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Tabletop Round-Up – 24/08/16

As well as Gravwell I played Tammany Hall last week which is a game I love but, as is often the case, one I can’t seem to actually win. All seemed to be going my way when I was pipped to the post by a tie-breaker. One day Tammany, one day…..

Gravwell

Players: 4 (plays 2-4)

Duration: 1 hour

Who thought escaping a singularity would be so tricky? In Gravwell players are spaceships trying to slingshot their way out of a black hole by using the gravity of other spacecraft. The game takes place entirely on one track that spirals out from the start all the way to the finish some 50 or so spaces later. Each round is split into two parts. The first is where players take it in turn to draft fuel cards from a common pool and for each pick they will get one card they can see and one that is a mystery. After all cards have been picked then players play one card simultaneously until either one player has successfully escaped or until all cards have run out (in which case a new round begins).

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Fuel cards have a letter (corresponding to an atomic element) and numerical value. When cards are played the player with the card nearest to A goes first and they move in the direction of the nearest ship a number of spaces that match the number on the card. Then the next player activates his card and so on in alphabetical order. Plans are made and immediately broken when a spaceship lands right behind you and you end up hurtling in the wrong direction. It’s chaotic but still a lot of fun and players are issued with an emergency stop card that they can use once per round to stop any huge blunders.

That is the basics of it and it’s a very simple idea. There are a few cards called repulsors that push you away from the nearest ship instead of pulling you towards it and a couple of tractor beams that pull every other ship towards you but in general this game is all about picking a card, playing it and hoping it all pans out. Science fans who are hoping for a high level physics strategy game will be disappointed but for a 30 minute game night finisher it will certainly generate a few laughs.

Back to it

I want to get back to blogging. At first I did it just for myself on Gamespot, it was nice to see my words down in print, but as time went by I got more and more engaged with the community. Others seemed interested in what I had to say and it felt great. But when GS updated, the community I had become a part of seemed to collapse overnight. Comments dried up and there were more blogs about leaving GS than there were about games. I scoffed at these and then quietly left. It was a shame (a few cool people relocated to a forum here which is great).

Well now I am going to go back to it and write for myself which should be fun. For one thing I don’t have to come up with titles that are desperate clickbait in a bid to elicit comments (that sort of thing really gets hold of you) and I can quietly indulge my new passion for board and card games too. I have not read a video game review for about 6 months but have watched about 250 for tabletop gaming (I love you Dice Tower). I guess tastes change and although I say I would never want to stop gaming (digitally that is), somehow I almost have.

Well, that’s life right? So here goes.

A Cautionary Tale

***Warning – Grump Alert**

Just over 10 years ago a friend of mine was pestering me about reading a book that he had read and thought I should try. He had previously recommended Neuromancer which I loved and so knowing that his tastes were in synch with my own I picked up a copy of A Game of Thrones. I loved it. I went out and bought all the available sequels and then waited for the next one. The story, characters and world were amazingly rich and detailed and I felt like Westeros was a real place full of intrigue, betrayal and fantasy where heroes are hard to come by and where greed is second only to survival.

One day I was thinking to myself on the way to work that it would make a great TV programme. The whole thing was too complex for a 2 hour film but given the time in a TV serial all those charcters and storylines could be done the justice they deserved. Somebody at HBO must have been thinking the same thing because a year or so later the first series was commissioned and 3 years later it is one of the most anticipated and successful shows on TV.

I was excited about the prospect of seeing my favourite books on my TV but not being a Sky customer I didn’t watch the series and decided to wait for a DVD release. In the meantime Game of Thrones fandom got bigger and bigger. Praise flooded in from mainstream reviews and friends comments, everybody loved this TV programme with it’s rich and detailed story, characters and world. Wait that sounds familiar. Oh, that’s right, I know because I read the fucking books.

In papers, on TV, on billboards and in magazines I see images of the characters and they are slowly chipping away at the fantasy world I had built in my mind. Each stunningly created image from the latest episode is draining away my love for a series that I have enjoyed and lived in for 10 years or so. So while I am pleased that more and more people are getting to enjoy this fantastic epic, it is not the one that I know and it is slowly overwriting my personal world.

I guess what I am trying to say is, be careful what you wish for.