Tag Archives: card games

Dice manipulation is the key to One Deck Dungeon’s door

After a handful of attempts, I’ve still not beaten any final boss in One Deck Dungeon, though I got somewhat close against the dragon, better than my time with the yeti, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Each run is completely different and randomized, and luck definitely plays a major factor into how things go, especially when you consider this is a game of mostly dice rolls, and I’m sure I’ll see a flawless run eventually. Until then, I’ll keep kicking open doors, dodging traps and slaying monsters with as much skill as my character sheet allows, trying hard to save all my health potion cubes for the final encounter.

As you’ll recall from my last board game-related post on Friday, I’m getting into solo tabletop gaming. Eventually, I’ll have a post about Fallout: The Board Game, but this is not that post. This one is about One Deck Dungeon, an aptly named roguelike card game, wherein you dive deep into a dungeon for treasures and special skills and build your character up along the way. It’s at times similar to Dungeon Roll and far from it, offering a lot more adventure-affecting decisions each turn. The deck consists of your standard D&D-esque enemies to fight, such as a glooping ooze and a skeleton knight, as well as perils like a spiked pit and boulders, and the character classes don’t stray too far from the traditional, featuring warriors, clerics, and rogues.

Each door card, when flipped over, represents an obstacle to overcome, as well as the potential rewards for doing so. Each turn, after burning a few cards from the dungeon deck to the discard pile, which represents “time” spent, you can reveal what’s behind a locked door and take it on if your heart desires. If you defeat the card, meaning you are still alive and in one piece after all the effects are suffered, you can claim it as one of several things: experience points, an item, a skill, or a new potion type. Each of these affects your character in a specific way, and your current level card determines how many of each you can use at once. For instance, when playing solo and at level 1, you can have one item and two skills. You then tuck the card under the appropriate side of your character card to show off its benefits, such as an extra die to roll or new skill to use in battle. Identifying a new potion not only nets you more options, but also a free potion cube to boot.

Things I’m really liking a whole bunch about One Deck Dungeon are as follows. For one, all the character portraits are women and not sexualized, which is really nice to see in this field where bikini chainmail and mega-muscular dudes run rampant. Layering cards beneath the character sheet and watching the stats and abilities list grow is surprisingly effective and pleasing, reminding me a bit of how Gloom cards went on top of each other, as well as Munchkin weapons and armor sets. Lastly, the manipulation of dice–while at times it can feel somewhat like cheating–is where the most fun shows up, especially as you get more options for re-rolling numbers or exchanging them for other colored dice. Starting off an encounter with a terrible roll and a bunch of ones and walking away from it untouched after covering up every square is an extremely good feeling.

Sometimes there can be a lot of elements to be aware of, and the fights can become overwhelming. For instance, you have to remember that spots on encounter cards with a green shield must be covered first before any others, and the dungeon card has its own spots and effects to be aware of, like discarding all ones rolled each fight or spending extra time to use skills. You must also keep track of the enemy or encounter’s special text, as well as your own skills, and I started using extra white potion cubes as markers for when I used a skill so I wouldn’t accidentally use it twice and therefore cheat my way to victory. Occasionally, I’d goof hard and really want to walk back my actions, but it was almost impossible to remember what dice got traded in and what was originally rolled. Also, as mentioned at the top, the boss fights are pretty tough, and I don’t yet know if I’m the problem–remember, I still haven’t gotten past the pirates in Friday–or if they have been designed to be ultra punishing.

There’s a standalone expansion to One Deck Dungeon out already called Forest of Shadows that adds poison and dice exiling, but I think I’m good with my handful of scenarios and classes for a bit, unless I suddenly become a dice-rolling god, smiting foes and perils with little effort. I’ve also downloaded some extra content from the developer’s website, printing out the Phoenix’s Den and Caliana class cards myself. Evidently, there’s also a Steam version in the works, if that’s your thing; my experience with board games turned into videogames is somewhat limited, having played only a few matches of things like Smash Up, Catan, and Monopoly Plus, though one day I’d really like to check out the digital entertainment version of Lords of Waterdeep. We’ll see. For now, I’ll keep trying to roll six after six after six.

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Only Friday can get you safely past the pirates

I think Disney’s 1960 Swiss Family Robinson film, a tale of a shipwrecked family building an island home, which is loosely based on Johann David Wyss’ 1812 novel The Swiss Robinson, is my only association with the subject material, besides a random episode or two of Lost in Space. Also, during the last Disney trip, though this has not been drawn yet, Julie and I explored the Swiss Family Treehouse attraction a bit, though I mostly dealt with a pushy family of three that simply had to get past me on those narrow rope bridges only to stop a few feet ahead, block the path, and stare at stuff. Thank you very much.

That all said, I’m here to tell y’all about Friedemann Friese’s Friday, which is a solitaire deck-building card game, which tasks you with optimizing your deck of fight cards to defeat hazards and make it past the pirate ships circling the island. Yes, another solo tabletop game, a specific market niche I’m digging as of late; see my post on Dungeon Roll for more. If the game’s name doesn’t clue you in, you play as island native Friday, not Robinson Crusoe, and your job is basically to babysit the bearded man and ensure he doesn’t do anything stupid and grows stronger in order to better prepare him for the grand escape. This island is your home, and you know it well.

Setup is painless and quick, and I was able to fit everything inside a single dinner place-mat. An entire session lasts around fifteen to thirty minutes depending on your actions and how long you spend analyzing the cards you’ve used versus the ones left in your decks. During a turn, Robinson Crusoe will attempt to defeat hazard cards by playing fight cards against them, with the higher number winning. These hazards range from trying to get to a damaged wreck via a raft to exploring the island further to fighting off hungry cannibals. If he is successful, the hazard card will flip and become a fight card; this is now added to your discards of fighting cards and will eventually get shuffled back into the deck. However, if you fail to defeat the hazard, Robinson loses life tokens, represented by what look like tiny wooden green leaves, but also gets the opportunity to remove some of these under-performing cards from the game entirely. There are three phases, each one being more difficult than the previous, and if Friday can keep his island comrade alive long enough, eventually he’ll battle one of the two pirate ships lingering in the ocean.

Spoiler alert: after about five or so games, I’ve still not managed to get to the final pirates phase. Grrr. Let’s blame it on Friday’s communication difficulties. The closest I’ve gotten is the third phase, red in color, but cannibals destroyed Robinson Crusoe quickly after he lost too many health points getting there and went home feeling sated. Friday is a game of choices. Sure, there’s luck and randomness involved like in many other card-based games, but it really does come down to issues like pushing forward for more cards at the expensive of life points to get that hazard card as a fight card or losing a fight on purpose to rid yourself of cards like “Distracted (-1)” and “Weak (0)”. I’ve not figured out the perfect strategy, but removing bad cards from the game as early as possible seems obvious though not always easy to do. For one game, Mel kept a sheet of paper and tracked what cards remained in my fighting deck so I’d know whether or not I even had a chance at winning a fight; this is both allowed and encouraged, as the instructions explicitly say that Friday is not a memory game and goes on to list out every card in your arsenal for you to be aware of.

One of the things I really like about Friday is its overall footprint. Everything you need to play comes inside a tiny, square box and, as mentioned above, you don’t need a ton of table space to play. The cardboard deck mats are great for organizing where everything goes, and the instructions are pretty clear, though I did have to watch a couple playthroughs on YouTube to fully get how you handle both winning and losing a fight, as some bits weren’t entirely clear. In the end, I’m a fan, and whenever Friday eventually helps Robinson Crusoe sink a pirate ship, I’ll shout it passionately and aggressively from the top of the island for all to hear.

As always, I’m all ears for any solo card/board games that you enjoy and therefore think I might too enjoy. Scythe has already been recommended.

A batch of anticipated games for the year 2018

When you search the Internet for the keyword of “2018,” you get a lot of pictures of that number in big, bold font or images of cars. Hmm. However, when I look forward into this new year, I see only videogames. Eh, that’s not true. Totally not true. There’s a bunch of other things to see, related to life and love and liberty, but this Grinding Down blog of mine, creeping into its ninth year in action, despite the random dips into other topics, is mostly focused on digital entertainment, and so it is all eyes locked hard on the adventures I’m most interested in playing in two thousand great-teen. Oh, and I’m sure to have copious 2017 titles to catch up on as well, as well as ones from years past (I just started playing Wolfenstein: The New Order and, uh, StarTropics), dating all the way back to the birth of this very planet.

Naturally, we don’t know every single game coming out in 2018 just yet, but here’s a number of ’em that certainly have my attention.

Mineko’s Night Market

Mineko’s Night Market, an indie adventure from Meowza Games, is the first title from the young, two-person indie studio. The adventure title stars Mineko, a girl who takes on a job as a vendor in a weekly marketplace. With responsibilities ranging from collecting resources, crafting items to sell, participating in local events, and befriending customers around town, the game sounds like a much fuzzier take on Stardew Valley and Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale. Plus, that art style is to die for.

Release date: sometime in 2018

Staxel

Staxel is a sandbox farming game. Yup, I guess I can officially say that, after dumping hours into Stardew Valley and Slime Rancher, I like farming games. Well, so long as they aren’t too serious and actually about watching a crop grow from seed to final product over the course of several weeks. This one features voxel-based graphics, which are always cool. Remember Voxatron Alpha? Well, I do. Anyways, the general goal is to tend to your farm and work on the village by yourself. Or you can enlist the aid of your friends via online multiplayer to turn it into a thriving farmstead! I wonder if this will ultimately beat Stardew Valley to the multiplayer aspect and whether it’ll be the better experience. Time will tell.

Release date: January 2018

Ooblets

In the words of Glumberland, the game’s developer, “Ooblets is a farming, town life, and creature collection game inspired by Pokémon, Harvest Moon, and Animal Crossing. Manage your farm, grow and train your ooblets, run a shop, explore strange lands, battle wild ooblets and other ooblet trainers, and unlock the mysteries of Oob.” Yeah, that sounds great to me, and it also looks super-duper adorable, so I’m more than simply all in on this.

Release date: Sometime in 2018

Red Dead Redemption 2

Look, I like to poke fun at myself by constantly mentioning that I haven’t played the first Red Dead Redemption still, years after missing out on it during its year of release, so I might as well give up on that dream and place all my bets on the forthcoming Red Dead Redemption 2. I enjoyed a good amount of Grand Theft Auto V, but didn’t linger too long in the online multiplayer aspect, and I have to imagine that Rockstar will be implementing a number of features from that into this violent world of cowboys and the American frontier. I should probably also watch Westworld at some point. Just sayin’.

Release date: sometime in 2018

State of Decay 2

Much like the previous entry on this list, I also missed out on the original experience. That’s okay. From everything I gathered, State of Decay was cool, but somewhat flawed–technically and gameplay-wise–and so with this sequel now having some time to fester, I’m hopeful for a more focused, polished take on making ends meet in the zombie apocalypse. Also, all of this PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds of late is ultimately preparing me for survival among both the living and the dead. Or undead, if you want to get specific.

Release date: sometime in 2018

The Lord of the Rings LCG

I played so much Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game, an out-of-print collectible card game produced by Decipher, back in the early 2000s, and I miss it greatly. I miss the game, and I miss the crew I hung out with that played the game, and I miss that it, along with something called Magic: The Gathering, was always there to fill in the gaps, to kill time, to make memories. That said, Lord of the Rings LCG is not the same thing as that now forgotten friend, but it is an upcoming, free single-player and cooperative multiplayer card game based on one of my favorite things ever. It’s already on my Steam wishlist and going for the market dominated by the likes of Hearthstone.

Release date: Early 2018

Long Gone Days

Please do not confuse this with Days Gone, that open-world action-adventure game where you play as some generic-looking dude trying to survive in a world overrun by really fast, mindless, feral creatures that want to do you great harm. No thank you. Instead, Long Gone Days is a 2D modern-day character-driven RPG that combines elements from visual novels, shooters, and dystopian fiction. You play as Rourke, a soldier from an underground unrecognized country named “The Core”, after he’s deployed to a mission in Kaliningrad, Russia. There, he discovers the truth about the operation and decides to desert. It’s written, developed, and illustrated by Camila Gormaz, and I think it looks particularly neat.

Release date: February 2018

The Swords of Ditto

Here’s the quick summary: The Swords of Ditto is a compact action RPG that creates a unique adventure for each new hero of legend in the relentless fight against the evil Mormo. Uh-huh. The game’s core mechanic involves the legacy of the game’s playable heroes, kind of like in Rogue Legacy, and that’s all well and good, but I’m honestly coming to this for its art and animation over anything else.

Release date: sometime in 2018

Legendary Gary

Speaking of slick-looking art and animation, take a look at Legendary Gary. The titular character is evidently a mess, and he’s trying to become a better person. Gary spends his evenings playing Legend of the Spear, a fantasy adventure game in which the hero and his friends journey through strange lands and engage in hand-to-hand combat deadly creatures. Naturally, these battles take place on a hexagonal grid, and on each turn, all fighters act simultaneously. This means you must decide what action each member of your party will perform. Sounds like the game is split between this type of gameplay and dealing with Gary’s normal, everyday life. Also, Evan Rogers, the game’s developer, is a Giant Bomb fan, and that’s plain cool, duder.

Release date: early 2018

Knights and Bikes

Knights and Bikes, from Foam Sword and the second one on this being published by Double Fine (I’ll let you figure out which is the other one yourself), is a hand-painted action-adventure set on a British island in the 1980s. You’ll play as Nessa and Demelza, tough imaginative girls who are exploring the island in a Goonies-inspired fashion. Heeey, youuu guysss. Looks like the adventure will see them riding their bikes right into danger, seeking treasure, and solving ancient mysteries.

Release date: TBA

There you go, a whole batch. I fully expect more to pop up unexpectedly over the year because, alas, I can’t know about every single game coming into existence at any given moment.

What titles are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Speak up about ’em in great detail in the comments section below. Fill me in on the ones I’m not calling out. Share and enjoy.

My Laptop Hates These Games – September 2017

Look, this feature is good for my soul, figuring out what works and doesn’t on my less-than-stellar laptop and deleting them without a second glance if they’re borked, but boy does it make me sad. Why? Well, I like playing games, and having games that don’t work and can’t be played is a big ol’ bummer. Mainly because of that first declaration. But also because some might have been acquired with money, and I work hard correcting bad grammar for those dollars so…boo to that. The majority of games in my collection are there because I wanted to play them, and hitting a brick wall right away with a genuine curious smile on your face is not ideal.

Either way, here we are with the second edition of My Laptop Hates These Games. Read on to see which ones in particular.

Small Radios Big Televisions

This is the previously mentioned big ol’ bummer of the month. I got a copy of Small Radios Big Televisions from some recent bundle whose name I know not, and it seemed like a cool, extremely chill adventure exploring the inner workings of deserted factories in search of data cassettes that contain boundless virtual worlds. Y’know, the usual thing. Regardless, I’ll never get to collect those cassette tapes because the game crashes as soon as I launch it, and I’m not alone, with the answer being updating drivers for my graphics card. Which I don’t know how to do or if there even are drivers available. So that’s that, uninstalled. Maybe it’ll come to Xbox One…one day.

Astral Heroes

Some days, I like thinking about all the card games or card-based games I could be playing right now and imagining a world where I both had the time and team to eat every single one up with glee, learning mechanic after mechanic and eye-balling amazing artwork until my eyes were no more. Alas, nope, not ever going to happen, and that stinks because of forthcoming creations like Munchkin Collectible Card Game and Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game. Well, looks like I won’t ever being playing Astral Heroes either, a sequel to Astral Masters and a free, fantasy-based card game with deck building, similar to Hearthstone. All I see when I run the executable is a black screen, but I can move a cursor around and hear music.

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon A Time, according to its description on Steam, is an adventure game in which a young woman finds a magic book and is instantly teleported inside. It is not, as far as I can tell, a tie-in with ABC’s Once Upon A Time, which is a popular TV series about a new world, one in which fairy-tale legends and modern life collide. For this free game, each chapter of the book is one single tale in which you will have to solve riddles in a fairy-tale setting. Magic and nature will be friends and foes. Um, sure. That sounds fine if somewhat vague, but even on “very low” settings this was nothing but chunks of various shades of gray that made it next to impossible to navigate. It was like I was swimming in a cave full of fog when the reality is I was supposed to be in some building collecting scrolls.

My Laptop Hates These Games takes a quick look at the titles that kind of, only sort of run or don’t run at all on my ASUS laptop. Here’s hoping that some of these, specifically the ones that looked interesting, come to console down the road. Y’know, those gaming machines where nothing ever goes wrong and every game runs perfectly without ever crashing or freezing or glitching out. Maybe I’ll play these there or in 2056 when I get a new laptop that is, even at that point, still somewhat obsolete.

Boldly push your luck with Dungeon Roll

I was not conscious of the Dungeon Roll Kickstarter back when it was spinning its fundraising wheels in early 2013, but that’s okay. Everything worked out thanks to 10,000+ backers, and I still stumbled upon the game later in life, in its natural habitat, sitting side by side other various board and dice games in my local Barnes and Noble. It’s one of the sections I gravitate towards first, followed by the new book releases in science fiction and fantasy. Naturally, competition is fierce, but I was drawn to Chris Darden’s Dungeon Roll for two reasons: one, it can be played solo, and two, it came packaged in a tiny treasure chest.

Let me put on all of my DM accessories and tell you all what you ultimately do in Dungeon Roll. This is bite-sized dungeon-crawling adventure with all the traditional D&D wrappings, such as battling monsters, gaining experience points, and grabbing loot. The player’s goal is to collect the most experience through these main actions, and each player randomly selects a hero avatar card at the start, such as a mercenary, half-goblin, or enchantress, which provides unique powers and abilities that will definitely affect how far you can go into the dungeon in each run. My personal favorite is the knight/dragon slayer. Players take turns being the main adventurer, boldly entering the dungeon in hopes of fame and fortune. Or you can play by myself and see how far you can push your luck.

However, before you enter the dungeon proper, you need to assemble your party by rolling seven Party Dice. Your party can ultimately include clerics, fighters, mages, thieves, champions, and scrolls, all depicted appropriately on the dice via painted debossed faces. Another player (or you can do it yourself when playing solo) takes on the roll of the Dungeon Lord and rolls a different set of dice to create oppositions in each level of the dungeon, based on the respective dungeon floor, and these can be monsters, potions, treasures, or dragons. You then use your Party Dice to defeat the monsters or take treasures and potions and decide if you want to push forward to the next level, knowing you won’t get any more dice for your party (unless an ability helps with that) while the Dungeon Lord gets to roll more. If you can’t go any further, you return to the tavern to rest. At the end of three delves, you add up your total amount of experience points to see who won, or, if playing by your lonesome, just feel really good about how you did regardless.

The tricky part about each delve and deciding to go further or retiring to the pub for some mead and meat off the bone is dragons. Each time you roll the dice and a dragon comes up, you put that dragon die aside in an area called the “Dragon’s Lair”. Once you get three dragon dice in there, you must fight the dragon after dealing with the main set of enemies. To take down the dragon, the player needs to use three different types of companion party dice; if they can’t, they are forced to flee back to the tavern and end their turn, gaining no experience points. Generally speaking, most teams aren’t able to deal with a dragon until their third and final run, so it’s best to avoid early on.

Dungeon Roll is at once both a simple and straightforward game, but also confusing and unclear in spots. I re-read the instructions several times and even watched a YouTube video or two before playing once, but still don’t feel 100% confident I know what to do rules-wise in every scenario. I’ve played it solo and competitively against Melanie, and both formats are enjoyable and come with their own strategies for success. I do wish the rulebook elaborated more on some of the rules or provided example scenarios of what to do and when. For instance, I still am not sure what the point of sacrificing a party die for a potion that brings back a single party die. I guess that’s for if one really wanted a champion before on to the next dungeon floor. Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable experience that is easy to travel with and full of replayability. The art on the hero avatar cards, done by Ryan Johnson, is stylish and cool, easily standing shoulder to shoulder with other card-based fantasy games like Magic: The Gathering and Lords of Waterdeep, and there is a good breakdown of genders and races across all the classes.

If you know of any other single-player board/dice games similar to Dungeon Roll, please, by all means, leave me some recommendations in the comments below. I’m up to try anything, so long as the game itself isn’t made up of a thousand tiny individual pieces that need to be hand-painted to provide personality and the rulebook is not longer than Bone‘s total page count. Oh, and I already have a copy of Cthulhu Dice. Otherwise, suggest away.

Regency Solitaire’s prim and proper patience playing

I first fell into a Solitaire hole back in college, when I was working at Rowan University’s art gallery, which basically boiled down to me making sure nobody stole any pieces of art. Occasionally I had to throw down spackling paste to cover up some holes in the wall when an exhibition was over and we were prepping for the next one, but I mostly sat at the desk next to the front door, did homework or studied, and played time-killing games to kill time. Namely Snood, the board game Life with a co-worker, and…well, Solitaire.

No surprise here, but I have no memory of when Regency Solitaire from Grey Alien Games appeared in my Steam library, but that’s okay. I’m sure it came from a bundle. Anyways, after somewhat playing through Dark Heritage: Guardians of Hope together, I was on the search for something similar that my girlfriend and I could play together and thought this would be a good fit because it is both traditional enough for her tastes–a card game–and have modern videogame mechanics for me–buying upgrades, stacking combos. Plus, there’s a story. Yup, Solitaire with a story. That’s something you don’t come across every day.

Here’s that story, as best as I can sum it up–help Bella take charge of her own destiny, create the ballroom of her dreams, and fall in love with the better chap who is not named Mr. Bleakley. You’ll tour historic London, Brighton, and Bath in hopes of *ahem* playing your cards right and earning money to purchase vital upgrades, like fancy window curtains or a new fan to wear with that stunning blue dress. Also, you need to reclaim your family’s fortune or something. I don’t know. You play Solitaire with some twists, watch a static cutscene full of posh dialogue that isn’t too far off of a Downton Abbey episode, and repeat the process several more times. It’s not the most captivating tale ever spun, but I appreciate it being there nonetheless.

The Solitaire part of Regency Solitaire isn’t exactly one-to-one with the standard version everyone’s either played in real life on their bedroom floor or on computer, just killing time. Also, it’s not three card, spider, yukon, or any other crazy spin-off style. Instead, you have a small deck of cards and one card revealed to you. You can then either match it with the card above or below based on what is shown in the level, and the levels vary in terms of card placement and other issues, like some being hidden beneath a lock that will only go away if you find a key card first. If you can continue the string, say matching a six to a seven to an eight and back to a seven, go for it, because combos mean multipliers, which affects both how you do in the level and how much gold you earn at the end. To help with this endeavor, the game provides multiple power-ups, such as cupid’s bow, which can eliminate a single card on the playing field, and “wild” cards to help fill the gaps in combos without breaking your streak.

Each chapter is a total of ten hands long, and there are always specific goals to try to hit by the end, such as uncovering a hidden item, hitting a large combo chain, or getting three stars in a number of hands. Thankfully, if you aren’t happy with how a hand went, you can hit retry at the end and give it a go, something Melanie did often in her journey for perfect rounds. Oh, right–did I mention that she loved playing this? I think she might even go back through it later on the harder difficulty. Fine by me, because it’s on my profile, so I’ll get to enjoy all those hard-earned Achievements.

Look, Regency Solitaire is not going to blow your mind, but it’s a fun, often relaxing, often tense experience wrapped around some high-class dialogue from a stereotypical cast of opulent characters. It’s easy to just get lost in the Solitaire aspect, trying to keep those combos going and immediately jumping into the next ten hands to do even better or see what new twists are thrown your way. A glance at Grey Alien Games’ other titles show that they are mostly match-three puzzle games, so if you want something unique, by all means, start here. Just be prepared to lose several hours trying to find a six or four to clear out that final five in your hand.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #84 – Regency Solitaire

Melanie stole this
I only played three levels
She missed Achievements

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.