Earlier this year I picked up Patchwork from Mayfair Games. I think this was after I listened to the Heavy Cardboard podcast As I write this post, the game is the #1 Abstract, the #2 Family Game, and the #44 overall on BoardGameGeek. For a game that is so popular, I am a bit late to the party. However, I have joined the party and the family is glad I have.
At first glance, Patchwork does not look like a game this old grognard or a house full of boys would like. I mean, it’s quilting for gosh sakes! Ah, hidden under that theme is a Tetris-like puzzler with resource management ( time and money) that makes for a quick and interesting game.
The RockyMountainNavy Boys and I played the game several times over the Memorial Day weekend. The youngest RMN Boy even went so far as to declare Patchwork his newest “most favorite” boardgame. Even Mrs. RMN was surprised by how much the boys took to the game. Not that I should be surprised; the RMN Boys have demonstrated an ability to look past theme and enjoy good gameplay like they have for Love Letter. [As as aside, the boys pulled out Love Letter at a multi-family dinner over the weekend. Fun was had by all.]
Patchwork has rightly earned itself a prominent spot on our family gaming shelf. The game demonstrates that if one is willing to look past theme there is often a good game to be played – and enjoyed – by many.
Mission F1 pits a Resistance T-70 X-Wing flown by Blue Squadron Novice (24 pts) against a pair of TIE/FO fighters (Epsilon Sqdn Pilot – 15 pts/Zeta Sqdn Pilot – 16 pts). The squadron point build imbalance is offset by the presence of three mine tokens in the battle space controlled by the Resistance player.
Swinging to the left, he tried to draw the TIEs across the minefield but they didn’t take the bait, instead sweeping to their left while keeping out of the lethal radius of the mines. Reversing hard into a tight turn, he raced through the minefield to get into position. His first shot was lucky and hit the trailing TIE which accelerated to get out of range while the second one turned to attack.
Ignoring a TIE that executed a Segnor’s Loop almost in front of him, he blasted one TIE away. Dangerously, he cut in front of the other TIE, just avoiding blasts of lethal energy. Boosting away, he extended the range as the other TIE followed. Dashing around the asteroid field, the TIE came just close enough to a mine to detonate it. His sensors told him the shields on the TIE were down. “That’s one chink in the armor,” he thought.
As he continued around an asteroid, the TIE tried to cut the corner. Unfortunately, it came a bit too close to another mine and set it off. Sensors said it was damaged!
Stressing his T-70, he reversed hard into the TIE. He quickly lined up his shot. With a sharp intake of breath he watched his energy bolts hit the TIE. He exhaled slowly as it exploded. He muttered to himself, “The Force was with me.”
It has been a long time since I played X-Wing. I had picked up Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – The Force Awakens Core Set a while back and it has sat on my shelf – unopened – for several months. The RockyMountainNavy boys seem to have passed their initial fascination with X-Wing and in many ways it was replaced with Wings of Glory. I pulled it out for a somewhat rare weeknight gaming session.
Having not played in a while I didn’t use many optional rules. The fighters were all stock with no modifications. Relearning gameplay was quick (X-Wing is not complicated). Although the gameplay is not complex, there were more than a few “tactical errors” committed since the ships were new to us and their capabilities and limitations unexplored. Most significantly, near the end the Zeta TIE could have used their Action to Barrel Roll away from the mine and stay out of the lethal radius instead of looking ahead to the T-70 threat and placing an Evade token to try to avoid any hits.
Playing X-Wingreminded me that this is one of the games in my collection that I classify as a “Manual Videogame.” The concept of Squadron Builds, Modifications, and Actions (special abilities) all are common with video games. That is not to say I dislike X-Wing; rather, I see it for what it is. The RockyMountainNavy boys, especially Little I, love the Manual Videogame-style of gaming. Pulling out X-Wing reminded us all that this is a lite, fun game that is highly thematic and “pulls you into” the story. It deserves to be on the table more.
Pacific Fury: Guadalcanal, 1942by Revolution Games. Originally published in Japanese and now translated into English. Emphasizes planning by using a very different system of assigning units to Task Forces and then resolving combat in sequence. Suffers from some production issues (very DTP-publishing feel) but nonetheless an interesting exploration of naval combat in and around Iron Bottom Sound.
The Space Patrol(by Richard Hazelwood, published by Stellagama Publishing). A 2D6 OGL Sci-Fi/Cepheus Engine RPG book for playing Space Patrol characters. Includes a very detailed discussion of legal terms and interstellar law. An interesting look at yet another career option. I try to support the Cepheus Engine system as much as possible since I disapprove of the direction Mongoose Publishing has taken the Traveller RPG rules.
We wouldn’t be the RockyMountainNavy family without the kids getting games for Christmas too:
RMN A got Command & Colors: Ancients (GMT Games). This is technically A’s first wargame that he “owns.” He is studying history and very interested in the period. Looking forward to facing off across the battlefield from him (but first he needs to put all those stickers on)!
RMN Little I got Tanks: Panther vs Sherman (Gale Force 9). This starter-set game plays to two of his interests; WW2 armor and models. The price entry point is very low ($19.99) but he will surely be spending a good deal of his earnings over the next year on the expansions (i.e. models). He already has several 1/100th scale Zvezda armor – look for him to make his own stat cards soon!
I PICKED up Codenames while on a trip recently. In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues (with a number) that can point to words in the array. Their teammates (the Operative) tries to guess the words while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team and especially avoiding the assassin!
This a very celebrated game, with many awards and nominations such as:
First up was character generation. The party is four adventurers; a Cornelian Human Smuggler/Charmer, a Wookie Hired Gun/Bodyguard, a Twilek Technician/Mechanic and a Drall Technician/Outlaw Tech. This is not a balanced party with two “techies.” Oh well, it is the characters they boys want! The group has a slightly modified YT-1300 Light Freighter named Nimble Cash.
The first session started in-res, with the ship carrying a “slightly” illegal cargo and being chased by a pair of TIE fighters. This encounter allowed each adventurer to participate in the combat sequence. Eventually, after a not-too-difficult time, the ship escaped.
Next encounter was with the groups nameless contact to deliver the cargo. The Charmer tried to use his natural, well, charm to get a better price. After a short social conflict sequence, he succeeded. The group got almost all the money they wanted. In lieu of some of the money, their contact gave them another job. A simple mail job to deliver a letter.
While preparing to leave, the inevitable “Imperial entanglements” arrived in the form of a Storm Trooper squad led by a Sergeant. Not having anything to hide, the group boarded the ship before events went sideways. In the course of the battle, each adventurer got a spotlight moment:
An enraged Wookie bashing the head of a Stormtrooper and knocking him out cold
The Drall with a Goo-Gun “gumming” up a trooper and letting the Mechanic dispatch him
The Charmer taking a glancing stun bolt, improvising a melee weapon, and tripping and falling in the middle of combat.
This was really a near no-prep session. Came off pretty well with an emphasis on the narrative dice. The RMN boys caught on quick, and grabbed at the opportunity to contribute to the story.
Tune in next week for the continuing adventures of the Nimble Cash.
They don’t have an real robust social media presence but let it be known that Game Parlor (@GameParlor) in Chantilly, VA is closing. I had the day off today and planned to drop by, but was very surprised to see that the store will be closing by Thanksgiving. Having been in business for 24 years, the owners want to be closer to their daughter who doesn’t live in the local area.
It is always sad to see a FLGS close. I admit that I provided a mixed level of support for Game Parlor; on one hand I liked the owners (always friendly and willing to help) but some of the staff occasionally irritated me. In the last few years, the shelves would be stocked with just a few of the latest items, and many older items (like PC video games on 5 1/2″ disks) remained unsold with faded covers. Although they won’t blame online retailers or big merchants, I have had a few conversations with the owners that relate disappointment and apprehension at the way the games industry does business. The rise of digital retailers like DriveThruRPG have put a dent in RPG sales, and deals like FFG had to sell Star Wars-related games exclusively on Sept 4 (weeks before small merchants could even order items) make it hard on the small merchant who watches money that used to be destined for them go another way. This has been happening for a while now. I remember conversations at Petries Family Games (@PetriesFG) in Colorado Springs back when TableTop got their exclusive Target deal and took business away. The FLGS is in danger and won’t survive unless they get our support.
As Game Parlor closes out, the owners are having an inventory clearance sale with progressively greater discounts the closer to closing they get. Today I went ahead and got a few items before they disappear. Sorta felt bad because I was going to buy several things…eventually.
As gamers, we can help our FLGS by making it a point to support them. It doesn’t have to be much; anything is better than nothing. If we don’t, the FLGS will go the way of the Dodo bird – and that would be really stupid!
I guess my boys are becoming Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) Star Wars fanatics. Big T has all the FFG Star Wars RPG Core Books (Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, and Force & Destiny) along with several expansion books. Together with Little RMN they started playing X-Wingthis summer. Little RMN especially got into the system by reading older Star Wars technical books and spending his own money on expansion packs. This weekend, we broke out theImperial Assault game – and now they are hooked again!
I believe a major factor in the appeal of the boardgames is the “toy factor;” the figures and models along with the many slick cards and tokens – not to mention the funky dice – just ooze that Star Wars feeling. Both boardgames do a decent job of capturing the feeling of the Star Wars universe. X-Wing plays fast and is deadly; just like in the movies. Imperial Assault has heroes and minions. As an added bonus, Imperial Assault is actually three games in one; a Tutorial Game to get started, a Skirmish Game (squad building) to play head-to-head, and a Campaign Game that is much like a RPG adventure series. Indeed, I wonder when FFG will come out with a way to convert your FFG Star Wars characters into Imperial Assault figures?
Bottom Line: Great games for the boys, but a bit damaging to the pocketbook. Glad to see the boys making their own investment in their gaming! In the long run, FFG has created new fans/players for life.