Episode 24: Le Havre, World Board Game Championships and Living & Collectible Card Games

In episode 24, the founders talk about their experiences at the World Board Gaming Championship in Lancaster, PA. Then from the Secret Cabal Library they break out Brian's favorite game, the well known classic eurogame Le Havre, to give you a walkthrough and review. Tony gathers the best of gaming news from the past two weeks and then heads up a conversation on collectible and living card games, sharing exactly what draws him to Magic: The Gathering. The rest of the gang fill in with their varied play experiences from the casual to the heavy tournament goer.

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Episode Timeline

  • World Board Game Championships: 00:01
  • Le Havre Walkthrough: 00:51
  • Le Havre Review: 00:59
  • Gaming News with Tony Topper: 01:22
  • CCG's and LCG's: 01:54 

The World Board Gaming Championships

  • It was a struggle to get a table in the Open Gaming room, every single table was filled up. A listener that was in attendance, Wade, snagged us a table around 5pm when folks started clearing out for dinner.
  • Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games was in the merchant hall with the pieces to Crude, a game that Tony is really looking forward to.
  • Another listener, Jim, had King of Tokyo with him and sat down with us to play a few games. He took the Monsterpocalypse pieces and replaced the cardboard standies which made the game that much better. For a quick paced game it was an excellent play that all of us loved. Jamie debated about purchasing it due to the price-point but eventually picked it up.
  • We pulled out Battlestar Gallactica up in the Open Gaming room with Wade. The first phase we had no cylons and we scraped through with very little losses. The second phase the humans tanked pretty quickly. The game culminated with the President declaring that the Admiral was a cylon after looking at his cards. While it was a masterful plan due to some suspicion that the Admiral was actually a cyclon among the group, it just didn't work out well because we know the gamers. The humans struggled to last until the final jump and almost made it.
  • For our final game in the Open Gaming room we broke out Small World: Underground. It has new races and a new play board, but it also adds relics and places of power. Relics are like magic items that allow you to do interesting things, but they are placed on the spot they are used on the board and can be claimed by others if the spot is taken over. The Places of Power are very strong but they stay permanently at the location they are discovered. These mechanics changed the game dramatically by shifting the focus from the most strategic place to play on the board for the most points to these fun and powerful locations on the board that people wanted to control. The artwork on the board didn't appeal to most players though.
  • We also got a play in of Rex with Wade, the Dune re-theme. We haven't actually played the original so we're not certain if there were any rule changes. This is a lighter territory control game than Axis and Allies. It can be a very chaotic game with lots of unknowable hard counters that make it difficult to have strategic victories. While debating about Rex we have a mini-discussion on balance in games in general. Overall, there's a lot of integrated mechanics and player interaction required, and our final judgement on the game is in question. We need to play this a few more times before we can give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Opening Banter Topics:

  • Tony got pummeled at a Magic the Gathering Game Day. His constructed budget deck didn't fare so well, but he did get his hands on the promo card.
  • His MtG tournament was pushed back by a Pokemon Pre-Release so he got to check it out. The average player was in their early twenties but there were very young and very old players in attendance.
  • Chris picked up his copy of Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd Edition and it's a big hit at the gaming table. We're playing through the campaign. Thus far we've played 3 encounters. None of the adventures are march through the dungeon and kill the big bad. Each has a story with objectives for both the Overlord and the heroes. We have lots to say about this game. If Descent tickles your acquisition disorder check it out!
  • Jamie's acquisition disorder for Descent has subsided, but now he's chomping at the bits to pick up models for Warhammer 40k 6th Edition.

Uwe Rosenberg's classic, Le Havre

In Le Havre, a player’s turn consists of two parts: First, distribute newly supplied goods onto the offer spaces; then take an action. As an action, players may choose either to take all goods of one type from an offer space or to use one of the available buildings. Building actions allow players to upgrade goods, sell them or use them to build their own buildings and ships. Buildings are both an investment opportunity and a revenue stream, as players must pay an entry fee to use buildings that they do not own. Ships, on the other hand, are primarily used to provide the food that is needed to feed the workers.

Gaming News with Tony Topper

Product Announcements / Releases
Wizards of the Coast is introducing Planeswalker Points, which rewards badges for trying different formats of Magic the Gathering tournament play.
Former CEO of Wizards of the Coast, Peter Adkinson, formed a new company called Hostile Work Environment, doing a video productions filming and narrating roleplaying games.
Tabletop is teaming up with Target, which will put stickers on games featured on Tabletop displaying, "As seen on Geek and Sundry." Select games will be the featured as the game of the month.

Crowd-Funded Features   Monte Cook is firing up a Kickstarter project called Numenera. For a tabletop role-playing game, it has a Mad Max / Dune-ish feel to it. Overall we are rather impressed. The artwork is amazing with a very retro feel to it for a sci-fi game. The video describes character creation and mechanics as simple that is designed to put the focus on the story. With ~30 days left this project has far exceeded its $20,000 goal. It's now sitting at $102,568 pledged with 1,204 backers and has completed the first 4 stretch goals. For a low $20 pledge backers can the PDF's of the core book and players guide as well as the character creator app.
  Relic Knight by Soda Pop Miniatures and published by CoolMiniOrNot is a fast-paced strategy battle game, pitting the heroic forces of the Relic Knights against each other in a battle for survival and the fate of the galaxy. With 6 different factions, this miniature wargame lasts about an hour an utilizes a unique card drawing mechanic to power special abilities and defenses. The units have a very anime feel to them and are made of high grade plastic. With 25 days to go and 849 backers, this project has also far exceeded its funding goal of $20,000. Currently it has $156,925 pledged.
  Evil Baby Orphanage by Wyrd Miniatures caught us by surprise. This thing launched on July 30th and completed on Aug 14th. For such a short run it had an enormous turnout with 2,263 backers and $108,630 pledged towards the tiny $5,500 goal. While we're not getting this one out to you in time to back, keep an eye on the Wyrd Miniatures site as this is sure to show up as a product shortly after it releases in November. The premise is that through time traveling, players attempt to kidnap histories greatest villains and reform them in their orphanage.
  Eternity Dice is a project for handmade solid stone dice. They offer a variety of handcrafted dice made from cooled lava from Mount Vesuvius. While most of us weren't impressed, Tony thought this looked interesting. These are standard d6 and there's also an option to get Fudge dice. The stone is harder than marble and looks really nice. They've met their goal of $950 and are just shy of a second stretch goal ($10,000). The project still has 44 days to go so there's plenty of time to get in on this if you're interested.
  Duel of the RPG apps! Two different projects on Kickstarter. Hazzah and Dragons Gameboard. Both are designed for gamers with limited space to display battle mats. Players can use their Android (for Dragons Gameboard) and iOS devices (supported by both) to individually interact with the battlemap. They each have their own particular quirks to them so if this is something you're interested in compare them both. Both of them are low of funding at this point with ~20 days left on each of them, with Dragons at about 25% of its $21,000 goal and Hazzah at about 5% of its $50,000 goal. While the project goals vary dramatically, Hazzah seems to be going for a more comprehensive and ruleset friendly aps, while Dragons seems to be going for simplicity, usability, they're open sourcing the project at completion, and their design focus is on making texture packs available for an ultimately nicer looking experience. Both are projects that any tabletop gamer would love to have on hand at times.
  Sol Forge is a new digital trading card game by the designer of Magic the Gathering, Richard Garfield. They intend to take advantage of the fact that this is a digital medium, which allows them to actually alter the cards during play utilizing a feature they're calling Transformations. The example discussed is where the artwork of a card changes as the power of it grows, a baby dragon, an adult dragon, and then an ancient dragon which emulates the leveling up seen in many RPG's. This project currently has 1,983 backers and is sitting at $103,664 out of $250,000 required with 26 days to go.

Upcoming Products
A new Marvel superhero deck-building game called Legendary by Upper Deck will be previewing at Gen Con. They're commissioning all new artwork for the cards. In addition, they have Devin Low who was a head builder for Magic the Gathering.
Gale Force 9 is putting out Spartacus: A game of Blood & Treachery. Players take on the role of a Dominus. It looks like an ameritrash game where players manage their gladiators and compete for the prestige and wealth. It's due out in September.
Relic is a upcoming re-theme of Talisman. While not a favorite of most of us, the 40k theme sounds intriguing. We'll have to see if they re-work any of the rules of the game.
Gen Con! Lots of news coming out of this annual convention. Netrunner, X-Wing Miniatures, Aztlan, Dominion: Dark Ages (Large Expansion), all of which will be revealed in August. Check out the boardgamegeek geeklist!

Available Now!
7 Wonders Cities is now available!
Games Workshop released Chaos Deamons and the digital Empire Codex for Warhammer Fantasy. The price point for the codex is $44.99 which makes Jamie sad. Tony took a look at the feedback and found a ton of negative reviews by people who haven't even purchased it simply because of sticker shock.
War Room app from Privateer Press came out and issues abound. There were all kinds of issues for Android and the app crashes and is slow and clunky on iOS. Privateer Press issued a statement explaining what issues they have with the product, what they plan on fixing, etc. The base download is free but there are a myriad of micro-purchases.

Collectible and Living Card Games

The founders have played a variety of trading and collectible card games, though Magic the Gathering has dominated the market. Here we explain what the difference is between living and collectible card games and discuss what our thoughts are on these two different genres. We share our experiences playing each of these genres, the impact of organized play, what the draw is/was to play them, and share stories of our gaming time playing Magic the Gathering and other CCG's. Jamie shares his experiences dabbling in the Lord of the Rings LCG, and the group compares and contrasts aspects of the LCG CCG divide. From there, we talk about the shift in the meta-game from what it was back when Brian played competitively to the current meta-game with everything being available online. Chris shares his lack of skill in ascertaining how strong a card is and the group discusses how well the rules of the game need to be understood to be competitive at both casual and tournament levels. Tony tackles the monetary value of the cards in various trading card games. Afterwards, Brian discusses why he got out of playing Magic at tournaments. Then we discuss a variety of styles of playing Magic the Gathering and other LCG's that might suit our particular gaming group without requiring a hefty monetary investment.

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