Game Review – Bigfoot vs Yeti by Shoot Again Games

Every year we go to Origins, and every year we try to look for the smaller game manufacturers to see if we can find some hidden gems – this past year I tripped across Shoot Again Games and not only picked up one of their games, but two!

But first… check out the fabulous artwork here for Bigfoot vs Yeti!

The basic strategy is much like rummy, where you pick up and discard cards to get as many as you can of one type – worth different points based on the cryptid involved. The different fonts and colors help keep the cards organized in your hand and the opportunity to twist the game to your advantage by “mounting an expedition” give gameplay a nice twist… but wait, isn’t the game called Bigfoot vs. Yeti?

YES!

The journalist (you) are caught between the two mighty cryptids as they fight for domination! The cards are two-faced, so you can steal either from another player to add to your hand and your point total.

Shoot Again Games has come up with an excellent video to show gameplay – it’s short and easy to learn!

Now, is the game perfect? Depends on how you view it – if you’re looking for a deep backstory and complex gameplay that’ll take multiple tries to get it right, probably not… but with the rummy game mechanics in play, this is a great way to spend a few hours having fun, enjoying the great artwork, and having a good time hunting the Jersey Devil… or having it hunt you!

If you’re looking to support a small game manufacturer that’s putting out good, reasonably-priced games, check out Shoot Again Games and Bigfoot vs Yeti! We’re already planning to stop by their table again this year at Origins and see what’s new – and encourage everyone to do the same!

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Game Review – Pandemic: Fall of Rome from Z-Man Games

If you haven’t played Pandemic, you’ve missed out on a number of great games – starting with the original game, setting you and your friends on a quest to save the world from a rush of different diseases threatening to wipe out civilization. Also available in an electronic version, it’s an addictive game that’ll have your team rushing around the world to save everyone!

The basic game has shifted over the years – from Legacy Season 1 and 2 where every move permanently changed the game board, to introducing Cthulhu and the mission of sealing dark portals. But this newest incarnation, Fall of Rome, might just be the Best One Ever, in my humble opinion.

So what do you get? Check out this faboo board!

As you can see, there’s a lot of the familiar here – the different enemy colors, the city cards and the infection deck, where all the trouble comes from. But this new version introduces something that makes this game unlike any of the others – DICE!

Yes, dice! Never seen before in a Pandemic game, this introduces a whole new aspect of gameplay and makes Fall of Rome more of a wargame than ever. When you enter into battle with your legions against the barbarian tribes (represented by the various colored cubes) you throw as many dice as you have legions with you and the results decide how it went. From losing all of your legions to wiping out the invaders, it brings in a new randomness that can swing the balance of power.

And speaking of legions and characters… take a look at the different events and character cards!

You’ll find many of these familiar, with a twist moving them into the era. Event cards are much the same as previous incarnations of Pandemic, but with one major shift – you can, if you wish, take an even stronger version of the event by using the Corrupt version and move the decline marker down the track on the side of the board, usually called the outbreak track on other version.

The Infection cards are different as well – the barbarians must invade via certain routes, allowing you to possibly break the chain and chase them back away from Rome – because the first time an enemy cube makes it into Rome… the game is lost.

Instead of diseases, your task is to collect enough city cards of a single color to turn the barbarian tribes into allies, allowing you to convert cubes of that color to loyal legions. But they can still sack Rome, so don’t get too complacent that you’ve managed to make a treaty! There are five tribes, with one only needing three city cards to make a treaty with, and others needing five. As you can see, it’s got a lot of the classic Pandemic ruleset, making this an easy game to learn if you’ve got a grasp of the basics.

There’s also solo play, allowing you to be the Emperor and dictating how to rule your empire!

The beautiful artwork, the cool mechanics and the war game feel makes this a Must-Have for anyone who’s a Pandemic fan – or if you enjoy war games, or just a hell of a great game! In my opinion, this is the best incarnation of the Pandemic franchise, and I can’t think of how they’re going to top this one! If you haven’t considered picking this up, check it out for a fabulous way to spend a few hours saving the Empire!

*****

If you enjoy my reviews, how about checking out some of my books? I love to do game reviews, but I also love to write – and always open to comments and questions!

20 Books under my Belt… What have I learned? (spoiler: maybe not so much!)

SN - Warrior Nights Teaser 1 (1)

This past Monday, Warrior Nights came onto the market. It’s my 20th published book, marking years of working with various publishers to get my stories out to the public. I’ve worked with Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, St. Martin’s Press/Swerve and most recently with Entangled Publishing. So, you’d think I’d be all cool and chill with this last release, right?

Wrong.

I’m terrified, as I am with every release. I scour the rankings, study the numbers from ads I’ve purchased and peer over every review and blog post, trying to find the secret sauce that will make me a better writer. Hopefully, it works… and then I get back to the next book.

Because that’s all I know – writing, writing, writing. My first book came out in 2003, a NaNoWriMo book I later whipped into shape and sold to Samhain – and now back out as a self-pubbed edition, since Samhain went under. I’ve had to figure out self-publishing and I do okay at it, but can always do better. I have an agent and I have multiple eggs in multiple baskets, as it were.

But every book is a new challenge, a new way to test myself. First person, third person, contemporary romance, steampunk, superheroes, Valkyries! Light BDSM, space opera, shapeshifters, menage! Right now I’m playing with a royal romance – what if Meghan said no to Harry? What if…

Imposter syndrome? I’ve got a bucketful of that. But I’ve also got the confidence that I’ve worked with multiple publishers, multiple editors and I might… just might… have some of that magic.

So if you’re starting out as an author – it doesn’t get any easier. Read, read, write, write, hone your craft and never stop pushing your boundaries. Keep moving forward, keep swimming. But know that you might feel like I do – twenty books in and still feeling that nervous flutter in my belly as the book links go live and obsessing over the rankings.

Writing is an adventure. So let’s throw ourselves off that cliff and learn to fly!

🙂

 

Game Review – Call of Cthulhu starter box from Chaosium

So… you’ve heard plenty about fantasy RPGs, such as Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons. But you’re looking for something a bit more… down to earth and maybe a little bit bloody.

Start here, with the CoC starter box! For only $25 (depending on where you are) you can dip your toes into one of the most popular horror RPGs around!

I have to admit, I’m a newbie to this game – although I’ve been playing D&D since First Edition (points at Player’s Handbook on shelf) I’ve never really been curious about CoC… until the last Origins Game Fair where the hubby and I signed up for an one hour demo, arranged by Rogue Cthulhu to introduce the new 7th edition to the public. One hour and I was HOOKED! Since then, I’ve picked up the source book and many of the scenario packs and run a few games for my gaming group – making mistakes along the way, but we’re all having a good time.

And yet… I grabbed at this like a drowning woman when it came out. Got my FLGS to order one in for me because I wanted to see it. And damn it, it’s a hell of a deal!

First, let’s look at what’s inside – and I dare you to find any other starter set with THIS much inside!

When they say “everything you need”, they’re not kidding. Dice, character sheets (blank AND filled in!) a solo adventure to give you a taste of the game on your own, intro rules and then the last book has THREE adventures, from a one vs. one for you to get comfortable with the rules to a second one for more people to a third scenario that takes place in Harlem, opening up in a jazz club! And all this for less than the cost of many major RPG system’s sourcebook!

I’m finding this a fabulous addition to my CoC collection, and highly recommend it anyone who’s interested in learning this system or who want to dabble a bit in finding out what Call of Cthulhu is all about. Chaosium has put together the perfect starter kit, including everything a new gamer would want and need to not only learn the system, but introduce a whole new group of people to CoC without any further investment! If you’ve ever thought about going off fantasy RPGing and get a taste of horror gaming, get this box set!

Fanfiction… has it really been 25 years?

I recently took a look back at how long I’ve been writing fanfiction… to be fair, I think most of us have written fanfiction LONG before we knew what it was – quick stories dashed in the back of our notebooks between classes, happy endings for movies or television series that we’d seen.

But I started posting fanfiction WAY back in the ’90’s, on the old Usenet groups. Alt.tv.x-files.creative, to be exact – a splinter group off the original alt.tv.x-files when the fanfiction started to drown out the discussion threads… and I posted and read and posted more.

Some of you already know the story, so I’ll keep it short – a reader sent me a lovely fan email.

Always answer your emails, authors.

I wrote him back. He wrote back. He called. I answered. We sent letters, cards… he sent roses and came up to see me.

Anyway…

A short look at my stories on ff.net can show I transplanted a lot of them off of atxf into fanfiction.net on March 13, 1999. A LOT. I’ve been told that one story, Little Helper, has the notorious claim of being the oldest story on ff.net.

Whoa.

I’ve got 169 stories there, others floating out on old Myspace and Geocities when I had no access to websites. (Yes, there was a time when not everyone had a website! Google it!) Add in the Dragon series and there’s more than 200 stories out there. Not to mention a few newspaper articles and the like

And I haven’t stopped. True, I’m doing original fiction more often than not, but every once in a while a story grabs me by the throat and demands I write a quickie… especially the hopeless romantic in me.

So it’s been 25 years since I penned my first official piece of fanfiction and had the guts to post it. 15 years of being a published author, and 19 years of marriage – 25 if you count our first meeting through my stories.

Moral of the story? WRITE MORE FANFICTION. DON’T BE AFRAID TO WRITE IT, READ IT, POST IT, SEND FAN MAIL TO THE AUTHOR…

Because you never know where fate will lead you…

The MVP was… me!

Yesterday my Pathfinder RPG group got together and went forth into a small tower… former resident of a wizard who had bested a black dragon, from the murals on the walls we passed on the way down. As usual, my skills as a rogue came into play as I led the party into areas that weren’t just trapped… but had some very deadly protectors of the wizard’s treasure! Ruby golem, stone golems… there was a definite trend as we made our way through. Thankfully, we found some goodies along the way – unfortunately our party was made up of a samurai, gunslinger, archer, myself, and a two-handed weapon fighter warrior woman who lived to kill… no spell slingers, so some wands of healing sure came in handy during these battles!

But the best one was in the final room… a huge black dragon skeleton on a pedestal faced us as we opened the door. I crept around, as one does, looking for traps. The mural on the pedestal repeated the one from the entrance, but with one big difference – while the original story stopped at the end with the wizard besting the dragon in battle… this one noted the dragon being forced to guard the treasure!

So… of course the skeletal dragon came to life! The encounter could have been pretty fatal for everyone involved, but for the keen actions of Holtz, my rogue! A tanglefoot bag thrown at the base of the skeleton kept the dragon at bay for a brief time as it tried to pull free, allowing the warriors to get in some hits on the dangerous creature – but major damage almost took down our samurai as he closed in to hack at the bony dragon with his keen blade!

Another tanglefoot hit and I had to consider my strategy – the warrior woman was scoring well with her maul, but the archer and samurai were unable to make much headway, their damage being cut in a third due to their edged weapons. The gunslinger was pistolwhipping the monster with great success, but all I had was a sling – and would the meager amount of damage be enough?

I whipped the grappling hook from my bag, rope already attached, and threw it at the dragon’s head. It embedded itself in one eye, and I used all my strength to yank the creature’s neck down and around, giving it a disadvantage to attacking the fighters. The dragon bucked and tugged, but I refused to give way. A quick dash around a nearby brazier gave me better traction, but it wasn’t long before the dragon broke free…

… dying a few seconds later as the maul plowed into the bony skull and cracked it open!

Much treasure was found nearby, enough to make the dangerous trip worthwhile.

And I don’t mind saying that if it hadn’t been for Holtz’s trick with the grappling hook, we might have lost one of our party, or maybe had to retreat… that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

*grins*

Rogues – We Do It All.

Later, gamers!

 

Game Review – Maiden’s Quest

It’s been a while since I did any game reviews and I’ve decided to get back into it – with one of my new favorites – Maiden’s Quest by Wizkids! I snagged this last year at Origins – actually, I ran to the booth the minute the dealers room opened to buy a copy, because I was so excited about it!

And I wasn’t disappointed… so let’s take a look!

What you get in the box!

Maiden’s Quest is a solo game, with a small option for doubles play, where you take on the role of a maiden trapped in a tower… but you’re not going to sit by and wait for someone to save you! Hells, no! You’re breaking out and taking everything you can to fight your way down to the bottom and defeat the big baddie – or escape through an exit door!

Building your deck is as simple as picking a princess and a bad guy – directions on the back of each card dictates what barriers and bonuses will go into your final deck. Zombies, vampires, allies and useful weapons all get shuffled together and then you begin!

Look at the first card and see what you have – game play consists of slipping the first card to the back until you hit a big baddie, or a princess that allows you to upgrade some of the cards behind it. The cards have wonderful artwork, and can be flipped and/or turned to allow each card to represent FOUR levels of usefulness. Some are spells, some life points, some weapons and upgrades… and some provide exits from the tower!

Combat consists of first deciding if you want to fight – if you choose not to, you can take a penalty listed on the card and go through the deck, flipping life point cards over to take damage. But if you do decide to fight, fanning out the four cards behind the enemy gives you the arsenal needed to take him/her out. If you do, you flip the card over and gain whatever’s on the back. When you reach the end of the deck, you shuffle them and begin again – special cards signal when you’ve gotten to the end and what level you’re on, affecting the level of bad guys and girls you’ll be facing.

I’m simplifying it a bit, because it’s a complex game to master. I have to admit, when I raced back to my hotel room to play, I was annoyed and disappointed at the rule booklet included in the box. Hopefully they’ve done a better job with newer versions, but I ended up watching the VERY USEFUL Youtube videos on how to play. But once I got past the wobbly instructions, I found myself addicted to the point that I purchased a small black bag so I could carry my current deck with me everywhere – allowing for the chance, small as it is, that I could meet someone and gain a treasure offered by a card in the game allowing for someone to sign off on the card for duo play.

I do highly recommend you go straight to the videos – they’re well done and answer a lot of questions you’ll come up with – I really found them much more useful than the game rules!

And there you go! An excellent solo play game, once you get past the badly written rulebook – and one where the woman doesn’t sit back and wait to be saved! Four out of five big dragon claws up for this great card game!

Saying goodbye to an old friend…

I received word the other day that the Library at the Origins Game Fair was being shut down – for a number of reasons, which I’m not going to go into here (and disagree with, to a degree) and I’m going to miss it. Even though last year I wasn’t invited to participate (along with many of the regulars) Origins is going to be missing a good source of entertainment.

But maybe it’s all for the best – last year I got to attend as a gamer, and it was a hell of a great time. I discovered the Call of Cthulhu RPG and fell in love with it, so much that I got all the sourcebooks and began running sessions for our small group, giving my hubby time off from his Pathfinder campaign. It’s a great game and if you’re looking for a new RPG, I heartily endorse it!

We also got to have fun finding new games and that’ll never get old – after over a decade of attending the convention without missing a single year, we always find something new and exciting. Every year we plan around our Columbus trip, making hotel reservations a year in advance.

And it was good to be at the Library – I made some good sales, met some wonderful people and chatted with new authors, encouraging them to keep on writing. It’ll be sad for them to lose the Library, but maybe it can be resurrected in the future. There were a lot of flaws with the current system and I’d like to see those addressed if someone brings it back to life.

But we’re already planning for a week of great gaming – and while I’ll miss selling books, I’ll get in more gaming – and who can complain about that?

🙂