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Aldrahill

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About Aldrahill

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    grayhogan
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  1. Crusader Kings 2: The Reaper’s Due is the expansion for the incredibly engrossing incest-and-murder simulator that is Crusader Kings 2. The general aim behind this expansion was to… expand… thoroughly on the mechanic of illness within the game. Previously, characters can become ill somewhat randomly; they would gain the trait “Ill” and it might become worse, or get better – nothing you do really affects what happens. Now, with the (perhaps slightly expensive price of $10) purchase of The Reaper’s Due, characters can contract a wide variety of illnesses, including developing specific symptoms with their own associated effects. Alongside this, you gain the ability to appoint a Court Physician, whose job it is to ensure the people within your realm don’t die horribly of food poisoning. However, when hunting for new Court Physicians, if you refuse one who is interested in the job, they just… die. They “disappear without trace”. It makes me feel like an arbitrary mad king; so… powerful: “Won’t someone rid me of this troublesome Doctor?” This, of course, comes with an expansion of plague – this is the Middle Ages, there are epidemics aplenty; to bring the game even closer to historical accuracy, you can now catch a variety of serious ailments, including Black Death, Slow Fever, Dysentery and so many more. The total amount of enjoyment and fun added by this expansion? It’s tricky to say; adding more content into a grand historical strategy game like this usually creates either more difficulty or more layers of depth within the game. The latter can generally be seen as superior to the former – mindless difficulty is almost always boring, whereas increased depth can usually be enjoyable. The Reaper’s Due causes you to need to deal with making sure your characters don’t die horribly from a random affliction of cancer. There are a variety of events added to create further flavor, including the ability to dictate how your physician treats you. So, it certainly adds an additional layer of depth not originally present. It is, however, rather frustrating that characters get a variety of illnesses and die more often. Sure, it’s historical and correct, but the increase in managing your family’s ailments can get a little tedious. Having more characters dying from ailments can feel pretty random at some points. Sure, it makes sense – people get sick and die! But, having your best kid (genius, with awesome military traits) die from a cough and then suddenly your wife has cancer and your physician is useless. I’ve certainly laughed quite a lot at random deaths, but I’ve also become very irritated at losing people when it was inconvenient. Such is Crusader Kings 2, however…
  2. I've enjoyed the bit I've played but it certainly seems very poorly optimized at the moment. Here's hoping the proper release fixes the issues!
  3. Conclave is the much-awaited expansion for Crusader Kings 2, adding a variety of council mechanics and the dreaded coalition feature from Europa Universalis IV that attempts to curb the growth map-painting players. The big thing about Conclave, the ever-feared coalition changes, was… controversial, to say the least. This is understandable, as very suddenly nations large and small would unite to curb stomp the player for daring to expand. The strangest thing I discovered when testing out coalitions was finding Muslim powers uniting with Christian powers, which seems… Odd, to say the least. Considering the historical period in which CK2 takes place, to have these kinds of anachronistic partnerships irked a many players. They are currently working on altering the mechanics to forbid the possibility of cross-religion coalitions in a future patch, but one does hope that this kind of inevitable problem could be seen in advance by the testing team? Therein lays the usual complaint with Paradox Interactive titles and expansions; why on earth wasn’t this tested? Obviously, not everything can be tested in comparison to the tens of thousands of man hours that are played on release day, but sometimes mechanics that will so obviously be broken on release… Why aren’t they just changed? Complaints about coalitions and their absurd immensity notwithstanding, Conclave is an immense expansion to CK2. Previously, vassals served as a minor annoyance for your conquering; maybe they’d rebel, maybe they want some choice Dukedom that you have – it never really mattered, you could likely crush them with ease. With the Council mechanics, however, vassals actually matter. Now, your most powerful vassals will expect a seat on your council, giving them the right to vote on basically any action you want to take. I found the fact that my vassals could dictate when I could declare war incredibly irritating, but once I grew used to it I recognized how much it changed my style of play. Now, I needed to properly manage my vassal relations; I need to curry favour, ensure my friends and family members are powerful enough to back me up and, above all, stockpile cash to buy favours. However, the depth of these mechanics feels somewhat lacking. It is certainly very cool and interesting to have to care about your vassal’s opinions and votes but the extent to which you can control them is essentially just “buy favours”. It also feels as though the reason for the vassal AI’s choices is rather arbitrary; there are simply quite a lot of times where I find myself wondering why on earth this vassal thinks this, or why I can’t get a favour from them. Why doesn’t it explicitly say? It would appear that the main problem Conclave suffers from is a significant lack of depth and clarity. Lots of things happen in the game that didn’t before, but there are a lot of times when I simply don’t know why they happen, or how to stop them. I appreciate the mechanical changes and think that they will absolutely create a whole new level of play for CK2, but more clarity and depth in future patches will be needed before I would consider it something wholly positive. I do have faith in Paradox Interactive as a company though; they can usually be counted on to amend any issues their expansions create and end up with a player-friendly result. Also, you can make the entire world ruled by Horses if you have the inclination, so it certainly has that going for it.
  4. Pocket Kingdom is a charmingly retro puzzle-platformer that creates a deep and mystical world concerning sky habitats and slumbering gods, then fills that intriguing world with a variety of frustrating puzzles and lasers. Thanks a lot, slumbering Gods. In any retro-style game, the music is an absolute essential and needs to be considered first. It is obviously in the 8-bit, nostalgia fueled style of so many other games of its kind, but the overall tone is not one of easy-going adventure, but perhaps instead a dark, somewhat confusing journey. There are upbeat moments, crescendos that build towards relief, yet are then quickly replaced by the slightly claustrophobic tones that seem to subtly tell the player that he is trapped. And trapped he is; you are completely shipwrecked on a mysterious island created by a slumbering God. Others have crashed here and given up, seemingly making whatever life for themselves they can. The importance of the people other than as tutorial advice or guides is insignificant at best, but their presence helps to curtail the feeling of loneliness; without them, it’d be you, a strange Mario-man with a bunch of tools and a ubiquitous Wizard who seems to always get to a level before you. The puzzles are inventive; obviously, any game of this genre that wishes to stand out needs to possess this quality. However, they are a cut above other platformer puzzle games I’ve experienced. There’s the standard mechanic of using blocks to block lasers that inhibit your passage, but there’s also a surprising mechanic of using inverted gravity. In one puzzle, I had to reverse my gravity and then the gravity of one of a multitude of boxes, no less than 5 times to be able to solve the puzzle. The main character also possesses a Rocket Launcher to shove blocks and a Hookshot to… hook blocks. This allows you to manipulate the blocks and do some really interesting solutions to the puzzles. The entire experience feels this way, innovative and very interesting, but the limited application of these cool ideas starts to frustrate the player. That’s the key problem with Pocket Kingdom - it is incredibly frustrating. The puzzles are fun and they are engaging but, when the difficulty ramps up, it’s just too hard. I repeated one level about 40 times before I figured out the solution – there was very little satisfaction, only a crushing realization of the last hour wasted. Too many times I would finally discover the solution, yet be left with an incredibly disappointing feeling that the solution I found wasn’t right. It honestly felt like I had broken the game somehow; my solving the puzzle didn’t seem tied to a systematic application of learned knowledge and skills, but more a random variety of actions attempted in desperation until, finally, one of them solves the puzzle and I can get that damn key. The path of the game is also slightly confusing – it is clear that there is an end goal in mind, but the map that allows you to explore and go to each puzzle is quite open – it at first seems as though there are innumerable options and ways to win the game, but time and time again I kept coming up against an arbitrary barrier. “Oh, you need THIS tool to pass, check a few rooms west” or, after working my way through 3 rooms and finding a giant red demon who seems will help me, he says I need to buy him a key. He opens a portal to… the shop… that just has the key lying there. I go to buy it, turns out I need 3 coins. “Coins? What Coins? There’s currency?” I say to myself in confusion. Yup, guess I need to go to the rooms on my map that look… kind of like coins? Oh yeah, look, I did it, I get a coin! Guess I do this two more times until the red demon will open my arbitrary barrier. While I understand the desire to deviate from the ever-present linear puzzle path - solving one puzzle, then on to the next until finally the ending - but this somewhat pseudo-open worldness just seems half-baked. While Pocket Kingdom is absolutely gorgeous, sounds amazing and utilizes some really interesting mechanics, at the end of the day I am left feeling frustrated and confused. + Beautiful sound design and retro feel. + Innovative and interesting game mechanics designed to challenge the player. - Too much frustration, rather than real challenge. - The non-linear world feels forced and confusing.
  5. Europa Universalis IV (EU4) is a game that I endlessly come back to – I broke the 4 digit club (1000+ hours) over a year ago, but I still keep coming back to it. Paradox’s continuous release of expansions, patches and DLCs means that there is always something fresh for me to return to. This is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, I get to experience a game I love and enjoy somewhat new each time, enjoying new features and changed mechanics. On the other, it feeds an addiction that sees me going to bed at 1 in the morning, despite previous obligations. Paradox Interactive, one might say, is the most friendly Swedish drug dealer I know. Europa Universalis IV’s most recent expansion, ‘Rights of Man’, focuses on increasing the control you have over both your subjects and your leaders. Paradox love to alter the game mechanics of their games quite drastically with new expansions and ‘Rights of Man’ is no different. To start, numerous nations have updated government forms, as well as increasingly interesting Dynamic Historical Events, particularly focusing on Prussia and Ethiopia. There’s a lot of really interesting changes to Prussia’s government, for example, that makes them more of an Army with a State, rather than a State with an Army. If that makes sense. The meat and bones of this expansion however is the addition of Traits. Now, both leaders and rulers can gain traits that affect their stats that they bring to the table, as well as how they govern. Maybe your ruler is greedy and gets more tax revenue; he could also be Loose Lipped, so you can expect that he’ll spill the beans to other nations about his plans to attack that tasty neighbouring minor nation. These traits are gained over time and really help to build a sense of identity and character for each of your leaders. The most significant change I experience in the game is the change to technology. Previously, all nations existed within technology groups – these groups dictated the cost of going up a technology level, thus providing access to better buildings, different army types and a myriad of other benefits. You existed within those technology groups based on where your nation started – it makes sense as after all, a Native American nation is clearly not going to progress at the same rate technologically as a European nation, right? Now however, all nations start on the same footing – they progress and purchase new technologies at the same base cost. However, we now have a lovely new feature called Institutions. These essentially represent an idealism, a way of thinking or great change in the manner in which life is lived. Most nations start with Feudalism already in existence (not all nations, though! Tribal nations understandably do not!). The Renaissance is next, followed by the outbreak of colonialism. These Institutions spread across the world through provinces, getting more and more accepted each month – a nation can pay to have it accepted nation wide, with a diminishing gold cost associated with the amount of provinces that have been ‘converted’ to that Institution. Alongside cheaper tech, you also get access to a few mild benefits – for example, having Feudalism means you can enjoy an extra Military leader on your staff. This is all really interesting, but it comes with a few problems. Firstly, Institutions appear in a random province when they do appear. Basically giving that nation those benefits for free straight away. Nations that don’t have that Institution receive a yearly 1% tech penalty, up to 50%! Problem is, even if you’re playing Prussia in Northern Germany, you might have to wait about 50 years to get the Institution to take effect in your nation, essentially giving you a massive malus to your technology in comparison to some other nation that was lucky enough to get it first. It just takes waaaaay too long for it to spread. Another problem it brings is the dependence on gold – because you can pay gold (dependant on the amount of your provinces so far converted) to convert your whole nation, gold becomes even more insanely important to a game of EU4. Countries with the most cash can now essentially buy cheaper tech in comparison to others. So, money improvement is now fantastically the most important aspect to EU4. I’ve actually declared a pretty major war in Europe, simply so that I can nick some of that other nation’s cash to pay for the institution, so as to get a tech lead on those around me. While it adds a really nice layer of strategic depth, the irritation of needing to manage technology maluses to a far worse extent than previously, coupled with an excessive focus on gold generation, means that ‘Rights of Man’ is less about Thomas Paine’s treatise on the innate rights of his fellow man, and more about living in a rich man’s world. You can see Aldrahill’s YouTube channel right here, where he’s currently playing Ethiopia in EU4, doing some achievement hunting.
  6. Crusader Kings 2: The Reaper’s Due is the latests expansion for the incredibly engrossing incest-and-murder simulator that is Crusader Kings 2. The general aim behind this expansion was to… expand… thoroughly on the mechanic of illness within the game. Previously, characters can become ill somewhat randomly; they would gain the trait “Ill” and it might become worse, or get better – nothing you do really affects it. Now, with the (perhaps slightly expensive price of $10) purchase of The Reaper’s Due, characters can contract a wide variety of illnesses, including developing specific symptoms with their own associated effects. Alongside this, you gain the ability to appoint a Court Physician, whose job it is to ensure the people within your realm don’t die horribly of food poisoning. However, when hunting for new Court Physicians, if you refuse one who is interested in the job, they just… die. They “disappear without trace”. It makes me feel like an arbitrary mad king; so… powerful: “Won’t someone rid me of this troublesome Doctor?” This of course comes with an expansion of plague – this is the Middle Ages, there are epidemics aplenty; to bring the game even closer to historical accuracy, you can now catch a variety of serious ailments, including: Black Death, Slow Fever, Dysentery and many more. The total amount of enjoyment and fun added by this expansion? It’s tricky to say; adding more content into a grand historical strategy game like this usually creates either more difficulty, or more layers of depth within the game. The latter can generally be seen as superior to the former – mindless difficulty is almost always boring, whereas increased depth can usually be enjoyable. The Reaper’s Due causes you to need to deal with making sure your characters don’t die horribly from a random affliction of cancer. There are a variety of events added to create further flavor, including the ability to dictate how your physician treats you. So, it certainly adds an additional layer of depth not originally present. It is, however, rather frustrating that characters get a variety of illnesses and die more often. Sure, it’s historical and correct, but the increase in managing your family’s ailments can get a little tedious. Having more characters dying from ailments can feel pretty random at some points. Sure, it makes sense – people get sick and die! But, having your best kid (genius, with awesome military traits) die from a cough and then suddenly your wife has cancer and your physician is useless. I’ve certainly laughed quite a lot at random deaths, but I’ve also become very irritated at losing people when it was inconvenient. Such is Crusader Kings 2, however…
  7. Hearts of Iron IV is a wonderfully complex game. This is to be expected from a Paradox Interactive Grand Strategy game. What is also to be expected is a myriad of wonderfully complex achievements to baffle and bemuse any person stupid enough to attempt them. Some are obscenly difficult, whereas others are finnicky and complicated. I would certainly that "One Empire" (conquering the entire world as Great Britain) is of the latter sort. I decided to do some research into the most efficient methods to achieve this... achievement, as well as test it out numerous times and find the most optimal path. I also made a full video guide, if you'd prefer to watch, rather than read. So, what follows is my written guide for how to accomplish the first steps for World Conquest as Britain as efficiently as possible and conquer the world. It doesn't deal with the actual world conquest bit, as with all PDX games, once you reach a certain point, you don't need any help; you just need the start. This will be a bit confusing if you don't play Hearts of Iron IV, but trust me, these kind of guides help a lot. First Moves Start recruiting Infantry, researching the standard industry techs for lovely production bonuses. Get lots of doctrine techs as well, and research better light tanks. Now, I'll break your general moves into categories so you can plan what to do before you even un-pause! National Focuses NF-wise, go Limited Rearmament for first national focus, then don’t pick a new one. Let the extra 1 political power a day rack up until you have 150, and pick John Beckett the fascist ideology dude. I don't think it matters what option you take with Fascism, but I choose the top one about the government changing its mind. Sit back and hope you get the military event that gives 5% Fascism popularity. WAIT. NEVER. EVER go into Civil War. Seriously, make sure you don’t EVER EVER EVER do the coup. After a certain percentage of Fascism support, a coup (civil war) can happen. DON’T DO IT. The Civil War basically means you lose half your troops; just WAIT until you get the referendum event naturally, maybe early 1939. It takes longer but it still saves so much time. Half your troops go bye-bye, as well as planes and fleets. Just wait until you’re 51% of the electorate and it happens for FREE. 2nd purchase should be to change recruitment policy to “limited recruitment” for more troops. 3rd buy should either be Army experience dude, or Industry specialist. Choose what’s important, you’ll get the XP eventually no matter what, so industry might be more profitable. Then, go down the trees of Britain as normal; avoid helping Canada, Australia or any of those buggers, they’ll leave you once you go Fascist. The Raj will STAY though, so help them out with some factories. Give them Convoys as well, they can use them to trade for lovely resources. Once they’re built up, you can request units from them and they can help beef up your armies nicely. Get motorised units early and time the Armour tech bonus for when you can research Crusader tank, so possibly late 1937 / early 1938. Save up research time when going ahead of time for 1937 construction tech, saves you a few days that can help production. The aim is to time world tension with National Focuses. When Japan does it’s Marco Polo incident and DOWs China, you can do Shadow scheme and the national focus that reduces Civilian Factories by 5%. So, keep it ready for when it happens! Keep an eye on Japan’s National focuses. If Japan is being lackadaisical, you can wait for the Spanish Civil War to end, that should push WT to 20%+. Production First Moves Dedicate factories to infantry equipment and support until you have sufficient amounts, then start stockpiling fighters and replace bomber with CAS. Start producing more light tanks (don’t forget to upgrade to Matilda!) and recruiting tank divisions. Exercise your infantry troops (ONLY them, don’t waste tank supplies!) for xp. Once you have enough, start to add motorised divisions to your tanks; really important for a bit of defence and breakthrough values. Research marines and get 5 of them. Generally, recruit Infantry (let them train fully) and light tank divisions. I did 10 Inf + 3 Light Tanks. The moment you turn fascist, you should have a good few lovely light tank divisions built up, you should have almost 75 infantry divisions, 10 Light Tanks and some lovely amount of Fighters and CAS. Straight away, justify on France. Plan naval invasions on France, send marines to a province next to a port. I split mine 2-divisions to Normandy, 3 divisions to SW of Calais. This ensured I could just defend them in one sea zone, and you can't send more than 5 divisions until you research the better Landing tech anyhow. Don't worry about a response, they won’t guard the coast - the AI sucks - but it’s a good precaution and you need the marines eventually anyway. Land, take ports, ferry army over and beeline VPs. You can take all of France in under a week if you play right. STRAIGHT AWAY Justify on Netherlands and Belgium. Garrison Cav divisions with 1 mp (the Cav divisions start with 4 Cav brigades and Eng sup, just change the Eng to MP when you get the Army XP) all over France, so you can enjoy tons of free factories! As soon as any conflict ends, there won't be any rebellion and you've basically doubled your factories Then, justify like MAD whenever and wherever you want. Land next to Canada with your armies and beeline their VPs with your tank divisions. Take USA while they’re still kind of weak, use their factory base to plan more naval invasions on Germany to win the world. Honestly, you can even attack Germany within about 4-6 months of taking France if Germany attacks Poland; while they're occupied, you can just nick everything. In one of my test games, Denmark joined the wars so I had to burn them to the ground, so I got another front to open up against Germany; they sent 40 divisions to Denmark, so I was able to massively rush through Western Germany! After that? It's a cake-walk. Rule Britannia, baby.
  8. Thanks! It truly is a wonderful game. The style is a little different than my normal reviews but, hey, RimWorld is a very different kind of game!
  9. Let me tell you a story. It is a story of survival; of a lone man, abandoned on an alien planet, fighting off wolves, raiders and... A woman named Beard. Aldrahill was a young, eager explorer. He had a keen passion for growing plants, he was excellent at cooking, caring for animals and just a generally pretty great guy. He was eager to begin making a colony on this strange new world. Bedroom, kitchen, farms and even a little pen for animals. All built by his two hands. He gathered potatoes, he tamed Wild Boars. He lived. Until someone else arrived. That someone was named... Beard. She (yes, a woman named Beard) was formally a Sheriff in her previous town. She was great at fighting; Aldrahill thought, great, someone to fight off raiders and hunt! Maybe help make this colony successful? Wouldn't that be a lovely story? Sadly, this is not that sort of story. Instead Beard was, apparently, incapable of anything other than fighting. She had a burning passion for shooting and hitting things but... Cooking? No. Farming? No. Literally carrying things? No, of course not. Instead, Beard liked to sit in the grass and stare up at the clouds as the colony was built by Aldrahill. She would sit, she would eat and be useless. When there was a fire, she would sit and daydream. Crops to bring in? Daydream. The only time she would actually do anything was when raiders came, then she'd kill them with ease and then... daydream. One day, lightening struck the fields, alighting most of the colony on fire. The food stores were burning, other colonists (for far more useful people had joined since Beard) were dying and Beard... Beard sat. Beard watched on and heard the screams of her fellow colonists and, like the angsty pre-teen-esque Rorschach from Watchmen, she whispered "No". The colony burned down that day and everyone else died. Had Beard helped put out the fires, likely all would have been fine. Instead, Beard ate. And Sat. And daydreamed. Until she was overwhelmed by raiders two days later, thus ending the colony. And ending my current game of Rimworld. For that was both the tragic story of Aldrahillia, a colony burned to the ground by the incompetence of the laziest human in existence, but it was also more accurately the story of Rimworld, a survival RPG / Simulation / Dwarf Fortress- homage that creates stories of your colony naturally using an intelligent AI storyteller. Most of the drama comes from your own incompetent attempts to keep everyone alive. Because it is not a question of whether or not you will die, it is when. Rimworld has been in Alpha for 3 years now, constantly improving. I was sent a preview copy of the game in 2014; I loaded up the game, tried to tame a squirrel and it went mad and promptly bit me to death. I scoffed and uninstalled - a small game, uninteresting and broken. In my arrogance, I was to miss out on one of the best survival-sim games I have ever played. Now, I am sitting on a computer on vacation, wishing fervently that I could play this homicidal rage-inducing game for just 15 minutes more. Lovers of Timber & Stone, lovers of Stonehearth or Gnomoria and of course, those crazy, masochistic lovers of Dwarf Fortress; why aren't you already playing? It also makes wonderful Let's Plays. You can watch Sam's Let's Play of Rimworld right here.
  10. Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend UK Games Expo, the UK’s largest board gaming event. Held at the NEC, an absolutely gargantuan convention centre, the event was essentially 500 different board games, several thousand people and the ever present cacophony of dice-rolling. While there, I had the opportunity to play a huge variety of games, both released and still in testing phases. Out of all the games I played over those three days, these are my Top 5 – if they aren’t all published already, they should be! 5. Glimpse a really interesting party game based around colour that is not released yet,. Using glasses that remove your ability to discern colour, a player’s goal is to pick up the correctly coloured blocks without discerning what they actually are. To help you, your team mate will give a hint as to the person the block is resting on; each turn, players get a card with a direction – “What is this person’s favourite music”, perhaps – and the partner of the blind person is forced to flail his arms, dance ridiculously, put on a voice or otherwise be inventive so as to lead towards picking up the correct coloured block. A really interesting design; the developers were telling me that the game started as a Secret Mission-based style of gameplay that just grew into this forced colour-blindness. I can certainly see this as a fantastic drinking game, especially with a few custom cards that make the game far ruder and far more enjoyable. Ultimately, a far more silly and ridiculous Guess Who, but with the potential for adults to actually play it. 4. Game of Blame An interesting experience in the “screw you, take all these cards” sort of card game, Game of Blame sees you forcing other players to pick up cards while trying to discard sufficient cards and attribute blame in a queen’s court to other players. Try and place the blame on other players, or steal their rules so suddenly all your problems are their problems. It certainly had a lot of really interesting potential for gameplay; plenty of deliberate screwing over of players, however due to the mechanic of the turn order going to the person you “Accuse” – that is, force to pick up the entire draw pile – what ends up happening is two players accuse one another back and forth vindictively, something that starts out hilarious but quickly descends into boring spectating. If it were perhaps tweaked in that regard, I can certainly Game of Blame as a fun party game designed to make you hate one another ever so slightly. 3. Statecraft A card-based discard game wherein you’re after picking up political supporters to make your political party the best or... something. I was a little unclear on the specifics of the game world; what’s important is that it was damn fun managing my political advisers, picking up supporters and trying to watch my opponent’s resources. Each supporter that you’re trying to pick up has a requirement for you have certain political leanings. This creates an issue of balancing your Socialism with your Capitalism and Anarchy and such. However, the game had a serious flaw with regard to balance - one card allows you to pick up 3 cards from the draw pile. This means that you could just save it for the end, use the card and then discard all the cards you gained to take supporters from other players, thus taking their win conditions. Essentially, the game became all about who had that card; I was on track to win, but then two of the players had the card, thus one of them won; the complete and total lack of defence was incredibly irritating. Assuming that’s disregarded however, the game itself has really interesting core mechanics; were it not for that balance issue, it would certainly be higher on the list. One more nitpick that just annoyed me personally: they avoided making supporters having accurate political views. Their requirements are randomised on each card, meaning their actual descriptions are meaningless; why don’t the chronically unemployed have high socialist views? It just really irked me... 2. War of 9 Realms From Wotan Games, War of 9 Realms is a deeply strategic skirmishing game wherein you manage factions in a war between Nordic gods – and the Nords themselves! A pretty standard skirmishing format, you battle your different troops on a small map and try to outwit and outmanoeuvre your opponent. What makes this game particularly interesting however is the existence of two unit sets for each faction. Each faction has a card with each of their units’ abilities, but there are both ‘Heroic’ and ‘Epic’ and you choose which you will play with during the game. The ‘Epic’ variant for each of the factions has a number of unique special abilities, many of them about manipulating unit placement or the terrain, overall buffing your allies and weakening your enemies. However, the ‘Heroic’ side has more damage and defence dice available, which means that both sides are entirely viable against one another. Because there are four factions, each with two variations, the opportunity for replayability is pretty huge; when demoing it, I used only the ‘Heroic’ unit set, but I could certainly see the possibility to play an ‘Heroic’ against an ‘Epic’. The fact that there’s an optional layer of deeper strategy available for War of 9 Realms makes this absolutely a top pick for the event. However, I have to say that my favourite game of the entire UK Games Expo was: 1 1. Burger Boss \ This game was a completely separate experience to other games I’d played during the event. In Burger Boss, players run their own burger restaurants, competing against one another for the same pool of rapidly depleting customers with their own individual orders and monetary reward. What seemed at first a fun, silly game quickly turned into one of complex strategy. Competition for burger ingredients, dictated by the roll of the dice, as well as fierce competition for turn order (which changed every turn) meant that the entire time I was playing it I was frantically developing strategies and trying to work out the best, most mathematical method of victory. Burger Boss completely surprised me with its level of complexity, strategic nuance and total level of balance that prompted me to actually buy the game; as a matter of fact, it’s the only game from the Expo that I actually went home with. Going into UK Games Expo, I was unsure of the kind of experience I would have; would it be a quaint, tiny room with a handful of board-game enthusiasts? Or would it be a massive hall filled with empty promises and sellers hawking their wares like an East London market? Thankfully, the experience was a comfortable middle-ground; people everywhere were selling their games (and books and clothes as well!) and there were indeed droves of employees of major board game publishes trying to flag you down to try the newest game, regardless of whether or not it takes 3 hours to play. However, the overwhelming feeling was one of camaraderie and a desire to just look at and try new, awesome games and share them with one another. The inclusion of an incredibly well-stocked Game Library meant that after the show was over, you were able to walk 5 minutes to the Hilton and enter a room with easily a thousand people playing a myriad of games well into the early hours of the morning. There’s nothing quite like drinking beers and playing Catan surrounded by the dice-rolling of a thousand other games. My only hope is I can do the same thing and come next year and get the chance to play all the awesome games I know will be available.
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