Monday, April 03, 2006

Mundane Miscellanea

Just finished the D&D game this past April 1st (no, this is not an April Fools' Joke) (Also, as a side note, April 1st is International Atheist's Day... I would celebrate it, but what's the point?). My brother's wood elf fighter/rogue, named Apoth, died fighting a couple of drow fighters. Our ranger/sorcerer, Ariel, also went down but didn't die. It almost looked like a TPK (Total Party Kill) in the first encounter of the night, but Loni, a priest of the Grand Incinerator, came in at the last moment and fended off the drow clerics and fighters.
The game was decent. We had two players leave for two hours and then return. One player came in late. And my brother lost a character in the first hour of the game. So, it was quite an arhythmic game. I tried to test out Colossal Arena with them, but it never happened. I did, however, test out a new boardgame -- twice! with my friend Dean and his son. It's by Avalon Hill (Hasbro, Inc.) and it's called Nexus Ops. Quite an interesting game.
It's for 2-4 players of ages 12+, and in it you play one of four greedy corporations (Ares Inc., Black Helix Enterprises, Galactic Syndicate and Zyborg Technologies) who are trying to conquer an area of a newfound moon in a far distant planetary system in the year 2315. This moon has rubium deposits which I suppose is a very rare and valuable mineral (maybe it runs their hyperships or something, the background doesn't necessarily say). You recruit the native lifeforms (Fungoids, Crystallines, Rock Striders, Lava Leapers and Rubium Dragons which breathe plasma) to take over rubium mines near a monolith on this nameless moon (maybe it's called Nexus?). But if you play this game like Risk or any of it's offshoots you will lose this game more often than not. The key strategy in Nexus Ops is to complete the Secret Missions that are given to your corporation as cards every turn. Some are worth 1 victory point, others are worth a whopping 4 VPs. The winner is the first player to reach 12 VPs. That's it.
Combat is done by the round (in other words, it's not like Risk or Axis and Allies where you keep attacking until either the attacker decides to stop or the defender is destroyed), so it is quite common to have 'contested' hexes on the gameboard where neither player gains by possessing it. Winning battles ON YOUR TURN is the name of the game and even if you don't have a Secret Mission to complete for it, winning a battle will always earn you at least 1 VP.
The pieces are kinda weird. I am assuming that they are made of some strange petrochemical concoction because they look like gummi bears, have the feel of soft plastic, and smell terrible...
Maybe AH made them smell terrible on purpose to keep people from wanting to eat them. Who knows? Anyway, the game seems like chess on steroids. You have the pawn - the human, who can't enter magma pools or the Monolith and has the worst combat stat - must roll a 6 on a six-sided die (d6) to kill anything. Then the Fungoids and Crystallines are like bishops: just as chess has bishops on black squares and white squares, Fungoids fight well in Liquifungus Forests and suck in Crystal Spires spaces. The converse is true with the aptly named Crystallines. Next are the knights, the Rock Striders, who can leap through or into Rock Plains hexes. The rooks: Lava Leapers who can bounce two hexes from any magma pool hex and can kill on a 3+ on a d6 and if it should roll a 5 or 6 the Leaper player chooses the casualty rather than the defender which is the norm. Finally, the queen: The Rubium Dragon which can blast adjacent hexes with it's plasma breath and fight in battle with a 2+ being lethal.
There are other rules and strategies to consider, but all told, it was a very interesting game. And any game that Dean would want to play twice in two days has got to be good.
In other news... my brother is now officially ADDICTED to Dungeons & Dragons Online. God help him. I refuse to play games that I have to pay monthly fees for, diehard gamer that I am. Evercrack has finally hit home.
As far as the upcoming Kublacon, I did not pay the 'special rate' of $102 a night for a room at the Hyatt Regency. I live in Tracy, CA for God's sake. I'll just commute, thanks.
I wonder if any gamer chicks are gonna be there... (probably, but will they be SINGLE?)


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