Saturday, 10 November 2012

The GF On: Yesterday, I backed my first Kickstarter

Kickstarter -

It was through the board-gaming hobby that I stumbled across this sleek website. I had not been aware of 'crowd funding' on the internet before, which is admittedly surprising as the concept has been around since the early 2000s.  Kickstarter itself was launced on April 28, 2009 and has since then purportedly funded more than 30,000 projects.

Losing my Kickstarter virginity... 

Anyway, yesterday I backed my first Kickstarter. Actually, I backed my first two. (Though Lesbigamer doesn't know about the second one yet....shhhhh......) I thought I might reflect on the process and thinking behind each backing.

Eight-Minute Empire

I first heard of this game on BGG, I believe it was on the 'Hotness' menu. What got me interested in the game was the short length ... supposedly, a mere eight minutes. Short games are hard to come by in our collection, as most of our games are 90-120 mins in length. I think this reflects our gaming habits of playing a game before or after dinner, where we typically want a decent-length, engaging game and where we only really get to play one game. 

However, recently, we have been really busy with our university exams. Hours and hours of work and study. But we can't be studying all the time, so we take breaks together. 2 hours of study = 30 mins of break time. Hmmm, I suddenly have a better appreciation of short games...

The other advantage of a short game is that we could finally have some 'filller' or 'warm-up' games. I think the diversity of games in a single session would be really nice.

On the strength of the short play-time I was sold. Pledged $20.

Boss Monster: the Dungeon-Building Card Game

Me: "Oh my gawd, there's a game here called Boss Monster."
Lesbigamer: "I know what you're thinking..."
Me: *GRIN*
Lesbigamer: "Don't buy a game called Boss Monster."

I stumbled across this game as I was backing Eight-Minute Empire. The theme immediately caught my eye, story-wise it was Dungeon Lords i.e. I could play as a cackling evil boss trapping hapless heroes in my dreadful dungeon of despair. But on top of that, it was a throwback into the hey-day of 8-bit gaming. Yummy.

I read the rules, watched the gameplay video supplied on the Kickstarter page. And hey, you know what, I was actually not blown away by it. It seemed simple, and the strategies were not infinitely deep. I thought, MAN this game would be fun to play once and then I'd be done with it.

And then I thought, HEY this fills exactly the same niche that Eight-Minute Empire would fill. I love the theme, I love the evil cackling, and I think it would be a quick play for us.

On the strength of the theme, the card-driven gameplay and the short, happy-fun-times play time I grabbed my second Kickstarter backing. Pledged $30 - the POWER-UP PACK.

Exclusive cards? I've never paid for those before. I'd be interested to see whether I thought they were 'worth it'. Time will tell.   

The 'did I waste my money' moment

After these purchases, Lesbigamer and I briefly talked about whether it was worth the moolahs. From where she was coming from, she straight out pointed out that for that money, she would much rather buy other games. Ora Et Labora, Stone Age, or maybe save that money for that far off day when we can afford Eclipse.

But here's the problem. Buying those heavier games would be great. I mean, I'd really love those too. But then we'd be stuck in our initial problem of not having short 'filler'-ish games. But buying those short games almost always never feels worth the price-tag, because they are so darn high already in Australia, and then we usually have to add shipping cost... $$$.

Welp, time to wait for those games to meet new stretch goals... and eventually when they get here!

I am most looking forward to seeing what kind of production quality the games have, as I'd like to compare with other games.

What kind of experience have you guys had with Kickstarter?
What are your thoughts on crowd-funding v. companies producing?
How many projects have you backed? How many of them bombed out on you, how many are brilliant gems? Any regrets?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Lesbians On: Death, Destruction and Prototyping

Today was a momentous occasion. 

For today I discovered how to decimate trees, bore the GF, construct equilateral triangles and turn my dining table into a DEN OF DESTRUCTION, all at the same time.

That's right, this morning I, amateur board gamer, blogger of no serious content, and poverty stricken student owner of a mere 23 games did attempt TO MAKE A PROTOTYPE.

I'd had such ill-fated aspersions but once before, when, in my gaming youth I did attempt to make a card gaming involving werewolves, aliens, demons, and amoeba. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for the GF), the game was based on earning gold, which, being made of paper in our prototype, fell down the back of the couch. I was too demoralized to attempt remaking the 76 highlighted pieces. But the fate of this long ago game seems merciful compared to what happened today.

So What Was This So Called "Game?"

At approximately 1:25 pm I clattered down the stairs, and disturbing my girlfriend from her non-boring activity shouted "I HAVE AN IDEA...... FOR A GAME! Wanna hear?"
"Wanna hear?"
"Wanna hear?"
Having taken this as an obvious green light to consume the GF's time for the remainder of the afternoon, I proceeded to explain the idea.

The Player plays as Space Explorers, searching an abandoned spaceship for fuel capsules. Fuel is rare, and players must compete with each other to collect the most capsules and get out. BUT to complicate things there are....wait for it oh my its so original....ALIENS which players can deploy against other players to do them damage. And players cannot heal, so damage is deadly....

The central idea of this game is the tiles. These are triangular pieces that tessellate together in three columns. Each of these pieces has one two or three exits. Tiles are placed randomly, but players can use cards to rotate the tile they are on, and any adjacent tiles, so they can get where they want to go.

Cards are rare, players cannot draw cards, but must find tokens that allow them to draw. Additionally, players can find resources and supplies that give them additional abilities, such as making their own door, seeing the other players hands, and control of super awesome aliens.

My ideas thus explained, me the GF, and our more geometrically able flatmate then proceeded to construct a prototype and play.....

The Disaster That Followed

So, we played the game. And we played the game, and we played the game. One and a half hours later, we agreed on a tie.

It started off not badly. Their were a few bitchy moves to cut other players off from fuel rods and valuable cards. The aliens did not work as expected - they functioned more like bombs the players threw at each other, but hey, that was fine too.

As time progressed, so the problems mounted. Until, the end game....was disgusting.... horrifying...and really god damn boring. I was reminded somewhat of the end game of Zombies!!! which I have previously vented my dislike of. Except by then all our alien cards had been used up, so it was MUCH MUCH WORSE.

What went wrong?
1. PIGGYBACKING. Well, without aliens, or if a player was holding ways to get around the aliens they just followed another player around, forcing the other player to use all their precious movement card, and then passing them by when it counts. The other player, realizing this, simply just hung around, and all in all nothing happened and everyone was bored.
2. OH LORD WHERE BE THOSE FUEL CAPSULES. Board tiles are revealed when they are adjacent. So if a player failed to reveal a tile earlier on, all the players may find themselves WAY on the other side of the board, with a fuel capsule necessary to win on the other side. And this is a game where moving is HARD.
3. So as a result EVERYTHING SLOWS DOWN. Slows down soooo much......pain....anguish....consumption of two entire packets of Doritos....

Anyway, at the end of it all, I sat back, and looked at the beast we had laid out on the table.
"Well....babe....I've got to admit it had its flaws....but I think if we tweak them enough, it's nothing we can't fix."
"Yes but...." replied the GF
"But what. BUT WHAT?"
"Well...." and so I prepared my tender first-time-board-gamer-designing feelings for what was coming next.
"It's just not fun."


And thus was the beast recycled (luckily for the trees) and our table did return to its former use of dining. Most of the despair and anguish I should probably have felt had been numbed by the boredom I had just experienced.

What I Learned

Yes, I have attempted to turn my tragic experience into some sort of lesson because it's just less depressing that way. What I learned was, WOW board game designers are amazing. The sheer number and variety of board games that come out every year just making taking up the pen, cards, and tiles yourself seem so easy, but it is not! Board game designers put months or years into the same game (and all that play-testing!), and now I can see why. I have a huge respect for these people who have the ingenuity and dedication to make products that are truly awesome. I SALUTE YOU ALLLLLL.

As for me, I should leave the scissors and the stack of paper sitting in my living room alone for the while. If only for the GF's sake. (Did I mention she was working on her final exam? Heh heh.)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Lesbians Bitterly Review: Descent 2.0

Hello girls and guys, how you doin’? We’re a couple of geeky gay gamers from the home of Vegemite, and today we are reviewing a game that brought bitterness and woe upon our table top relationship.

Descent 2.0: Journeys in the Dark Fact File
Players: 2 - 5
Playtime: 120 minutes
Genre: Adventure/ Dice Rolling

It all started as an innocent gift for the GF’s birthday.  For weeks, yea months, the GF had been pining for said game, praising its merits and drooling over its figurines. Finally, the game was purchased. But like black clouds crawling across clear skies, the shadow of descent meant that our gaming was never to be the same again. (Well, for a week at least.) ALAS THE DARK CURSE COMETH. For we, once so united in our opinion of games, have become divided like so many polystyrene cups when torn apart by little children and fidgets.   

disclaimer: the following is an actual chat conversation between me and the gf

[08:08 pm] lesbigamer: Descent 2.0
[08:08 pm] The_GF: I sense that bitter tone in your voice.
[08:09 pm] lesbigamer: It is not a bitter tone, it is a well-considered and conclusive tone.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

[Android:Netrunner] WANTED: New Recruits for Evil Corporation. APPLY WITHIN.

*Ahem* I would like to preface this post by saying that the Girlfriend and I have been playing a little too much Android: Netrunner lately... (Read FANATICAL OBSESSION)... In fact, it feels almost like the world of Netrunner and our own world have become one.....


Yes, there comes a time in every person's life when joining an evil corporation is both a goal and a dream. When you must take control of your future and destiny and invest it multi-planet domination. But although exciting, this time can also be stressful and confusing. For you must answer the most difficult and significant question you will ever face. Which evil corporation should I join?


That's right. We here at Games Reviewed by Lesbians have spent years mulling over the scientific research, studying personality archetypes, and profiling the leading evil corporations of today. And we have pooled our knowledge and expertise into THIS QUIZ. Merely answer 7 SIMPLE QUESTIONS, and tally your score, and behold you will find which corporation suits your persuasion.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The GF On: Our DESCENT Into Lesbian Bed Death

It all began once upon an evening, when I erroneously let Lesbigamer play a particular game on my PS3 and she discovered, with great delight, the wondrous joys of SKYRIM. My woeful predicament:

Obviously, this situation was not to be condoned, and, I had, words, with her to the effect that fine, you're out on the couch tonight. Which was just fine for her. Damn.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Lesbians Review: Thunderstone Advanced: Towers of Ruin

G'day gamers, we're two lolzy lesbians from the land of the drop bear and today we bring to you a review of a game where heroes sometimes fight for players and players always fight for hereos, Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin.

Thunderstone Advance Fact File
Payers: 1 - 5
Playtime: 45 - 60
Genre: Deck Building/ Fighting

Our journey with Thunderstone Advance started when my GF failed to recieve a mysterious package in the mail. For three days and three nights a great famine of Board Gaming swept the land (by which I mean our house). There were complaints. There were depressive spurts. There were complaints about the depressive spurts. Just when we thought that the delivery truck containing the game had definitely been abducted by aliens and deposited on a random desert planet to observe human board gaming behaviour in times of intense stress, A KNOCK CAME ON THE DOOR.
When we opened it, no human was in sight, just a white package the size of two shoe boxes, and a faint whisper through the air saying "lose not faith....lose not faith..."
As you can imagine, it did not take us long to get from a cardboard box to a snowfall of torn white paper and a fully set up board.


Thunderstone Advance has in general opted for a welcome-to-Middle-Earth style fantasy iconography, with all the usual pointy-ears, bearded midgets, and glowing mages, none of whom are called by their canonical names (shh....maybe players will think the creators were being original). Given the um...particular perspective... of my GF and I, the highlight of the artwork were definitely the female heroes, who when unboxed we greeted with the appropriate wolf-whistles, offers of drinks in the nearest tavern, etc. etc. In some cases however, odd creative choices seem to have taken place. Here's my top three ???s:
1. Draken Lairds. T'is a scottish konbold fight I?
2. Tree-Folk. Why is this a thing? Why are they harder to kill than dragons?
3. Glamercasts. No. Just no.

Yeah....I would take this guy in my elite band of heroes to kill a fearsome dragon....

Overall though, the theme is strong, and carried out with a reasonable level of success.

In terms of the component quality, this game is slick. The colours are intense and bright, and the game board and card stock are great. 


Thunderstone's Rules of Play happens to be one of the most well-presented and accessible rulebooks we've had the pleasure of reading (see our earlier post on the terror of the Ghost Stories rulebook). In this particular case I would actually refer you to this 4-page learn to play booklet that easily summarizes the game if you are interested in learning how to play Thunderstone: HERE BE BOOKLET

BUT, if you only want a quick few lines on the gameplay... Thunderstone is a deck-builder game. You have starting deck of a few sub-heroes, weapons and items. At the start of your turn you draw six cards. You use these cards to:
(a) go to the village, where you can purchase moar and shinier heroes, weapons, villagers and items; or
(b) go to the dungeon, where you can fight a nice array of evil creatures and gain xp to level up your heroes, as well as gaining victory points for defeating the monsters.

Obviously incredibly fearsome

When you defeat a monster, they are added into your deck as 'trophies'. Some of them have useful effects you can use in your turn (e.g. count as +1 attack), but for the most part, they sit around in the style of dominion estates, clogging up your deck till the end of the game where they count as victory points. 

The idea is to balance the different kinds of cards in your deck to put you in the best spot for monster collecting. In other words, in the style of most other board games, you get more stuff to get more stuff.


Thunderstone Advance feels a little bit like a five year old kid making his own milkshake. DECK BUILDING, yummy, we'll throw that in. FIGHTING, yes, fighting SUPER-BADASS MONSTERS, everyone likes to fight monsters. With HEROES, with DIFFERENT COOL SKILLS that you can LEVEL UP! Then blend it all together, and it's got to be delicious right? Right, right? But somehow, despite the fact that Thunderstone is a pick-and-mix of all the gaming elements I really love, something about it falls flatter than a solo game of Scrabble.  All the right elements are there but game play often makes me feel as if I am stuck in a traffic jam. 

If I try and diagnose this problem I would put it down to most card sets just really not working well together.  The problem with this is that it lays waste the idea of strategic deck building. There is no sense of challenge in Thundersone for me, nothing I can sink my metaphorical brain-teeth into. Instead, Thunderstone often feels like a track team race to grab those heroes and level ‘em fast before your opponent steals both those Thundermage Bolters and magically zaps their way to victory. This is not particularly fun. 

This is particularly not particularly fun when you are losing. Now I’m a person who likes to view losing as a challenge rather than a problem, a transitory state to be swiftly passed through on the way to crushing your opponent and using their morale as your personal footstool. In Thunderstone however, triumphant comebacks are rare, and this is a systematised effect of the game. In other words -  “I heard you like winning, so I’ll give you xp while you get vp so you can win while you are winning.”

The GF has XP

You'll notice that a lot of the problems I've been talking about are multi-player. Oddly, I've actually found Thunderstone Advance a more satifying ridin' solo (or fightin' solo). Suddenly, you are plunged into a deathly struggle that requires wits, and planning to defeat, rather than spending your time worrying about your opponents XP pile. The difficulty of solo play can be easily adjusted, and as a masochist, I love the fact that you start off facing the unbeatable, which gradually becomes the beatable and then hopefully, the beat.

I am well aware  that I've only played Thunderstone Advance 2-players (or solo), and perhaps it is a game where more is actually merry. Any Thunderstone players around who can share their experiences here? We would well appreciate some discussion on this game, because if there exists a way for us to enjoy it more we would love to try it. 

Final Review

Me: Thunderstone Advance is a game with more cool things then you can poke a stick, pike, or dwarven bear hammer at, yet despite that it doesn't really fit together. There is still a certain satisfaction however in deck-building and monster blood splattering, especially in the games beginning - stabbing that first skeleton in the bony ribs holds a charm that even a dodgy game mechanic cannot vanquish. But multiplayer the game is more frustrating than fantasy adventuring, as players with xp earn more xp and those without find themselves drowning their sorrows continually in the tavern (read:village).
Rating: 6.5

GF: The coolest thing about this game is the vast amount of cards you get. So many heroes to level up, each with their own distinct charm.... the problem is that you don't get to use many of them in the one game... funnily, I never had this problem with Dominion, but here in Thunderstone, I feel the lack. Perhaps it is because Dominion has more of a slant towards strategy, meaning that card sets are more like a deck-optimization puzzle that makes you work with what you've got. Thunderstone slants more towards the fantasy theme and involves you more in a story, an epic tale of Thunderbearer-killing quests... and it's actually a bummer you can't involve yourself with all the elements of the game in one play. It's like if you played a demo version of something like Final Fantasy where you're locked to only playing the Knight, but you know all the cool kids are playing Black Mage. Thunderstone has that kind of feel.
BUT WAIT.... THERE IS AN EPIC VARIANT, which lets you use all the cards! This is great, albeit a little long to set up. I had some fun with this game, but it quickly grew stale for me, sadly.
GF's Rating: 6

...solo, I'm fightin' solo, I'm fightin' solo, I'm fightin' solo solo....