Clank! A Deck Building Adventure has been getting a lot of plays since I acquired it last December (2016). For a game that uses many common mechanics it just works well. It is also a game that works for me even though the theme is not a big draw.
It is a deck-building game, nothing revolutionary there. The cards are easy to understand. There are no complex icons to remember.
The theme is understandable. Go into the dungeon and steal things from the dragon, and get out alive!. No pressure.
There is drama. The drawing of damage cubes from the bag creates plenty of tension.
The players have choices. The players can play it safe and steady, or fast and loose.
It plays fast enough.
Suitable for beginners, and experienced players alike.
It’s expandable. More cards, different boards make for a varied and re-playable game.
It is always a pleasure to find a solid game that does it right. The gameplay is sound, despite being on the light-medium difficulty level. The cards are easy to comprehend. Despite not being the type of game that I would go for, I am glad I bought it. It is the game that Thunderstone should have been.
Last week we had over our limit with 36 attendees. We had so many signups we had people on standby in the hope that we could find space for them. We accommodated everyone a little big of juggling, and having good table loading. We managed to fit everyone by ensuring the our tables were well loaded with people. A 6 player game around one table helped a lot.
This week we had only 27. Only one of the newbies came back. Just when I thought the attendance numbers were growing again they drop down to new norm of the high 20’s.
The Somme 101st Anniversary – The Big Push After Action Report
July the 1st was the 101st Anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. After visiting the Somme battlefields last year I finally got to play the only wargame that cover the battle. Here is my After Action Report, with lots of pictures from my Somme trip.
The VCSB Tuesday night meetup is anchor of my gaming week. There are other gaming opportunities, but the Tuesday group has a solid rhythm that allows people to return after an absence and seamlessly fit back in again. The size of the crowd at Tuesday night does fluctuate, yet the group size is large enough to absorb seasonal variations while still enjoying a wide variety of games and gamers. Having regular meetings is critical to the formation of a new group, and Tuesday night gaming was a key reason for the initial stabilization, and then the continued success of the VCSB meetup group.
Last Tuesday was no exception to the pattern. We had one newbie join us, Paul, and Eric rejoined us after a long absence. A variety of new, and old games were played. Ted is still fixated on Terraforming Mars.
Games played included: Concordia, Clank, Terraforming Mars, Bora Bora, Impulse, Smash up!, Blood of an Englishman, Navegador, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Shakespeare, For Sale, You are the Maniac!, and Codenames x2.
VCSB 2nd May 2017
Wednesday Night – 3rd May 2017
Wednesday evening is at Carrows in Ventura, some 20 miles away from Newbury Park. While some of the Wednesday night crowd also go to Tuesday nights, most of the attendees are different. This means the Wednesday night crowd have their own personality and preferences in games. Recently, I have been able to attend the Wednesday night at Carrows on a more regular basis. This has allowed me to get to know some of the characters a little better. Each group has it’s own mix of gamer personalities, and it takes a few sessions before you truly see what type of gamer personalities people have.
The Saturday before, on Table Top DOG, Brian had wanted to play Pax Renaissance. I wanted to learn the game so we arranged to play it on Wednesday night. This would give me a chance to read the rules before tackling the game itself. The designer, Phil Eklund, is renowned for intriguing and unusual game topics.
As Brian was going to be a little late, I needed a game that would be short enough in duration, and be appealing enough to get some takers. Knowing that April-Lyn wanted to play Clank!, this made it a good choice.
After teaching Clank! around a dozen times, I had learned that no matter how many times I have stated the rules about artifacts, someone will ask the same stupid questions. Once these experienced gamer’s started to jokingly refer to the correct rules I knew I had impressed on them the important points. It is good when you can explain a game to experienced gamer’s and they actually listen, even when they don’t appear to be intently listening. So many game rules are similar, it is key to clearly state the differences, or the exceptions, so that people remember these traps.
After not-winning Clank!, I went to watch the end of New York Slice. For such a simple game, I was not sure if it was trying to be too serious. I could see a major cause of analysis paralysis when trying to determine how to split a pizza, while dominating the different sets of pizza pieces.
With Brian now available we stated on Pax Rennaissance. It is very much an Eklund game. It packs a lot of history into a small package, and borrows some mecahnics from previous games Pax Porfiriana , and Pax Pamir. There is a lot going on in the game, with multiple victory conditions, and tons of variability. This is a game where you learn the mechanics and then realize that you still have little idea how to actually use this mechanics to reach the various victory conditions. I look forward to being puzzled by the game again.
Games played: Foretold, Anachrony, Clank, And Then We Held Hands x3, New York Slice, Codenames x2, Pax Renaissance, Sushi Go, Isle of Trains, Among the Stars, Fugitive and Evolution Climate.
Sunday on the USS Iowa – 7th May 2017
During last months GMT West aka The Weekend at the Warehouse the subject of getting new people into the wargaming side of the hobby was raised. With both Karl, and myself in attendance it was not long before the Wargame Bootcamp was raised. We soon made a new contact in John Tiehen, who was a relatively newcomer to GMT West. John was keen to include us in a new hobby event on the USS Iowa, in San Pedro near Los Angeles. We had gamed on the USS Iowa last June, for the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, so we aware of the location.
Even though the event was on my birthday, I volunteered to help Karl. It was only afterwards that we found out that we would be located outside, on the fantail deck, and the weather forecast for that day was for rain. After previously being located in the enlisted mess with it’s small tables and fixed pitch chairs. The thought of spending a day on the windswept deck, with a high probability of rain, was not very comforting.
The event flyer looked promising, there were a lot of interesting hobby events, and they were predicting a good turnout. Thinking ahead, we planned on coming prepared with folding chairs, tarpaulin’s, ground sheets, an extra canopy, and lots of games. I even selected games that would fare better in a windy environment, including plastic miniatures that would be more moisture resistant than cardboard counters. With a 60 plus mile drive, and lot’s of accessories to setup I woke very early at 5:30am, too early, for the long day ahead.
Setup was easy after we dried the tables from the overnight moisture. My two picnic ground sheets were subbed in as rather brightly colored tablecloth’s. We played a few games of W1815 as a demonstration game.
To entice the lookey-lou’s, we setup some games on the table, spreading out cubes, cards, rules, and counters to create some visual appeal. Fields of Despair especially gained a lot of attention due to it’s blocks, and attractive map. Among the hobby people in the crowd there were a few of the normal “is that Risk?” comments, but it was good to find a few people who had gamed in the past. Some were presently surprised to hear that board gaming was still going strong.
At 1:00pm, and again at 1:10pm, the day was interrupted by the firing of one of the ships 5inch guns. The firing noise was impressive, but not as much as it’s echo. It was loud but I am sure they were being safe by handing out ear plugs. Now, if only they would fire the 16inch guns 😉
People trickled by all day, although the crowd seemed smaller than expected, probably due to the overcast day, and sporadic light rain. John demoed a naval game, and the Panzer tank on tank board game. Most people were just browsing the booths, so we were happy to just answer questions about board games, and simply give out information.
One young lad, Jimmy, was very keen to play a tactical game. Karl cracked open Combat Commander Europe and setup the Fat Lipki scenario. With his girlfriend and younger brother watching, Jimmy had a fun time learning the game. He picked up the game rules quickly, showed a good grasp of small unit tactics, and it was sad that he had to leave before finishing the game. Before he left we told him about the local game shops. Job done!
Things started to wind down once the band started playing barely 10 feat away. By 5pm we were packing up, and schlepping all our stuff back to the cars. The drive home was not as easy as the drive there. It was a quiet day overall, I was glad it was not hot, but the wet weather did unfortunately keep people away.
One of the major reasons why I like board games is because I love history. Games give you a chance to comprehend, replay, and remake, history. One side effect is that if I see a documentary, a film, or visit a historical place; then I have to check out games on the subject.
The Commemorative Airforce (CAF) has a base at the nearby Camarillo Airport. As part of their Airpower History Tour they were bring several historic airplanes to Camarillo for a few days. One of the featured planes is a Boeing B-29 bomber called FiFi. It is interesting to note that until recently FiFi was the sole B-29 still flying. This was a once in a lifetime chance to see an airworthy B-29 in all of her glory. With GMT West starting on Thursday the 20th, the only chance to see FiFi was the day before. So on the Wednesday afternoon I went down to Camarillo Airport to look at Fifi and the other exhibits on display at the CAF museum.
The B-29 FiFi on the tarmac at Camarillo Airport
The bomb bay doors of the B-29 FiFi
The very small, and cramped ball turret from a B-17 bomber. Note the tennis ball for scale,
It is rare to see an historic aircraft partially disassembled. Here is the Packard Merlin on a frame outside the aircraft.
The flying C-45 Expeditor in British RAF colors, note the black and white invasion stripes on the wings, and fuselage.
Here is a brief description for the upcoming game: 878 Vikings – Invasions of England
Gain fame, riches and a new home as the Vikings voyaging to England, or defend your Kingdom and Christendom from the pagan hordes!
878 Vikings is an area control game in which 2 – 4 players play as the invading Vikings or the English nobles who are trying to withstand the invasion. Viking players control the Norsemen Viking freemen and the fearless Viking shock troops known as Berserkers. The English control the King’s Housecarls and the landholding Thegn noblemen.
Compared to some of the other Kickstarter campaigns in progress at this moment, this one will definitely raise enough money to fund, but it will not make the megabucks that some of the others have made.
Academy Games have a proven record for delivering top notch games. The base of the previous games have allowed them to hone the game mechanics, while adding some changes to add flavor to a solid game system.
The other attributes that appeal to me
2-4 players makes for flexibility in playing the game.
Short playing time. A challenging game in a short time.
Team play, two sides with 4-players made for co-operation and conflict.
Engaging family-friendly euro game mechanics.
Short game rules make for a beginner friendly game.
Enough strategy to appeal to an experienced gamer.
High quality and visually appealing components.
Historical theme allows the teaching of history while you play. Good for schools and families with kids.
This game will make a great addition to the library of the Wargame Bootcamp (Facebook, BGG Guild). It is easy to learn, fast to play, and supports team play. I would recommend that you check out the Kickstarter campaign. As always with any crowdfunding campaign, be aware of the risks and the rewards.