The Midnight Table: Utterings

By The Midnight Table on August 3rd, 2013 at 12:00 am.


It is midnight.

Take it from an old thing – people love new things. Yes, I am The Midnight Table, a piece of furniture so old and ancient some Rolling Stones lyrics were written upon me. Age brings many gifts – wisdom… Um… That’s about it.

What was I saying? Yes – I have learned that gamers love new things. But what about those games, well-loved, that no longer have the freshness of spring grass? Tonight, I tell you what I have heard over the past few weeks about expansions that have given a new breath of air to some great games, in our first set of UTTERINGS. I continue to ease you in gently, before next week’s full bloom.

UTTERINGS

What makes me different from the other board game reviewers? That’s what you’re thinking, right? Well, for one thing, I am a table. For another, I am the only one who will relate to you TRUE and DOCUMENTED utterings by actual players. These utterings are freed from the rigid structure of conventional “game reviewing” as made popular by various penisbags and vaginameats on the electronic forest that is the internet. There will be no “summing up” and no rules explanation. Utterings are for experienced gamers, with the greatest respect for your human intelligence (such as it is), and are laid out before you as if you overheard them yourself.

Yes, on occasions such as tonight, I will dictate these remembered utterings to my scribe (he hates being called “secretary”) Brother Gethsemane, the Dark Monk of the Shaded Glade. You will then be able to draw your own conclusions about the games mentioned. Also – you must tell me if you would rather have these utterings in audio form. I can provide this if you feel it is necessary.

No imagery. Only words. Read, and hear.

SET ONE – BLOOD BOWL: TEAM MANAGER: SUDDEN DEATH

- See here for full coverage of Blood Bowl: Team Manager. These utterings cover two teams in the Sudden Death expansion for this fine game.

“This is just annoying me now. I hate the players that can regenerate. So I tackle and knock your player down, and you make a lucky roll and just get straight back up? And all my team can really do is tackle? Ugh.”

“I think our teams are just spoiling like crazy. Your Dark Elves are big tacklers. My Undead are hard to put down. It’s going to be frustrating. I like that it’s frustrating. It feels like one of those football matches you watch, where two teams are so evenly matched that they cancel each other out, and it turns into a big midfield grind.”

“I suppose so. It just highlights how big a part the dice play, though. I’m rolling constantly to tackle. You’re rolling constantly to get up. It’s all luck.”

“Yeah, maybe. But that’s why I’m focusing on getting a team upgrade. Luck is too big a factor. It’s going to be decided by a lucky break or two. So I’m like – if I can get a team upgrade, something that swings things in my favour, maybe a re-roll here or there, that’s going to make all the difference. It’s like – I’m not leaving this to luck. I need to make some kind of change.”

“These new contracts are terrifying. It’s more hidden information, so that’s cool, but it’s a gamble even trying to win a contract, because you’re not sure exactly what they’re worth. Is it too much? You know what I mean? Say I have two contracts at the end of the game, and you have two. We flip them and my two give me 4 fans, and your two give you 10. Is that fair?”

“Well, they’re optional.”

“Aye, but are they fair?”

“I think it adds to the flavour of it being about a whole season of being a Team Manager. You know the other team is making deals behind closed doors, big contracts being signed and so on. But you don’t know how lucrative they are. All you can do is make sure you’re competing on that front.”

“It does seem to be a game about “making the best fist of the fickleness of fate”. Actually, that’s pretty brilliant, because that’s what sport is.”

“Exactly. Imagine this game with NO luck. No dice, no cheat tokens, no contracts. That wouldn’t simulate a sport at all.”

“I love this big fuckin’ Mummy, by the way. He gets fans by injuring people. That’s my kind of Mummy. That’s a yummy Mummy.”

SET TWO – SPARTACUS

See here for full coverage of Spartacus. These utterings cover a 5-player game, with the latest expansion – The Serpents And The Wolf.

“I’m not even in this game.”

“You are. You might think you’re not, but you are. It’s because it’s your first game. You kinda need to know the value of stuff. Like – you sold that guard card way too cheaply earlier. Guards are gold in this game.”

“Check this gladiator out. Othos. It says he’s “Over-Rated”. He starts with a favour token, like he’s a winner already, but his stats aren’t much cop.”

“That’s funny. I love this game.”

“I can’t believe I overpaid for this over-rated guy!”

“These auctions are brutal. I keep either going in way too high or way too low. Or matching a bid and then chickening out of the additional bids. It’s cool that auctions collapse so often when bidding wars break out. Everything’s so well thought out.”

“I want that over-rated guy in the arena NOW. I need to see him fight. Look at him. That’s hilarious.”

“We’re all being so well-behaved. No poisonings, no prostitutes. This is very civil so far. A wee decapitation should set things off nicely.”

“I still can’t get over this over-rated gladiator. I think this dude is my favourite guy in any board game. He’s a bit shit, but he starts with favour because he’s over-rated. We then all over-bid for him, just to get the money his bullshit reputation will bring through the gate. Even though he’ll probably get hammered inside the arena. He’s fucking AMAZING.”

“I want to chop his head off.”

“Good luck with that, Mr. Starting Gladiator.”

“I just feel totally adrift here. I’m skint, and all my guys are crap. I haven’t even had a fight yet.”

“If you’re so keen to have your guy’s head lopped off, throw me a couple of coins and I’ll maybe invite you to a fight.”

“Haha! “Maybe”!”

“Spartacus: The Game Of Maybes.”

“I can’t believe Othos won that fight. Can we even call him over-rated anymore?”

“HAIL OTHOS!”

“I love this game”.

END UTTERINGS

And with that, the utterings fade into silence. I hope that these utterings were in some way helpful. I understand that many of you might not understand exactly what any of these voices were talking about – I hope that you will further investigate the games mentioned. For those of you who are aware of these games, I hope you recognise some of the thoughts recorded above. Perhaps they echo your own.

I say nothing about these expansion sets. I feel that you may get a flavour of them from the utterings, each of them straight from the source to you, and I ask you to make your own judgement. On Days of Uttering, I remain neutral.

FULL BLOOM

With you now fully introduced to the strange, twisting form that my columns will take, I feel that you will be ready for my ground-breaking full bloom coverage of a new board game next week. Using some utterings, some Woodium “Video” Information, and some of Brother Gethsemane’s etchings, I will tell you about a game called Kemet.

Sleep well. Prepare. Until next week…

__________________

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19 Comments »

  1. Bhazor says:

    Rab Florence turned into Kevin Leddin so gradually we never noticed.

  2. Konil says:

    This is fucking brilliant. Please, more.

  3. X_kot says:

    From my limited experience with the Blood Bowl TM expansion, the game seems to demand that you submit to luck in order to win. You’ve got random upgrades + random Star Players + random cheating tokens + random contracts. That said, you can generally tell who’s doing better (get those beefy players early!), but charting a course to victory is never a sure thing. It’s not for the strategically minded crowd, more for the party folks.

    Also, yummy mummy.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Randomness does not eliminate strategy. Like all good games with heavy random elements, the victor in Blood Bowl is the one who stacks the odds in his favour, who takes no unnecessary risks, who takes all the necessary risks, and who can recover when the dice turn his star player into hamburger on the first turn. The god nuffle is harsh but fair. His favour and wrath fall equally on Snotlings and Ogres.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Absolutely correct, Sir Smingleigh! Allow me to add something relevant it is in a forgotten language, only known to electronic devices:

        http://allthingsboardgames.tumblr.com/post/46169881142/here-is-a-sunday-special-dr-richard-garfield

      • BooleanBob says:

        While all undoubtedly true for the original Blood Bowl miniatures game, when it comes to the Team Manager spin-offs, X_Kot and Rab’s (sorry, the table’s) (sorry, the table’s player’s) reservations are harder to dismiss with this line of argument. In Blood Bowl, the hidden information you have to manage is the result of future dice rolls. Here is where I apologise for the next-but-one paragraph:

        Sorry.

        In Blood Bowl Team Manager, the hidden information you have to manage is the result of future dice rolls plus the value of the cheat tokens in play plus the shuffle order of your team upgrade deck plus the shuffle order of the staff upgrade deck plus the shuffle order of the star player deck plus the shuffle order of your own player deck plus the cards in your opponents’ hands plus the tactical plan your opponent has for this matchup up plus the tactical plan your opponent has for every other match up plus the tactical plan every other opponent has for every other match up (and how this will affect the tactical plans your opponent has for this and every other matchup) plus the wider strategic plans your opponents have outside of the matchups and how this will affect the tactical plans of oh you get the idea.

        Blood Bowl Team Manager: Sudden Death has all of the above plus the hidden sponsorship values plus the additional dice rolls for regeneration. It leads to interesting, painful decisions based on imperfect information and all that other Sirlinicious stuff, yes. But really, you can’t play the odds. You can barely dictate your own gameplan in this vortex of possibilities, much less those of your opponents. There’s just too many moving parts and hidden variables in play.

        This is only a complaint in as much as it bothers you. Personally I find the game a lot of fun. But, here at least, randomness I’m afraid does eliminate – or at least obfuscate – a lot of the possible strategy from the game.

  4. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Are they still selling those 80s, 90s titles? Fief, Junta, Samurai Swords, to name a few I remember? What about wargames?

    Not really sure I’m into this board games resurgence. Just from the reviews I keep getting the wrong impressions of highly stylized content but brainless gameplay.

    We really need that German influence of the 90s.

    EDIT: Another one I remember and would love to play again. Divine Right, a fantasy wargame. Damn, we need a resurgence of board wargames.

    • gfrenz says:

      Spartacus!

      • gfrenz says:

        Spartacus! Spartacus! Spartacus!

        • Mario Figueiredo says:

          All I’ve been reading about it does seem to indicate this is one clear exception to the above. But damn me, that’s one game. Unfortunately I’m forced to look at the whole picture.

          • ShadowHunter says:

            There’s actually a lot of really good stuff that’s available right now. If area control games are your thing, you might want to look into Small World (mechanically simple but with quite a bit of depth, very deterministic gameplay), Chaos in the Old World (set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe; everything is heavily themed around the Warhammer background; chance plays a bigger role than in Small World, but there are lots of ways of manipulating the odds), or Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game (sort of occupies a middle ground between Small World and Chaos; more thematically driven and more random than Small World, less thematically driven and less random than Chaos in the Old World).

            A personal favorite genre of mine is the Traitor Game. These involve almost everyone at the table cooperatively working towards a common goal while a variety of bad things happen. However, there is one person (or sometimes more) who is secretly working against the rest of the group. Some good examples of these are (in ascending order of complexity) The Resistance; Avalon, Shadows Over Camelot, and Battlestar Galactica.

            If you’re looking for something that heavily emphasizes reading your opponents, I would recommend Citadels (the mechanically simplest I will list here, and the one with the most emphasis on reading your opponents for it), Libertalia (adds a light resource management mechanic), and Mission: Red Planet (has an area control mechanic).

            Some others that I’ve had a lot of fun with are Descent (D&D Lite, where one player is sort of the DM, but is actively trying to kill the heroes), Star Trek: Fleet Captains (exploring the unknown, hidden objectives, and setting all power to the engines to avoid being sucked into the occasional black hole), Red Dragon Inn (hard to describe, but you should look it up), Rex (a reworking of the old Dune game, incorporates area control, hidden information, and deterministic combat; I’m a big fan of this one), and Infiltration (a simple, quick playing game built on uncertainty and risk vs. reward).

    • Commissar Choy says:

      susd.pretend-money.com

      boardgaming goodness!

  5. DrollRemark says:

    It’s funny because you’re a table.

  6. mechtroid says:

    I was going to complain about the new format, then I decided it’d be best if I tabled the issue.

  7. Maret1954 says:

    what Patricia responded I didn’t know that a stay at home mom can make $6555 in one month on the internet. did you see this web site http://www.blue78.com

  8. Cian says:

    I personally would quite like if there was audio utterances. Mostly because I imagine it will be like Consolvania with the “vaginameats and penisbags” of the internet whinging because they’re incapable of understanding Glaswegian accents.

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