There is a great scene in the Andy Griffith show with Andy sitting in the Mayberry Mayor’s office and they are trying to decide on using Japanese Lanterns or balloons for the Apricot Festival. One councilman says that Japanese Lanterns are so doggone commonplace at Apricot festivals and he wanted to use balloons. At first glance Lanterns may seem like another commonplace game in the tired tile laying genre. I put the game through some heavy play this past weekend and I have one word for it, TIGHT.
You can tell this game was designed by someone who knew what they were doing. Each game I won was done so by only one or two points. I love that in a game. The greatness of games like Star Wars The Queens Gambit are that they are always close nail biters and so is this game. Nail Biting may be rare in a game like this that is far more abstract than Star Wars Queens Gambit but nevertheless I enjoyed it.
The game has several features that make it slightly more interesting than Carcassonne. Tile placement is critical because you end up giving a lantern card of a specific color to the player based on the edge he is facing. Lots of Delicious Decisions for the gamer to enjoy. Placing special tiles with platforms allow you to take a wooden Fate token. These fate tokens can be traded for a card of your choice to fill in what you need to make a dedication and take a point scoring tile.
This game was getting a lot of play at BGG FAM and I didn’t get a chance to play it. But I did play Splendor and I didn’t see what the big deal was about the game. Nice pieces but bland. Lanterns wins against the two. Lanterns is not Ameritrash and while the ages say 8 to adult there is something very adult and sophisticated about this game, it doesn’t go into the geek realm. This game if it could get proper exposure could really take the Bridge crowd by storm. I see it as an adult game to be played with martinis. This is not a game for basement dwellers, grunge babies, or worshipers of plastic figures. Ward Cleaver would play this game and that is good news for gaming whose focus has been on the Man Child Still in Middle School for far too long!
The balance in the game is beautiful! Just enough to do to keep it interesting, simple yet deep, nice components and the tight scoring make it a big winner!
I have always enjoyed the Two Player Kosmos series and Heave Ho! is no exception. It was Sunday afternoon, I was wearing my new plaid Kilt and as Thurgood set aside his bagpipes it was time for a little Tug of war Scottish style!
Thurgood played the Glenfiddich family and was doing well. he was 3 spots away from pulling the whisky barrel to his side to win the game. Thurgood also had the distinct advantage of Nessie pulling the rope on his side!
I could see the barrel slipping away. My mouth watered for a taste of the GlenLivet that lay waiting for the victor inside the barrel. Of course, when Thurgood and I played we always wagered a bottle of GlenLivet. I could not stand a loss of that magnitude. I must collect my wits about me and formulate a plan for my team to win!
My team was no slouch, I played the Bowmore family and my top team member at the moment was Helga Bowmore. She was ugly as sin, but a sweet gal and a hell of a good cook and could tug a rope like nobody’s business but it was not enough at the moment and the whisky barrel was slipping away!
Not to be outdone in the female department Thurgood played a fine Scottish lass with a Heave Ho! which meant we did a tally and moved the whisky barrel and it went another notch toward Thurgood, who was already looking for his favorite whisky glass in anticipation of tasting the Glenlivet.
Two more tugs and I was done. I would be toast! Thurgood smiled and made a nightmare play!
All female contestants were called home and it was a game for the men! This meant I lost the star of my show, HELGA!!! NO!!!! It did not look good for me at all!
Another Heave Ho! from Mr. Pigtails! He gave it all he had as his hat flew off his head!
The barrel now only one step away from my defeat!
As I drew a card and filled my hand. The stars all seemed to align at once and smile down on me! I could almost hear the cork popping out of teh Glenlivet bottle as I smiled and played the one card I needed!
I played the glorious Monstrous card! Which simply means Nessie got tired of this little game of Tug of War and ate all the team members on Thurgood’s side. Giving me a Glorious victory and truly another Epic Moment in Gaming!
It was Saturday June 17. Not in real time but in game time. In real time it was around late December 3am I was drinking a Gin and Tonic while Thurgood moved a French Force into the town of Quatre Bras.
An unexpected move but I saw an opprotunity here. Wellington had been marching his force from Brussels along the road headed to Quatre Bras and it was a perfect opportunity to strike a little terror in the French forces.
Wellington invaded Quatre Bras and as I took a sip of my Gin and Tonic I could almost imagine the sweat on Napoleon’s brow as he got the news of Wellington’s move. Thurgood certainly didn’t expect that I would leave Brussels undefended and was taken aback as the forces were lined up on the battle map.
My plan was simple. Scorch the Earth. I planned to fire my artillery in the center and move the Infantry unit on the left flank and the infantry unit and the right flank to engage.I fired the artillery. I was firing at long range. I rolled 3 six sided dice and I needed a 6 to hit.
The first roll was a “1”, obviously a misfire. The second roll was a “3” a miss. But the final and third roll hit, a “6”
The hit reduced the French infantry unit in the center to a combat value of 3.
Meanwhile on my right flank bullets were whizzing past bobbing heads. There were misses all the way around on both sides. However on the left flank an unsettling situation was brewing. The French cavalry unit was inflicting some whoop ass on the English Infantry unit.
The cavalry unit hits on a 5 or 6 and had rolled two 5’s in a row reducing the combat value of the English unit down to “1”
Thurgood smiled as his brutal cavalry unit almost destroyed my infantry unit. I was in trouble big time and since I was down to a combat value of “1” I had to make a morale roll.
I had to send Wellington over to the left flank to pump up the spirits of the lads. Wellington would give me a +1 to my morale roll.
A sip of the Gin and Tonic and it was time to roll. I could hear Wellington saying,
“Keep calm and Carry On, stiff upper lip and all of that rot, what would Matt Thower do?”
I hoped for the best and rolled the die.
A “3”!!! Nooooo, I needed at least a “4”…but wait Wellington gives me a +1 that makes “4” and the infantry unit much like Popeye eats a can of spinach and fights on inspired by the words of Wellington! Back to the center flank the artillery was on a roll and a final 6 knocked out the center line forcing the French retreat as Wellington takes Quatre Bras in a glorious battle.
So ends another EPIC MOMENT IN GAMING (echo)
Although this game took place years ago, it is still being talked about today. In this Episode of Epic Moments in Gaming we look at Sucking Vacuum. It takes place aboard the International Space Station and the rules say you should adopt a foreign accent. I played a Russian and used my best impression of Checkov. I like to say “Wessel”
Here is my character. As you can see a beautiful standup that no mini could match. The game Sucking Vacuum is produced by Alien Menace who thinks games don’t have to be expensive to be cool. A statement with which I totally agree.
Anyway, my oxygen supply was good and I had formulated a plan to win the game.
I had already collected the items I needed to win the game. I had a complete spacesuit. I also had the computer program to fuel the escape pod, and I had the autopilot for me to successfully navigate the escape pod back to earth.
However, there was a problem. I had to make my way through my opponent the evil German
who also had the same goal in mind. To steal my fuel program and autopilot and escape by himself in the escape pod,
A menacing standup by any stretch of the imagination! As I approached the computer terminal to fuel the escape pod, he was waiting for me. He was armed with a weapon so deadly I shuddered from fear.
Yes, that is what it looks like, a toilet brush. Hitting me with that would knock 3 oxygen out of me and I would be Sucking Vacuum and an easy target for the Evil German to steal my auto pilot and Fuel program. To hit me The German would need to roll a 1-3 on a 6 sided die. I looked on in trepidation as he rolled…
A FIVE! That nasty toilet brush missed my head as I dodged in the weightless atmosphere in slow motion. Now it was my turn. I had to knock the oxygen out of that German so I could make it to the Escape Pod. I was not armed but I had a much better weapon and her name was Annabelle!
Annabelle is the Space Station’s helper robot and she was under my control. I had rigged an old Atari joystick to control her and I wasn’t going to use her to sweep the floor, nooooo
Annabelle was going to attack the German and when she attacks no die roll is needed, she never misses and she will slap you for 4 O2 right out of your oxygen supply! Annabelle reminds me of the female android on Bride of Pinbot, the old pinball machine and its in the balls that the German took it and you guessed it, he was sucking vacuum!
The Evil German now had only one thing he could do! He had to slowly move toward the nearest Oxygen tank to refill his air supply.
As the German slowly moved out of my path and headed to the oxygen supply, I made my way to the computer terminal and inserted the floppy disk to initiate the fueling program.
The Escape Pod is fueled and I make my way with a hint of arrogance to the Escape Pod. I engage the Auto Pilot and I leave the International Space Station sailing my “wessel” to a glorious victory and into the books as another EPIC MOMENT IN GAMING! (echo)
Welcome brave gamer to another episode of Epic Moments in Gaming! This week we look at another hidden gem, Shazamm! from Zman Games.
I remember this match well. It was a dark windy night, the electricity was out and the game was lit by candlelight. Appropriate since Thurgood and I were both playing the role of Wizards battling atop a bridge that was collapsing as we hurled a wall of flame towards each other.
I played the green wizard which was a beautiful standup(slight smile) of thick cardboard with a sturdy black base.
No plastic mini could match the beauty of this marvelous standup. A flowing green robe with a Viking type helmet. Actually the Weeks Clan may hail from Viking ancestors but I have yet to inherit a horned helmet. Historians say that Vikings never wore horned helmets it would be too easy for a foe to grab the horns in battle but this is not entirely true because ceremonial priests may have worn them and as I am now in the role of a wizard this fits nicely. But I digress, back to this Epic Moment in Gaming. (Insert Fanfare Here)
My opponent played by Thurgood was the Evil red Wizard and I had him on the ropes. The wall of fire blazing so close it singed his nose hairs! This would also be our last round if by some chance I was victorious because the wall of fire would push him into the lava below as the bridge continued to crumble away.
However, I am afraid all did not look like a Rose Garden and certainly I was not promised a Rose garden in this game! My mana was at 3 meager points while The Evil Red Wizard had 14 points! This was certainly bad news for me!
I was weak and exhausted. Fighting tooth and nail with every spell I could muster but I was foolish to squander so much of my mana. I should have been more careful. I looked at my dial and the number 3 stared directly at me.
Fate was laughing at me! Had I come this far only to be defeated by Thurgood’s master planning? I looked over rather sheepishly at his evil red eye. I knew what lay beneath and had no doubt he would spend his full 14 points of mana in an attempt to foil me and send the wall of flames towards my imported silk robe from Essen.
The flicker of the candlelight on the table twisted Thurgood’s features into such an evil smile it defies description. He slowly turned over the only spell card he played this round.
I was afraid to look at it might have been better if I didn’t. As I looked I heard thunder outside in the distance. Quite appropriate.
Hath you no mercy Thurgood! A double dose? This means The Red Wizard now has a total of 28 mana! But this was not needed! Thurgood knew I had only 3 mana, I was easily defeated. Playing the double dose was like pouring salt in the wound. A cruel play.
Another sound of thunder could be heard in the distance as I raised my lowered head and cocked my eyebrow like Spock. I had also only played a single spell card. A single green card lay on the table waiting to be turned over. A bead of sweat could be seen rolling down the forehead of Thurgood as he struggled to keep smiling. Suspense was building. My hand went for the spell card to turn it over.
The knockout punch was delivered to Thurgood as I turned over the card. What a glorious card and the card he feared most in this situation. A card that would send the Evil Red Wizard swimming in a pool of lava.
Since i was the loser with only 3 mana the wall of flames engulfed the Red Wizard and forced him back to the falling flagstone and sent him screaming to his lava bath.
It didn’t dawn on to me until later that the little green lizard there was actually Michael Barnes in familiar mode, a minion of the Red Wizard!
As I looked over the edge, A balloon simliar to the one in the Wizard of Oz appeared out of nowhere, I hopped inside just in time as the bridge totally collapsed. Despite my harrowing experience I couldn’t help breaking out in song, singing “Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon” and to my surprise Greg Schloesser and Rick Thornquist both wearing Mr. Rogers type sweaters, appeared from behind some sandbags and started singing backup to my song, ba ba ba, ba ba ba ba!
This concludes this episode of EPIC MOMENTS IN GAMING!
It was late at the Pub and I had drank my share of Pints but I wasn’t so far gone as to have lost my gaming moxy and was in the mood for one last joust with a couple of ladies that were chatting up my last win at El Grande. I sat down in the corner with them. A Nice table that David O’Kelly kept for me since it worked perfect for gaming. I ordered another pint and set up the game of Loch Ness
I took on the role of Claude McMirror and as the game progressed I knew it was a tight game, very close and anyone could win.
This would be the last round as the Little Nessie would surely go past 65 on the board. I took a long sip of Ale from my mug and looked at the board.
Big Nessie was 6 spaces away from my 7 value cameraman but the problem was Belinda Viewing had her value 7 cameraman 5 spaces away next to mine. I had two great photos of the trunk and tail of Nessie as you can see.
I needed Big Nessie to stop in front of my number 7 cameraman so I could get a shot of the head and yes the head was available to grab from the face up cards,
The decision facing me now was what move card to play. It was late and I was full of Ale and I thought I had a pretty good idea what cards remained for Belinda and Filosa but I couldn’t be sure. I played my card face down and hoped for the best. I needed Big Nessie to stop in front of my green 7 cameraman so I could get the head shot. The head shot would give me a complete series and 10 points which from my calculations should be enough to win the game. I took a sip of Ale and Belinda turned over the move cards,
Nightmare scenario! A blasted FIVE!!! That moves Big Nessie directly in front of Belinda!
I will get points sure, but I won’t get to get the head shot photo I desperately needed to win the game! CURSES! Belinda smiling ear to ear as she starts to grab for the Head Shot photo.
But wait! My droopy lids opened as something dawned on me. I had put a token on the Bagpipes space on the board. Those lovely BAGPIPES! I felt so good I almost wanted to put on a Kilt and walk around a game convention. Do you realize what this means? The bagpipes allow me to move BIG NESSIE one space more directly in front of my Green cameraman!
Belinda looked like she had hit by a sledge hammer. I picked up the head shot of Nessie, which did indeed give me the game!