The name says it all really, we’re going to be doing a zombie apocalypse. However, we aren’t going to be playing the game where the players are trying to stop it. Instead, we’re going to pull from things like The Walking Dead, Dead of Winter, […]
Tag: Dead of Winter
Final top 5 list, I think that I could maybe come up with some more lists, but I might do eventual lists of games that play best or up to two through six or seven to give ideas for games like that. As I know that’s something that I want to think about as a person who hosts a board game night, what games provide that range in player count or allow players to split up more.
But we finish off with action points. What are action points, they are points or tokens that tell you how much you can do on a single turn. Maybe you can take five actions, and then you allocate those points to specific actions you can take, like moving or attacking.
5. Dead Men Tell No Tales
A cooperative game, in this one you are spending actions to try and find treasure on a pirate ship that is haunted and currently on fire. You have to contain the fire, try and find the treasures, deal with skeletal deck hands, and you have a certain number of actions you can take to do all of that. This game is like a lot of cooperative games in that you feel like you can never do enough. The interesting thing this game adds in with action points is that you can pass on your unused action points to the next player. So it might be that you are limited in what you can do, but the next person has a lot of useful things that they can do. You can move closer into position to set-up what for your next turn and then pass any unused action points to the next player so that they can do more. In a lot of cooperative games the action points are static but you can act upon other characters, in this one, you can’t do that, but you can pass out action points.
4. Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter is an interesting game on this list as it uses dice as your action points in the round. The dice don’t encompass every action you can take in the game, but the strongest actions, the ones that help you complete objectives are going to spend a die. Not only that, but the number you roll on the dice makes a difference as well. Some characters aren’t able to search or kill zombies with a low die roll. So in that case your die, which is supposed to be your strongest action is now made weaker and it looks like you are hurting the colony and people are starting to suspect you are the traitor more, but at the same time, they can see the roll, so they know it wasn’t great. And then you get more dice and actions when you have more survivors, but you are also responsible for more zombies showing up and more mouths to feed and making the game harder that way.
3. Arkham Horror LCG
This game doesn’t use the points as a physical token, but a lot of the games with action points don’t. Action allowance might be a good way of describing it as well, because you have a certain total number of actions you can take on a turn. Arkham Horror does this well, limiting you to two actions, and while you can do the same actions multiple times, you always feel the crush of not being able to do enough. Arkham Horror LCG is a placeholder on this list for all of Fantasy Flights Lovecraftian games as you feel the crunch Arkham Horror, Elder Signs, and Mansions of Madness as well. It’s a system that works well for them as it keep the tension high when you don’t have enough actions to do everything that you’d want.
2. Blood Rage
Action points are huge in Blood Rage as you try and get into territories, move troops around, and be able to hang in the round long enough to stop your opponent from doing what they are trying to do. What I like about the action point system in Blood Rage is that certain actions cost a certain number of action points. And the monsters, who are possibly more powerful or useful in some other way, also have action point costs. So you’re trying to balance using your action points so that you don’t run out much before anyone else, because once you are out of action points, you are out of the round at least in being able to take the large actions that are going to be most useful long term.
1. Pandemic Legacy
This game does great with action points, basically each turn the active player spends up to four action points, moving around, curing diseases, trading cards, and finding cures. Then as the game continues, you gain more and more actions that you can take. At the end of the game, you’re trying to balance out these actions in hopes that you’ll be able to survive. Pandemic does a really good job with these actions, because it evolves over time. A lot of games have more of a static action pool with maybe unique characters have special player power actions that they can take, but Pandemic Legacy, both seasons one and two, give more options as you play and unlock more of the game.
There are a ton of games that use this action point/action selection mechanic. It’s a strong mechanic for adding tension to decisions, because you’re almost always short of the action points you want to use in a round. This mechanic, however, isn’t always an ideal for players who might have AP, because it makes your choice really matter. But let’s talk about some honorable mentions:
Forbidden Desert/Forbidden Island – Cooperative exploration games that feel like Pandemic light.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Another Pandemic like game that also has a bit of a Dead Men Tell No Tales feel to it as well, this time you’re being fire fighters though.
KrosMaster Arena – Plan your movement and attacks in this Chibi MOBA style game. A little bit simple at times, and almost ways a best way to use your action points.
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game – This game is all about the Fate Points, as the action points are called. It’s a pool of action points which is a very different feel from a lot of the games as you as a team have to replenish and manage that pool of points.
What are some of your favorite games with action points? Is action points/action selection a mechanic that you enjoy?
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That dreaded moment in the game of Sorry, you are trying to role a two, exactly, so you can end up finally ending the game, and you roll and fail, again, and again, and again.
Or Monopoly when you’re five away from the spot you want to land, and you get a four on the two dice, and now you have to hope no one else lands on it before you get around again, even though you’ll probably not land on it yet again.
In Clue, when you need to get into a new room to find out some information, and the room is six spots away, but it takes you three turns to get into there, so you’re way behind on information as compared to every one else.
Your troops are poised in Risk to take out the single troop, and you have five, but you end up rolling every single time below what the other person rolls and you lose your troops until you’re down to one, and now you’re wide open for the next person’s turn, even though you should have been able to beat the other person on one of those dice rolls.
Those are the classic frustrations that came with dice in board games that people grew up on. Maybe not teens now, but when I was a kid, those were the games we had and man, it sucked. A game that could have been fun, ended up being ruined by a bad roll of the dice. But, there are still dice in games now, how are those games not ruined by the randomness of dice, and are dice always bad in a game?
There are some games that still use what is called the classic roll and move. If that doesn’t make sense, it’s when you’re rolling a die or two to see how far you move. So it might mean, if you’re rolling two six sided dice, and this is especially noticeable in Clue, you roll and you can go two spaces while someone else rolls and they can move twelve. This is generally still considered a really bad thing in a game. Because someone with a bit more luck with the dice might be able to run away with the game.
So what are dice doing in games now that is good?
The first thing that games are doing is making the dice mean something beyond movement, or maybe they can be movement, but they can be other things as well. When dice are used as movement or in a lot of games now, they are rolled in what is known as a dice pool. A great example of this is Dead of Winter where you have a die for each survivor plus one that you roll at the start of the turn. You can then use those dice to perform certain actions. Each character has a search level and killing zombie level that if they can match or beat higher on the dice, means that they can do that action. But what if you roll below? If you roll below that number or even if you don’t need to search or kill a zombie, you have other actions that require a die. So you could use a die to barricade against zombies or clean trash out of your base. But you’re always able to do something useful, but maybe not as useful or not exactly what you had hoped. There are a number of games that do this or something similar, and that keeps you always able to do something.
Dice are still very common in the genre of game known as Roll and Write games. Yahtzee is an example of this where dice are rolled a specific number of times and you’re hoping to get what you need to score the most points. While the point thing is still huge in a lot of these games, a number of done away with the dice mitigation of rolling multiple times that Yahtzee has, we’ll get back to this mechanic in a bit. Instead of looking for something very specific, they pretty often look for where you place a certain number. And depending on where a number is in conjunction to other numbers or things printed on the board it is worth points. These games are generally a bit tricky to explain abstractly without the game being in front of you, but the rules are generally simple. The dice randomness makes the game play differently every time as well.
But let’s hop back to the Yahtzee mechanic, the roll dice, take some dice, roll again, take some more, and roll one final time. This works in two types of situations, one where the game is fairly silly and the other where the game is more serious, but the dice are always useful. Kind of like Dead of Winter, in the last of the two options for the Yahtzee mechanic, it sets you up so that you can do stuff, but you might not be able to do everything you wanted. The Reckoners is a game like this, but along with that, they also tend to give you a large number of dice to roll, so that you can always do something that is very good just by sheer number of dice faces you’ll see. However, silly games are probably more common, and even in those cases you can generally use most of your dice. King of Tokyo is the prime example of this. Monsters fighting in Tokyo, trying to punch each other, get energy to buy more powers, heal up, get points, you are doing a ton of things with dice. Because of this, it keeps the game moving well and generally as compared to a roll and move game the game doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
Now, there are a number more things that dice are still used for. And a lot of custom dice that come with some of those things. Dice are still used in combat, but now, instead of the Risk mindset of roll and whatever you roll is what you get, you can use cards to boost results, to change results, or to roll again. A game like Star Wars: Rebellion actually adds in some more with that by having different troops roll different dice, which isn’t unique to that game, but it makes there be even more strategy with what troops you are bringing into the battle. This bit of added strategy makes the game feel much less random in combat than Risk does. The larger force of troops should generally win.
Dice are also used to simulate things that are difficult to do. And this is generally tied into your characters ability to do something. Fantasy Flight has a number of great examples of this with their Arkham Horror and Mansions of Madness games. In these games you have different skills like strength, agility, observation, will, and more that you will be tested with at times. Instead of just rolling a die to see if you get it, if you’re a strong character, you’re going to roll more dice on a strength test, but if that character also has a weak will, you are going to roll less dice for a will test. So while you still might not be able to do this impressive strength test because of a poor roll, you’re going to succeed with that more often than you will with a will test. And when you get a tough will test, it feels like you’ve really accomplished something. With this, they also do away with some of the pass or fail die rolling that people expect. A good will test might not stop all the horror from coming through, but you’ll be able to stop some of it. This is pretty common in combat dice as well, where a die roll might give you defense to stop some damage but not all of the damage.
This is getting to be a pretty long post, but you can see some of the ways that dice are being used now that is different than your standards from Sorry, Monopoly, Risk, and Clue. And I hope that while I was negative with dice in those games, you can understand that dice are great in some games when used correctly. It’s when dice are used too simply that they can become an issue. There are a lot more examples of how dice are used well such as in games like Sagrada where they are being drafted or how dice can change throughout the game, such as in Dice Forge.
What games do you think use dice well or how in modern board games do you think dice are used best?
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THIS IS HALLOWEEN!
With possibly my favorite holiday coming up, probably Christmas then Halloween, I thought it would be a fun to toss out some of my favorite or good ideas for scary books, board games, movies, anime, or anything else. They are going to be horror focused, obviously, for Halloween, but there are probably going to be a few interesting ones out there that are more monster features versus Halloween horror.
So, starting with board games, because I love board games in case you haven’t noticed, what are some cool game options for Halloween?
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Super easy first option, this game is literally distilled Halloween, you could be playing a game where the traitor is death or you could get stuck in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You never know, it’s the Cabin in the Woods of board games, it can hit every classic horror trope. For those who aren’t familiar with the game, you are exploring a haunted house, however, one of you in the betrayer. You don’t know who that betrayer is going to be, because omens of bad things to come start being drawn, and depending on what omen is found in what room, the haunt is going to be different. This game does have a few issues with some of the scenarios not being balanced, but it’s more about the horror feeling you get from the game as you joke around exploring the house, and suddenly, everything is serious.
Mansions of Madness
While I think that Arkham Horror LCG (Living Card Game) is more enjoyable for me to play, probably because I’ve played it more, Mansions of Madness hits the HP Lovecraft horror out of the park as you are exploring a location and all sorts of horrific things are happening. You and your group of investigators are pushing forward while fighting off monsters, solving puzzles, and trying to stop monsters from being summoned. This game has some of the same feeling as Betrayal at House on the Hill where you are exploring the house, finding what horrors might lie inside of it. I would recommend playing Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition as the app integration makes the game run really smoothly.
Because zombies, that’s really why it is on this list. Also because it’s a simple, light game, where you are just rolling dice. You are the zombies who are in search of brains, and trying to collect as many as you can and figuring out when to stop, before you get blasted away by a shotgun. Zombie Dice is a great ice breaker game because it’s easy to teach, turns go fast, and it’s easy for people to still have conversations while playing this game.
King of Tokyo
When it comes to Halloween, I still think of giant monsters. And while King of Tokyo doesn’t have deep horror roots, playing a bunch of monsters trying to get points and smacking the other monsters around is a blast. You can play as not-Godzilla, not-King Kong, and a lot of others. It’s another fight game, and the Yahtzee style rolling mechanic makes it an easy game to teach as people generally are familiar with that. This is definitely a more family friendly style of Halloween game, like Zombie Dice above.
I’ve only played Onslaught, but from what I know, Dreadmire has a similar feel. This is a fun horror/space marine sort of game in the vein of Alien and Starship Troopers. It’s less silly than Starship Troopers, but has the feeling of fighting off swarms and swarms of bugs as they try and overrun the base. You’re working as a team, each person defending their own side of the base from the alien bugs by building up a line of defense and hoping to get lucky. The game has a nice cooperative feel and generally feels like you’re close to winning, though, if you get the bugs in the wrong order, especially the wave boss bugs early in a wave, it can set you back a long ways. However, you get a chance to help your fellow marines while the bugs are attacking which gives the game a unique feel for a deck builder.
Dead of Winter
This is for the more serious zombie player. You’re trying your best to survive the cold winter, deal with zombies as they show up, and complete your objectives before time runs out. This game has a nice feel of somewhere between a classic zombie film and The Walking Dead where it’s more focused on the characters. The game runs with a lot of tension as well because there might be a traitor among you and you all have secret objectives, so everyone looks a bit like the traitor. Can you work together well enough to survive and complete your objective, will the traitor cause you to lose the game, and will you be able to complete your own objective. This game can have some heavy moments because of the Crossroads story cards it uses, so it isn’t a game to play with children.
Now, obviously there are a lot of horror or monster based games. Games like Descent, Claustrophobia, Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger, and many more can work for Halloween. What are some of your favorite games to pull out at Halloween?
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