Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Call To Adventure

The 13th Greatest Board Game of all time is: Call To Adventure!

Call To Adventure is a story telling card game. Players begin with an Origin, a Motivation, and a Destiny. These base cards give you a foundation to build out a story of your heroic adventures. Cards are laid out in three rows, each row representing one of the landmarks mentioned above. You start by adding cards to your Origin. 

You are free to choose any card in the top row for this, but earning cards requires you to pass skill tests. Your starting cards and cards that you earn have symbols on them representing skills. To pass a test you need a number of successes. You gain these by casting rune stones. These are like dice, but with only 2 sides. They are pretty cool. 

Everyone has a basic set of three runes that they are able to use, plus you can use any runes matching symbols on your cards. If the test you are attempting requires a high dexterity to complete, you can cast dexterity runes along with your basic ones in order to pass the test, but only if you are showing those runes on the cards that you already have. 

by ImagineAllTheMeeple on Board Game Geek 

Call To Adventure is a very basic quest adventure type game. It's an overland adventure without the land, and a dungeon crawler without the dungeon. You just choose a card and try to pass a test. The joy comes in the way the different encounters work together to tell your story. It's the most streamlined adventure game that I've ever played and it's brilliant. Everything works, the tactile feel of the rune stones is super satisfying and the story you are able to tell by the end of the game feels epic and cool. 

That's why Call To Adventure is the 13th Greatest Board Game of all time! 

P.S. There is a Dungeons And Dragons themed version of Call To Adventure called, "Call To Adventure: Epic Origins." I haven't played that one, yet. But the game claims to allow you to convert the character that you've made into an official D&D character when you're done! That sounds awesome, and could push this game even higher up my list of favorites!!

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Monday, January 30, 2023

Happy Birthday, Fred Hembeck!

Fred Hembeck turns 70 today! My experience of Hembeck's cartooning is from the pages of DC Comics. Back when I was collecting comics as a kid, there was this one-page house ad designed to read like a newspaper, "The Daily Planet." Each month The Daily Planet would feature certain comics being sold that month, written like a news article. It was awesome! And, like all newspapers, the Daily Planet needed a comic strip. That's where Hembeck came in.

Back some time in the 90's, Hembeck would take commissions to recreate those old strips. I bought one as a gift for a friend. Sadly, Hembeck doesn't do that anymore. I'm sure its just too much to deal with these days. Anyway, I wish Fred a very Happy Birthday and share the strip that I had commissioned here. This isn't the commission (as said, that was given away as a gift) but a scan from the original comic book publication. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023


(Read CTE's previous entry by clicking here.)


Base Items will boost different abilities as shown:

   @  AT         [A]     Absolute Action - No Trump
                          (@ : AT face value.)
   $  RICHES     [R]     Base $ = # of items equipped 
                          ($ : Royals are Trump.)
   ♣  CLUBS      [C]     Counter & Charm
   ♦  DIAMONDS   [D]     Defend & Detox
   ♥  HEARTS     [H]     Hack & Harm
   ♠  SPADES     [S]     Shoot & Scout

When generating effort on the Royalties Tables, remember to add $.

You gain items based on the total amount of effort that you generate.

(The exception to this is Absolute @ actions that are not based on effort.)

[HD] Head Branch Items

Perform a Royalties $ Action and consult the table below:

$ Effort Base Item       ♠      ♥      ♦      ♣  Keywords
5-       Hood           +1     +0     +0     +1
6-9      Mail Coif      +0     +1     +1     +0
10-13    Cap            +1     +1     +1     +1
14-17    Helm           +0     +2     +2     +0
18-21    Mask           +2     +1     +1     +2
22-25    Full Helm      +0     +3     +3     +0
26-29    Great Helm     +0     +4     +4     +0
30+      Crown          +3     +2     +2     +3

[MH] Main Hand Branch Items

Perform an Absolute @ Action and consult the table below: 

(This action sends you to another table.)

 2♣ [MH-A]     2♦ [MH-B]     2♥ [MH-D]     2♠ [MH-F]
 3♣ [MH-A]     3♦ [MH-C]     3♥ [MH-D]     3♠ [MH-G]
 4♣ [MH-A]     4♦ [MH-C]     4♥ [MH-E]     4♠ [MH-G]
 5♣ [MH-A]     5♦ [MH-C]     5♥ [MH-E]     5♠ [MH-G]
 6♣ [MH-A]     6♦ [MH-C]     6♥ [MH-E]     6♠ [MH-G]
 7♣ [MH-A]     7♦ [MH-C]     7♥ [MH-E]     7♠ [MH-G]
 8♣ [MH-A]     8♦ [MH-C]     8♥ [MH-E]     8♠ [MH-G]
 9♣ [MH-B]     9♦ [MH-C]     9♥ [MH-E]     9♠ [MH-H]
10♣ [MH-B]    10♦ [MH-D]    10♥ [MH-F]    10♠ [MH-H]
 J♣ [MH-B]     J♦ [MH-D]     J♥ [MH-F]     J♠ [MH-H]
 Q♣ [MH-B]     Q♦ [MH-D]     Q♥ [MH-F]     Q♠ [MH-H]
 K♣ [MH-B]     K♦ [MH-D]     K♥ [MH-F]     K♠ [MH-H]
 A♣ [MH-B]     A♦ [MH-D]     A♥ [MH-F]     A♠ [MH-H]

[MH-A] Knives

Perform a Royalties $ Action and consult the table below:

$ Effort Base Item       ♠      ♥      ♦      ♣  Keywords
5-       Dirk           +0     +1     +0     +0
6-9      Sickle         +0     +2     +0     +0
10-13    Dagger         +0     +1     +1     +1
14-17    Cimeter        +0     +2     +1     +1
18-21    Stilletto      +0     +2     +1     +2
22-25    Katar          +0     +4     +1     +1
26-29    Blade          +0     +3     +2     +2
30+      Kris           +0     +4     +3     +3

[MH-B] Swords

Perfort a Royalties $ Action and consult the table below:

$ Effort Base Item       ♠      ♥      ♦      ♣  Keywords
5-       Short Sword    +0     +2     +1     +0
6-9      Sabre          +0     +2     +1     +2
10-13    Scimitar       +0     +3     +2     +1
14-17    Long Sword     +0     +4     +1     +1
18-21    Broadsword     +0     +5     +1     +1
22-25    Flachion       +0     +4     +2     +2
26-29    Claymore       +0     +8     +0     +2  No [OH]
30+      Great Sword    +0     +10    +0     +2  No [OH]


Ranged - this weapon uses the Shoot ♠ Action when making attacks.
No [OH] - you cannot equip an off hand [OH] item while using this weapon.

Stay tuned!

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Thursday, January 26, 2023


The 14th greatest board game of all time is, Abyss!

Abyss – Uploaded by Jean_Leviathan – Board Game Geek

In Abyss players compete to take over as ruler of the undersea world. They do this by exploring the depths, requesting the support of the council, and recruiting lords. All of this represented by cards. Abyss is a card game with a central board that's used to make the card play more intuitive.

The central board works really well. When exploring the depths you play cards at the top of the board turning them face up one at a time until you find one that you like. (This card is then added to your hand.) In an interesting twist, you must offer each card flipped up to your opponents before you can take it for yourself. That's not as bad as it sounds, your opponents must pay you for the cards they take, and you can do the same thing to them on their turn.

When you finally pick a card, any cards that weren't chosen, go to the center of the board. These are organized by card type, and this represents the council. When you request support from the council, you go to the middle of the board and take any one stack of cards there. You can potentially get a lot of cards of one type, but the numbers on the cards will generally be of lower value.

All the cards that you're collecting act as currency for the action at the bottom of the board, recruit a lord. While the other cards in the game are mini-sized cards, the lords are big beautiful tarot sized cards. These provide you with special powers and victory points. You want these cards.

There are a few additional actions. At the beginning of your turn you can pay one pearl (Pearls are the other kind of currency in the game. Mainly you use them to pay other players during their explore the depths action, but they can also be used to help pay for recruiting lords.) to add a lord in an empty space at the bottom of the board. Lords cards aren't added automatically, unless a certain threshold is reached, then all empty spaces are filled at once. Usually, this isn't the best when it happens on your turn because it tends to help your opponents more than you. However, you do get two pearls when you trigger this as consolation.

That's an interesting thing about Abyss, you spend a lot of time exploring for cards you want in order to recruit lords, but both of these actions have the potential to help your opponent as much as yourself. This is known in the board game biz as "positive interaction." I love this kind of thing in games.

Once a player has recruited their seventh lord, this triggers the end of the game and the player with the most points wins. There are a few details that I left out, like the push your luck aspect to exploring the depths (You may have to face the Kraken!) and how most lords have key icons on them. When you collect three of these keys you must select a location board. These location boards grant victory points but they are placed on top of the lords who triggered them and those lords lose their powers. 

Abyss is a great card game. The game board keeps the decisions in the game organized and intuitive. The positive interaction in the game keeps everyone involved all the time, and the art on the tarot sized lords cards is beyond stunning. I may have neglected to mention how beautiful Abyss is. The game is loaded with beautiful paintings by french artist Xavier Collette, aka Coliandre, and it's all amazing!!

All of these great things come together to make Abyss the 14th greatest board game of all time!!

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(Except where noted, all images copyright Bombyx all rights reserved.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition

My number 15 favorite game of all time is: Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition, which is the "card game version" of Terraforming Mars!

In this game players take the roles of corporations working together to tame the hostile environs of Mars. But, it's not cooperative. You are all working towards the same goal, but of course you want your corporation to be the most profitable.

In Ares Expedition, players have a personal player board to track things that they can contribute to the transformation of Mars into a habitable planet. You can contribute elements of heat to raise the temperature, plants to raise the oxygen, and well ... money, because more money helps everything. You manipulate the resources tracked on your player board by playing cards from your hand. All cards stay in front of you to provide ongoing benefits or just score you points, and all cards cost money to play.

In the center of the table is a shared board that represents the planet Mars itself. Here you spend your resource to actually raise the planet’s temperature, increase the oxygen, and create oceans. This part all feels very as players work together to terraform Mars. What the central board really is, is a progress tracker to trigger the end of the game. It all works really well.

Each turn players pick an action secretly and then reveal them. Then actions are completed in a specific order by both players at the same time. Simultaneous play means that while, Ares Expedition may be a “longish” game, there is very little down time, which is a great thing. Also, if you are a fan of direct player interaction, you won’t find any here. This may be a strike against the game for many, for us this is a huge plus. Finding combos is interesting, the deck contains over 200 cards, so there’s lots of variability and opportunity to explore different strategies.

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is a great engine building game! There’s even a two-player cooperative mode that we may try out at some point, but for now the competitive game is great. Oh, and Bernie (our cat) likes it too!

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition is my number 15 favorite game of all time!

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