Retro Video Games: What Was Lost

Nick wanders back to the glory days of Retro Gaming and contemplates what exactly has been lost between then and now.

Axiom Verge (2015) is perceived across the board as a throwback to gaming’s retro days. The 16-bit graphics and 2D platforming are the first evidences of this claim. Digging deeper, the game’s listing on Steam has been given the user-defined tag of ‘Metroidvania’.

This tag is a popular one now, denoting a game that shares characteristics with the Metroid and Castlevania serieses, both of which have titles that originate back to the mid 80’s – those sweet, blessed ‘ol timey Halcyon Days of yore. Those days when we should have been outside basking in golden rays of sunshine and playing with the other children but instead diligently hunkered down indoors and soaked up a different kind of radiation altogether.

Yes! The core mechanic in Metroidvania games is that of exploration, part of which requires the dedicated player to backtrack to areas previously visited, most likely equipped with an item that unlocks a new doorway or blasts a wall made up a of strong material or grapples specific points in the ceiling wherewith to swing gracefully over a lake of acid that was hitherto unpassable. Bossfights also served as prodigious gatekeepers, requiring the player to exercise grit and reflexes to defeat the monstrosity in order to further continue exploring. Often the spoil(s) of victory included that very item needed in three sectors past to open the way.

Super Metroid Start Screen

Axiom Verge possesses these things along with holding merits of its own. And seeing as how I think Super Metroid (1994) is one of the greatest games ever created, reason therefore dictates that Axiom Verge is right up my alley. I hearkened back to my retro gaming days recalling the righteous triumphs and blood-boiling defeats. But whichever way the scale tipped, I always had the dedication to press forward.

And thus I played Axiom Verge, dutifully so, trying not to compare every little detail to Super Metroid but also trying to slip into the mind of my 13-year-old self, to channel that youthful dedication and grit needed to progress through these levels and defeat these bosses. Because, contrary to many current AAA open world video games where there are more side-quests than stars in the sky, if you don’t beat this boss, you shall not pass…

“I’m Too Old For This Crap!”

But my existential channeling failed. I could not, and still can’t, beat the final stage in Axiom Verge. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but a lack of focus, dedication.

My attention waned and has thus drifted elsewhere, to other newer games or my steam backlog or to whatever is happening on my second computer monitor or the updates which my phone chirps are ready for my attention.

Oh, Axiom Verge is a fine game, worthy of every shred of praise it has received. Other players are significantly better at it than I am. Indeed. This is a classic case of ‘It’s not you. It’s me’. And maybe this can apply to you.

Clearly, my approach to playing games has changed compared to when I was a youths. I do not bemoan this because, despite all its other complexities and toils, being an adult is awesome. If anything I use this change as a crutch, as an excuse, for the moments when I perform poorly: I’m not sharp enough for this crap anymore! I don’t have time for this!

Axiom Verge Start Screen

Still, it’s interesting to look back and consider what exactly has changed, where has my unwavering gaming grit and dedication gone?

A few weeks ago, Sir Tony ButtonMasher brought Man Crates to my attention – Specifically the Retro Gamer Crate.

This product jarred something loose in my stubborn, inundated adult mind. Here, quite possibly, is the answer to the question posited above.

Upon first visit, my attention shifted from the image on the webpage – of the gaming console, cartridges and bounty of ‘sugar intoxication’ – to my desktop PC. Now just over three years old (and aging pretty stinkin’ well, I must say) this gaming computer is tapped into the entire digital world. Its computer brain can complete computer process faster than my meat brain can even comprehend. I can steal audio CDs, Skype, download, and virus scan on one monitor while I play Endless Legend (bought at a convenient 67% discount) on another.

“Just Play the Damn Game, Son”

Retro gaming consoles, conversely, were dedicated platforms. As the Man Crate page says: “Before there were streaming services, before there were all-in-one media boxes, a video game console had one purpose.”

Indeed. Just play the game. And when I was younger the video game console was my purpose!

Whereas now, I keep an eye out for heavily discounted games that I will never physically touch, nor will I ever fully ‘own’. The transaction consists of three clicks of the mouse. The game is then downloaded and ready to play in anywhere from 45 seconds to 15 minutes.

The Retro Gaming Man Crate

The Retro Gaming Crate available at ManCrates.com

But, in the retro gaming days, these grey cartridges were the end result of weeks of chores and youthful entrepreneurial endeavors. We had to have someone drive us to the store to even attain them. The drive back from the store felt like an eternity, all the while the closest you could get to playing was gazing longingly at the box art and the cartridge nested inside.

These cartridges were all we had! Every single line of code had to be explored, conquered and exploited. And that sure enough took dedication, grit and plenty of sugar intoxication.

What the Retro Gaming crate captures is the essence of what gaming used to be. When our focus was laser-tight and our time and dedication had purpose.

One personal example comes to mind.

Rampage. The 1988 Nintendo port of the arcade classic will forever be stitched into my essence. The game, in summary, takes place over 128 days. Each day takes place in a different city of the USA. The player assumes the role of a monstrous lizard or guerrilla or werewolf mutated from human form and must destroy all the buildings in that city/day in order to move on to the next day.

Rampage Start Screen

It’s a simple premise but an absolute blast to play – especially as a kid who would be stuck at Grandma’s house for the weekend. Indeed. I don’t remember why I had to be at Granny’s that weekend but I knew that I’d be on my own with lots of time on my hands. It was a perfect opportunity to push the limits of my Rampaging abilities.

Plus, I had a goal, a benchmark to reach. Ryan Gold said that he got to day #97. That little bastard had been bragging about it during recess all week. Tired of his boasting I was dedicated to not only reaching day #97 but surpassing it, thus guaranteeing my dominance of morning recess discussions/bragging sessions.

And so, I packed up the NES, assured the rampage cartridge was stowed and traveled over the river and through the woods. Granny had an extra black and white TV in one of the small bedrooms upstairs. I had plenty of licorice on hand, which doubled as straws to slurp my orange soda. And there I planted myself, sitting on a pillow on the floor, my gaze glued to this little radioactive box sitting atop one of the dining room chairs. Thus, the weekend rolled forth with very little variation.

Innocence Gained

Whether or not I beat Ryan Gold at his own game is besides the point (plus, I honestly don’t remember), but as I sketch out this recollection I hope to illustrate the gamer’s dedication that has since been lost, something that even playing Axiom Verge could not bring back.

The dedication is more than just promising oneself to finish the game. It is about creating the setting and having the motivation to throw yourself into a game. More often than not, as adults, we try to squeeze in the time when we can, and as a result often end up skipping along the surface of an ocean of video games to explore, fathoms of which are well and beyond what we can see from the waterline.

May those afflicted with adulthood strive to channel — and make the time for — the innocence of youth, to reclaim the fervor, focus and dedication felt while playing all those retro video games.

Weekend Gaming, circa 2008

Did you hear that the video game weblog, buttonmashing.com, is now on Twitter? So, in honor of finally getting involved in some Serious Social Media (follow us, why don’t ya!), this weekend’s gaming is a throwback.

While the Twitter account represents the site as a whole, our Managing Editor Nick has been running the Twitter account to great effect. Earlier this week, he tweeted about a minor issue I had with my PC — the power supply went kaput:

So I made the pilgrimage to Nerd Mecca, Micro Center. I picked up a new power supply (an EVGA 650 GQ) and started tinkering under the hood. Prior to the power supply failure, I had been dealing with issues with a hard drive I installed when I first built the PC. Might as well try to solve that problem while working on the power supply.

I think some cabling was loose, so after the power supply was installed and I got everything buttoned up, I booted the machine up and lo and behold the issues with the hard drive were gone. My precious gigs, which I thought were lost to the ages, were suddenly there. (They were empty gigs, but I have plans for them!). To test out the hard drive and make sure everything was copacetic, I picked a title out of my steam library that I knew wouldn’t need the speed and horsepower of the SSD that I could install to the old-school hard drive. I settled on reinstalling Recettear: An Item Shop Tale

recettear

I won’t bore you with the details of Recettear, only to say it’s a mashup of a simple hack-and-slash RPG and a Shopkeeper simulator. It’s very Japanese Cutesy and that’s all I’m going to say about that. I’m addicted and I’m not ashamed to say so. I think a good portion of this weekend’s gaming will be going towards making my Item Shop the Best Item Shop.

With all systems GO!, I decided to reinstall Spelunky on the newly fixed hard drive as well, inspired by one of Nick’s recent streams. I don’t quite rage like Nick can, but Spelunky is still a never ending stream of rage-inducing moments.

So welcome to 2008 this weekend! I’ll be your host, introducing you to such wonders as Indie Darlings Spelunky and Recettear, and give you an introduction to this new fangled social media site, Twitter dot com. Why won’t you join us on this trip down recent memory lane!

What will you be playing this weekend (2008 or not)?

Huge Discount on AGEOD Games For a Limited Time

Drop whatever insignificant, meddling activity you are doing right now and head over to Bundle Stars. Right now the Grand Master Bundle is offering a discount so stupefyingly deep that your head may just cave in from the pressure.

The bundle contains nearly all AGEOD games that are currently available. It is broken up into a 3-tier system.

Tier 1 is a mere $2.49 and hosts the Roman map sprawler Alea Jacta Est and its bevy of DLC. We skip ahead a few centuries and arrive to Pride of Nations as well as its four DLCs. Pride of Nations has received lukewarm Steam user reviews but still promises to utilize some interesting mechanics.

Tier 2 will set you back $4.99. This includes the fan favorite Civil War II and its expansion Civil War II: The Bloody Road South DLC. The internal strife continues in the one-off Revolution Under Siege Gold, which side of the Soviets you choose is up to you. Tier 2 finishes off with Rise of Prussia Gold, which is an all-in-one edition with the game’s expansions already included.

Tier 3 is a modest bump in price up to $6.99. This tier includes the games in the tiers below it as well as the WWI romp To End All Wars and its expansion To End All Wars – Breaking the Deadlock DLC. Topping off all this goodness is the recent release of Thirty Years’ War.

Added up, the total price for all these games is just a pinch over $300. Some simple computation reveals that, should you pony up and go for Tier 3 – which you might as well, and farking should, do – the savings here are somewhere in the, oh, 97%-ish area.

Man, even if historical strategy games aren’t your jam, this bundle is still worthy of serious consideration. I, for one, am all over this. I am ready for consistent historical strategy games that are made by a someplace other than Paradox Development. And the epochal coverage available in the Grand Master Bundle is more than I even know what to do with, but I’ll certainly lose sleep trying.

The Grand Master Bundle ends in eight days. But that hardly matters because you nabbed it before even finishing this post.

Ggwp.

DDoS Attack on Blizzard’s Battle.net Servers Ended

As of 10:30 pm EST, Blizzard has successfully nullified the most recent DDoS attack on the battle.net servers.

Blizzard called the doctor, and the doctor said...

Blizzard called the doctor, and the doctor said…

For the bulk of the day today the blizzard forums were flooded with gamers who were reporting slow connections speeds and/or horrendous latency problems. Blizzard Customer Support reported that the cause was indeed a DDoS attack. A group by the name of @poodlecorp is claiming responsibility for the attack.

Speculation abounds, for sure, some saying this is a reaction to Blizzard banning a massive number of Overwatch users earlier this week.

No matter. Blizzard customer support just tweeted the following:

The DDoS attacks from earlier have ended and players can now log into BattleNet. We are investigating reports of World Server Down in WoW

– BlizzardCS (@BlizzardCS)

Game on!

August Releases

August is usually a Sports Gamer National Holiday, as the Sports Gamer’s Christmas comes with the release of Madden. That usually means most companies don’t drop titles to compete with Madden. But this August is more than just Madden, which is a welcome change for the rest of us (my sports gaming days died with NCAA Football [RIP, brutha]). On to this month’s releases:

Microsoft Xbox One

Week of August 16th
F1 2016

Week of August 23rd
Madden NFL 17 – I first played “John Madden Football” on the PC. That was TWENTY EIGHT YEARS AGO. A new world of video games opened up for me when I designed my first running play and I wore that game out playing it so much.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided


Nintendo Wii-U

Week of August 30th
Tumblestone


Nintendo 3DS

Week of August 16th
Metroid Prime: Federation Force – This is how far removed I have been from the world of Nintendo: I had no idea a new Metroid Prime game was being released. I have a bad taste in my mouth from Metroid Prime: Hunters, but I’ll always give a Metroid Prime game a fair shake.

Week of August 30th
Corpse Party: Back to School Edition


PC

Week of August 2nd
Selma and the Wisp
Lethe – Episode One
System Crash – See Nick’s review of System Crash here.
This Is the Police
Rising Islands
Might and Magic: Heroes VII – Trial by Fire
Extreme Forklifting 2

Week of August 9th
No Man’s Sky – Ya’ll can have your Madden Foosballs, No Man’s Sky has my attention this month.
The Uncertain
Hexoscope

Week of August 16th
Typoman: Revised
F1 2016

Week of August 23rd
Obduction
Worms W.M.D
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Week of August 30th
Ira
Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire
The Turing Test – I’ll file this one away in the “when it goes on sale” column.


Sony Playstation 4

Week of August 2nd
GalGun: Double Peace

Week of August 9th
No Man’s Sky

Week of August 16th
F1 2016
Among the Sleep

Week of August 23rd
Madden NFL 17
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The King of Fighters XIV

Week of August 30th
God Eater 2: Rage Burst
Tumblestone


Sony Playstation Vita

Week of August 2nd
GalGun: Double Peace


What are you picking up this month?
(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

System Crash, review of.

Successfully passing through Steam’s Green Light gauntlet, System Crash is a single-player CCG with a story campaign that takes place in the cyberpunk neo-future city of San Angeles. You, as the player, assume the role of a capable hacker conspiring with other characters as you all strive to undermine and bring down powerful and corrupt mega-corporations. Each match in which you emerge as the victor progresses the narrative branches of both the main quests and side quests, and also has the potential of adding a new card to your library and/or a few extra credits to add to your cyberpiggy bank.

Welcome to San Angeles

It is through the dialogues in between matches that the world of System Crash develops. The game wears its inspiration on its sleeve, some of the characters even donning familiar outfits seen in the movies. The soundtrack is future-fantastic and evocative.

The story and characters don’t necessarily reinvent the cyberpunk wheel but what is worthwhile is that nearly all of the characters and items in which you read about during the dialogs also have their own respective playable cards. The attributes of these cards are designed to befit the attributes of these components of the story. This approach adds some diversity to System Crash’s overall available card library, which I will give more detail later on.

The driving force behind the setup of each match are the branching objectives of the campaign. New points of opportunities will pop over San Angeles as you complete missions, new and familiar characters sanctioning your l33t hacking skills to further the overall goal of toppling those huge corporations. You will click through dialog choices, of which, at least from my experience, feels like there is little divergence in story or alignment based on how you respond; the end result always seems to be the new objective points revealing themselves on the map.

A strong point in System Crash’s overall design is that it doesn’t bog itself down in presenting the story; it remembers, thank the neon mohawk gods, that it is a card game. The dialog stays light and the characters memorable so that story objective/match selection is quick and effortless. System Crash wants to beckon you deeper into the seedy avenues of neo-future San Angeles, but it wants to do it through its card game.

C:\User\DeckNameCypher\Jack_in.exe

20160801122929_1

The card game itself is simple in setup and works in the traditional IgoUgo sequence. Each card has a credit cost. Matches begin with each player at 1cr, which increases by one at the beginning of the player’s turn. In addition to this, the orange card slot is a match modifier, which varies and is typically dictated by the narrative setting of the objective.

There are four slots in the center of the board to place agent cards, who are the primary damage dealers. Each agent faces-off against the agent who oppose it until one of the cards runs out of health and is then removed from the board. If the opposing slot is empty, the attacking agent collects Operation Points based on its attack value.

Operation Points (OP) are your bread and butter. They are what you need to amass in order to win the match. The required total of OP for victory varies from match to match, though levels out eventually at 50.

Agents come in different flavors and are characterised by their role in the story. Mecs, for example, is a class of agent that have decent attack but tremendous armor health and armor. MetroSec cops are inherently unimpressive, but are given a buff based on how many other Mec agents are in play. Assassins cannot one-shot mecs, but can make chop suey of anyone else. Hackers generate OP at the beginning of your turn, while other agents reduce the OP collection of your opponents. Etc. etc.

Behind the row of agents on the board are three slots available for tactic cards. Tactic cards may buff your agents in varying ways or help with card draw or generate OP at the beginning of your turn. Along with these cards, there are event cards and other individual modifier cards that can assigned to de/buff individual agents.

Similar to Agent cards, each of the cards described above belong to a classification and sub-classification.

Cardz

Synergy is very possible – and necessary, as sometimes a new deck must be built to counter a specific and rather challenging objective. For example, if facing a pack of aggro’d Neonmonger gang members (again, this is why there is value in reading the well-written dialogs!) it may be ideal to stock up on mecs to bear the brunt and let your tactic cards do the scoring for you.

Which side of the console are you?

The variety of classifications is a bit shallow. As it stands now there are a few classifications that just do not have sufficient representation to build a deck around. But the dis/favorability seen in this is lack of granularity is truly in the eye of the beholder. I, for one, find it to be much more manageable, not only in deck-building but in card acquisition as well. If anything, I would like to see existing classifications added upon before new ones are introduced.

System Crash adheres to the Living Card game model – meaning, there are no microtransactions. No booster packs. Every single card is available for purchase or sale from the get-go through the San Angeles’s black market… for a price, of course. So, if your random card winnings still don’t make the cut, if they aren’t giving you the edge against the AI, take your hard-earned coinage to the dark places of the black market and see how best to fill out your card library…

… Because the AI will hurl a storm of badass cards at you regardless of what is in your deck. In the early objectives the AI has a relative handicap in required OP but it has a maddening advantage in card selection. And yet, it uses these cards competently enough. One of the very first observations I made about System Crash is how well-coded the AI is. It will sometimes make questionable moves, and quite often needlessly empties its hand, but for the most part, it is a sound opponent in jockeying for OP. I would like to lob a small gripe towards the game’s absence of an in-match battlelog.

Bringing a wrecking ball to a haxx0r fight

The card attributes themselves are also rather heavy-handed, which works both for and against the game…

Indeed. These suckers hit and tank hard. Even some 1cr, opening move cards feel obscenely unbalanced. Whatever the credit cost of cards, this wonky feeling then ripples outwards, making it therefore difficult to craft intricate, granular decks.

Conversely, playing with ham-fisted cards is exactly what makes playing System Crash so tense and exciting. The AI could enact a devastating wipe to your side of the board. However, you have access to the exact same armory of cards and can set yourself up to repay the offense, and then some, all within perhaps a single turn or two. Or there is always the enraging possibility that you may never be able to recover. There is a modicum of control that must be set aside when booting up the game.

System Crash may not be delicate in its gameplay, but it still requires thoughtful and deliberate placement. Within two or three turns from the onset each turn played feels monumental. It is all about cutting your losses and not being afraid to take a punch or two or fifteen.

True to the setting of the game, the matches are bombastic; the fighting is dirty and maybe just a little bit rash. With a single card placement your mood can swing from desperation to adrenaline-fueled elation.

System Crash takes you to a grim future where you may or may not be apart of the solution. San Angeles is bursting with opportunities to test out your resolve in digital guerrilla warfare. The deck-building may not be deep enough to satiate some players, but for others, like myself, it is the perfect start. I can only hope that the future of the game may not be so grim as the city in which it takes place.

System Crash is available today on Steam.

Weekend Gaming – Atlas Reactor, System Crash

There’s been low-level chatter amongst the ButtonMashing crew about investigating Atlas Reactor. The game is currently F2P, and will be so for the next six days. So, since Dota and Heroes of the Storm and Rocket League have been on the backburner for quite some time, we figured it is time to try a new team-based PvP game where we get snippy, huffy puffy at each other.

4v4 PvP

Personally, I think Atlas Reactor looks very promising. It is one of those examples of genre merging that yields something fresh and exciting. I like that it is a primarily tactical game and coordination with teammates is essential. Plus, the psychological element, the game theory, the need to get into the heads of your opponents’ will also give an advantage – So cool. And then, when all tactical decisions have been made, the orders are all carried out simultaneously, the potential spectacle value of just this is enough to warrant checking the game out.

On other fronts, we’ve been given a review code for System Crash. It is a cyberpunk CCG with a singleplayer campaign steeped in heady subterfuge and electronica music. I’ve only been able to dip my toes in but I can confidently report: So far, so good! The presentation and setting is convincing. An initial impression is that the AI is a conniving little devil, it doesn’t mess around. And I already despise haste cards – unless, of course, I am the one playing it, in which case: I love haste cards! Expect a full review of System Crash sometime early next week.

What are you playing this weekend?

Weekend Gaming – The Confusion (not a video game)

A thought keeps recurring. This thought goes something like: Take a break from video games for a little bit. If anything, for as long as it takes to finally – FINALLY – finish reading The Confusion. You’ve only got 150 more pages to go. Neal Stephenson is your literary comfort food. Instead of poking around, aimlessly playing stuff from your steam library, return to Mr. Stephenson’s world and dwell happily therein.

Not a Video Game

Not a Video Game

But then I read about new updates made to Thea: The Awakening which perks my curiosity. Or, I get pulled back into the undertow of the twin-stick madness of Waves, of which I crushed my previous high-score of 93mil with a staggering 1.2bil. And then fellow ButtonMashers put a little bug in my ear about Hex: Shards of Fate, and I tinker with that for a little bit. And then I just randomly booted up the Risk-like domination game Lux Delux. And then I wanted to give Prison Architect another shot. And then I found it Bastion is 5 years old today, so I wanted to revisit that…

And then… And then…
And then…

I normally don’t like just skipping along the surface like this. I like to be able to dig into a game. And while every single one of the game mentioned above are totally legit, I haven’t allowed myself to gain any traction with them. This can lead to underwhelming and unsatisfying gametime.

Maybe it is time to heed this recurring thought. This need to tip the scales in favor of the printed word over video games always seems to happen mid-late summer for me. All things considered, perhaps this is the weekend where I make a clean break from the desktop and burrow into the reading chair to finally finish the last fraction of The Confusion.

Play doubly hard for me this weekend, dear reader. I’m sitting this one out.

Writer of Words, Shaver of Heads - Neal Stephenson

Writer of Words, Shaver of Heads – Neal Stephenson

Thea: The Awakening ‘demo’ now available

It is with utmost pleasure and anticipation that I would like to announce that there is now available a demo for MuHa Games’s Thea: The Awakening.

But, this is not just a demo in the traditional sense. This is not just a glop of the first several hours of gameplay which is then abruptly ended by the game sending you to the Steam store page. In a fantastic gesture of confidence MuHa Games has made the entire game available for a trial run, albeit the Early Access version from last fall. But, even in that, even in its nascent stages, Thea was, and continues to be, something really special.

Thealogo

It is a hard game to describe without going into details because it does not conform to any archetype. To say it is a 4x would be wildly misleading, for there is no expanding or exploitation. To say it is a grand strategy would be erroneous because in-game events can suddenly bring your campaign to a bloody, and sometimes unfair, ending. And yet, to call it a Roguelike would only hold true in that any progress made in a campaign – any XP – however piddly in amount, is accumulated to help in unlocking and leveling up new overlords to play as in subsequent playthroughs.

To say it is a tactical game can likewise be misleading because all encounters – whichever of the half dozen types one may be – are not handled in a traditional point-and-click hex arena but rather in an innovative and fun table-top card game setting.

20160719223326_1

The survival aspect of Thea is my favorite part of the game. The hunting and gathering, the resource management, the personnel management, the crafting – it is an integral part of gameplay and not just utility, another thing you have to handle and worry about. The crafting, especially, is more than just lumber + iron = sword. All the basic resources have several derivatives with values that can have tremendously different effects on the attributes of what is being crafted. These items have very real and functional numbers that can aid in gathering more resources or talking your way out of an encounter or attracting different types of populace to your single village. The choices made in crafting and equipping matter, and…

… And there I’ve done it; I’ve gone into details. #sorrynotsorry

Thea: The Awakening is just one of those games that is best learnt by playing because it is the sum of so many parts. It is a brave endeavor. And the love that MuHa has shown for it – the growth and free DLCs, updates and features – is only making the game that much greater.

Even if the ‘demo’ is the entire game in its Early Access state, it is still but a tantalizing taste to what MuHa has done to it since official release, and, no doubt, what they have in store.

The demo is available on the game’s Steam page.

20160719223224_1

Guy’s Weekend 2015

Last August, a group of us got together for what is becoming an annual event — the “Guys Weekend”, a time when we get some time away from the family to hang out and do what we love best — eat greasy food and play games. Lots and lots of games.2015-08-21

We decided this year to kick things off with lunch at the Columbus greasy spoon Icon Thurman’s Cafe, home of the world famous Thurman Burger. After stuffing our face with burgers and wings, we headed back to Buttonmasher HQ for some serious board gaming.

The king of Board Games (Mr. Board Gaming Deals Himself) decided that in addition to the games being played, we’d hold a sort of meta-contest with a traveling trophy. He kept track of wins and losses for each game played and compiled ranking that changed as games were won and lost.IMG_1453

What follows are the games that were played and who ended up in possession of the traveling trophy (spoiler alert: The Guys’ Weekend Champion is devastatingly handsome.)

The Game Champion

The Game Champion Trophy

Games:
King of Tokyo has become a family favorite in the Buttonmashing household. You play as one of six Monsters, vying to be the King of Tokyo. You can do this by defeating the other monsters in a fight to the death or peacefully achieve victory by way of victory points. You increase your monster’s powers by buying cards. There are numerous expansions, and we brought in the King of Tokyo: Power Up! expansion, which gives each of the monsters a set of unique powers as the game goes on. KoT has the potential to be over quickly or drag on far too long, but it’s an enjoyable game that balances luck with good planning and strategy.

Dixit was probably my favorite game of the weekend. Each player is dealt a number of cards corresponding to the number of players. Each card is a beautiful piece of artwork, depicting a scene or a portrait or something evocative. The player chooses a word or phrase to describe his card, and everyone else chooses a card from their stack that best matches the description. Then all cards are shuffled and revealed, and players choose which card they think the player’s card is. The card is revealed and points are dealt out according to the outcome. What makes Dixit so enjoyable is the ambiguity that is needed to describe your card enough to obfuscate it within the other cards but not distinguish it.

DC Comics Deck-Building Game was another game that got some attention, similar to Ascension, and if you’ve read this site for any length of time, you know my relationship with Ascension. It also led to a few early disagreements over who were truly your friends and who were dirty rascals out to ruin your fun and your life.

2015-08-25Relic is a variation of the classic game Talisman, set in the Warhammer 40k universe. Relic probably had the biggest turn around of any of the game played. Jason and I seemed to be more or less headed for a showdown while James and Nick struggled to get a foothold. But as my chances started dwindling, Nick made a push through the final tier of challenges and his assassin’s perk, an extra die roll on explosions (rolling two sixes), gave him the extra oomph to claim victory. It was an unbelievable string of dice rolls, capping off a hard fought game of Relic.

This is just a sampling of games we’ve played. Other games included Forbidden Desert, Sushi Go, Family Business, and Formula D. (Others played, but I did not, Great Heartland Hauling Co and Lords of Waterdeep). I really liked the co-op nature of Forbidden Desert and I loved the cutthroat Family Business and the accompanying threats that flowed freely. Family Business should be called Friends and Family Relationship Ruiner. The less said about the things that were said during Family Business, the better.

Computers were set up for some PC gaming and of course there was Dota 2 to be played. While computer gaming usually takes a backseat to tabletop, there’s always time for Dota 2.

In the end, the results were tallied and a champion was crowned:

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This bad boy looks beautiful displayed on the top of my new gaming PC.

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