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...kalapunki's mother and how to design a chap...

Alexandre Correia
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Lagos
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Day 1360. September 21, 2020. Lagos...

Today's main gaming event was scheduled to start at 9:00 pm tonight. A time when, in this house, everything subdues to the silence of a sleeping breath, and I can find a moment's pause after a busy day. In other words, it was the perfect time for Me, Myself and I Season 2's debut.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Return of the Iron Arn.

I was a little disappointed with all the viking theme at the opening, setting the stage for a full adventure with Arn Kalapunki, the main character, played with the rules of Ironsworn. Arguably the hottest solo RPG to have come out since the Mythic Emulator in 2006.

Fortunately, Devall does such a good job with his voice acting skills and general good sense of humor, that even if you're not into the theme, you'll be definitely pulled into the show. I can't even remember the last time I was so excited by an episodic "series" I couldn't binge.


When it was over, and since I was on YouTube anyway, I wandered down to the Questing Beast's channel, to continue browsing through interesting OSR reviews that he's covered in the past six years.

Besides watching more recaps for other megadungeons (I'm easily swayed by massive sprawling and unattainable quests), I noticed two interesting titles. A Pound of Flesh, from Sean McCoy and Donn Stroud, and Tome of Adventure Design, from Matthew Finch. The former is a scenario for the RPG Mothership. Another sci-fi horror that draws heavily from the Alien theme. But in A Pound of Flesh, there are also rules for creating a space station. All this screamed similarities with my recently backed projects of Orbital and The Wretched.

Can I combo all three into a single session?

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Too many pounds of adventures.

Tome of Adventure Design pops up in the recommendations every time I watch Deborah's Geek Gamer's channel. The book is an outstanding resource for solo RPGers and RPG designers in general. The fact that the author is none other than Matthew Finch, the author behind the iconic Quick Primer for Old School Gaming booklet that defined the boundaries between OSR and modern RPGs, did not go unnoticed.


As I was about to return to the real world, I recalled a game that Nuno mentioned the other day, Micro Chapbook. It's a solo-only RPG. It's in a small book form, light on rules and quick in random generation tables, Being it encounters, rooms, traps, or other fantasy/sci-fi/horror related stuff. It was first published back in 2016, and has already gained quite a following, with many expansion, modules, and what not to satisfy the fans.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Chap against darkness?

All in all, it looked good, and after a few videos and reads on the geekland, I was hooked. The question now is, do I need another Four Against Darkness in my life?


One year ago: ...iron john vs tony's tentacle...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, Me, Myself and Die!, adm1, Jan Buragay, tuesdayknightgames.com, Frog God Games
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Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:00 pm
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...today's menu...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 1359. September 20, 2020. Lagos...

Our family from the East stopped by the house today, and while sometimes their visits are over too quick, or the mood isn't in sync with gaming, today it wasn't the case.

We played a lot and they were all excellent sessions. But what struck me the most, was my daughter. For the first time, she joined us in all of the games and with the exception of Dragon Breath, which served as an opening appetizer, all of the other games provided equal levels of fun, engagement, and challenge to all ages. From 5 to '60s.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

À la carte.


Dragon Breath fell out of rotation in recent months. Expected really, as Alice grows older and looks for different challenges in her plays. And while she did start the first round of the game by picking her favorite color, rather than the color that was most likely to yield the most gems, the rest of the rounds she played like the rest of us. Looking at the frozen mountain and trying to guess which color of gems would fall.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Icy starter.


With Dungeon, she felt at home and was tremendously excited to show her favorite game to her uncle. A die-hard video gamer that used to spend a lot of time inside Azeroth. Truth be told, I too was excited to show Dungeon to my brother, as I figured it would be right up his alley.

In the end, it was. But it was also something of a chore for him when he decided to go head to head against Alice's Cattie-Brie. Racing for the same rooms, or trying to defeat the same enemies. He lost most of his treasures to the monsters - rogues aren't great in level 3 rooms - and the woman fighter picked them up a moment later, by going after her uncle's foes.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Gravedigger's salad.

The winner, however, was my Imani. He had a part of the dungeon all to himself and, for the first time, made the right call when the time came to pick spells and was blessed by the die gods! Massive diamonds and priceless ancient necklaces came to him as if he was a magnet to loot. He arrived at the Great Hall with the spellbook exhausted and a sack full of gold.


Next came Château Roquefort, and a chance to witness a true classic in all its four-player beauty. The tenseness of risking leaving a mouse next to a trap while you waited, and wished, for all the other players to miss the obvious play. It rarely worked. The race for the same cheese, since the board opened up a lot more than with just two mice teams like we're used too. Less of a memory game and more of a tactical skirmish, with blocking and speed making up a large part of the strategy.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Stinky entrée.


And finally, another wonder of old to behold, a four-player game of Master Labyrinth, this time, using the full scoring rules. A thing Alice and I usually skip in favor of simplicity.

My mother seemed to suffer from the same spatial brain freezes that I do with this game, not able to see the path right in front of her. While Miguel and Alice, and especially Miguel, found the correct routes as if the corridors were illuminated in neon lights, visible only to players under 25 years!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

A maze of dessert.

It was faster than our two-player sessions last week, which was a thing I was not expecting. Ingredients flew into the master magicians' bags in rapid sequence with magic wands speeding things even more.


Dungeon!, Roquefort, and Master Labyrinth are probably targeted to the younger crowd. But these three games are smart and engaging enough for me to feel confident in taking them to a game night with older players. This is quite something when you consider that these three games combined age totals 87 years since they were released. The "youngest" published thirteen years ago!

Old game die-hard.

...3992, 3993, 3994 and 3995.


One year ago: ...the castle in the forest...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:00 pm
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...a night in the old mega school...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 1358. September 19, 2020. Lagos...

Old-style play is about keeping your character alive and making him into a legend.
Matthew J. Finch, A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming.
A lazy Saturday morning followed by a quiet afternoon. Games were never mentioned out loud or thought of as an entertainment choice throughout the day. By the time Alice, more out of habit than anything else, asked to play a game while I drank a homemade aeropressed coffee, we received a text message, inviting us for a night out in the city.

So... no gaming today.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Ominous entry into Lagos's old town.

We arrived home late and by the time the house quieted, the gatekeeper of the night settled on the sofa with the internet on the lap and a warm cup of lemon verbena by his side.

"Wait a minute," I remembered in the gloom of the living room. "I haven't played a game all day! Let me just check the email, and then I'll setup Maquis or log on to Papers, Please for a quick fix."

In the unread pile of emails, there was a project update from a Kickstarter campaign, of which I'm an early backer. Chris Bissette, the designer of The Wretched, was letting us know that everything was running as smooth as silk. But without any real news to tell, he pointed the backers to another project, of which he claimed to be a die-hard fan.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

I should have left gaming buried today...

Best Left Buried: Deeper is a remaster, rebundle of a rules-light horror RPG, where dungeon crawlers are crypt diggers and the undead are the norm. I'd spotted the project before, and now another designer was telling me about how good the game was. So I thought, "Let me just see if I can find a YouTube review, and then I'll play a game."

The first channel that popped up, was no other than Questing Beast. I say no other, because both YouTube channel and respective website/newsletter, run by Ben Milton, looked like THE place to follow and learn about anything related to OSR. Old School Revival or Old School Renaissance are names I often find when I'm journeying in RPGland. And after glimpsing the amount of content that Ben has put out for years and the gazillions links to the genre in his website (more like an Index for all OSR stuff on the Internet really), I decided it was time to check what was all this OSR all about.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

OSR beast.

According to Ben's video, OSR is the re-exploration of the original DnD, or the 0 Edition (0e) all the way to Advanced D&D (1e). Many of the persons who played modern D&D, wanted more than just following pre-written plots laid out by the GM, or chain a series of combat dice rolls into a credible story, where adventurers were super-heroic, rather than trying to perform heroic feats. Some of those players went back to the old D&D rule sets looking for alternatives and ended up tinkering and streamlining them before finally creating their own worlds and settings, not necessarily tied to the D&D brand.

Perhaps the most pivotal point in the OSR scene came with the publishing of the free booklet by Matthew Finch, author of Tome of Adventure Design, and co-author of OSRIC and Rappan Athuk. In his Quick Primer for Old School Gaming (highly recommended read), Mathew defines the main differences between modern RPG gameplay and OSR sessions. The latter as a game where both DM and players create a story together. Unbounded by rules and dice rolls, and more dependent on players' skills and wits to find a way out of deadly and frequently unbalanced situations. Exploration and sandbox adventures, where characters gain experience from discovering gold, rather than killing monsters.

To put it in simpler terms, play a traditional 5E published adventure, and you will definitely not find a thousand-year-old dragon that wants to rip the head off your level 1 dwarf. Play an OSR game, and chances of meeting that same dragon are just as likely as meeting a boring crate full of rotten apples stolen by a band of goblins from the local farmer. But the beauty of OSR is that there's still a chance for players to outwit the gargantuan dragon, and yet fail to see that the apples were poisoned!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Don't go there Alex. Just. Don't.

The more I dug through Ben's channel, the more tabs I opened to check later. Video reviews, OSR theory, major players in the scene, and eventually, a ton of megadungeon related stuff! A niche within a niche is what I most love to find, whenever I'm browsing the gaming world. Megadungeons not only fit that craving but drew me in like a moth to the flame.

Here's a normal pitch for a megadungeon. You and your friends are newbie adventures looking for fame and fortune and have stumbled into a safe town, bordering a place where rumors tell of great riches. The megadungeon. It can be a cave network. A canyon maze with countless small dungeons. A large city where each building is considered a dungeon in itself. The point is, that a megadungeon adventure can't be completed in a single session. Nor will the adventurers be able to scour the entire place without returning several times to the safe town, to rest and resupply. Some published megadungeons, actually claim that you'll have years of gameplay content if you decide to embark on their adventure.

Megadungeons are dangerous sandboxing places, where anything can and does happen. And in the OSR, they're usually pictured in glorious black and white illustrations reminiscent of the '70s and '80s, and they're all about commitment and a shared sense of exploration in a potentially endless scenario. Hundreds of rooms are the norm, where different zones are thematically distinguished with monster factions, interior decorations, and dressing, traps, NPCs, etc, etc...

From gallery of ZombieBoard

It's too big and full of deadly wonders.

I loved it. I spent the rest of the night watching playthroughs and reviews of Barrowmaze, The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia, Stonehell, Dwimmermount, and Rappan Athuk.

By the time I went to bed, my head was filled with endless maps in black and white, where imagination was the limit of what you could find in them. I fell asleep with a question echoing in the dark corridors of my brain... could I solo an OSR megadungeon?


One year ago: ...the hungry creature...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, commons.wikimedia, Ben Brown, William McAusland, dyson
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Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:00 pm
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...second-rate priest...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 1357. September 18, 2020. Lagos...

Isteval must be the most anti-thematic D&D cleric ever published! Don't believe me?

My five-year-old daughter has been asking for Dungeon! all week. Today, Friday, I finally conceded as a sort of end of the week celebration. For a while, she was about to pick Farideh, the sorceress, which would be her first time playing her current favorite game with spells, rather than swords. But at the last minute, she reverted to her tried and true Cattie-brie, the fighter. I too pondered about playing with Imani, the wizard, my favorite. But I've yet to see the worthless cleric, Isteval, make it out alive at the end of a session. "Let's give this guy one more chance," I thought. "He's got to be good at something, right?"

Exhibit A: The Gargoyle

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Destroyer of inert material.

Aren't clerics supposed to shine against non-living creatures? Isn't a statue, a non-living creature? It seems even the fighter as better odds against the gargoyle, and had I come with a wizard and a blanck spellbook, he would be at the same level than the cleric and his gigantic mace!

Luckily, not everything was lost when the gargoyle kicked me out of the room, since I had no treasures to lose anyway.

Exhibit B: The iconic Skeleton and his sidekick, the Ghoul

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Killer of bones and rotten flesh.

Here are two textbook examples of undead creatures! They should be a cakewalk for a cleric determined to prove his worth inside a dungeon. Right? Instead, Isteval got knocked out of the room by the skeleton, after relinquishing his only silver cup treasure, and the ghoul proved to be eerily nimble, dodging the cleric's cumbersome attacks.

I gave up on the fight with the skeleton and wasted three turns to defeat the ghoul. I think the creature was getting tired of mocking me and just decided to lay down and rest.

Exhibit C: Mummies and Evil Clerics

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Assassin of toilet paper and evil twins.

These guys are hard. A true challenge to all adventurers, except the wizard and his powerful spellbook. But... I'm playing a cleric here! Against the mummy, just like the skeletons and the ghoul, shouldn't Isteval be a killer? And the evil cleric... that's like Isteval's evil twin or something, right? He should know the dude's weakness as well as his own!

They robbed me of the few treasures I had found by then, including a magical sword that was supposed to increase the odds during combat. I left the level 3 rooms, deemed as "safe" for a cleric, and made my way to the remaining level 2 room that were still empty. Cattie-brie had scavenged systematically most of them already, so I had to hurry.

Exhibit D: Secret doors.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Master burglar of holiness.

Ok. Maybe this one isn't totally fair for a cleric. At one point in the game, Cattie-brie and Isteval were racing against each other to see who could open a secret door quicker, to be the first to enter a room. It was inconsequential for the woman fighter since she had looted all that she needed ages ago. For the cleric, it was certain that he would find the last 500 gold pieces he needed for his 10.000 goal.

Each rolled a couple of times, missing the trigger that would open the secret door. Until, of course, Cattie-brie rolled a 6, walked into the room, and looted a bag with 1000 gold pieces from a small lizard.


When Isteval finally managed to find his last 500 gold pieces, Cattie-brie moved to the Great Hall as if on queue, taking no chances inside the dungeon any longer.

It was a good game for Isteval. He didn't die.


One year ago: ...mythical player input...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:00 pm
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...index of lamentations...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 1356. September 17, 2020. Lagos...

I want to play other games. Grownup games.

I want to continue with Andor's storyline and start exploring Legendary: Aliens or Dungeon Degenerates. I want to whip out a few games of Maquis between the day's breaks and delve into Aerion with a big attention to the details that these small games deserve. I want to rekindle old Indiana in Escape: The Curse of the Temple and bring back from the dead the dream of exploring the real-time genre.

I want to play Artefact again. Test Mythic with 5E and try one of the mapmaking RPGs that are out there, like Ex Novo and The Quiet Year. I want to spend two weeks with Mike Heim's games and witness the evolution of a game designer after four years and five xx72 games. I have a Nautilus rusting in the harbor after years of neglect. Farmingdale has probably been overrun by the zombies of After the Virus since I'm not killing the dead on my table anymore.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

End of day rainbow of worms.

I want to shroud my table in perpetual gloom, with Kilforth and Haven. Both at the same time if it was possible! The world's greatest bot is probably light years away from me, hidden in some untouched galaxy. The world's highest mountains are still waiting to be conquered.

I have a pirate adventure to finish, a city to build, a clock to wind up, a baseball bat named Lucille to please, and a quest to follow through.

I want to play grownup games with grownups. Build kid's fortress with wacky deckbuilders, show India's spices to my wife and sit back and chill in the Mediterranean with my game night friends. I want to build a civilization (no, two!), create a gallery, and abstract my brain away with trees, blocks, and dragons!

But I can't.

My wishes and what my mind keeps insisting that it's perfectly doable during the average span of a human life is trumped every day by reality's boot and time's inexorability.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Beaten by a worm's simple math.

All I can do each day is hold my daughter's hand and embrace the fact that our roles have reversed. She's the one guiding me through the geekland now. Teaching me that there's always time for a quick game after kindergarten, and time to beat her daddy in games and into humbleness. And in doing so, she just helped me reach a symbolic milestone in every geek's life.

Today's play with Heckmeck Junior was the final stop in the journey to reach a H-index of 30.

I have a geeklist to build.


One year ago: ...the road to the verse starts with oni...


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Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:00 pm
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...cheeseboard...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 1355. September 16, 2020. Lagos...

"The room game?" she asked, pointing at the top shelve, still a few years out of reach from where she stood.

"Too long," I said to Dungeon! for the second day in a row, my mind still halfway in the digital world in front of me.

"Ok. This one then," she said, pulling the two boxes of ICECOOL. Probably the biggest game in terms of footprint that we play these days. Some of the layouts are too big for our living room table!

"No, no. That won't do either. I'll have to move the coffee table and clear the area." An area that these days is doubling as my morning office, as I take a break from the real one I have in a corner of our kitchen.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Cheese Meister's mansion.

But she was determined to play a big game this afternoon no matter what, instead of settling with the smaller fare of Zoch Verlag's Smart & Small family. She avoided all of HABA's bright yellow boxes with her finger, before stopping on another yellowish box and pulling Château Roquefort out.

"That one is good," I said finally, closing the laptop for a much-needed break, and thinking that Château Roquefort's four action points per turn would do wonders with the next new game I'll introduce Alice, which is also driven by four action points per turn.


The first play started with three of my mice scurrying across the roof, against her single red mouse, examining the same roof, as if this was a game of exploration and not memory matching. She even started to waste her turns to shift tiles underneath the roof tiles, hoping to trap one of my mice. I feared that she'd returned to her old modus operandi with the game, of using a single mouse to move around and not really caring about the cheese tiles. Eventually, she brought forth mouse number two, managed to trap one of mine, and began to put up a fight.

Alas, it was already too late.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

...I think we have a problem here.

"Can we play again?"

I rarely say yes to this usual question in our late afternoon sessions. I'm just too tired, and these last few days have been true assassins to my limited energy. But I did enjoy the break from reality with our short session and wanting to stretch the mini-vacations a little while longer, I smiled and said, "Sure. Let's play one more."

What happened next, I can only describe it as a chess game with a cheese theme. I deployed a second mouse, she followed suit. I moved a mouse over a piece of cheese, she moved one of hers over to the other matching cheese, to prevent me from getting it. I tried to move out of an area that was becoming gridlocked with so many mice, she moves one of her mice in front of my path to block me. Eventually, I stayed stuck for so long in the same area and had to sacrifice a pawn a mouse to one of her traps.

I'd been slouching on the floor up until then, but at the sound of a screaming mouse falling into the hole, I sat up straight and put on my killer gaming dad hat.

"Ok. You want to play game. Let's play game."

I deployed all three of my remaining mice on the roof and started to block her from her own obvious stinky cheese goals. There was still a good dose of wasted actions on her turns, like shifting tiles hoping for luck, and moving mice for the sake of moving. But some of her moves were surreptitiously clever and after a while, I couldn't tell if she was struggling to compete and win, or simply having mindless fun. She was laughing every time she thwarted my plans, so it was probably both.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Chess Cheese.

Before I'd lost my first mouse, the score was 3-1 too me. Ten minutes worth of blocks and counter moves later, she'd even things out to 3-3.

Angry, in a good way, that she was getting the better of me, I tried to summon in my mind the location of every single piece of cheese and the three traps. A mistake. Her memory is ten times better than mine. She doesn't have to struggle to remember where the cheese is. She's just having fun.

So when my perfect plan it's interrupted by her hand, grabbing her fourth and final piece of cheese, I reach out for her hand saying,

"Hold on there little lady! What do you think you're doing?"

"Look," she said pointing to two of her mice over two matching cheese, with a tone that I couldn't tell if it was condescending, taunting, or simply obvious.

"I won daddy."


One year ago: ...a river of roman trades...


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Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:00 pm
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...another maze of a day...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 1354. September 15, 2020. Lagos...

She asked for Dungeon! but I said no, explaining that it would take too long and it was almost dinner time.

"Ok. That one then," my five-year-old said pointing at another thin rectangular dark blue box, and like Dungeon! with a maze as the mainboard. Master Labyrinth.

I agreed, thinking it would be faster to navigate a shifting maze than to run around a dungeon with monsters, stealing their loot. Boy, was I wrong.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

I love the sight of a good maze.

It's easier to get to the table and set it up alright. But if you're dumb enough to play it for the second day in a row, at a time when you know you're low on mental energy, then it becomes a true maze for the tired mind. I just couldn't find a way to wrap my head around it. Some ingredients were easy enough, if not almost granted. But others... Uff! Stuck on tiles in the middle of the board, with all their exits blocked. It was not easy and at times, Alice and I had to cooperate just to get past the inaccessible slug or the elusive weasel.

I have no idea how Alice managed to stand resilient and patient, trudging through the maze for so long. Then again, maybe it's easier for her. After a full day of climbing trees, running around, and playing with other children, maybe it's simple to go back home and rest the body while the mind does all of the work. But for a grownup with a screen job...

From gallery of ZombieBoard

So close, that it's driving me nuts! It's right there!

She pulled me into finishing the game as much as I helped her with particular troublesome ingredients. In that regard, we both won. With the gameplay though, by the end of the spatial ordeal, I began to realize about some of its onion layers we gamers like so much to peel. Like trying to set the maze pattern in a way, you'll be able to use a particular key tile during one of your turns. Tile management then. Or tactically move your wizard to the side of the board, so he gets pushed out of it, emerging on the opposite side. Teleportation.

It's a good game, but boy it's a hard maze at the end of the day.


One year ago: ...the train table city-states...


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Tue Sep 22, 2020 9:00 pm
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...newbies in the maze...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 1353. September 14, 2020. Lagos...

She was looking for a way into the labyrinth. Not finding her usual tile shifting maze, dressed in orange with colorful tokens and friendly ghosts, she climbed on the chair, reaching for the grown-up version instead.

Master Labyrinth. Sure, why not?

I was already in front of the screen when she asked me to play a game, so I used the chance to whip up the rules from the BGG forums. We have the German version, and I'm still due for a printed version of the rules to add to the box. But after today, I don't think I'll need them.

One recipe card for each, that you may or may not fulfill with specific ingredients. The game is over once all twenty-one ingredients are with the Master Magicians and you can only take them in sequential order. Wands are used for an extra turn or for leftover points in the end. Simple. So simple that even my five-year-old didn't have a problem understanding them. The only challenge, for both of us, was the reason why this game appeals to gamers. The shifting labyrinth is a spatial nightmare to solve!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Maybe if I play it with one eye, it would be easier?

I'm sure that if we'd played this game a lot more, we would eventually "crack" the best ways and strategies to navigate through maze. But for now though...

If the route wasn't clear or immediately clear after one or two shifts, we basically resorted to the brute force strategy to reach the ingredients! Push our Master Magician towards its location one turn at the time, or pull the ingredient our way one turn at the time! After fifteen ingredients, Alice was done with trying to figure out ways to move about and preferred instead to use her little wands for flair and pointless progress. I, already burned from a long day in front of the screen, was also done with the maze.

It was the wrong time of day to play Master Labyrinth. But I still realized nonetheless, how good this game is. Almost relaxing if everybody understands that they're in for a +30 minute spatial puzzling session.


One year ago: ...morning theaters of legendary filler chains...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:00 pm
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...resisting the day...

Alexandre Correia
Portugal
Lagos
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Day 1352. September 13, 2020. Lagos...

You want to know the power of short solos?

It doesn't matter how confused or muddled your days turn out in the end, as long as you can find a few minutes and a tiny space to play a short game. Then that's at least one good thing you can look back at the end of the day and say, "I had fun with that."

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Short and tense.

I'd forgotten how small of a footprint Maquis had, and I actually think my original PnP version was bigger than this official version. All the components are of top-notch quality, leagues ahead of my crafting skills, but I do miss the meeples. The white resistance meeples in the box are fine, but the silhouettes of the blue militia and red soldiers don't do it for me. Standard meeples for the win. And if I do end up keeping this game for a long time, I may one day pimp it with the original Carc dudes.

I also think there are more missions in this version, and better still, they're divided into easier and more difficult categories. For that expert solo player who wishes to fine-tune his experience, or maybe embark in some sort of mission combination quest. In the case of Maquis, it would be 91 different combinations out of 14 different missions.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Of dead dogs and German pilots.

But I'm not there yet. If ever. Today, I just wanted to get my modus operandi up to date with this game. I drew two missions at random and started to play.

Immediately a few things felt off in the rules and doubts that I don't recall having with the original version, popped up. It isn't clear if I'm allowed to leave a resistance worker for several days in the same location until I decide to activate it, to avoid being captured by the militia. In my memory, I couldn't leave a worker behind. But here, it's unclear. Maybe some of the rules were fine-tuned?

I didn't know, and the last thing I wanted was to stop a game I'd just started, to fire up the laptop to dig up rules' questions in the forums. So on my very first day, I left all three resistance workers out in the open holding their pants, while patrols blocked all routes to the safe house.

On the next day, I managed to bring one back home. The rest stayed behind for a second day. And then a third... Something was wrong. This couldn't be how the game works now. Regardless, I kept playing that way, until eventually all fourteen days ran out without completing a single mission. I did come close to bomb the german pilot that was staying in one of the townhouses. As for poisoning the german shepherds. I'm not sure I would even feel good completing that mission!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Hard alleys.

In the next play, I drew Milice Day and Double Agent. Both in the easy category, both very fun to play out, and both fairly innocuous thematically. I'm OK with losing one of my french resistance fighters, less so in killing dogs.

What was also fun, was the flashback of old strategies. The need to sync resource acquisition and usage on the same day, to save precious time. The awareness of time as another finite resource. Or the push your luck feeling, of sending a worker far into the field, namely the mission cards, hoping that his route isn't cut off. Or play it safe by creating a chain of useless actions, so you can almost guarantee one vital action done each day.

I remember reading about people mentioning that learning, almost by heart, about the patrol cards and use their free to check discard pile, as being a vital part of mastering the game. Well, I'm not there yet. I was never a fan of memorizing or counting cards in games, and I hope I don't have to do it here to win this game.

But I did crack two plays of Maquis in a row, almost a breeze really. A welcoming breath of fresh air in what was otherwise a stuffed and confused day. That's the power of short solo games.


One year ago: ...rise of the forlorn party...


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Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:00 pm
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...the whistling vampire and farideh's toment...

Alexandre Correia
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Day 1351. September 12, 2020. Lagos...

Imani was in shock! "Another Vampire!" the wizard thought, as his fireball fizzled into grey smoke from the soft whistle puffed by the white undead in a black cape.

Imani had been here before. And this time he wouldn't make the same mistake, hurling lightning bolts and fireballs at such a powerful enemy, only to watch them all bounce off harmlessly, and then having to return to the Great Hall to rewrite more spells. No. This time, Imani saw a slight edge over the Vampire, if only he let go of the spellbook, and fought the Vampire with his staff instead. It was made of solid wood, carved out of a 10.000-year-old methuselahian oak tree. It had powerful magic, but it could also crack walnuts and almonds when needed.

"I'll crack your head alright!" Imani said advancing towards the Vampire, staff held high!

The staff fell on the undead with a wide left swoop, hitting nothing but dead air, as the vampire materialized, in a blink of an eye, behind Imani. The vampire whistled softly at Imani's hear, and this time, it was the wizard's life that fizzled into the afterlife.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The whistling vampire.

Meanwhile, Alice and her Cattie-brie were running through the lower levels like a warm sword through auroch's butter. Or, to be more precise, two magical swords through goblins, kobolds, sewer rats, and the occasional drooling ghoul.

When she realized that Imani had fallen, her immediate reaction was to run and help him. I said nothing, of course, keeping silent about the fact that there are no resurrection spells in Dungeon! Not that we couldn't make up a rule about that. This is after all, a gateway into 5E RPG, where improvisation and storytelling reign supreme.

But surprise also makes up for a good story. For both sides. Because if she was surprised for not being able to help Imani after defeating the Vampire with a casual thrust of her sword, I too was astonished by her quick change of heart.

"If I can't help you, then I'll just take your treasures, ok daddy?"

Absolutely dear daughter. Help yourself to the sapphire and your third magical sword! Whatever makes you happy!

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Colorful dungeon.

When Imani's sister, Farideh, reached the chamber where her brother had fallen, she saw only the empty clothes of the Vampire. Her brother's body was nowhere to be found, and his treasures likewise. Farideh whispered a silent prayer and moved deeper into the dungeon. Determined to unleash her vengeful wrath upon any creature who dared to stand in front of her and her arsenal of fireballs and lightning bolts!

Blue dragons, Red dragons, Black and Undead wyrms! They all fell unceremoniously at the sound of Farideh's powerful incantations and sorceries. The female wizard ran through the deeper levels of the Dungeon! as fast as a hurricane and just as destructive. She would gather enough loot to go back to the Great Hall before Cattie-brie, knew what had happened! The bumbling young fighter, despite having found all the treasure she'd set herself to find, especially after sacking Imani's backpack, was still wandering through the dungeon bashing monsters.

"The young fool is taunting me and my brother's memory!", Farideh thought, jumping over the carnivorous plant's ashes and sprinting to the Great Hall. More than 30.000 gold pieces stashed in her bottomless purse.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

A lady's winning loot.

But when she climbed the last two steps to the Great Hall, Cattie-brie was halfway out of the chute in the ceiling, laughing hysterically at the wizard below.

"Catch me if you can!"


One year ago: ...co-civ-city-build...


Photos & Images: ZombieBoard
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Sat Sep 19, 2020 9:00 pm
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