Archive for the ‘single player’ Category

The Wolf Among Us

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

In the Telltale game “The wolf Among Us” you play Sheriff Bigby Wolf, aka B. Wolf aka the Big Bad Wolf from the fairy tale. All fables from the fairy tales now live in a rundown quarter of New York City.

I recently bought the game for half price in a steam sale and I was not disappointed.

The game (like the well-known walking dead game from the same company) is more an interactive movie than an actual game. Most of the time, the story flows automatically. There are some minor puzzles like click on this, click on that, use item etc. There is no hard puzzle, where you have to think a lot, though. In some cases you may select a prepared answer or you may remain silent by not selecting an option before the allotted time runs out.

In some danger situations a quick time event pops up. If you fail to react, you may die at that moment and have to restart a few seconds earlier. There are three types of quick time events.
Q – here you have to press the Q key repeatedly. Usually this is a feat of strength
ASWD – here you have to press and hold one of the movement keys, usually to evade an attack
aim – here you have to click with the mouse cursor on or near a red circle

Feat of strength quicktime event

Feat of strength quicktime event

The game is published in five episodes, like a TV series. Since it’s already been released for some time all episodes are immediately available for download (automatically installed if you use steam). When it was newly released you had to wait with future episodes until their release date (one per week or such). An episode takes maybe 45 to 90 minutes to play through. I recommend playing through an episode in one go and not interrupting. Since the game saves automatically you never know for sure if you have to repeat a dialogue or something when you quit the game before the end of episode. Also the dramatic works better if you handle it like you would a TV series. At the end of an episode there is usually a cliffhanger. You also get a glimpse on what lies ahead in the next episode. At the beginning of the episode you get a quick recap on what happened previously (again like in a TV series).

At the end of each episode you also get a list of five crucial decisions during that episode and how you reacted as opposed to the majority of players. Something like: you and 5% of the players chose to give the pig Whisky. Some of those decisions will have an influence on details in future episodes. Overall there are apparently no dramatic changes to the story based on the decisions you take. I can however not confirm that from my own playing experience, because I played it just once. Since it is a story driven game I don’t see why I should play it twice anyway.

What I would have liked

Commercial breaks (just kidding).
I would have liked it if there had been some real puzzles in the game. It would also have been nice if the dialogs would have led to critical endings (like if you chose the wrong words you get shot or something).

Typical options during a conversation

Typical options during a conversation


If you haven’t got the game already, you are probably not the biggest fan, but if the above description sounds somewhat interesting, I recommend putting the game on your steam wish list. You will get an email next time it is on sale. I found it as entertaining as a good (but short) TV series and that’s what you can see in this type of game.

Tough as nails – Gears of War the Boardgame

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Gears of War the board game is an adaptation of a video game. Since I haven’t played the video game I’m just writing here what I gathered from the board game. The players are heavily armed human commandos which have to complete a specific mission while fighting of hordes of so called locust enemies, which emerge now and then from holes in the ground. Gears of War is a cooperative game for 1-4 players. It is a sci-fi dungeon crawl without a game master. The enemies are activated by cards which are usually like this: activate all monsters of type y – if enemy in range attack – if not advance – if no monsters of type y in play, spawn one at map exit etc.

As usual Fantasy Flight Games has delivered a high quality product. There are a handful of missions included in the game and each mission plays very differently due to different enemies, different victory conditions and different map board elements. A mission will always have the same map board elements which are assigned to the mission stage. Typically there are 4 maps per stage and 3 stages per mission. The sequence of map boards in each stage is randomized by cards making a mission highly replayable without becoming boring. This is an important feature, because the game is really difficult.

Near the end of a mission. Only few locust are still standing

Near the end of a mission. Only few locust are still standing

After I bought it at the Spiel in Essen some years ago I played it once or twice in a two player game and we were beaten by the AI. Many months later we tried it again and again until we completed the first mission. We found out that:

You shouldn’t spread up your team to far, because if one player gets shot down and there is no one around to heal him, losing his turn can be critical
As in computer games you shouldn’t advance too quickly, because you will spawn and activate new monsters which soon become too many for you to handle (although your grenades sometimes help)
Always use a dodge card when you are attacked (unless you are in full cover and attacked by just one die)
Conserve your ammo (you may empty your pistol though)


Why do I like this game?

Once you get used to the difficulty level of the game it actually becomes quite tense and thrilling. If you can live with a bit of setback the challenge is actually rewarding since winning a mission means so much more than in other cooperative games. I also found that you just need to find the right tactics for each scenario to significantly improve your chances of winning.
As with Death Angel, I can almost hear the hammering of the assault rifle’s burst fire and the clinging sound of the empty brass jackets falling to the concrete floor. Very immersive.


Single Player

I played thw game with two players and solitaire. In both cases I recommend two heroes. The scaling calls for too many enemy figures if you play with three or more characters and playing alone just gives you two few synergetic options, like drawing fire with one character or boosting the other or even heling him if he is shot down (although you usually have few chances of winning if that happens to you).


Tips for playing (if you already know the game):

The miniatures are of the typical high quality, which is to be expected from FFG. The players minis are red and the enemies grey, so far so good. While the enemies (locust) are quite different in looks and size and can therefore easily be distinguished, the four player miniatures all look very similar. Although I own brush and paint for miniatures, I only have a limited amount of time available and I can’t be bothered to paint the minis for board games. What I did instead was putting some color stickers on the mini and the respective card thereby identifying who is who.


 Two of my minis and associated cards, distinguished by color stickers

Two of my minis and associated cards, distinguished by color stickers

Death Angels – Todesengel

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Space Hulk : Death Angel – the Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games is a is a cooperative card game for up to six players. The game is part of FFGs Games Workshop licensing. The original Space Hulk game from Games Workshop was a spinoff of GWs Warhammer 40K miniatures war-game. Space Hulk was one of the early dungeon crawl board games. In it each player plays a single squad of space marines, while one player is the kind of dungeon master and plays the Tyrannid forces.

In FFGs Space Hulk card game the Tyrannid (or actually Genestealers) are handled by card draws. Each player plays a squad of marines, however in the card game the squad is represented by just two marines. Gameplay is very simple, the marines march in column they have a front and a back (i.e. left and right side of the card). They can attack Genestealers in front of them. Each card has just one hit point. This makes the game very fast paced.

In case you are wondering Todesengel is the German title of the game.


Why do I like this game?

What I like about the game is that it is a quickly paced game, doesn’t take long, and still it transports the atmosphere and tension of the original game quite well. I can almost hear the heavy bolter rounds when I roll to attack the Genestealers. Bam!


Single Player

I have not yet played the game multiplayer. I played it with different numbers of marines and believe that it scales fairly well.


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game from Paizo is a cooperative cardgame for up to four players (up to six with the multiplayer expansion). The game is based on the Pathfinder roleplaying game, a variant of the open license Dungeon & Dragons 3.5. The artwork, characters, monsters etc. therefore are those of the original RPG (role playing game) adventure paths (i.e. campaigns).

So far two card games of this series are published based on the Rise of the Runelords and the Skull & Shackles campaigns respectively. Each of them has five separately available adventure expansions and one multiplayer expansion. I own the Rise of the Runelords cardgame and the first three expansions to it.


Why do I like this game?

Playing really feels a bit as some reviewers said “like playing a roleplaying game but without a dungeon master”. I would like to add that it feels like a “hack & slash” type roleplaying game there is obviously not much NPC (non-player character) interaction, plotting and scheming etc. included in this game. Almost all scenarios have as a goal to find and defeat the villain.

I still like it for it transports the leveling up and finding of loot elements of a RPG campaign very well.

The replayability is fairly good. I played the first adventure a couple of times with different heroes. Once you start mixing in cards from the expansions playing the initial scenarios becomes however difficult. I suppose if you really wanted you could spend the time to sort through the deck and remove the expansion cards again or draw new cards if you drew cards from a future adventure (but I have neither the time nor the patience for such things).


Single Player

I have not played the game multiplayer. I played it with up to five heroes and due to scaling it plays very different with each number of heroes. In my opinion the sweet spot in terms of difficulty is with three heroes. With fewer heroes each individual hero may take too much damage and may therefore die and/or you may end up lacking the right combination of skills to overcome the barrier and monster cards or close the locations. With more heroes you will often have difficulty not to run out of time. I actually never won a game where I played four or five heroes and didn’t even try to play six. The reason is that the players have basically a combined total of 30 turns, independent on the size of the group but for each additional hero a new location with 10 more cards, where the villain might be hiding, is added to the game.



One thing I find annoying is the large number of small decks (i.e. ten to fifteen cards), which you need to shuffle repeatedly. What I do now is: I lay out the cards of the location decks face down in a row. If due to the use of some items or abilities I know the top card of a stack, I put it face up aside. Otherwise when drawing a card I roll a die to pick one at random. That way the villain or henchman of each stack always comes up at a one, but the odds are the same as if I had shuffled the decks.


Hearthstone – Card Rarity

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Recently, in expectation of the Naxxramas Expansion, I played a bit of Hearthstone. What I usually do is play a few games on the weekend. So I look at my three quests and cancel the one which has no synergies with the rest. Ideally I hope to complete the quests by as few games at possible. The other strategy (which I don’t follow) would be to always cancel the 40 gold quests, hoping for 60 or even 100 gold quests.

Anyway, since I didn’t buy cards with real money so far (except for the one purchase during the Beta phase to get the promo card Gelbin Mekkatorque), I decided it makes economically more sense to buy access to the Naxxramas quarters with real money, instead of buying cards with it. The ratio of gold per Euro/Dollar is almost twice as good with the Naxxramas bundles.

A “legendary” card (rarer than “epic” or “rare”)


Having said all that, what I actually meant to say was just that I noticed something and I don’t know whether Blizzard already commented. In WoW white are the trash items, green are OK and starting from blue items become good. In typical collectible card games (CCG) there is usually are large chunk of uncommon cards between the common and the rare cards. In Hearthstone white is common and blue is rare.

I therefore suspect that with further game expansions the green category (uncommon) will be added to the game. Maybe next year…