Thursday, January 13, 2011

BoardGameGathering: Game Day at Black Rock (Survive, Mystery of the Abbey, Betrayal at House on the Hill & Cyclades):

Great day of gaming at Brother Brett's.

1/13/11 Opened the day up with a Lite-n-Quick™ pass at the new edition of Survive: Escape from Atlantis! . I'd just received the new release earlier in the week on a pre-order from Stronghold Games (the preorder bundle included a bonus "Giant Squid" expansion). Fun, light, easy-to-learn. Completes in well under an hour. Definitely delivers on the game's prior vintage reputation from the old mid-80's Parker Brothers edition..I've never seen the original to compare, but the current wooden bits are quite nice. I'd give this one a 7 out of 10: I'll play it pretty much anytime it hits the table.

We then played a game of Mystery of the Abbey. Interesting game. Sort of a variant of Clue, with a broader set of attributes to track and exclude, to determine who the perpetrator was. Doesn't move quite as fast as the other games we played that day. But its short enough to make a decent change of pace game.
After breaking for dinner, we came back and took a run at the recent Second Edition re-release of Avalon Hill's classic and long out-of-print Betrayal at House on the Hill.

The premise here is that the initial players are playing through a standard 'night in a haunted house' movie: Players wander from random room to room, finding materials, having encounters, and collecting items. Eventually (determined by a die roll with increasing likelihood as time passes), the formal 'Haunt' is triggered, and one of the players is revealed as The Traitor!
From that point, it's the Traitor's job to wipe out the Explore/Hero players using an array of new monsters or supernatural powers. And the Heroes are of course obliged to respond in kind and battle to survive the night! :D

There are an array of 50 haunts to play. Which you play is randomly determined by a combination of a room and a card at the time the Haunt begins. So you'll seldom battle the same 'Haunt' twice.

Fun game. Fairly simple rule set. Seems well-suited to trying with non-gamer's as well; you can always sell it as, "... like playing the 1963 film 'The Haunting'".

We/The Heroes didn't win, but the denouement actually was suspensful and a race to survive. It ended up playing down pretty close to a creaky old horror film plot...
...and the Traitor sucked the house,
and everyone in it,
bit-by-bit
directly to Hell
!

I enjoyed it. I think everyone else did as well. I'd give it a pretty solid 7.5 to 8.
Finally, to wrap up the night, we took a 3-player run at Cyclades. This was probably the top game of the night!

The rules are well-covered in review over at the game link above. But in a nutshell, the game uses an auction-for-the-gods-favor mechanic to distribute very limited resources. Each player seeks to supplicate the right mixture of gods to build their way to two metropolis-level cities, or, if their feeling a bit nasty, to send forth the Beasties of Legend to harass their competitors.:P

Fast-moving. Little downtime. Plays in an hour or so. It's got solid stratee-gery and loads of cut-throat play. All of which keeps things interesting no matter who's turn it is to pitch the gods first.
There's a reason it's been on the top of a lot of Game of the Year lists for 2010. :^D

Also: Cyclades has GREAT bits as well, including some damn-fine little plastic monsters. Hey who doesn't want to yell "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!"? :p
This one is a pretty solid 8.5 and up.

Very likely to make returns to future gatherings. :D

Good stuff! We started around 1pm, and wrapped up around 1am. Four games over 12 hours isn't exactly a screaming pace. But considering that we were tackling a series of new unfamiliar games, everyone had fun, and the 'wins' made their way completely around the table, it was a pretty successful gathering!
-1/1/2011

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