Friday, August 29, 2008

Quest For Glory 2 VGA! It's about bloody time!

This is a little off topic from the general discussion of strategy board games, but it still kinda fits in for the role playing fans who've been at since the days when Kurt Cobain was still breathing, and cell phones that we'd laugh at someone for owning now were a very HEAVY luxury. Quest for Glory 2 has long been regarded as the pinnacle of Sierra's famous text parser adventure games. It was the last game they ever released in EGA and the story was, and still is, one of the strongest of any game ever produced by that company that owned our childhoods. Quest for Glory 2 is also a game that got cheated out of its destiny by being denied a VGA release, and was lost in the mire of subsequent (and frequently inferior) pointy-clicky games.Well... after 17 long years of waiting, and 8 years of insane amounts of donated labour from some very dedicated programmers and artists over at AGD Interactive we finally get to play this most amazing game in all it's pointy clicky glory, with stunning VGA graphics to match!

I downloaded it just a few hours ago and I'm already stuck in! It has EVERYTHING that made the original game great... and then adds about 500% more awesome to the mix! You can play with the classic parser method for old time sake, or use the point-and-click interface common to the rest of the series. The repetitive plain alleyways are still there, but now they are anything but plain and repetitive. Every section of town has it's own look and feel and there are a lot of added features that are more than just decorative. There are now extra merchants in the streets as well as the plazas, that you can actually buy stuff from, and extra rooms with extra things to do.

The combat is something truly special too. Quest for Glory 2 had a pretty good combat system in my opinion, certainly worked more smoothly than any of it's successors. My only complaint was that it was always just a little too easy to defeat anything. The updated combat system is possibly the best of any Quest for Glory game so far. It's got an added level of strategy and tactics, and the option of switching to a distance weapon midcombat without running away. You have a whole range of combat moves that i can only compare to the early Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games. On the whole the combat is more challenging too which is great!

Quest for Glory 2, like most Sierra games of yore, was always packed with little easter eggs and surprises... All of the classic ones are back and they've added a hefty helping of new ones too! I just watched the infamous Prince of Persia scramble over one of the alley walls. I can't wait to get deeply into this game and relive all my happy memories of the game that I unashamedly wasted my youth on, and even if you weren't around for the first adventure in Shapeir I'd heartily recommend that you have a look at it.

Quest for Glory 2: Trial by Fire VGA is available to download for FREE! Pop over to AGD Interactive and get your hands on it right now! Be warned though, it is a pretty large file at around 85mb so you don't wanna go trying this on a dial-up.
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Friday, August 22, 2008

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The Kev's Lounge Team
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Strategy Board Game Review: Risk 2210 AD by Avalon Hill

For those already familiar with Risk, I would say that Risk 2210 AD is the definitive version of the game. For those not, this is a good medium level strategy board game that is guaranteed to give an evening's worth of entertainment with some old friends! There is a slight learning curve, even for those who have played other versions of Risk because a lot of the game mechanics work slightly differently from versions that have gone before, but once you've gotten the hang of it it's pretty straight forward and relatively easy to get around.

Inside the box you will find:
  • A large fold-away rectangular game board, representing the Earth as they imagine it would appear in 2210 AD, divided into 42 land territories split over 6 continents, like "Classic" Risk, and 13 underwater territories split over 5 water colonies which are new.
  • A map of the moon, divided into 14 lunar territories split over 3 lunar colonies. This is an extension of the gameboard
  • 5 sets of plastic army pieces in red, green, blue, black and yellow ochre. Each army has a number of MODs (Machines of Destruction) representing either 1, 3 or 5 military units depending on its size, as well as 4 space station markers and 5 Commander figures. One each for Land, Navy, Space, Nuclear and Diplomacy.
  • 3 decks of Territory Cards, covering every Land, Water and Lunar territory. The Land cards include type markers in the fashion of "Classic" Risk, and a pair of wild cards, but only to allow you to play in the classic style, where you trade cards in for bonus armies. In Risk 2210 these cards are used only for randomly picking territories for certain Command card effects.
  • 5 decks of Command Cards, each tied to the 5 Commanders mentioned above.
  • A pile of Energy Tokens, which are used as currency in the game. They are traded for Commanders and Command Cards.
  • A score board and year counter. Just to keep track.
  • 4 Devastation markers. These are part of the new mechanics and are used to change the board from game to game.
  • 5 Turn Order markers. Another new mechanic.
  • A pile of dice.
If you have already played Risk, then you'll already be familiar with the combat mechanics. They haven't changed at all. A lot has changed tho:
  • The additional Water and Lunar Terrritories. These change the dynamics quite dramatically by adding in new avenues of attack as well as providing alternate positions to gain continent bonuses. For example, North America traditionally only had 3 borders with other continents, it now has 5 as 2 territories now connect with Water Colonies.
  • The Commanders and Space Stations. In certain circumstances a Commander is allowed to attack using an 8-sided die rather than a 6-sided one. A Commander will always defend with an 8-sided die, making him more likely to win. The Space Stations also allow every MOD in the occupied territory to defend with an 8-sided die.
  • The Command Cards and Energy Tokens replace the old-fashioned card trade-ins. In "Classic" Risk you would trade in a set of 3 cards in return for bonus armies every few turns, that is now gone. Each turn you get an amount of Energy equal to the amount of armies you receive from your territory count and continent bonuses. You use this Energy to buy additional Commanders and Space Stations, and to buy Command Cards. You can only buy Command Cards respective to the Commanders you control, so you need a Naval Commander to buy Naval Command Cards, for example. You also use energy to pay the costs of playing cards. Cards have various effects from giving you reinforcements, through imposing restrictions on other players, to destroying enemy units before or during combat.
  • Turn order is not guaranteed. Traditionally play would just proceed clockwise around the table. In Risk 2210 AD, you start off every round by bidding for your right to choose turn order. The highest bidder gets to choose his position first, whether it be First or Last turn. The position you take has different strategic importance at different stages of the game.
  • The game isn't about eliminating your opponents. "Classic" Risk went on til their was only one player left on the board, having wiped out all opposition. Risk 2210 has a limit of 5 rounds, and whoever is in the best position at the end of that wins the game.
  • Devastation markers mean you'll probably never play the same game twice. When setting up at the beginning of the game you randomly choose 4 Land territories from the land deck. Those territories are considered obliterated by nuclear war and can't be entered or travelled through. This can change the dynamic of the game considerably by closing off borders, giving a significant defensive advantage to the owner of the continent.
To close off, Risk 2210 AD is a neat little game. The dynamics are the best I've come across in this series of games to date. and it's thoroughly enjoyable. It has a learning curve, but not one so dramatic as say Axis and Allies or some of the other more realistic strategy board games. Definitely worth getting! Have a look at the manufacturer's site. Over there they have an online playable demo as well as a downloadable copy of the rule book.

If you enjoy board games, you might also enjoy Zombies!!!. For more on Risk 2210 AD have a look at this interesting unofficial expansion.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

Customising your game: Zombies!!!

Honestly, this game is great straight out of the box. It really is. There's no reason you can't add to the atmosphere with a little customization though...

Paint the miniatures. I didn't do this simply cos there's so damn many of them, and because the detail on the soft plastic isn't great for the fine paint work that I like to do. If you're the patient type, with lots of time on your hands then go right ahead. A good compromise might be to only paint the "shotgun guys", so that you always have your own custom playing piece to represent yourself.

Find modern era miniatures and paint them. If you're up for the added investment there are a few companies that make some really classy minis just right for this kind of game. Using custom minis can really add to the game, just because the character is more personally yours, and of course it just looks cooler. With a lot of the character models available you might want to think about coming up with character specific house rules, kids move faster, cops start with more bullets. Whatever! Here's a list of some companies with their websites and some sample pics of their products. Bear in mind that minis aren't sold painted so you'll have to do it yourself. I'll post some painting tutorials in the near future for those interested.

Wargames Foundry's Street Violence Range:

This UK based company produces a wide variety of miniatures covering virtually every period of human history as well as sci-fi and fantasy. The sculpting is exquisitely detailed and the casting is exceptional with few flaws making it quite easy to paint. The street violence range consists of over 50 different sculpts assembled into a variety of collections of 5 characters. Within the range you will find gangsters, beat cops, SWAT team members, thugs, groupies, Yakuza knights, private detectives, street kids, and even a blatant rip-off of the A-Team. Who wouldn't wanna be B.A. Baracus in a city of the living dead? In the Street Violence section of the you'll also find downloadable rules for a game called Street Fight, so you can always get more use out of your miniatures when not playing Zombies!!!

Monolith Designs' Graven Images and From Beyond ranges

Monolith Designs produces a range of miniature scenery for historical, fantasy and sci-fi wargaming. They also distribute these 2 ranges of miniatures for their respective sculptors. The Graven Images line sculpted by Jim Bowen covers a range of periods including World War II and some sci-fi stuff but notably includes a nice selection of urban gangs and the like. These miniatures look great! The From Beyond line by Kev Adams is mostly centred around horror, and you can find some interesting Zombies there as well as a neat lil Buffy inspired vampire slayer.

Wizkids Heroclix

Wanna be Batman or Spiderman in the City of the Damned? No problem! These miniatures are roughly in the same scale as the ones mentioned above and are used in Wizkids Heroclix game. They have different ranges covering the DC and Marvel Universes and an "indy" line featuring heroes like Hellboy and Judge Dredd. These miniatures are a little different from the ones mentioned above for a few reasons tho. Firstly they have a rotating base with stats printed used in the Heroclix game. It can be removed and replaced if you have no intention of ever playing Heroclix. Secondly the miniatures come ready painted, and randomly in sealed boxes so you never know which hero you might get. Of course, much like other "random" collectables there are folks out there who will sell parts of their collection loose. The rarity affects the price and the rarity is often based on the figures value in the game rather than just how cool it looks so you might find the figure you want costing a fortune for no good reason, seeing as how you don't play the game. All in all though, it's a decent set of figures and it could make for some interesting game scenarios when you get bored of traditional Zombies!!!

That about wraps up my discussion of Zombies!!! for now. Have a look at the other articles on it if you're interested. In my next post I'll be looking at Risk 2210 a long time favourite game of mine!
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Game Tips: Zombies!!! Gameplay

As I've said in my review of the game, Zombies!!! is a wonderfully simple game to play but there are a few tweaks you can do to get more out of it.

Before you start:
  • Colour the backs of the heart tokens red and the backs of the bullet tokens black. The tokens are only printed on one side and the plain white backs make it difficult to see whether an upside down token is a heart or a bullet, and with these fiddly little tokens that are hard to pick up it can get very annoying in the middle of a game. First thing you want to do is to separate all the heart tokens from the bullet tokens and find 4 closeable containers and a red and black marker. 2 of the containers are for the unfinished hearts and bullets and the other 2 are for the ones you've coloured. Whenever you have a lazy moment where you're sitting around watching tv or listening to music or whatever colour a few hearts and bullets and transfer them to the new container, and after a week or so you'll have worked your way through most of them.
  • Use a table cloth. Even without the extra tiles of the various expansions, there often comes a point late in the game where the table is literally covered with cardboard squares and plastic zombies, and you find that one edge of the table has a ton of space while the other has a few tiles perched precariously over it threatening to fall off. A table cloth makes it easy to shift all the tiles and zombies an inch in one simple move.
  • Refine the events card deck. Even if you haven't added in any expansions you have a big pile of cards and some of them are just plain sucky or don't fit with your groups style of play. Some make the game take forever, and some just waste space in ppl's hands. If there's a card that hardly ever gets used then take it out and keep it separate. If nothing else it will reduce the amount of groans during the card draw phase. It will also make the good cards show up a little more frequently and speed tha game up a little.
While you're playing:
  • Place the tiles logically. Try to keep the play area roughly square with lots of connections, and try not to close off any pathways except at the edge of the table where you wouldn't be able to continue anyway. it might seem strategically beneficial to have 30 tile long serpentine path to the helicopter pad but it'll make the game tediously long when everyone's died 5 times and 6 turns go by before you even run into a single zombie on the way there.
  • Use paper to keep track of your score. Sure it's fun to keep an ever growing pile of zombies in front of you as you rack up kills, but there are only 100 in the box and shortages develop quickly. A simple way of doing this is to keep your kills in front of you til the end of your turn, and then "cash them in", by putting them back in the reserve and adding them to your score card.
Game strategy:
  • Recirculate your cards often. Play a card every turn if you can and discard a card every turn as a rule. If there's an awesome card in your hand but you can't see yourself using it soon then rather get rid of it so that you can get 2 fresh card in your hand every single turn.
  • Play your cards during your opponents turns. You can only play a single card in any given round, and some times you might find yourself at a strategic disadvantage because you can't play the card you need to having already played your card for the round. Unless a card requires you to play it at a specific time, or if it would benefit you to play it at the beginning or end of your turn then the best time to play a card is generally right at the end of the turn of the player going before you.
  • Go after the bullets and hearts. The game is generally a lot easier to win if you don't die. Stay alive by constantly restocking our hearts and bullets.
In my next post I'll look at some ways to customise the game to take it to the next level of enjoyment.
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Game Tips: Zombies!!! expansions and accessories

One of the nicest things about Zombies!!! is the endless flow of extra material that you can add to it to enhance the playability. Here is a brief descriptive list of the official expansions and accessories available:
  • Zombies!!! 2: Zombie Corps(e) adds tiles for a military base, which the fiction suggests might be where the living dead started out. Good old government conspiracies. It adds a good few cards which really flavour the game and add some interesting strategic options, and includes 6 glow-in-the-dark zombies which in terms of the games mechanics are a lot tougher to kill and move a lot faster. The military base also features it's own helicopter pad, adding an additional escape point. The additional rules and cards add a lot to the game but compared to later expansions, this one is fairly bland as it stands. If you do decide to purchase it, then you might want to add some optional rules or players will probably avoid the military base in favour of the mall or town.
  • Zombie!!! 3: Mallwalkers is a fantastic expansion just for the extra cards and copious new weapons. The set also includes a deck of mall tiles that work like the town tiles. The mall seldom assembles itself in a logical or realistic way, but this is only a game and that can be forgiven, especially with a new mechanic that allows the players to move rapidly from tile to tile through the airducts in each shop. Naturally there is a helicopter pad to escape from and with the airduct rules, the mall is an attractive option. This expansion is definitely worth getting!
  • Zombies!!! 3.5: Not Dead Yet adds extra cards and nothing else. That is just fine though because the cards are enough. The new strategic options are fantastic and can change the game play for the better by allowing more direct control and for the frist time give you the opportunity to directly attack opponents rather than just put them at a disadvantage against the swarms of zombies. If you only buy one expansion, it should be this one.
  • Zombies!!! 4: The End, lies to you in its title because it wasn't the last one at all. It's easy to forgive it tho because this is a rather enjoyable expansion that takes an entirely different twist on the game. Rather than being in town, the players are now trapped in the woods. The human zombies are gone now, replaced with ravening zombie hounds that move faster, but do less damage. Instead of the helicopter, your mission is now to get to a cabin and find the Necronomicon and read the spell that lays the zombie hounds to rest once and for all. (Of course, as all fans of Evil Dead might have guessed, it doesn't do that at all and instead transports the players to the middle ages to battle an army of skeletons in the spin-off game Midevil, but that's another story.) This game is also less of an expansion than a sequel as you can play it on it's own without having any of the other sets.
  • Zombies!!! 5: School's Out Forever: adds yet more tiles and more cards, this time with a university theme. There is also the new Guts rule, which affects the amount of cards that you are allowed in your hand.
  • Zombies!!! 6: 6 Feet Under adds a subway stations to the town set from Zombies!!! and adds Sewer tokens that enable you to move around town more rapidly (though not more safely) There are also a few extra cards as you would expect.
  • Zombies!!! 6.66 Fill in the _ isn't really an expansion at all. it's a deck of blank cards. Fantastic if you love making up your own rules and customising your games, but otherwise completely useless.
  • Zombies!!! 7: Send In The Clowns takes advantage of the common phobia of clowns and carnival atmospheres and adds a carnival to the doomed city. It includes a bunch of plastic zombie clowns and some new interesting rules and mechanics.
  • Zombies!!! 8: Humans! is in development, the title implies what it's all about.
One thing about the Zombies!!! game is that there never seem to be enough of the living dead to keep the city swarming with them. this is especially tru when you're playing with a few expansions and the game board is suddenly huge! Twilight Creations sells themed Bags o' Zombies, each containing 100 of the little plastic buggers. So far you can buy bags of standard zombies, female zombies, glow-in-the-dark zombies, glow-in-the dark female zombies and zombie hounds, tho it's likely that they will keep expanding this range in the future.

In my next post I'll talk about some simple things you can do to get the most out of Zombies!!!
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Friday, August 1, 2008

Board Game Review: Zombies!!! by Twilight Creations Inc

If you're looking for a great, low effort, entertaining way to waste an evening away with a group of friends then Zombies!!! just might be the game for you. The only thing you need (apart from the game itself, and friends to play with) is a big table... this game takes a lot of space. The premise is quite straight forward. You play one of the survivors in a town that has become overrun with the living dead who are hungrily hunting all the survivors down with the intention of eating their brains. You start out in the middle of town and need to get the hell out of there. It's every man for himself and you win by either being the first to get to the helicopter or by killing 25 zombies. This is a little harder than it sounds because the zombies are pretty tough in themselves and there are hundreds of them, and because your fellow players are going out of their way to hamper your efforts in the interests of their own survival. If you get lucky you might make it through the whole game without dying, but more often than not your survivor is gonna kink the bucket and you're back at town square again with a new survivor desperate to make his escape.

Inside the box you will find a deck of square town tiles, a deck of "beautifully" illustrated event cards, a big pile of red Heart Tokens, and black Bullet Tokens, 6 plastic "shotgun guys", 100 plastic zombies and a pair of dice. Each player starts out with 3 event cards, 3 Heart Tokens, 3 Bullet Tokens and a "shotgun guy". You start the game by placing the "Town Centre" tile in the middle of your table with each player's "shotgun guy" in the centre square. Separate the "Helicopter Pad" tile from the deck and shuffle it then place the Helicopter Pad at the bottom so that it's the last town tile, and randomly decided who goes first. Each player takes a turn, starting out by placing a town tile and the zombies that occupy it, thus slowly building up the board. Movement is controlled by the dice as is the fighting. After a player has finished his movement and done fighting zombies he rolls the die again and moves that many zombies 1 square in any direction. Event cards add an extra level of strategy to the game by allowing you to bend or override rules for a turn, or by causing things to happen to your advantage or your opponents disadvantage. Some event cards give you "weapons" if you meet certain criteria when you play them and these weapons stay in play until you die or have them taken from you by an opponents event card. Play continues with each player moving around the ever expanding city and racking up kills. When a player dies (by losing all of his heart tokens) he ends his turn, halves his zombie kill count, discards any weapons he has in play and starts over at Town Square with 3 Heart Tokens and 3 Bullet tokens.

If I had to pick one truly outstanding feature of this game it would be it's simplicity. Zombies!!! is a very easy game to learn and anybody can go from beginner to master in the space of a few short turns. This makes it an ideal game for those nights that you have new people around. Another nice thing about Zombies is it's flexibility. At the time of writing this are already 7 expansions, adding new Event Cards, extra town tiles and additional rules that enhance the game greatly. Have a look at this game at

In my next post I'll have a look at the various commercial expansions and add-ons for this game
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