Tuesday, June 28, 2016

MK: Up & Coming

Hullo!

I have an exciting topic to discuss today! You might have a guess based on the title MK: Up and Coming. If that wasn't a good enough hint, I am sure the picture was a definite giveaway.

That is right! MK Tabletop was one of the many Retail Backers of Steamforged Games Ltd Board Game adaption of the hit video game series Dark Souls! While there is still about a year before the game will be finished and produced, it is currently available for Pre-Order at MKTabletop.com.

Why talk about it so early? Besides the fact that we are really excited about this game, the first production run will be limited. Inventory levels are being based off of expected sales. This is typical as well as smart business! When they send out the call for final count, the more people that have pre-ordered the game, the bigger the production numbers will be. Not to mention that if you pre-order, you know for sure that you will receive the game in the first release! So if you have been wanting to get on the train but missed the Kickstarter, it's not too late!

On the fence? Let's take a deeper look at what you get for your money. Dark Souls The Board Game Core Set is not a cheap purchase ($124.99). Not in any sense of the word. However, if you look at what you get for your money...

Looks decent, eh? The miniatures are world class quality! The game itself applies mechanics before unseen. The game has been designed to accurately portray the feel of the game (yes, you will die ...a lot) so it is always a choice between life, or the looming possibility of death around every corner.

Let's discuss the game play a bit. This game starts off as your average dungeon crawler. It has very minimum set up in order to play. Drop the starting tile, pick your character, pick your Boss battle, shuffle the event deck, start playing! When you choose to explore, drop a new floor tile into position and flip the top card of the event deck. This will tell you what you find in the room.  Should you be either skilled or lucky enough to clear the room, collect your reward! This may be new gear, one use items or just some good old-fashioned experience (XP).

Characters

Choosing your starting character can be fun! There are four options in the Core Set. Each will have a different set of starting skills and attributes. As you continue to search and destroy you will gain XP. This can be spent to upgrade your character as you wish! So if you want to be the wizard that swings the Ultimate Great-sword, given enough XP, you can do just that! Don't let the basic starting numbers guide you too much. Between XP advancement and equipment/treasure, you can always alter things later to fit the build you desire.

This new adjustment was announced just this morning/last night. They have also altered the way dodging works. You now have a better chance of avoiding the slow moving, large damage attacks. The way it was previously designed you had to beat the damage number in order to avoid the hit. The bigger the hit, the harder it was to avoid. Anyone who has played the video game version knows that sometimes the biggest attack, while crippling, tended to be a hint slower and more obvious and therefore easier to avoid. Both of these changes were made to help the Board Game play more like the Video Game.

Bosses

Each Boss has it's own "Boss Deck". The deck contains more cards than you will use in a single game. This helps to make the attack sequence different every time you play the game! You will pull five cards from the deck, shuffle them and place them down where you can reach them when ready. Pay attention to the order of attacks! After you make it through the first five rounds, you flip the deck over and draw again ...in the same order! If you remember the way the beast fought it will help you avoid the attacks. After the chosen adversary reaches half health, you add a "finisher" card, shuffle and continue play. This will alter the order of the attacks as well as add a big one you definitely want to avoid! So again, watch the sequence in which the cards are revealed.

As I have not played the game myself  (...yet), and things are changing as the development process continues, I don't want to spend too much time going over the specifics of gameplay. I do wish to give enough information to help you see why this game has blown up as big as it did! Steamforged Games Ltd requested 50,000 pounds within 27 days to create the game through crowd funding. They had over one million pounds within the first 24 hours, and over three million before the project was done! I will do a full review of the game the second it lands in my hands!

For now we just wanted to get the word out about the exciting things coming our way. Along with the Core Set, MK Tabletop will have all of the expansions, character sets, and the exclusive retail only Boss releases! There is one more full Kickstarter set unclaimed in our retail kit. This means that the first pre-order we receive will have all stretch-goals included!

Get your Pre-Order here!

Comments? Questions? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to either use the comments below, or send us a direct email at support@mktabletop.com.

Until next time... Game On!
-MK


 Here are images of the other available add-ons to help build your interest... ;)


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

MK Game Review; Firefly: Fist Full of Credits

Hullo!

Welcome back to the MK Tabletop Talk Blog. WE took a week off to honor Father's Day! I got to spend some good time with my two littles. Now back to work...

Today we will be doing an MK Game Review; Firefly: Fist Full of Credits

By now you should all know that I am an avid Firefly fan. If you too are drawn to Firefly products like a moth to flame, than you have probably already looked at this one trying to decide if it is the game for you. The price tag on this Tabletop Game ($59.99) is not "impulse buy" material. So if you have been on the fence, allow me to give you a more in depth look at what you get for your money.

The Game

Normally when you buy a Board Game it comes with it's own unique board that is critical for gameplay. In Firefly: Fist Full of Credits, you actually get three unique game boards! Each board has been custom built to cover the included scenarios. Yes, you read that right! There are basically three games in the one box, all following the same base rules system, but each written with it's own objectives, dangers and environment. Each scenario has it's own card that gives you a brief backstory and tells you how to set up the game on one side. Scenario specific villains, their abilities, the winning conditions and a "timeline" tracker are on the other side.
 Characters

After you have chosen your Scenario it is time to select what characters you will play! The entire crew of the Serenity is available. There are two sides to every card. One side is the "Big Damn Hero" (BDH) and the other side is "The Sidekick" version. They all have unique abilities for both character types that help you on the job. (example: Jayne BDH has an attack of 2D4, the highest in the game while having him as a Sidekick gives you four extra rounds of ammo)

Cards

The rules allow for up to four players, so you could have up to eight members of the original cast in play. After you have your character choices made you add the red and blue wooden blocks to the highest spot on the left of your BDH card and receive one "Equipment Card" that will be placed in one of the two slots on the right of your Sidekick card (as shown). Other than finding equipment during the job, this is the only way to get it. There is no "buying" a card. It's hard to shop in the middle of a job, right? If you turn over a token to see a "chest" you get to exchange that chest immediately for the top card of the Equipment deck. You can not have more than two cards at a time, so if you draw a third you must either use or discard one right away.


In some scenarios you will draw "Event Cards" as the job timer ticks down. As you can see in the picture, this could be good: "Fortune", or it could be bad: "Misfortune". The very first suggested Scenario (The Derelict) does not use the event deck at all.  The rules for the Event cards are easy enough, draw when prompted, read and act as defined. Nothing too ground breaking here.

Game Play

The rules of play are quite simple as well. This is actually a good thing! Fans of Firefly do not have to learn a complex system in order to enjoy the game. On your turn you roll a D6 and move the number shown. If the die result is a 1, you move the job timer down one tick and handle whatever that timer space has to add to the game. Otherwise, if you are currently in combat, you must resolve your battle first!

Each character has an attack power labeled on their character card represented by one or more of the dice provided in the box. If you are in combat you will roll your designated dice and calculate the result. If you are above the enemies strength, you win! If you are lower than their strength, you can either use one life point to re-roll, use an equipment card you have in play, or use as many bullets as you like in order to get over their strength score. Each bullet used adds one to the die result. If there is no way you can defeat the enemy on your own, you still have two options! You can either suffer one wound and move your designated "Retreat" spaces, or you can ask for help. only people who are in line-of-sight with the enemy you need help with can give support. Roll both characters dice and add all the results together. If you are receiving help, you can not use bullets or life points to alter the roll. If you fail to hit with help, you suffer damage and your turn is over.

Should there be no battle to resolve at the start of your turn, you just move the number of spaces you rolled, flipping tokens that you pass over. Collect the hidden prize, or get ready to start a battle, there is no way of knowing what is on the other side of the token until it has already been flipped!

There are  a few more detailed rules and nuances, but those are the basics! The rules are simple and easy to understand even for folks who are a hint newer to the Board Game scene. The Characters are a ton of fun and if you know the show, they stay true to their ...tendencies, we'll say. Aside from the roles adapted to fit the game, and the fact that the board locations have been selected from a few Firefly episodes, there is not a whole lot of the Firefly feel to the game. Don't get me wrong, I actually really like this game, I just don't think it makes you feel like you are in the show like a few of the other games do (see Firefly: Out in the Black or just read our review here).

Similar Tabletop Games

If you are at all familiar with the game Zombies!!!, than you will pick this game up fast. The play-styles are similar, combat is almost exactly the same, and movement follows the exact same set of rules. In my opinion, the one thing that Zombies!!! has on Firefly: Fist Full of Credits, is the tile-placement board that makes every game different. However, Fist Full of Credits has a game board that doesn't shift every time you take a turn or move a game piece, so we will leave that one up to personal preference. I happen to love Zombie themed stuff too, so theme alone can't drive that decision for me!

The Final Word

I am a true fan of Firefly, I really enjoyed the light and easy game style, the art and quality of the game is solid and there is replay value with the swapping of characters played, the different scenarios as well as the different event cards and equipment variations. The price tag is not small, but the game delivers big.
I drop a very firm four stars onto this little gem. 

Thank you once again for reading! If you have any questions, we are happy to answer them. Have a game you would like us to review? Just let us know! The comments section is there for both of us! Like how we do things? We would love your +1/Like/Share/comments!

Until next time ...Game On!
-MK

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

MK Q&A: Why Don't You Review Digital Board Games?

Hullo!

It's that time again. This one I am filing away as an MK Q&A, but it can double as a Tackling Tough Topics. I only choose Q&A so I can hopefully stop seeing the requests to review digital adaptations of Tabletop Games. So, here is our MK Tabletop Talk Blog of the week...

MK Q&A: "Why Don't You Review Digital Board Games?"

With the rise of the digital gaming industry there was speculation that soon it would completely replace Tabletop Gaming. Many companies began early preparations to close down undeveloped projects with the replacement teams all specializing in Digital Gaming Formats. As soon as people realized there was money to be made in games called Applications, or "Apps" for short, you had an overabundance of digital options pop up all but overnight. The alarming rate at which these games were gaining popularity (based on the number of downloads) put a bold and underlined template on the thoughts of social gaming genocide.

Much like a blade forged through fire, Tabletop Games have looked upon their doom and answered the challenge with a half smile and a statement of ...watch this. 

Tabletop enthusiasts have not only doubled their efforts to increase exposure for lesser known great games, but they have truly upped their game (yes, that is punny). The games currently being released as well as those in development are way beyond the half-dozen game style options you had with the classics. Some concepts have been blended together, while others are of an origin and unique mechanic all their own.

There are many famous long-time supporters who have dedicated their life to Tabletop Awareness and bringing the precious gems of the realm into the light for all to see and know (we are looking at you Wil Wheaton). The sales in Tabletop Games since 2010 have steadily increased by 15-20%.

Did people really think that sitting alone, quietly in your room staring at a brightly back-lit screen while cussing at the eight-year-old currently handing you your glutes was a threat? How can that stand up to the time-tested social interaction known as playing a game? Some claim that digital games have "transcended the traditions" and become "a class Tabletop Games could never compete in".

The new bully on the block aimed at the wrong Dorks, found out they had stepped up and responded to the threats of harm without fear. Now awkwardly walking away, the bully is trying to set itself aside as some sort of "elite gamer".

The truth? Connecting worldwide is amazing for the concept of "I know a guy in (insert exotic location here)", but it is no replacement for social interaction. Considering the wealth of options currently available, there is a game out there for you and your friends. I have a blog on How to Pick the Right Game if you want to check it out. Just know, if you want to find the perfect game for you and your group, it is out there!

I know, as an introvert you wonder why I of all people would chose social interaction over the option of anonymous un-invaded personal space. The answer is a bit more scientific than you would think.

Kids
Social interaction with others is very important in the development of children. It takes social interaction to allow children to begin to establish their own “self” and to learn the concept of expectations. Most social interactions usually occur within the family. As children grow, learn and become more developed, they become more interested in interacting with other children, and the benefits of allowing them to do so are grand.
 
When playing with others, children learn appropriate social behaviors. Sharing, cooperating, and respecting the property of others as well as learning communication, cognitive, and motor skills. Most opportunities for social interactions among young children occur during play. This opportunity to play with others is critical if a child is to develop appropriate social skills, and Tabletop Games are the perfect way to get them aiming down the right path.


Elderly
Research studies have shown a strong correlation between social interaction, health and well-being among older adults and have suggested that social isolation may have adverse effects. Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer. Positive indicators of social well-being have been associated with lower levels of interleukin-6 even in healthy people!

Isolation and loneliness have a negative physical and emotional impact. Think about this a bit. People who are lonely frequently have elevated systolic blood pressure. Loneliness is a unique risk factor for symptoms of depression. Loneliness and depression have a synergistic adverse effect on well-being in middle-aged and older adults.

I do not wish to cover this today. Too much information for one blog! I am attempting to give simplified facts. If you want to read a little deeper yourself, here are a couple of articles on the positive effects of social interaction.
Benefits of Social Interactions - The Importance of Being Social

Take a moment to send yourself back to the last time you sat in front of the TV all day. It doesn't matter if it was binge watching a show on Netflix, or powering through that epic video game you have been wanting to finish, the question is: How did you feel when you were done? A bit sluggish? Maybe even brain dead? Perhaps you had your own version of the Homer Simpson face going?


 So when it comes to digitally adapted board games, I for one would always rather sit down with a group in the same room and enjoy the benefits of social interaction. I would rather feel like I was energized by the experience. I don't want that "Un-occupied" look in my eyes. I don't want to feel jet-lagged.

Now I have written this blog with an obvious opinion. I stand on one side of the fence, you might be on the other side staring at me in contempt for attacking your favorite time-filling activity. Know that I too do love to play video games! I have quite a few that I just keep playing even though they are over a decade (or two) old. They are that good. But I do not believe that if I had to choose between Tabletop Games and Video Games, that it would be a hard choice. Nine times out of ten I would rather open the box around the table with friends. With such skewed percentages, my choice is obvious.

So to bring this back around and answer the question (finally); Why Don't I Review Digital Board Games?

Personally: I prefer to share the experience. It just isn't as fun without a few good friends! Sitting alone in front of the computer a Dragon appears. You find yourself whispering "Oh crap". In a room full of players a dragon appears and you get to share in the resounding "OH, CRAP!" that explodes from the group. I choose to advocate for the social interaction of Tabletop Games.

Professionally: This blog is funded by MKTabletop.com. The very title of the blog is MK TABLETOP Talk. Our focus is to bring more awareness about the benefits of Tabletop Games and the vast, excellent options available. If I was to start reviewing digital versions of Tabletop Games it would be a direct contradiction to the mission of MK Tabletop Talk and the company that created it. 

I sure hope this gives you an answer that satisfies your question. If not, please do ask for any clarifications in the comments! Have a question you want to see featured in our MK Q&A series? Let us know! As always do feel free to like/+1/share/re-tweet, etc. Help us spread the word of the almighty Tabletop. lol

Until next time ...Game ON!
-MK

Thursday, June 2, 2016

LS Game Review : Takenoko


LS Game Review: Takenoko


Over the years my husband has used many different methods to try to foster a love of gaming in our house.  Don’t worry, I’m sure eventually we’ll talk about them all, but for today we’ll stick to one- cuteness.  

I love pandas.  They are soft and fluffy, coordinated and uncoordinated at the same time, and seriously have you seen them eat?  If I could have a spirit animal that is specifically for binge watching tv while eating popcorn, that would be it.  So yeah, when he found me a game that is all about feeding pandas bamboo, I was in. 


First the formalities.  Takenoko is recommended for ages 8 and up, between 2-4 players, and is supposed to take about 45 minutes to play.  Our house always plays with four people, because there are four of us, and our games usually take around 20-30 minutes.  It’s a little complicated, so please, bare with me.  

The board starts basic; the pond tile is laid out with the panda and the gardner ready to go.  All players are then given an individual board, and on objective card from each of the three categories.  Your individual board shows what you are able to use on each turn, and gives you a place to store things you are saving towards your goals.  These goals, on the objective cards.  Am I making sense?  It’s okay, it should get more clear as we go.

Each player’s turn starts with a role of the dice that determines the weather conditions.  The weather conditions allow you to make a special move.  For example, if you roll the sun, you get an extra action on your turn, and rain will let you grow one bamboo section on any tile. (This step is omitted on the first round.  The board builds as you go, and until you start building the weather doesn’t matter.)  

After you have determined the weather, you will be able to make two different actions.  These include adding more tiles to the board, getting water, moving the gardner or the panda, and drawing new objective cards.  You can also complete an objective on your turn, but this does not require one of your actions. 


Still with me?

Now, the objective cards.  These cards are how you get points, and therefore how you win the game. There are three categories; plots, gardener and panda.  Plots cards must match the exact placement of tiles on the board.  Gardner cards use the bamboo on the board.  Move the Gardner around the board to grow the color and amount of bamboo you need.  Panda cards have to do with the bamboo not on the board.  Move the panda to eat bamboo; eat the right color and amount of bamboo.  Keep your cards secret until you claim your points, and make sure you match the card exactly.  


The game ends when a player has completed seven objective cards.  The first player to do so gets the bonus Emperor card and everyone else plays one more turn.  The points on the cards are then added up, and highest score wins.  Easy, right?

I promise it makes more sense when you have the game in front of you. And okay, yeah, I left a few details out.  But come on, this is a blog, not the instruction manual. The most important thing is to keep the panda happy.  If you can do that, it will all make sense.  

This game gets a big thumbs up from me and not just for the cuteness.  This game is technically competitive, but it is not cutthroat.  Yes, at the end there will be one winner, but it isn’t easy to form alliances or target other players.  Everyone is going for different objectives, and even if you can guess what someone else is trying to do, you are usually better served just focusing on your own cards.  This makes it a great game for someone like me, who has trouble not taking the game too personally.  It’s also great to play with kids; the rules are simple enough to follow, and feeding the panda is fun.  Even kids too young to play on their own like playing as part of a team.

Happy playing everyone!

Plus, cute panda.