boarding action.

The rules are very simplistic and likely aimed at the 13 year old teenage boy crowd who will enjoy the oohing and aawing over the minis.

Coolmini has plenty of minis in the game, up to their eye pleasing sculpts, but the vast majority have the same basic stats as cannon fodder. Lots of minis with simple rules. This seems to be a common theme with Coolmini, a boardgame being the avenue to sell lots and lots of minis. I'm guessing soft plastic minis have a high profit margin. Lump a ton of them in a box, slap on easy rules, and voila.

Anyways, I was playing the undead (purple colour), and Jeff was playing Humans (greenish-blue).

I have skeleton deckhands and bosuns...

and heroes like my Captain and such...

The heroes have special attacks that you use to pay for in "gold" that you acquire every turn or when you kill the enemy.  "Blade of the Damned, Lash of Torment," etc as you can see below.

Your deckhands are basically mindless idiots that can only go forward over the boarding planks, while your heroes have a little more leeway and can also swing from the rigging into the enemy ship.

You fight it out killing the other guy, but everyone is undead or cursed (even the Humans), so they just keep coming back and back and back until you win 8 victory points. VPs can be won by damaging the other guy's masts, destroying their guns or locker, and the Kraken..

What's that you say... Kraken??

Why yes, if you use too many magic cards (the ones with tentacles on them), there is a chance the Kraken is summoned, wreaking havoc on both crews.

There is not much to this game, as I guess Coolmini figures tactics, flanks, etc, is too much to handle for teenagers.

It's a grind back and forth over the planks as you can see:

Lots of dice rolling and little movement in the middle until the Kraken shows up between the two shps and then all hell breaks loose.

Before the Kraken..

 After the Kraken.. . as everybody nearby is killed and removed (until respawned back).

I roll lots of dice attacking, he rolls lots of dice attacking. Once in a while, we play a card. Guys get killed in the middle, and guys get put back in the respawning areas in the ship. A war of attrition with the luckier guy getting the edge.

I wasn't the luckier guy.

He visits my ship so often, I should have made tea for his cursed crew.

I went for the Kraken, and inflicted 15 out of 16 damage to its health, doing 99% of the work. Jeff saunters in after and kills it with 1 hit point for a total of 16 and gets the 2 VP, some gold, some powers.



He then destroys my locker for another 2 VPs.

I barely make it on to his ship. My high water mark - the furthest I got on his ship - was in the centre before he beat me off with dice rolls and pushed me right back. 

With almost no strength in my right side, he bludgeoned his way to get one of my masts for the win.

I can't really say it was a grind, as the game only lasted an hour, but it felt like it a bit. Similar to WW1 going over the top attrition, you basically charge over the planks and get decimated. Same with the other guy.

And I can't really say it was a dice fest, as you mainly roll 4 dice most of the time. But you do it over and over and over and over..but it sure came close to being a mindless dice and card luckfest. My one non-walk-over-the-plank maneuver, having one of my heroes swing over to the other side in the rigging, resulted in him falling into the drink.

This game I hate to say, has all the worst aspects of Ameritrash that Europeans complain about. I'm no Eurogamer, but this thing was pure teenage boyish. Virtually 100% luck and no tactics.

Avast me hearties... I'll try it again, but so far, I'm not feeling it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

3D printing is starting to mature and could be a boon for miniature players

I've bought from the 3D Printer online store Shapeways before, but you are limited to what designers put up for sale.

I stumbled across Hero Forge  ( and tested out their interactive make-a-mini process.

You get an interesting choice to build your mini on  (man, woman, fantasy, sci-fi, modern, tons of weapons and clothes, etc).

You start off with a base character.

Well, I chose a sci-fi male model and decided he should be athletic:

I left his expression as is, but gave him a beard. Again, lots of options on length and such, but just went with a goatee.

I picked the "tread lightly" pose to give him that bad-ass je-ne-sais-quoi

I clothed him in "hired gun" clothes

Armed him with a pistol and a big-f#*&U*ing gun

Put a base on him..

and chose 30 mm (not sure why no traditional 25 or 28mm option, but 30mm is okay I guess). And chose him to be carved in "Ultra Detail Plastic" which appears to be the best.

Cost before shipping is $24.99, which is what you would get at other 3D Printing shops and with GW.

With a few clicks, I can make this guy fantasy and even keep the same pose:



or even  East-Asian (but I would have had to change his face).

As I said, lots of clothes and things that he can carry that can easily be changed. I can see wargamers 5 years from now build their entire army with each trooper different than the other.

I'm sure the price will go down eventually, but this is very encouraging to the hobby. I'm sure as time will go by, we'll get more and more choice to the point of putting acne scars on the guy. :-)

Thumbs up! As my friend Jim said:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Carnival Zombie.. bizarre setting but interesting game mechanics

Every October or so, we usually get into the Halloween spirit and play horror games. Jeff, Jim, CB and myself sat down today and maintained that tradition. I didn't know what game Jeff was going to bring over, but in the meantime, Jim and I killed some time playing the card game Mag-Blast (Third Edition).

The game has cute artwork and cute mechanics. You basically have a fleet of ships led by a command ship and surrounded with support vessels.

You move your support ships around and fire laser blasts at the other guy's fleet. The game as it was taught to me by Jim seemed like a fun filler of a game. Almost all luck based, in terms of the ships you draw and your attacks.

 You get to throw the other guy curve balls like I do here with " Temporal Flux" etc, so like all card games, there are "gotcha" cards.

Here, Jim's mag blast causes 5 damage on my destroyer, the Badiroc, which only has 4 hull points, and so is destroyed.

We played like for 10 minutes just so I can learn the game mechanics. I'll elaborate further on this game the next time we play but basically you need to match your attack cards with your turret colour guns.

Jeff brought over Carnival Zombie from the Italian company Raven.

The premise is that our 6 characters are attending a festival of some sort in Venice, Italy, (armed to the teeth) dressed in Renaissance to Enlightenment era clothes and that evil monsters, similarly dressed, have arisen and that in 4 days time, a leviathan from the sea is coming to destroy the city. A cooperative game where we need to escape either by sea, airship or by a bridge.  Oh, and Venice is sinking.

Lastly, if we find the "Holy Hand Grenade" on the way, we may use it to destroy the leviathan.


The Holy Hand Grenade sounds tongue-in-cheek and Monty Python-ish, but all of this is juxtaposed against serious art, a very busy game board, demonic sounding creatures (Moloch, Incubus, etc), and we have less than charitable characters.

I mean, look at the undead here... "Incubus" "Moloch" "Goliath" "Vermin".. this is not tongue-in-cheek stuff.

I was playing the Engineer and the Doctor, and these two guy's bios sound like two nasty guys.

My engineer, Pantalion, is a hunchback dressed like an 18th Century highwayman and shows up to a festival or carnival with an M79 grenade launcher.

His bio reads that he is "wealthy, miserly and lustful", "hunchbacked and awkard."

Uh.. huh..

My Doctor is "Doc Pestilence" (how is that for comforting!) who is wearing a plague mask of the 14th Century, and unlike the engineer who has a modern M79, he comes armed with a flintlock.


His bio is even more bizarre.."a disturbing figure, he rejects human contact" and has "messianic" traits.

The other players have similarly bizarre characters.

We and the demonic hordes are in 14th to 18th century costumes, with modern weapons (I got a grenade launcher!) and old muskets, and we must fight off the demonic and vile hordes, while trying to escape Venice by boat, airship or bridge.

Yes, an airship, like I was Count Zeppelin or something. The modern weapons preclude a Steampunk setting, so I don't know what the hell the designers were thinking.

This is probably a cultural thing that maybe the Italians like to have things mixed up, but it seemed like a bad TV show setting to this North American. A serious tone, but also a ridiculous setting at the same time.

Jeff though, loves horror so it wasn't a big issue to him, but as a history buff, I found all of this strange.

Along the way, my Engineer finds a flame-thrower and my doctor finds an anatomy book in Venice... I don't know.. don't ask how it got there for me to find them, just go along with it..

Jeff tells me the English rules are poorly written, and I can see why. Look at the poor translation in my "treatise on anatomy" card:   'Al Infected Doc Pestilence makes fall off the pile of corpses are put back in the Abyss"

However, the game mechanics are interesting. We move throughout the city abstractly with the objective of radioing the Airship first at the radio tower southwest of us, and then head north to the Airship. It's not an aerodrome, but I find out later, a graveyard where we fight the hordes one last time.

We basically have to "tower defence" at every stop along the way, and survive the night against the evil creatures and their bosses, who are represented by cubes, cones and cylinders. A typical Euro cube pusher in other words. They put a lot of effort in the art, but then give us boring cubes to play with.

Look at the scary cubes and cylinders!

The cube-hordes are pulled randomly from an opaque bag, and they attack us in the centre from all points of the compass.  

The most interesting game mechanic is the dropping of the dead on to a gravestone. You kill off a horde, represented by a cube, and physically drop them from whatever height you want so long as you're not touching, on to the gravestone. Those cubes that fall off come back immediately... "risen from the dead" as it were.

 In this case, this purple cube, a "Moloch" comes back immediately.

We scoffed at first at this "childish" game mechanic, but quickly came to appreciate that it added good game tension when there were lots of cubes piled up.

Anyways, we make it to Airship zone and fight off the hordes and boss hordes, but barely...

All in all, a bizarre game setting with some interesting mechanics.