Conspire by Cherry Picked Games

Greetings All,

Today we get to bring you a quick review for a deceptively fun game called Conspire.

conspire_wordmark

Conspire

4-12 Players

30-60 Minutes

Cherry Picked GamesCherry Picked Games

In Conspire all players create a or act out a situation from any time and place they choose, in this world you’ll be dealing with conspiracies and debating on different topics, essentially trying to sell your beliefs or complete your hidden objectives. Everyone creates characters with hidden objectives and those characters shuffled and passed out to players. You can choose to tell people what your objectives are, however, it is much more fun to keep them hidden. This game can end after you accomplish whatever you were going for or you can keep it going. You can literally play this in “chapters” of your story or you can completely start fresh and I think that is a vert cool concept. The replayability here is just insane.  I’m including a hyper link so that you can see this fun little 3 minute video of game play instruction from Alexander Jerbek (Cherry Picked Games), I found it very helpful and very entertaining.

This is a storytelling game that is so relaxed, we literally sat in the living room instead of around the table. There are so many topics I thought about using, I didn’t even want to make up my own story… do you have any Idea how many fun debate topics and conspiracy theories you can pick up from pop culture? things you’re reading or watching right now. I personally wanted to do this set in the Gravity Falls universe or The Time War from Doctor Who and if I’m being honest, it’s going to happen eventually. It’s too fun to pass up. Instead we ended up going with Mutants as our topic, please check out my husbands take below. 🙂

Imagine that you’re a regular, standard, mundane, innocuous, run-of-the-mill human.  Now imagine, that you exist in the USA.  Alright, now…imagine that you are all of those previous things, except that you exist in the Marvel Comics Universe.  One equipped with superheroes, super villains, space aliens, demigods, and all manner of general calamity.  Now, imagine that medical science has evolved to the point where humans can isolate every wrinkle of the human genome, and alter it whilst in utero…and that frightful humans in political office are seeking to utilize this technology to end one of the largest domestic scourges their great nation has ever seen: “MUTANTS.”  As private U.S. citizens in this reality, you’re tasked with voting for an upcoming bill that would allow mutation to be classified as an unwanted birth defect that can be permanently removed during pregnancy.  Do you believe that mutants should be permanently removed from existence via medical excision, or do you believe mutants are a natural byproduct of a human birth and should be protected?

The Husband’s Quick Take –
This was a lovely RPG experience!  There’s a certain elegance and simplicity to it that is just so appealing to anyone, regardless of their opinions on tabletop gaming.  This game could honestly be practiced in debate clubs across the country, to excellent effect.  It favors an almost contrarian outlook, so long as you have the charisma to back it up.  The added wrinkles this game provides when matched with people you’re extra familiar with can be very interesting, and certainly can provide a very engaging, very social experience.  I very much so recommend this game to anyone…so long as they don’t require their tabletop experiences to come with an actual board and pieces.
I hope you enjoyed this quick review, I promise there will be more frequent topics after Tabletop has ended. 🙂 Until next time… Live by the Board.
-Livingbytheboard

Catalyst – Cherry Picked Games

Greetings All,

Today I get to talk about a game from Cherry Picked Games, a company that I actually have three games on my review list… so you will be hearing quite a bit about them over the next few posts. At first I thought I’d do one giant post for all three games, but I feel more comfortable doing three mini posts. Enjoy!

catalyst

Catalyst

4-6 Players (GM Needed)

1+ Hours

Cherry Picked Games

This is a post I’ve been dragging my feet on and oddly enough it’s not because of the games quality. This is an RPG and although I enjoy RPG’s, I am just awful at expressing my thoughts on RPG’s. Here it goes folks.

Catalyst is an RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world in which demons have taken over the earth. Ever since the demon uprising humans have manifested magical abilities. With the persons specific powers they also have vitae and vigor. Vitae in a sense is a person’s health points and helps you to heal wounds and such. Vigor on the other hand is a person’s ability to push themselves past their normal physical abilities. Both of these have limits that are based on the traits of the character you’re playing such as willpower, strength, and fortitude.

Even though the character traits are similar to other games such as D&D, the characters themselves have so many more creation possibilities. Instead of placing these characters in classes (mage, bard, etc) and races (human, elf, etc.) you simply make up a back story for your character and what ability they manifested. I think that this is wonderful, there’s a never-ending pool of possibilities with this and that’s a great feeling for both the creative mind and replayability. There are example characters in the book and to start I chose one of them. Her name is Gianna Marchetti, a woman with a rough past whom became a fantastic pizza chef. Her ability is transmutation and she uses it turn her pizzeria tools into weapons and armor. She can be seen holding her pizza spatula which I think is great and adds a bit of humor to the whole thing. Her story tells of a past of drug abuse and this piece of her comes out after the proverbial “hell breaks loose”, she begins using what knowledge she has to create medicine for the survivors. How neat is that? The creators of this book took something so negative and gave it a helpful positive twist, I love it.

I played another story where I created a character that is an artist that has suffered from depression and anxiety her whole life, when her powers manifested she found that she had a type of telepathy – the ability to project images in people minds. The more upset she feels the more physical her projections become. Her projections can go from destroying the minds of these demons when she is calm to physically harming and chasing the demons when she is feeling manic. It was great fun to play around with.

The thing that really sets this game apart from others I’ve played is the combat. The combat is done with action cards chosen by each player privately and in turn flipped over simultaneously. The actions have an order that is followed. The reason I like this is because once you chose your action, that’s it. It is set in stone and you have to find a way to make it work for you. You also need to be able to read to group well in hopes that you do not chose to attack a demon and get stuck fighting alone while they ran away (yes that happened to me… jerks). This mechanic takes a great deal of pressure off of me, as this is a part of RPG’s I find to be hard. I have anxiety in real life and it gives me RPG stage fright. This is an RPG that I would highly suggest someone new to the genre playing because it eases you into the combat/action situation.

The book is a hefty 270 pages long, but all of it is needed and helpful. The  142 cards are nice and thick. My largest complaint is the box that this all came in. It reminds me of one of those old school VHS card board boxes. It’s thin and was damaged almost instantly. Other than that, I genuinely enjoyed this game.

Cherry Picked Games created two apps for this game on Android. One for the player and one for the GM. Both of them work really well and do not feel like an unnecessary extra like some of the other board game companion apps are. These are really worth getting and help keep track of your information. On th player app you can create your character and use battle mode instead of using the physical cards. The GM app also lets you create opponents and keep track with the battle mode. There are multiple campaigns for sale on the website. Lastly, Catalyst has a wiki page and it’s nifty… so check that out too. 🙂

I want to thank Cherry Picked Games for letting take this game for a spin. I hope I did well with this review. In the future I may put up some posts with actual playthroughs of the game, I just didn’t want to overwhelm anyone right away. 🙂 Thank you everyone for reading! Until next time… live by the board.

-livingbytheboard

Anniversary Prep – Wife Edition, Vol 2!

Greetings All, 
This is going to be short and sweet because I am sleepy. As some of you may remember, my husband and I have a big anniversary coming up. Five years! We decided to utilize games that we both love to create anniversary gifts for each other. My husband is doing homemade Mice and Mystics campaigns and I am doing homemade characters, rules, and an adventure book based on Above and Below. 
So far I have written my rules, adventure book, and designed my characters. I still have to design my rulebook and adventure book. I have my backgrounds picked out and my laminating paper ordered. I just have to get the umph to finish. 
So there ya go, short and sweet. I’m going to go pass out now. Good night everyone. Thanks for reading and until next time… Live by the board. 
-livingbytheboard 

Industry Interviews – Plaid Hat Games, Colby Dauch interview!

Greetings All,

Today I get to bring an interesting little interview from Plaid Hat Games own Colby Dauch! Did you know that he used to work for Hasboro and Wizard’s of the Coast? Well… now ya do! Keep reading for more info! Enjoy!

plaid

 

1) I understand that before Plaid Hat you did game design for Hasboro and Wizards of the Coast. Did you enjoy your time with said companies and can you please list a memorable game you worked on for each company?
The work I did for Hasbro and Wizards was as a freelance game designer.  I did enjoy it, especially working under the tutelage of the great Craig VanNess.  Heroscape would be the most notable game I worked on. In fact that’s the only work I did at Wizards after having followed the game there from Hasbro.
2) Have you had any employment outside of the gaming industry?
Yes, I worked doing in home service with the mentally impaired, I worked at an after school program for at risk youth and I worked media director for a church.
3) Why did you choose the gaming industry for a career?
There was no point at which I made  firm choice to make a career in the gaming industry.  Rather it was something that evolved over time.  Started doing development work as a hobby, then kind of became a community ambassador and organizer around Heroscape, then picked up some freelance work, then developed a game of my own, started a game company to publish it, then over time Plaid Hat Games great to the point where I was able to quit my day job and do it full-time.
4)You’re often seen sporting a plaid hat. What came first the company name or the hat? (Where did the company name from?)
That hat came first.  It kind of became an identity marker for me in the Heroscape community and a member of that community suggested the name Plaid Hat Games.  I like the quirkiness of it so I ran with it.
5)What was the first game you ever designed and the first game published under the name Plaid Hat?
The first game I ever designed from scratch was called Summoner Quest.  I scrapped it early on because it was a mess.  I followed it up with Summoner Wars, which was the first game I published under Plaid Hat.
6)A few years ago Plaid Hat joined F2Z, how has the company changed since then?
We joined F2Z, that then joined Asmodee, so we had a couple of years there where we were in a state of flux.  Through most of the life of Plaid Hat it has felt like a scrappy little studio just kind of winging it at every turn.  Now Plaid Hat feels more like it has grown and matured and it now has the support of the Asmodee group.  Our decisions feel more thoughtful and our work is more focused as we are now a game design studio rather than a full publishing company.
7)How do you see the gaming industry (as a whole) fairing in the coming years?
Oh man, I wish I had the power to scry that out.  The trend has been up and up year over year for a long time and I have no solid reason to believe that won’t continue.  There are still a whole lot of people out there that don’t know how fun hobby games are.
8)What is your favorite Plaid Hat game and your favorite non Plaid Hat game?
My favorite Plaid Hat game is Dead of Winter.  It never fails to immerse me in an emergent narrative each time I play it.  My favorite non Plaid Hat game has to go to Heroscape.  It will always hold a special place in my heart.  It’s a spectacle on the table and is just good rambunctious fun.
9)Is your family also big into tabletop gaming?
I found games as an adult.  I’ve spread games to some of my family, but I don’t think many of them are engaging in-game play without my initiating it and they don’t exactly have Board Game Geek profiles.
10)Do you have any advice for someone aspiring to be in the gaming industry?
I get this question a fair bit.  I wish I was better at answering it.  The question has only really existed for about a half-dozen years, so I don’t think anyone has a good answer.  There are questions like it surrounding other media: “How do I get into the Book – Comics – Film – Video Game industry?”  The answers professionals of those industries give to those questions are often nebulous and the question of getting into board games is an even tougher one because all of those other industries have the advantage of being larger and having been around for some time.  You can take college courses in them.  
I really need to develop a quippier answer to this question. It wouldn’t be anymore helpful, but it would sound more helpful and you won’t have gotten bored reading it.
I hope you guys enjoyed this interview. I want to say thank you to Plaid Hat Games and Mr. Dauch for this chance, it is much appreciated. Keep sharing these things on social media, so I can keep getting interviews! Thank you guys for tuning in! And until next time..  Live by the Board.
-livingbytheboard

Recruiting New Gamers

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Greetings All,

This is one I still struggle with. My husband, however, is much better at than I am, which is why I asked him to co-write this one with me. I’m fairly certain that half of the ability to convince people to try board games has to do with charming them. My husband is by the far the most charming person I know so he has a very easy time getting people on his side. Please read more below to get his take on recruiting new gamers. Enjoy. 🙂


-Husband-

To recruit new gamers, you need to at least have a vague idea who you’re playing with. This makes it way easier to potentially draw anyone from the hardened gamer to the total neophyte.

Know someone who’s never played board games, but loves video games? Too easy! Suggest an analogue of a favorite game of their’s! “You like Starcraft? How about showing me your strategic prowess in a quick game of OGRE?” Know someone who likes casual cell phone games? Too easy! “Something quick, easy and fun? How about you lend me 10 minutes of your time and play some Coin Age or Brave Rats with me?” How about a non-competitive type who just wants to have fun? “How’s about a co-operative game then? We can save OUR castle together!” I’ve found that far and away the easiest way to get people to game (in any situation) is to tailor your approach, almost like you’re trying to sell gaming as a product. “Man, have you ever heard of a game called Disc Duelers? It’s like a super open game of RPG battle pogs!!!” “Dude, Zombie Dice is like zombie Yahtzee…y’know, except without being schooled by old people.” I jest, of course! Or my general use line: “Can I borrow five minutes of your life? I’ll repay it 100 fold in entertainment!”

BATTLE POGS

If you do manage to secure someone for game night, its almost equitable to catching a fish on a hook… now you just have to reel them in! And how do you do that? You whip out the AAA titles from your game shelf! I am a thorough believer in “palate cleaner” or “feeler” games. By which, I mean shorter games that will better help you understand the temperature of the table. Did your table of new invites enjoy the rule light, rapid play game? Or the slower, more complicated/methodical game? These are important things to know about your guests to insure the success of your evening as well as potentially insuring the return of your guests.

Great “feeler games” I personally use are:

Love Letter by AEG

2-4 players (we’ve played w/ 5), 10-20 mins

Love Letter is easily one of the biggest, quickest crowd pleasers I own. Easy to learn rules, quick gameplay, and a friendlier competitive structure. Hard to go wrong with this one.


This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 2-4 Of Us by TMG

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 10-15 mins

This game shares a lot of elements with Carcassonne. Fantastic simplicity coupled with a hidden level of complexity make this an easy way to spot the more thoughtful members attending your table.


We Didn’t Playtest This At All by Asmadi

2-15 players, 1-5 mins

This is a card game that is so absurd, it’s divisive. It’ll either be an instant favorite, or an eye roller. Great way to sift through senses of humor, or lack thereof.

Fantasy by Asmodee

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 20-30 mins

Fantasy is a slightly longer card game with (somewhat) simple rules, and a nice (you guessed it!) fantasy motif that keeps players in the game until the last card is dealt and the scores are tallied. A great game to help your table rev up for a tougher, longer game.


Now, let’s get to real meat and potatoes of all of this. The AAA crowd pleasers that turn these new acquaintances into fast friends:

Ticket To Ride by Days of Wonder

2-5 players, 30-60 mins

If you’re visiting this blog, odds are you’ve AT LEAST heard about this game…or I’m actively judging you and your life decisions. 🙂 Needless to say, few board games can truly pull in veterans and neophytes alike. It’s got a great, turn of the 20th century aesthetic, profoundly easy to understand rules, and utterly FANTASTIC gameplay. I can’t opine about this game enough!


Castle Panic by Fireside Games

1-6 players, 30-60 mins

I’ll be frank with you readers, this is my personal favorite game of all time. Published by Fireside Games, this is a co-operative “tower defense” style game. This game is a remarkable bonding experience for all involved! It’s you and your team struggling against a common foe, you’re all left with little more than randomly drawn cards and your wits! Fantastic for game nights!


Puerto Rico by Rio Grande Games

3-5 players (there is a 2 player variant), 90 mins

This one is quite a bit more complicated than the previous entries on this list. Puerto Rico is a “prosperity” simulator, in essence, this game tasks you with being able to expand your city and island faster (and more efficiently) than your opponents. There is a very little luck to strategy ratio for this game, so veteran gamers are likely dominate during the first play through with neophytes. This game is equipped with no “actual” game board to play on, but is managed through individual’s city boards and a PLETHORA of smaller game pieces, so this game does require a little bit of imagination. That said, this is a 90 minute game with a HIGH amount of strategy and lateral thinking…so this game isn’t for everyone. HOWEVER, I HIGHLY recommend this for every kind of gamer…at least to try once.

Variety is the spice of life, however, most people will be more inclined to try a new dish if it looks more appetizing. Bottom line, presentation AND substance are both CRITICAL in your approach to gaining new members of your table. Just play your experience by ear, and try to cater to everyone’s tastes without compromising anyone’s. And, above all else, MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN!


I’ll have to have him co-write more often… I’m pretty sure he blew me out of the water! 🙂 Anyhow, his description was shockingly accurate to how our “gaming interviews” go. When I say gaming interviews it is exactly what it sounds like, we’ve even told people they were essentially being interviewed to be a regular at our table.

We both hope you enjoyed this topic, as it was readers choice. Soon I will be starting another three-day segment, this time regarding solo play games. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard