Friday, April 6, 2012

Interview for HOP- Porky

I wrote a series of articles about designing better games for House of Paincakes over the past 2 months or so. While I was working on the process and developing material for the series, I conducted a good number of interviews with various people across the internet, as well as some real life folks.

I've saved this interview for last. It was the most fun, the most challenging, and the most though provoking. I don't really consider myself much of an intellectual, so plunging these depths caused me to do a lot of intense thinking, spreading out past my normal limits, and enjoying the conversation with a brilliant mind. I find Porky to be an artist of the highest caliber; using words and stretching boundaries for all who listen.

When you look at a game, is art a factor in buying it? If so, how much of a deciding element is the art?

I'm definitely drawn to new things by the art, but I'm more interested in heavily stylised pieces than big pictorial scenes. I want texture and mood much more, even without action and even in shades of grey, and maybe better like that, for how soft black and white can be and how much contrast it can have. There doesn't need to be much art either because the people I hang out with are very happy to imagine and improvise, do things their own way - there should be just enough to prompt and trigger, set off trains of thought, but then cleverly chosen words can do that too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Interview for HOP-TheDude

I wrote a series of articles about designing better games for House of Paincakes over the past 2 months or so. While I was working on the process and developing material for the series, I conducted a good number of interviews with various people across the internet, as well as some real life folks.

This interview just sort of "happened to me". I was actually enjoying a nice conversation with my spouse when the topic drifted to gaming; so why not throw the interview into the conversation while I was at it?

It's always fun talking to him about games. He's a smart guy and listens to OTHER PEOPLE pretty well. And he looks great in a tie.

The picture really doesn't convey how great this looks in person. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

[Review] Axis & Allies Angels 20

I have a giant soft spot for airplane games of any kind. I had pestered the living daylights out of TheDude for copies of Wings of War (now Wings of Glory), but he really didn't listen. (Sad panda!)

When Axis & Allies newest expansion line: Angels 20 came out, HiSign tried VERY hard to get me to buy it. I kept resisting, and he kept tempting me. I wasn't interested at first, and then I was worried I would spend too much, and I just didn't have anyone to play against.

Then TheDude bought a starter box. We all checked out the contents and were pretty impressed with the quality and quantity of items for the price. TheBoy started poking me about wanting to "play airplanes", and my resistance was wearing down.

The other day TheBoy out and out cheated. He asked me- "Mommy, will you play some airplanes with me?" He then proceeded to make cute engine and shooting sounds and batted his enormous eyelashes at me.

I bought a starter box and a booster.


The map- pretty nice quality

The starter set comes with 3 German and 3 British planes, along with dice, stands, a rulebook and counters. I wish I had actually READ the box before buying it, because I didn't want Germans, and TheBoy wanted British.  TheBoy got an entire flight (or bunch of planes), and I got zero planes I wanted. (More Sad Panda!) TheBoy took pity on me, and bought 2 boosters. I wound up with some Americans, some Japanese and some Russian planes. I still don't have a full flight of any one faction, but I have lots of choices.

We decided to try to play today. We set up the map, which is made of nice magazine thickness paper. There's not any obvious markings as to how they fit together, but after turning the map around a couple times, we figured it out.

Building my list of airplanes was really tough. With a point limit of 100 points, it was difficult for me to get more than 2 planes. I saw several options of 3-4 plane flights if I mixed factions (ie, 1 Poland, 1 Fin, 1 Britain) but single factions made it tougher.

For our first time around, I went ahead and played the Germans, even though I really didn't want to, because I had the most options that way.

This is what I picked from.  I had a bomber, an ace and two "average" planes to figure out what to fly. I picked the bomber and an ace.

These are the planes TheBoy had to pick from. They were pretty sweet, to be honest.

We figured out initiative and movement pretty well. There was a little confusion on whether and how to turn (and when), but after a little discussion, we got that decided. We opted not to use altitude because the rules were wonky and we wanted to get the basics down first. We just pretended we were at acceptable altitudes and went on our merry way. Lots of "merrrrroooooooooooom" noises were made.

My planes after movement
Movement went really fast. TheBoy had an ace that had movement almost double mine, so in one turn, it went from what you see above here to the picture below:

There was a little more movement (getting planes into place) that put us within a hex of each other. Unfortunately, we were situated in such a way that TheBoy was outside of my firing arc, but I was smack dab in the middle of his.

We did some shooting. TheBoy tore me up. It was awful. I am ashamed at getting beaten so badly by my lil punk so and so of a son. =/

I will take this moment to let you know that the rulebook is what I consider 'typical Hasbro/WotC' in that it is laid out badly and needs more examples. If I had any idea HOW bad it was, I would have brought TheDude's rulebook so I would not have spent so much time flipping back and forth from section to section for rules as we played.

We were interrupted quite a lot, so we didn't get more done, which is too bad. It was just starting to get fun. We both agreed that the game has a lot of promise to be extremely entertaining, but the map was way too small. There was not a lot of room for manuevering or moving around. Now, if the idea is to move the maps as you play, that might change things, but with the map staying static, we found it to be crowded.

We still had a blast and made way too many fun lil' airplane sounds as we tried to shoot each other up.