Review: Munchkin

What is it: A satirical look at tabletop roleplaying games and those who forsake any sort of immersion in the name of building the most busted character

Great what does that mean: Players are characters in a roleplaying game who are traversing a dungeon in order to become the most powerful(level 10) by getting the best gear while making sure that no one else beat them to it while cutting the right deals to get ahead.

Scaling: 3-6. The more the better, with more than 6 there are some component limitations

Production quality: Average. The cards are fine, if you play it often enough you’ll want to sleeve them. Biggest problem is that the box is pretty bad, doesn’t come with any dividers and not that hard to break.

What’s good: It’s casual, it’s quick, it’s simple, it’s humorous. While there is some backstabbing it’s hard to become so invested in the game that you actually care. They’re good about churning out different flavors and expansions so you can laugh at your favorite thing and add plenty of variety to the game.

What’s not good: The game has two really bad parts. The first is the beginning of the game where you and the table as a whole have so little in terms of gear that it’s tricky to kill anything and actually get the game moving. The second is the end of the game where usually more than one player is at level 9 and thus needs to gain only one more level. The first player in this boat will fight something and everyone will throw everything they have at the player in order to stop them and will probably succeed. If nothing else it is anticlimactic and there’s little that could be done about it. On top of that the game has a tendency to drag on, compounding all of these problems.

Overall: 2/5. I’m not opposed to playing it, but I won’t go out of my way to do so. Ultimately it suffers from subpar gameplay as well as one of my problems with Mansions of Madness is that rolpelaying games shouldn’t be mixed with board gamrs. If you’re not that competitive however and want a more social game then it’s not a bad fit.

Munchkin at BGG

Munchkin at Amazon

Solforge Patch Changes Examined

Solforge, the other really cool game from Stoneblade Entertainment(the guys behind Ascension), got a massive update on Monday with two things: first it added online play. Second, it changed a whole bunch of cards and really changed the game. This week I’ll be going over the changes in part to help me be a better player by thinking through the cards, and partly so you can realize what’s changed and how to be better as well. Bear in mind that this is only an incomplete picture since many of these changes were made with the full set in mind.

I copy pasted the list from the official patch notes, which you can find here. Text from that post will be in italics while my commentary will not

Nekrium

Cull the Weak

Now destroys target creature with 4, 7, 14 or less Attack. Previously destroyed a level 1, 2 or less, 3 or less creature.

On one hand, this is no longer the best removal spell in the game.  On the other hand, this is still pretty good. Against Rageborn Hellion and synapse Oracle this has much greater value even in the mid game. It also pairs very nicely with Epidemic. The biggest drawback is that it can no longer kill the really big guys like Scorchmane Dragon, Chrogias and Brightsteel Sentinel. It should be noted that it is more flavorful now.

Fleshfiend

Now is 5/5 at level 1. Previously was 4/4.

On the first play of this guy he compares better to a lot of other rank 1s, being able to trade with a lot more of them and has just that much more staying power. This means that his higher levels are also better since all told they have that much more of a punch to them.

Bonescythe Reaver

Now is 5/3, 8/7, 13/12. Previously was 6/3, 9/7, 14/12.

Bonescythe Reaver has a really, really good ability at level 2 and 3. Being able to kill a dude and getting your own dude is a powerful effect. Even that -1 to attack makes the body not great. Before it was fairly common to 2 for 1 with him as he could kill a creature and then trade. Now he’s not as likely to do that and his level 1 form is not as appealing since 6 power was above average.

Vengeful Spirit

Ability now gives -2/-2, -4/-4, -8/-8. Previously was -3/-3, -6/-6, -9/-9.

Strict nerf, the result being that it’s no longer as good with sac effects to generate board advantage. Still pretty good though

Graveborn Glutton

Now 6/3, 11/8, 17/14. Previously was 6/4, 11/9, 17/15

Another strict nerf but one that doesn’t seem to matter that much compared to everything else. His attack is still above average and he’s going ot deal damage when he dies.

Death Seeker

Level 3 Spirit Warrior now is 14/14. Previously was 16/16.

A minor nerf that makes him a bit easier to deal with and is killed by new Cull the Weak lvl 3. The decks that want him still want him.

Epidemic

Now gives -7/-7 at level 3. Previously was -10/-10.

-7/-7 is still a crippling blow but enough that an opponent could come back from it when you’re both slinging lvl. 3 spells.  Not really want you want form a lvl 3 Epidemic though.

Hungering Strike

Now gives -3/-0, +3/+0 at level 1, -5/-0, +5/+0 at level 2 and -9/-0, +9/+0 at level 3. Previously was -2/-0, +2/+0 at level 1, -4/-0, +4/+0 at level 2 and -8/-0, +8/+0 at level 3.

Yes, this is a power increase. The problem is that I don’t really like Hungering Strike, the effect is useful but I find myself wanting other cards over it. Admittedly this could be a flaw in my thinking and that with all of the nerfs that Nekrium has received as a faction this could rise in value.

Grave Pact

Now destroys a creature you control to destroy a level 1, 2 or less, 3 or less creature. Previously was -6/-6, -10/-10, -20/-20.

It’s the new Cull the Weak, except its really awkward to level.  Playing with it a bit I’ve never wanted to use it on the first run through the deck and by the time I wanted it I need to kill lvl. 3 things.

Overall: Nekrium got weaker overall. Mainly in that it requires some more work to be done in order to get your opponent’s creatures off the board.  The creature modifications outside of Vengeful Spirit don’t matter that much either.

Uterra

Enrage

Now gives +6/+6 at level 2 and +12/+12 at level 3. Previously was +5/+5, +7/+7.

It’s strictly better and this was already a card you probably wanted in your Uterra deck to change up some combat math.

 

Grove Huntress

Now is 7/6 at level 2 and 11/10 at level 3. Previously was 8/6, 12/10.

It’s a worse Enrage with a body as well. The body is slightly nerfed to minimize that feeling of 2 for 1ing. Not a deal breaker

Chrogias

Now is 40/40 at level 3. Previously was 25/25.

This is bonkers. If a lvl 3 Chrogias comes down and sticks around for a turn then the balance gets altered. 2 attacks and you’re probably dead. There is now a reason to run this guy.

Uterran Packmaster

Now is 5/6, 9/10, 16/17. Previously was 4/5, 6/7, 11/12.

Now activates to give other uterran creatures you control +1/+1, +3/+3, +5/+5. Previously gave Uterran creatures you control +1/+1, +3/+3, +5/+5 at the start of the controller’s turn.

So now it’s harder to kill and will actually pump other guys most likely. This card is a lot better now.

Spring Dryad

Now is 6/6 at level 2 and 9/9 at level 3. Previously was 5/5 and 8/8.

A Spring Dryad allowed to stick around is going to grow really big, really fast. Now it starts out slightly stronger.

Ferocious Roar

Now gives +2/+2 at level 1. Previously was +1/+1.

You feel better about playing this at lvl 1 now. The decks that want this don’t’ really stumble in leveling it now.

Toxic Spores

Now gives Poison 12 at level three and no longer allows a player to play and additional card. Previously was Poison 6 and allowed a player to play an additional card.

This got a lot worse. The increase in poison isn’t really a trade off for not being able to play another card.

Glowstride Stag

Now is 7/10 at level 2 and 11/15 at level 3. Previously was 6/10 and 10/15.

The additional point of power is not irrelevant. It doesn’t really push the card but since I like playing the Stag already this means that it stays around longer.

Soothing Radiance

Now heals 6, 12, 24 damage from each creature you control and no longer gives the player health.

Speaking of healing, this card is unplayable now. At least before I was willing to consider a 1 of in my Uterra decks.

Overall: The cards that got buffed really got buffed. The cards that got nered were already not that great to begin with or are tweaks that don’t’ tip the boat that much. Probably the faction that got the most out of this patch.

 

Alloyin

Technosmith

Now 7/7 at level 2. Previously was 8/8.

Technosmith was really good at lvl 2 and 3. Making it just a bit worse is felt but it’s still playable. More importantly it creates more of a trade off in exchange for ramp.

Scout Drone

Levels 2 and 3 now are free to play. Previously allowed a player to play an additional card when played.

More of a technical change than anything else that just makes things easier for everyone.

Synapsis Oracle

Now 1/8, 2/16, 3/24. Previously was 2/10, 4/15, 10/25.

Synapsis Oracle was one of the best, if not the best Alloyin card. It’s stas were good and it allowed you to just throw cards away to be leveled with no concern. Now you can still level cards but you’re actively giving away more on the board for it.

Brightsteel Sentinel

Level 3 now 14/15. Previously was 17/20.

Level 3 now gives 15 armor to all robots you control. Previously was 20.

Nerfed, probably so that robots don’t run away with the game once the full set is released.

Matrix Warden

 

Now 2/3, 6/8, 8/14. Previously was 3/3, 8/8, 14/14.

Now gives +3, +5, +10 attack. Previously was +3, +5, +10 health.

That’s a not inconsiderate hit to its power and changing its ability from health to power seems odd to be honest.  Again, probably makes more sense in the context of the full set.

Munitions Drone

Now 1/5, 3/8, 7/14. Previously was 2/5, 4/8, 8/14.

Now gives +3, +5, +10 attack to any other creature. Previously was to any Robot.

The shift in power makes it worse since it wasn’t that high to begin with and its health isn’t the greatest. Can’t pump itself anymore but it no longer has to be in heavy robots. Makes it more versatile with the full set.

Sonic Pulse

Now gives -3, -4, -5 attack to creatures an opponent controls. Previously was -3, -5, -10 attack.

Much worse now. No longer a staple but maybe a 1 of since its first level isn’t that bad.

Tech Upgrade

Now gives +2, +3, +6 attack and +2, +3, +6 armor. No longer gives health bonus.

Robot decks still want this, now they’re stuff is just a bit easier to kill after getting the upgrade.

Overall:  Alloyin got some nerfs that weren’t unexpected, mainly with Synapsis Oracle and a bunch of stuff that isn’t so great now but will presumedly be better with the full set.

Tempys

Lightning Spark

Deals 5, 9, 14 damage. Previously was 4, 8, 12.

It kills more stuff and does more to the dome, this is perfectly playable and puts it closer to the level of Uranti Bolt in terms of effectiveness.

Lightning Wyrm

Now 4/2, 7/5, 11/8. Previously was 4/2, 8/4, 12/6.

It trades power for life. The thing is that it still probably doesn’t stay around cause it has such low health. The most meaningful interaction that I can think of is that it no longer dies to Magma Hound’s ability.

 

Scorchmane Dragon

Now 12/12 at level 2 and 24/24 at level 3. Previously was 10/10 and 20/20.

Strictly better, this guy was already part of the reason to run Tempys alongside Alloyin. Now the better stats means you stabilize sooner.

Magma Hound

Now 4/3, 8/7, 13/12. Previously was 5/3, 9/7, 14/12.

Same deal as Bonescythe Reaver and Grove Huntress. Really good ability so toning down the stats a bit.  Makes it harder to kill stuff with in combat now.

Flameblade Champion

Ability now deals damage based on the damage Flameblade Champion dealt to the player. Previously was based on Flameblade Champion’s attack.

Technical change so that it no longer has weird interactions with Rageborn Hellion and breakthrough.

Flamestoke Shaman

Now 6/3, 12/7, 18/12. Previously was 5/5, 9/9, 15/15.

It’s health is now firmly in the can die easily category instead of being able to put up a fight. His ability is still important to the rush decks though so this means  that he’ll be trading more often than not.

Riftlasher

Now 3/6, 5/10, 9/16. Previously was 4/7, 7/11, 14/17.

Ability now deals damage based on the damage Riftlasher dealt to the player. Previously was 3, 5, 9.

This is worse in every single way that matters. The stats are mediocre and while the higher levels deal more damage than the old version did, it’s easier to stop him.

Cinderfist Brawler

Now 7/1, 10/1, 14/1. Previously was 5/6, 9/10, 14/16.

Ability now deals damage based on the damage Cinderfist Brawler dealt to the player. Previously was based on Cinderfist Brawler’s attack.

This trade off is interesting, more attack means it’ll at least trade and has to be responded to. 1 health means it’s poor in the mirror match and less good  against Nekrium. Second change is the same as Flameblade Champion.

Stonefist Giant

Now 3/6, 6/12, 12/24. Previously was 7/2, 12/6, 18/13.

More flavorful and gives Tempys a roadblock. If nothing else it makes it stand out more. Probably more relevant with the full set and lack of god mode for limited/casual play.

Windcaller Shaman

Now a 7/11 at level 2. Previously was 8/12.

Ability now can only target level 1 creatures at level 1 and level 2 or lower creatures at level 2.

Switch in stats is fine tuning, not really something I have a feel for. Ability makes the card a lot less of come back but also makes it more in line with similar abilities.

Primordial Surge

Now gives +7, +11, +15 attack until the end of the turn. Previously was +5, +10, +15 permanently

….Why? One of the main advantages of the game being digital is that stuff can be permanent and upping its power really isn’t a good trade off for being temporary.

Overall: Tempys just got generally nerfed. It like Nekrium can still do what it does best and still has some of the best cards.

Taken as a whole, this patch dropped the power level of a lot of cards and Uterra was really the only one who came out of it ahead. All the other factions still have their key cards and the strategies that have been in play are still the ones being relied upon at their core.

Looking Back at Season 1 of Defiance

Defiance, the scifi Western show from the same people as new BSG and Farscape, that Syfy was advertising heavily this year has just ended its first season. The show had a lot riding on it, Syfy has had some financial difficulties in recent years and invested heavily in promoting the show as well as the game. The good news is that it didn’t crash and burn, the bad news is that it is still a first season with all the associated warts and bumps. So let’s break down each element of the show and see how it carried itself.

Now I could sit on this and mull over how I feel about the show, but this isn’t a thought provoking show. By that I mean it’s not really complicated in terms of plot nor is it a show that I have to really process how I feel about it. Instead I’d rather get this out now while everyone is thinking about it.

BEWARE YE WHO CONTINUE READING FOR SPOILERS

Characters: By and large I like the main characters: Nolan, Irisa, Yewll, Rafe, the Tarrs and Tommy. Just about everyone else is forgettable, dull or too shrouded in mystery for me to have an opinion on them. The one exception to this is that there is 1 character I actively dislike, that being Kenya, mainly because she’s kind of an idiot and it’s a plot point that keeps coming up. The guest stars also weren’t that bad as a whole with a few of them being quite good. It would have been nice to see Christie and Alak together, for in the case of Christie at all, after their wedding as well.  The characters are like many other things on this show, decent to solid with room for improvement.

Visuals: This is the kind of stuff that you expect from Syfy TV shows; which is to say very well. It doesn’t have anything like BSG’s visuals, it’s very much like Eureka, and they’re solid with a few stand outs.

Music: The music is by Bear McCreary means I’m already predisposed to liking it. He does good work. Every episode ending with a cover is less than stellar in my opinion with the songs being used hit or miss. Moving forward I really want more Votan/post Pale Wars stuff like the snippet heard in the first episode at the Need/Want.

Backstory: At first it is admittedly somewhat overwhelming, tying the beginning of the show to the game was really not the best move since it left me feeling disjointed. It also doesn’t bother with much in story exposition, which increases the verisimilitude of the whole thing. Instead viewers are expected to look it up themselves or piece it together and roll with it.  I’m not inherently against such a method, but the show starts off really rough in this regard. At first I thought that the backstory was cluttered with how many different species there in comparison to the ones that get used, but it’s a rather silly. The status quo also makes sense when you consider the behind scene issues in costumes and prosthetics. It gets better once it establishes itself though. Now I just hope there isn’t too much stuff that’s actually important tied up in the game.

Episodes: The first four episodes really aren’t that great, five is half good and six is pretty good , seven is a drop in quality and then the rest of the season is really starting to pick up. It’s also once you pass that four episode mark that the show really starts to establish its own identity. This could be influenced by the fact that I’m currently rewatching Babylon Five but it very much feels like it’s trying ot emulate it in certain regards, the good filler isn’t really filler but is setting things up sort of way.

Overarching Plots: Like any good scifi show there is of course more than overarching plot holding this together and their quality varies.

  1. Nolan and Irisa’s heist in San Fran: I expect this to be wrapped up on the grounds of more important stuff is happening and am only listing it for the sake of being thorough. About as good as any other way to start the show and introduce some tension but that’s it.
  2. The Kaziri: This is really annoying because of how little we know. My opinion of this dropped when it turned that it isn’t related to some powerful terraforming equipment but rather it’s basically a Votan nuke….maybe probably. What pieces we are given of it are good in building up interest in mystery except the show also likes to scream OMINIOUS HAPPENINGS.
  3. Pale Wars 2.0: It would’ve been nice if the Votanis Collective hadn’t been pushed aside almost entirely from the show. Although I expect they’ll feature prominent in season two and in resolving the cliffhanger we’re left with.
  4. Earth Republic annexing Defiance: Specifically this part of the cliffhanger, since supposedly Datak still has connections in the Votanis Collective, and they have to know something about the Kaziri. Even if they are in Brazil the Votanis Collective isn’t going to do nothing, and neither are the people of Defiance.
  5. Kenya:  Is being held by Stahma but given everything else going on is really the least important plot right now by a wide margin. The fact that I don’t care for her character only compounds my apathy here. Or she might be dead, I honestly wasn’t paying that much attention; in which case it’s the fallout of her death that we have to see.
  6. Datak and Stahma: are being confronted by Earth Republic forces last we saw them.
  7.  Irathient Religion/Irdu: Can we just forget this whole pseudo-Native American shtick they have? The only reason why I’m listing this is the off chance that mystical forces will actually play a role in the show. It’s dumb, and aside from Sukar’s original premonitions can all be attributed to Votan tech doing stuff.
  8.  Nolan is being kept alive by Votan tech: We know that Votan tech can bring back the dead, so there’s just the question of how this is going to play out.
  9.  Irisa’s Technicolor stuff: I’m not really sure what else to call this beyond some machine induced hallucination presented itself as a God and basically told Irisa to jump into the light.
  10.  Quentin looking for his mom: I really don’t care about this, it seemed like Quentin’s main function was holding onto the Kaziri for half the season.
  11.  Volge/Gulagee: This mainly exists in the backstory right now but there’s still a bunch of questions about what is up with these two races.  If this never gets resolved then it plummets the value of the pilot and some of the setting’s draw.

Other thoughts: the two Votan cultures we see aren’t really flattering: Castihans are just dicks and Irathients are as already stated pseudo-Native Americans.

Overall: Defiance had a decent first season, I’d recommend watching it and I’m looking forward to season two. I’m also going to be expecting a lot more from it in season two, the writers got the chance to find their bearings, now they have to deliver. 

Review: Memoir ’44 (Online)

Note: I’m reviewing the actual game as well as the online version here. However having only played the online version this means I can only touch upon the gameplay.

What is it: a free to play adaptation of the boardgame of the same name by Days of Wonder. In it players play out various battles of WWII.
Online stuff:  You can download it through Steam, with all that associated stuff. the Interface is okay, once you realize that right clicking and moving your mouse around will solve most problems you’re facing its acceptable. The monetization stuff seems about as fair as any other monetization plan in any other F2P game, which is to say not very. There’s still a fair amount of the game that is actually free though, enough to figure out if you like it enough to want to put money into it.
Scaling: Online play is only two players but the rules have stuff for teams using physical copies. It strikes me more as a band-aid then something that would actually be fun to play though.
What’s good: This game is easy to learn and still has a fair amount of depth to it. in the right situation(a good mentor figure) this would be a good introductory board game to the hobby in general for younger players. The amount of detail that each scenario has is enough to tell you what’s going on and why it matters. On a somewhat different note, there’s also a fair amount of official variant rules and expansions, which gives the game a fair amount of replayability; just not so much online.
What’s not good: There’s a lot of variance. What you do each turn is determined by a deck of cards, that isn’t changed from scenario to scenario so you can get close to totally dead draws*. On top of that attacks are determined by dice. The result is that the game can leave you feeling like you’re at the mercy of luck, compared to you’re actively managing luck. I will admit that this could in part be due to the fact that I was playing online against an AI instead of face to face with another person. In a face to face game it would be a different environment that would cause me to mind the luck less.
Overall: 2/5. This isn’t a bad game, it has its flaws but so does every other game. I can recognize that fact, the problem is that I just don’t like this game. A good amount of it has to do with variance but it also has to do with the fact that I’m not that really into wargames.

*It’s not totally dead cause the way they are worded means they’re still useful, just really bad.