Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 6

So, yeah, this was a game that stretched over two sessions, but maybe the less said about it the better... the leader after the first session missed the second session, and most of the remaining players had some terrible luck.  The relevant stats, then:

  • No milestones claimed, and no new colonies established
  • Thanks to that, this was the first game to see two winter rounds
  • About an island's worth of exploration was performed on existing islands, leaving about another island's worth left (mostly on Overkill, since the native garrison there interferes with all endeavors, not just raids)
  • Two more tombs were completed, resulting in another tablet and the first relic of the game
  • There are still four open, attainable island slots... but I believe there are only two more islands available at the moment?
 End result:  one of the players tied for third pulled their own overkill maneuver, and I lost a little ground on the player in second... but not enough to actually drop out of first.  Currently, the three of us are all within 3 points of each other in overall score... but there are many games to go yet, and we won't be starting our next game until mid-July, courtesy of the 4th.  We'll see what fun unfolds then.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Steam discovery queue and related stats

Some time back, Steam decided to implement a "discovery queue", whereby they would present their customers with a daily selection of a dozen games (and now, other things like streaming videos), tailored to their tastes, with an eye towards tempting them with things they might like, but otherwise might never see.  Great idea in theory, and I've played along, checking out a batch of games on a more-or-less daily basis.  Steam says I've now been presented with over 10,000 different titles... sounds like a fine time to see how the idea matches up with reality!

First, the numbers... of those 10,002 items I've been exposed to, 4,151 I've rejected outright.  I think that illustrates how well tailored their recommendation engine is... and it's no surprise to me, really.  Their tool allows you to define tags you're not interested in.  For example, I've told it I don't care about any "VR" titles (because if there's one thing I hate, it's wearing goggles over my glasses), yet still they show up in my queue.

How about the positive results?  Well, at this moment, I have 66 games in my "wishlist", waiting for sales or an unexpected "dead zone" in my gaming desires to snatch up.  I have another 21 games in "early access" or otherwise "coming soon" that I'm following - I don't buy unfinished games (what with the bounty I already have and/or are finished and waiting in my wishlist), and that lets me keep an eye on promising titles and see who makes it to a properly finished game, and who gets abandoned or rushed out the door in an unfinished state.  As for actual purchases, I've currently got 445 games in my library, along with three pieces of non-game software and three series of streaming videos... at first blush, 4%+ sales might not seem like a bad thing, but those numbers also include games I purchased before this program launched, and games I bought through the Humble Bundle, where I've often picked up a game or two I wanted, along with 6 or 8 that I didn't care about, because, at a buck a piece or so, with proceeds going to charity, why not?  Side note:  you should look at the current Humble Bundle... I'd be all over it, if I didn't already own the games I care about in it.

I guess the takeaway here would be, if you haven't tried Steam's discovery queue, it wouldn't hurt to give it a go for a few days, but expect diminishing returns to set in quick.  Unless you're like me, that is... I find it entertaining in its own right, seeing some of the dreck people try to pass off as a worthwhile, playable game, never mind some of the straight-out weirdness you can find.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 5

Not a lot of new mechanics to reveal this time or anything... frankly, this will mainly be a sort of "victory lap" post, since I managed to not only win my first game, but also managed to take the overall lead in the standings.  There is one minor bit of mechanics and schadenfreude to enjoy, but we'll get to that.

We started the game with two partially-explored islands in play, so a fair deal of energy was devoted to further exploring those.  Personally, I intended to limit my militaristic exploits, in the interest of minimizing my fortune token expenditures, the better to buy down my on-board enmity at game end... but I also started out with a Pirate as my carry-over adviser, and being able to basically do a raid each year without generating enmity does help somewhat with that.  Beyond that, I fully intended to start collecting goods, the better to get a colony started, but turn order and finances effectively put that out of reach long enough that, by the time one of my opponents succeeded in building one (the only one this game), we were in a tight-knit pack midway to the target glory score.  From past experience, I knew the odds of succeeding at building a colony this time were very slim, so I cast about for something else useful to do.

...and there it was.  One of the milestones in play was set to trigger at getting 30+ gold from selling goods in one turn, and between different advisors and buildings, I worked out how to use my meager finances to get 10 gold each out of the three goods I had collected so far.  From reactions at the table, I'm pretty sure nobody even saw it coming until it was done, and I was launched ahead of the pack, two glory shy of the target.  There was some talk about trying to sink one of my ships to drag me back, but everybody pretty well shifted to "get some glory while the getting's good" mode.  Just as well for them... I spent most of the gold I got the turn prior on a 2-glory treasure, then padded my score by discovering an island (now officially named 'Overkill').  One of my competitors discovered another island that same turn, so next game is just going to be exploration mad.

Not everyone's final round plans went as well, though... the leader since the first game went for the seeming sure bet of exploring a tomb of the ancients (both prior successes had resulted in a tablet and glory equivalent to a milestone).  On his last turn, he succeeded flawlessly in his endeavor, and received... 45 gold, and no way to do anything with it this game, doubly painful since there's a "have 60+ gold in your treasury" milestone waiting to be claimed as well.  On the plus side (?), that result also didn't call for the closing of the tomb afterwards, so it will still be a draw as well.

So, yeah, loads of fun this time around (the more so for me, since I won and finally got an appellation for my leader, making her Princess Kitty the Vengeful).  On to the next game!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 4

We almost got this game finished in one session, and I almost won, but I tied for the lead with the overall laggard of the group, so no dice.  Still, there was a fair amount of "being in the right place at the right time" involved in reaching that goal, so I can't claim any deep mastery of the game at this point.

With three largely-unexplored islands on the map, it was a fairly safe bet that exploration was likely to be a large part of the score-getting this time around... but it also became clear that people had clued in to the value of the milestones, as people started grabbing all the spice they could get hold of (spice being the most abundant good on the board at the moment) with an eye towards the "sell 4 goods in one turn" milestone and its attendant unlock.  My strategy of specializing my ships and sending them out separately worked nicely here, letting me raid a couple of incoming vessels with my "coastal raider" for their goods and selling them to make a quick buck, while the "explorer" vessel went off to do its thing in the farther islands.  The money I made from those raids, I put into acquiring treasures, in pursuit of that cheap milestone of having three glory worth of treasures in your treasure room.

Unfortunately, I was thwarted in that endeavor by two players.  One of the people I raided previously used the Master Spy (and a little misreading of the text thereon) to empty my coffers after one of my raids was cashed in.  The other used an advisor combo, and the massive treasury he got from being so far behind in the overall game, to get two treasures (one of them the more-expensive, worth 2 glory sort) in the same turn, claiming the milestone, and getting an adder for the first treasure in his treasure room in all games going forward.

However, if the game snatches opportunity from you, it also opens up other opportunities as well.  I used my "being behind" bonuses to stock up on Fortune this game, with an eye toward reducing my permanent enmity in-game, especially with one specific island that holds 3 stickers of mine.  Another player found another tomb site, and my explorer was in position to take advantage.  Finding the Fortune-oriented option on the tomb map, I was able to easily complete the challenge, resulting in a load of glory and a tablet for my treasure room (it may only be once a game, but being able to "teleport" a ship home will be handy).

And so, neck and neck, we two leaders raced for the goal - but somebody else also managed to pull down that unlock milestone on the last round.  This unlocked "colonies" as a thing to pursue, which require 6 goods (including one of each type) to build, but persist for you from game to game (for all they have to be "activated" on a winter round to get all their goodness).  Both your ships start with a hold size of 2, so there's improvements, upgrades, and/or other silliness that will have to be handled to make that happen... but, there's no rules for conquering each others' colonies (yet), so, if you succeed, it's a decent investment.  Oh, and of course, it's also necessary for some of the new milestones (for example, one of them involves having built 5 structures, but your home province can only support 3).  It's not, however, strictly necessary for the next unlock... that just requires you to find a particular island using the Strange Chart.  Should be fun!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 3

Amazingly, we finished this game in one session.  Mind you, that was almost accidental, but it is possible... the winning player crossed the 13-point threshold on turn 6 of the first year, in spite of the attentions of the pirate king (event cards from our first lock box, where a fixed-strength raid hits the lead player, with "bad" results of things like losing an advisor, losing all your gold, generally targeting the "leader" of the current game, by one measure or another).  The way that happened, though, does make me understand the gripes I've heard about how some milestone cards may be overpowered.

To recap, we started this game with three milestones available - two with unlocks attached, and a cheap one for gathering treasures (which nobody has seriously pursued yet - treasures have been outweighed by the usefulness of buildings and upgrades).  Most of the players started working towards the "sell 4 of the same resource" milestone, but we had discovered one new island last game, with an odd skull symbol and a high (but fortune-aidable) difficulty rank.  I decided to wager this round on that being a "tomb of the ancients", as referred to by the other main milestone available... and it turns out, I was right.  This time, however, the unlock didn't wait to the end of the game, but happened immediately.

As part of this unlock, the back cover of the Captain's Booke is unsealed, revealing a tomb map.  Every tomb you discover lets players come back to that site for further explorations, chosen from that map.  Unlike the main site explorations to date, however, these explorations are built with a "perfect" pass required to finish them off, at which point a special item (relic or tablet) is given out, and the tomb site is closed out.  Past that, there's a mix of new cards added in... no new types exactly, except that a new batch of damage cards detailing "curses" are added to that stack, which basically count as a separate sort of damage (making the "max default" damage your ship can take without sinking as high as 4, depending on which cards you draw), which have special conditions for removal.  That, and more milestones... no new unlocks in this batch, though.

No sooner do we have everything in place, than the current game leader goes for the newly-discovered tomb, uses the hints provided for each location to intuit one that he can spend Reputation to help pass, and passes it flawlessly.  In return, in addition to the point of glory he got for the endeavor and the tablet he gets to squirrel away for future games, the story gave him 4 more glory... and then, he was also able to claim the "first to flawlessly explore a tomb" milestone for another 4 glory, rocketing him well past the glory total needed for this game, and leaving everybody else scrambling to get what glory they could before the turn ended.  By the time all was said and done, we had two more islands discovered (for a total of 7), one of which is quite hazardous, one of which looks to be amazingly tame.  A fine point to start the next game!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spoilerriffic! Seafall, game 2

OK, for starters, I really don't know where the folks at Plaid Hat Games come up with a 90-120 minute game time for this game.  Our group is taking about one 3-hour game session per "year" in the game, which, at 2 years per game so far, comes in closer to 5-6 hours per game.  Maybe things will speed up with time, but I don't see it going anywhere near as fast as stated.  Of course, that means that we're likely to get a full year of play sessions out of this game before we're done, so that's not a terrible thing.

But enough of that, you want to know about how the game went this time, right?  Well, the first thing was the effects of the new rank cards from the unlock box, which gives a boost to the underdogs (in the form of gold, luck, or influence) and a drag to the leaders (in the form of pre-distributed enmity tokens).  That helped me get off to a quick start, at least.  Second, most of the "easy" explore sites were taken, which seemed to prime the game for a more raid-centric play style.  That was mostly true, but it turns out exploring for islands is a fair bit easier than I expected, so we did manage to pick up our fifth island this go around... and likely, I'll be in hot pursuit of island #6 next game.

No unlocks to worry about this time, for all we did pull a couple more milestones (including one for sinking an opponent's ship, which we had to mark the site of for future reference)... the one thing that did bite a couple of us (myself included) was a misunderstanding about handling enmity end-game.  I was of the understanding that all you had to worry about in that regard was enmity with the islands, when it actually encompasses your enmity kept by the other players as well.  So, I've a fair bit of work to do to get some of that down... but nowhere near as much as the guy who won the last two games, so I'm actually feeling pretty good about my position, overall.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Another of life's little milestones

Today, my mother moved into an assisted living facility.  Thankfully, that's something she wanted to do, and not something being forced on her by the rest of the family, so that's a plus.  There's a whole lot of financial uncertainty involved (stuff that, in my opinion, should have been worked out before the move), but it's a nice enough place for what it is, and her area is definitely larger than the apartment she was living in before.  I guess we'll just see where things go from here.