What Have I Been Playing? (A return to normalcy?)

Sooooooooooooo….

It’s been a little while. ¯\_()_/¯ After a pretty good trip to Disneyland everyone got sick 🤢. EVERYONE👨‍👩‍👦‍👦. I’m a work sick kinda guy and I missed a couple full days then just played catch up at the office. On top of that work ran long, with several after hours meetings. This is not unusual, but just adds to the hectic-ness of life. A couple book keeping things to catch you all up.

  1. The Wife and I saw Arrival. That movie is great. I may write a review. There is so much there to love.
  2. Santa Barbara now has a children’s museum. MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, is the name and it is super cool. Large & Small Fry totally enjoyed all of the “exhibits” to varying degrees.
  3. With the wet weather we hiked the fam up to Seven Falls. Again, everyone had fun, though it was quite a hike.
  4. Did some old school SB stuff with the fam as well. The Santa Barbara Zoo 🐘 and Santa Barbara Natural History Museum 🐘 (<—- a pygmy mammoth) which are always good times. Also, this happened:
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
“What are they doing to each other?” — Some Rando Kid

I’ll post some about these in the next couple weeks. I am doing my best not to overstate reality. But today… WHAT HAVE I PLAYED THIS WEEK:

There is probably a bunch but here are three I remember and can give some input on.

  1. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a social deduction game. If you have ever played Werewolf or Mafia, think that, only more complex. At the table one player is a murderer, one is the CSI and the rest are investigators. Each player will have four weapon cards and four clue cards in front of them. The CSI acts as a moderator for the group and everyone closes their eyes. Then the murderer opens their eyes, “reveals themself” to the CSI, and picks a murder weapon and clue. With this information in hand the CSI then tries to convey this information to the investigators using tiles that have a theme and pre-written clues. For example the tile may be “State of the Crime Scene” and have the options, “Bits and Pieces,” “Ashes,” “Water Stain” etc. As you can sense these tiles do not provide very much useful information. There are some more formal rules for discussion and accusations but otherwise that is the game.

    So Deception is … fine. It is pretty fun. It gives each role some good active role playing and deduction. There is usually good information on the table and too many good options for the players. I have enjoyed Deception every time I have played it. The problem is it does not excite me. The components are very blah. Mostly text and what art is there is sparse and uninteresting. What “good” social deduction games do is let the players get lost in the game and their roles. The components of Deception, and to a lesser extent, the game, impede this. Having to constantly process information off mediocre components pulls people (me)  out of the game and breaks the illusion. So, while I will play it with my group, it is not a game I am itching to continue playing. HOT TAKES:  🔥🔥 (maybe 🔥1/2) will play again if asked.
  2. Dungeon Fighter is a game of throwing dice across a table hoping they land in a target to do damage to a monster in a dungeon. That is basically it. There is some fluff to explain why it is you are doing what you do but it really comes down to throwing dice at a target. It is pretty dumb in that “BUT I’M HAVING FUN” kind of way that dumb games can trigger
    .
    Now having said that, I liked this game. It isn’t great, and by the end of the second play through we had the dice chucking down but it was fun. I think my little secret I did not know is I like dexterity games. Two years ago I went to Gen Con, “The Best Four Days of Gaming,” and the BEST THING (of many great things) was an oversized game of Flick ’em Up!
    Image result for anyway gif
    This game is ok. I would play it again if my group was urging it but I don’t think that I would offer it up for the play. HOT TAKES:  🔥🔥 would play again.
  3. Candamir: The First Settlers is ostensibly a Catan game. You are a citizen of a settlement and have finally decided to build your own farmstead. To get help building your farm and get the seed and sheep to get going you go out into the “wilderness” to collect resources to build gifts for other citizens. Doing this better than your opponents and you will win.

    This game is fine… which is apparently the theme this week. It’s pretty flat, and there are games that do similar things better. It was a good tight 2.5 hours with a teaching from the rule book which lines up with the length on the box. Mostly though, the game shows its age. The thing that really frustrated me was the movement in the game. In order to move there is a deck of cards. To move you flip over the deck of cards and on the card are arrows showing the four orthogonal directions and next to those areas MAY be a picture showing what happens when you go that way. THere may be a bear, or a wolf (I kept wanting to write Worf)
    Image result for worf facepalm gif
    Or you may have to help someone, or nothing happens, OR YOU GET GOOD THINGS. This ends up feeling a bit over-designed. ESPECIALLY 13 years later. At the time I was saying “I don’t like this and I don’t know why,” but now I see that it gives the illusion of choice. You can take a less difficult path, but that would require taking longer to get somewhere which is just WORST. The optimal play was usually to go towards your destination and take the bad stuff (so says the guy in third place). On reflection I would have made the deck just be “encounters” you had to face to move off a square. This way, no matter what direction you want to go you face the bear, or help the guy or get the good stuff no matter what.
    All this being said my hot take is probably lower than “It’s fine.” HOT TAKE:  🔥 given an option I would not play again.

Thanks for reading. Like if you do. I’ll get this on a more regular schedule soon… I hope 😉.

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