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Video games, pen&paper RPGs and other nerdery

Easter is for Gaming Nerds

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Finally time to sit down and blog again. I have a lot of things to say relevant to nerds because I devoted the Easter holidays to gaming on various platforms. The reason for this was the visit of a very good friend from England. Just like my spouse I first met Rach online in the late 90s, on a MUSH-Server called PernMUSH. We cultivated our friendship through all those years and met face to face multiple times. She’s part of my Brit gaming circle, we play Pathfinder online, etc. It was her third visit. A shared passion of ours is gaming, and thus we had the ultimate gaming-holiday. 🙂

Digital

Rach is the proud owner of a Nintendo Switch and brought this along from the UK. We didn’t play on it much, just didn’t have the time. We played Snipperclips, a charming coop-puzzler, where you have to snip your gaming partner into specific shapes with scissors. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Joy-Con Controller, but the size and portability of the Switch is awesome. We didn’t get around to connecting it to my TV, so I never saw Breath of the Wild, alas.

As our friend had brought her PS4 controller, we were able to play our favorite PS-coop game: Overcooked. I love culinary games, and Overcooked is the best one. My spouse and I had already beaten all levels but the final one, but found out that 3-players comes with its own challenges. We didn’t manage to beat all levels, but got pretty far. Seriously, if you want to play cooperatively with your friends in the same room, try this game. You’ll yell at each other a lot, trust me. 😉

Furthermore, we tried Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, which is one of the free PS+ titles for April. It didn’t take us long to really enjoy this game. You control a spaceship in hot pink, zip through the galaxy, saving bunnies and looooooove. The soundtrack is as wacky as the concept of the game. You have to coordinate who steers the ship, who shields it, or run around the ship to shoot your enemies that are threatening love! We quit at the first boss battle, but I definitely want to play this again.

Save bunnies in your hot-pink spaceship!

Escape Room

Escape Rooms are all the hype over here. As we had wanted to check this out for a long time, we booked one of the dozens of escape rooms in the closest city, Düsseldorf. We had decided on The Twilight of the Gods at TeamEscape. I didn’t want a horror-themed one, and the description made it sound sorta Tomb Raider like.

Rach had done an escape room before and took the lead, and the first puzzles were solved quickly. The setting was a temple in the Indian jungle. Many locks had to be opened, many codes cracked. Time just flew by, and by the time we opened the exit door, we had 2 minutes left on our 1 hour timer. It was a ton of fun. You should enjoy puzzles, if you want to try it. We had a great guide who explained the game in English, and all puzzles were bi-lingual. Will do again!

Board Games

My spouse loves board games as much as I love roleplaying games. As she’s also a very good strategist, we don’t play a lot of non-coop 2-player games. I get frustrated about losing in an endless chain way too much. But as soon as a third person joins, I love board games again. We played a bunch of games from our collection.

Starting out, we played our cooperative games: Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert by the author of Pandemic, Matt Leacock. We played multiple times and always won, which was very satisfying. Especially in Forbidden Desert we’ve had a bit of a losing streak. Additionally we played Elder Sign, my personal favorite among games from the Arkham Files series of games. Arkham Horror takes too long for me, and Eldritch Horror was a bit boring. Elder Sign plays fast and exciting. The Elder God of our game was Azathoth, and for long stretches of the game we had way more doom markers on the table than we had Elder Signs. Azathoth was only one Doom-Marker away when we were able to win the final Elder Signs. Sure, Elder Sign is mostly a Cthulhu-esque version of Yahtzee and not a deep strategic game, but I just find it super-fun.

Elder Sign

Aside from cooperative games, we played Agricola in the family version, and Isle of SkyeAgricola is probably the prettiest board game we own. The box is super-heavy full of wooden game tokens. You try to be a successful farmer and start with a family of two, to farm your land successfully without starving the family. You play in six successive phases, each phase getting less rounds than the previous one leaving you very little time to feed your family. Agricola is a game that always fills me with a certain sense of panic because I want to do everything, and you have such limited turns. Always fun, but for me a quite challenging worker placement game. As alternative I would love to test Lords of Waterdeep sometime, another worker placement game based on Forgotten Realms.

Isle of Skye won the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2016 award, so basically the connoisseur/expert game of the year as Board Game Geek translated it. Not fully deserved in my opinion, as I would have favored Pandemic Legacy but it’s a very entertaining game. You place tiles, just like in Carcassonne, but you only place the tiles in your own area. You don’t just draw tiles but have to buy them with currency. The game has an interesting bidding mechanic that I am not very good at. I can never price my tiles properly. Each round you draw tiles and secretly pick one for discarding and price two of them, either in hopes of people buying them, or in hopes of no one having enough currency to take it away from you. Each game has different victory conditions which gives this game a very high replayability.

The pricing mechanic in action.

Roleplaying

My spouse ran a 6-hour one shot Numenera adventure for us. I think I can say that Numenera is her favorite RPG-system. We played The Hideous Game‘, the first instant adventure of Monte Cook Games. My character was Faizetta, a Naive Nano who Bears a Halo of Fire. Rach played Ksiti, an Impulsive Jack who Consorts with the Dead. As the descriptors might suggest, we were a killer combo of sheer hilarity.

The adventure is set in Qi, basically the capital of the Steadfast, and is an investigative urban adventure. Faizetta worked as research assistant at the university in Qi, whereas Ksiti was her tosser friend in Goth-style who earns her bread by bartending in various scummy bars around Qi. After Ksiti once again dragged poor naive Faizetta through several bars, the two stumbled across a man in an alley who was hanging in an elaborate trap, obviously tortured. The two of them were unable to free the man from his trap. As Ksiti has the ability to speak with the dead, they were able to question him about his tormentors. A vicious gang was playing a hideous game of torture and violence, and it was now up to Faizetta and Ksiti to stop this game.

The Hideous Game

The cover shows a map of Qi.

I am not sure I ever laughed as much as I did in this one-shot. Kudos to my spouse who had to improvise the majority of the adventure as none of what we did was included. I thought she did a great job at conveying Qi as part of the weird Ninth World of Numenera. A speaking cube who whispers emotions to the heads of patrons at the bar ‘Emotions’, or the visit to a fetish bar where everyone’s kink is having Numenera prosthetics, stuff like this. We did a lot of roleplay, and the big final battle at the end was very exciting. A very cool one-shot adventure. I am saving those character sheets, in hopes of getting another adventure in Qi the next time we see Rach.

And that was out, our gaming Easter holidays. We also did a bunch of sightseeing. For example we did a short trip to the Netherlands, to rent bikes and cycle around the tulip fields. I highly recommend doing that, if you find yourself in the Netherlands between March and May. The tulip fields are about an hour away from Amsterdam, towards the coast. Beautiful vistas, and the hyacinth fields smelled amazing. I hope your Easter holidays were as cool as mine. 🙂

 

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