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[Review] Lost Cities (the Card Game)


June 22nd, 2015 -- Posted by Endymian

We were sent a copy of Lost Cities recently and I was asked to review it, despite GamersUniversity.com officially being on hiatus, it was important that I fulfill this obligation and write this review:

pic2404158_mdLost Cities is a super-lightweight card game for two players, designed by Reiner Knizia. The game is played in rounds, with each taking about ten minutes to play.

The premise of the game is that each player is trying to decide if they want to invest in expeditions to any or all of five different cities, each differentiated by color. Cards numbered 2 through 10 for each color plus three special multiplier cards. Players take turns playing a card and then drawing one. Players can place cards into color-specific discard piles, or place them into their expedition to that city. Once you play a card into an expedition, you can only play cards of a higher value into that expedition from then on. When you start an expedition, it is worth negative 20 points to begin with, from there the value of each card adds positive value back to the expedition until you (hopefully) overcome the initial 20 point “investment”.

There are also special multiplier cards that must be played onto expeditions before any numeric cards are added that will increase the multiplier of the end result for that column. Each column begins with a multiplier of x1. Each multiplier card increases this by 1, so with one card your column counts as x2, if you have all three multiplier cards you get x4 on that row. But keep in mind that if you cannot overcome the 20 point investment with numeric cards, that multiplier applies to the negative value which can have a devastating effect on your score if you are not careful.

This a great strategic game for two people. It comes with a board, but it isn’t really necessary. All you really need in order to play are the cards and something to keep track of scores between rounds (best score after 3 or 5 rounds wins). I wish the game would have come with a special score pad of some kind, it didn’t really seem like there was much of a reason to put it in a box as large as it has without anything like that included. Some people on Boardgamegeek have made some really nice tracker boards which you can use with a couple of cubes or bits to move along the track.

All in all, this is a great game for two-players that like lightweight games with strategy and some luck involved. Most places seem to carry Lost Cities for about $20, so it is a pretty good value, it also no language dependency within the game itself, a rules translation is all you need. This game has been around for over a decade as well, so it has demonstrated some lasting power. Give it a shot!

Hello everyone, it has been far too long since I have been able to update reliably and for that reason I think it would be best if I officially declared this blog on hiatus for the time being.

Once again my world has been turned upside down, my previous day job is no more and I have turned to board game development and publishing as my full-time job.

To do this, it was necessary for us to re-invent and re-identify ourselves with a new brand.

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Magic Meeple Games is the name we have chosen for this new company. It is a fresh and refreshing new identity for what we hope to accomplish and it is very clearly branded to invoke Board Games as the focus. Gamer’s University and G.U.Games will still exist, but their purpose and roles may evolve dramatically over the next year or so. Starting a brand new business from the ground up is a full-time job in itself, but thanks to Gamelyn Games and their new Foundation Publishing program, we have been given a healthy head start. We will co-publish our first project together, which will be Darkrock Ventures, a euro-style worker placement game set in deep space designed by the extremely talented Michael Eskue.  The Kickstarter campaign is slated to launch on July 14th, 2015. Afterward, I will have some time to consider the purposes of this site, and G.U.Games as separate entities. I would like to continue to use G.U.Games as a vehicle for more video game creations, not unlike my Molten Core project, but perhaps something simple for iOS or Android platforms; but that is all dependent on the time I would be able to devote to those projects in between Board Game publications, which will from now on be my primary source of income.

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I am considering opening the floor to any other aspiring writers who would like to take a turn for themselves in the world of gaming journalism, if you are interested, drop me a line. I sure learned a lot here, but this isn’t goodbye. Not forever, at least.

Thank you everyone for reading, play more games!

– “Endymian”

[Geek Pr0n] Musical Floppy Drives


February 24th, 2015 -- Posted by Endymian

I didn’t make this, but I sure was impressed. (Special place in my heart due to I.T. being my day job)

Enjoy :)


 

uncle Trying something different today, this might be old news for some of you but I’ve discovered that there are an awful lot of people who don’t know about this story/game/thing and I want to help fix that because I had a great time with it.

If you were in elementary or middle school during the late 80’s or the 90’s, chances are you knew one or more kids who were, simply put, bullshit artists and at one point or another one of these individuals attempted to convince everyone else on the playground that they had a relative of some kind that worked for Nintendo or Sega making them the authority on all things upcoming from that company, no matter how outlandish the claims.

It seems that the whole experience of knowing “that one kid” in one’s youth was prevalent enough for one, Michael Lutz, that he crafted the tale into something of a horror story. A really good one.

The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo is essentially a choose-your-own-adventure story/game. At its most basic level, it is nothing more than text and selection trees, but the use of sound and glitched text adds levels of immersion that I found completely captivating.

So, yes, this is something that most people might describe as a “creepypasta” or the next evolution of such, something that is usually associated with the deep, dark parts of the internet (like 4chan!) But I enjoyed it. Maybe it is because I also knew “that one kid” who tried to convince everyone at school that he had a test cartridge of the Zelda 3 prototype for the NES, or a copy of Doom 4 from Japan in 1993.

If you’re real quiet, you can even hear their voice as you read.

Creepy.

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But seriously, this game is fun, it’s short but sweet. Give it a play (and then replay it for all the alternate endings) Go try it!

 

[Review] Wasteland 2


January 14th, 2015 -- Posted by Endymian

Wasteland2artDid you enjoy Fallout 1 & 2? Was Fallout: Tactics lacking something essential that really just didn’t make it pleasant or fun? Let me introduce you to a friend of mine: Wasteland 2.

Way back in 1988, the game Wasteland was released. It was a bit before my time, and in my opinion it hasn’t aged well. But it turns out, that Interplay designed the first two Fallout games as “spiritual successors” to Wasteland when they were unable to acquire the rights to the Wasteland name from EA (Oh, those rascals. Always causing trouble.) I knew none of this until very recently, and certainly not before seeing a friend play this game and exclaiming “Whoa! Is that a new Fallout game??”

So what does that make Wasteland 2? I would describe it as Fallout 3, if hey hadn’t gone first-person and abandoned the roguelike single-character gameplay style. It’s not perfect, but I am loving it.

There is so much charm in this game that invokes classic gameplay with modern accoutrements. The game begins set in Arizona, where I have resided for my entire life in one region or another, and it didn’t take long to start finding actual Arizona landmarks that they have worked into the post-apocalyptic narrative. I personally loved that. But you also move into another region later on and I found that same attention to detail there. But that isn’t all, it’s just a great game. The story is solid, it’s incredibly captivating, I feel like I have plenty of meaningful choices to make and the replay value is extremely high.

The game isn’t perfect, it does have some bugs that can be noisome, but nothing too obtrusive. The map can behave oddly on occasion and I found myself confused a few times in new areas as I was obviously completing objectives out of order halfway through the zone when the designers probably should have set up more barriers and/or flags to prevent that from happening (NPCs talking about things that I didn’t know about yet but the game assumed my characters did…that kind of thing.)

So I can’t give this game a perfect score, but I can say that it has been on my top 3 to-play list for the past three months as I muscle through to whatever conclusion I have earned (and I hope there are several). I’m not finished yet, but I believe I am close. This game is especially notable because it is the kind of game (like Fallout 1&2) that I will return to every few years to slam out another playthrough in a way that I hadn’t before. This is not something I have yet felt compelled to do with Fallout 3 or New Vegas, despite that I feel those games are outstanding for different reasons.

Maybe it’s a sign of my age, or the games I grew up with that make this such a nostalgia trigger for me, but I don’t really care. If I am a little biased on this particular one, then I can’t help that. This is just an incredibly captivating game that is fun to play. There have been two patches that I know of that have fixed a lot of the problems though, so that is a plus. Hopefully more will come soon to tie up any loose glitches, but even so this game gets a solid recommendation from me.

Tales from the Hospital


January 14th, 2015 -- Posted by Endymian

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and good health to all! I hope everyone got through the holidays alive.

I, however, wasn’t quite so lucky. I survived, sure, but I feel like only barely.

In mid-December I developed a nasty cough which was accompanied by rolling fevers for about a week. This was pretty unusual for me, I have come down with aliments like this before, pop some advil every 8 hours for two or three days and it goes away. Well, this didn’t. Went to the doc and was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection (yaaay) got the proper meds and lots of them and went home.

Fast forward to a week later, Christmas Eve. I can barely breathe. I’m talking a couple notches on the dial away from complete respiratory arrest. My wife wisely drags me to the Emergency Room where after some very uncomfortable tests and treatments we discover that, no, what I actually have is pneumonia.

More meds, more lost time from work, and more silence here.

Well, I got better…then I got worse again! Last weekend I was diagnosed with bronchitis after a lovely three-day respite of feeling great, I’m sick as a dog yet again.

But, I had some time to play a really neat game I’m getting ready to review and post about (later today if all goes well), so look forward to that.

Thanks for reading!

PREZ MAINHello everyone! It’s been too long since my last post so I wanted to share with everyone what I’ve been up to most recently. In addition to my game design projects, I am currently working with Gamelyn Games on a new game that will feature Mecha combat. So stay tuned for that. But also (and the reason for today’s post) I have recently gotten involved with a separate firm who has been promoting their new card game, Qetchup.

Initially, the plan was to play the game and write an extensive review. For various reasons, we had some difficulty doing so and the end result was I was asked to be a part of the project as a consultant and help rewrite the rules and offer input to improve aesthetics and playability. So far, I like how everything it turning out.

Then this was dropped on me: Qetchup was just awarded the 2014 Game of the Year award by Creative Child magazine…and this was without the improvements that are coming in the revised edition I have helped them to create.

Release details on the new revised version are vague so far, but I was told to expect a holiday-season release if all goes well. I’ve recently finished the rules copy and we’re still going over visual improvement here and there but everything that has developed so far I am quite pleased with.

As for the game itself, it is very much a family/children’s/educational game. Very light on strategy and quick-playing. Your hardcore boardgamers probably won’t care much for it, but in a classroom setting it would be a grand slam. It is essentially a draw-one-play-one set-collection card game with various bumps and twists. Your goal is to complete a 5-card healthy “meal” and rid yourself of the rest of your hand. There are a few ways to do this, but there are also ways to disrupt other players’ progress.

I’m looking forward to seeing the final product and if you have young people in your life that you’d like to get involved in games, this is worth checking out when the new edition becomes available.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

[Review] Shovel Knight


August 25th, 2014 -- Posted by Endymian

Shovel_knight_coverThis game. This freaking game…

Shovel Knight is amazing. This game is what you get when you combine:

The fantastic music and boss design of Mega Man
The platforming challenge of Ninja Gaiden
The artifact collection and combat of Zelda 2
The overworld features and map encounters of Super Mario Bros. 3
And the treasure-seeking and pogo-jumping of Duck Tales

all inside of a single game that stays within the aesthetic design boundaries of classic NES gameplay (much like Mega Man 9 and 10 did).

Shovel Knight is retro done right. Too often do I see games that are labeled as “retro” that just get the whole idea upside down. A retro game isn’t using as few pixels as possible for your characters and doing as little as possible with comparatively unlimited technology. Good retro-style games create a brand new experience that evokes the sights, sounds, and feel of the classic games it is meant to imitate (or in this case, I think a much better word is “honor”)

There is nothing wrong with this game that I could find, just that I wanted more. The gameplay was absolutely outstanding, the controls were tight and I received no grief about using my usb controller (it just worked), it was challenging and frustrating but never unforgiving (no “lives” to worry about, you just lose some of your money, which you can recollect from where you died), and this game has charm dammit. Loads of it.

Shovel Knight is a nostalgia feast that won’t make you feel like you’d be better off just playing the old games you want to fondly remember. It’s the kind of game that makes you want five more sequels and a special release on an actual NES cartridge (likely impossible, but still.)

I have not been this impressed in a very long time, Shovel Knight gets top marks, go try it! (Oh, and it’s multi-platform too. So much love.)

http://yachtclubgames.com/shovel-knight/

News post! For reals!


August 5th, 2014 -- Posted by Endymian

MagnumOpus_3d

Hello everyone!

I have been swamped with projects right now (none of which seem close to completion but I just have to keep moving forward) but I did want to announce that Magnum Opus has shipped! Thank you again for your support, everyone. If you missed out, copies can be ordered directly from Game Salute right here.

I will also be at GenCon 2014, no booth or anything but I will be around wearing my GUGames badge. Come say hi!

Thanks everyone!

Zelda-Screenshot

I have a confession to make:

When I was very young, two of the earliest video game sequels I was ever exposed to were Super Mario Bros. 2 and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. Due to this, for a long while I thought that it was common practice, or even a rule, that game sequels had to be dramatically, if not fundamentally, different from the previous installment.

Sometimes, I will think about these things and ponder the implications. I’ve taken to casually referring to this as “Contemplating the Weird” things about gaming in general. I do this with board games and video games and all kinds of games. It’s something that my brain has begun to do rather involuntarily as my roots have spread as a designer.

So, now that the explanation is out of the way, let’s get back to the topic… what if this was, in fact, the de facto rule-of-thumb for videogame sequels? What would Super Mario Bros. 3 have been like? Sure it was a massive improvement on the formula from Super Mario Bros. with the overworld map and storable items but it was a logical progression of improvement. We all know the story by how of how Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn’t really Super Mario Bros. 2 etc. etc. So maybe Zelda 2 is a better example for this.

Zelda 2 is easily my favorite game of the Zelda franchise. I know painfully well that I am in the minority there, but it is what it is. I enjoy action RPGs and the only Zelda game I consider to be an “RPG” at all in the loosest sense is Zelda 2.

So what if Zelda 3 wasn’t a throwback to Zelda 1 and was rather a departure even further from it…it might have looked something like this:

omgrngs For those who don’t know, this is not a screenshot from a real game. This is an image that circulated around as part of a Zelda 3 NES prototype urban legend/hoax. But look at it…it has combined elements from Zelda 1 and Zelda 2 but looks like it probably handles more like Star Tropics, doesn’t it?

What if this was real, and just how the creators of video games chose to design and there was no such thing as Madden after Madden after Madden that are practically the exact same game with cosmetic changes. Or [Insert series of Console FPS games] or [Insert series of JRPG games]…

…Or Super Mario Bros. or Zelda?

How much different would the world of Video Gaming be if what I believed was true as a child, actually was the case, and it was totally normal–by design–for game sequels to be this dramatically different from all games before it in the series. What if the next Final Fantasy game wasn’t a turn-based RPG but was an action-platform RPG instead?

I would play the hell out of that game.

I wasn’t really going anywhere with this. But I guess that’s why I decided to call this post “Contemplating the Weird” and hopefully it will stimulate your mind and help you go on to create more unique and exciting things as well.




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