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Gen Con 50 games wrap-up part 2 August 22, 2017

Posted by thejinx in conventions, life.
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Since my first Gen Con games wrap-up post ended up being so long, I decided to break it up into separate posts per day of gaming. So, without further ado, here is my summary of my Friday gaming.

Friday – 7:00-8:00 p.m. – Catgirl Death Match

Friday evening was my husband’s and my designated time for gaming together, so all of these events were decided upon in tandem. So, of course, given our tastes, what game would capture our attention as the first game of the evening? A little rapid-fire dice game called Catgirl Death Match.

We played a prototype version of the game – very much so, as the GMs were still putting stickers on additional dice even as they were explaining the rules to us. Learning the rules and playing the game through one complete round filled up the hour, though the game is rather faster to play than that. The GMs had not been to Gen Con before and seemed a little inexperienced at explaining the rules, but my husband and I and the two other players at our game eventually got the hang of it.

The game play is pretty simple: 20 dice of three different types make up a pool the players choose from before rolling those dice. Each die has four possible outcomes which you can use to attack an opponent and take their dice, reroll dice, shield yourself from attacks, or one unfortunate facing on the less common, more powerful dice that would take itself out of the round. Players take turns until only one is left standing, when points are scored for the dice taken by each player.

It was a fast-paced, fun little game with an amusing style to it. It’s hard to say how much replay value it might have and the initial roll of five dice, each roughly 3 cm to a side, was a little awkward, but it was certainly an enjoyable way to spend an hour and I wish the designers the best of luck. On that note, they have launched a Kickstarter for production of the full game, so check it out and help an aspiring game involving a catgirl battle get off the ground.

Friday – 8:00-9:00 p.m. – Artemis Bridge Simulator: Training Ship

poster05While I hadn’t seen it in action before, I had heard of Artemis and knew the general concept: that a group of players get together, each at a separate console, and take a different role running a starship, a la Star Trek. I was mildly disappointed when we arrived for our game to find that the training event we signed up for was not at the full bridge setup but at a group of tables holding seven desktop computers like a LAN party. It was only a minor disappointment, though, entirely what I chose, and did make it more interesting that there were two screens in active play that I couldn’t see at all. One had to focus entirely on one’s own job.

Since I was wearing my Starfleet science officer shirt, it seemed only fitting that I take the role of the science officer on the ship, which was a pretty low-stress position. There was a bit of fumbling both on my part and my husband’s – and, it seemed, all three of the other players – as we didn’t really understand what to do with our screens, but as with Catgirl Death Match, we eventually got the hang of it. It was a pretty impressive little simulator and the whole setup, with each player only having a small part of the whole picture and needing to work together to run the ship effectively, was a really neat way to run the game. I will say that our second mission, when the trainer actively stepped in as captain of the ship, ran a lot better than the first one did when nobody was in charge. I would definitely be interested in playing this again.

Friday – 9:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. – Super Dungeon Explore

pic1001002_mdWe’ve been eyeing this co-op dungeon crawler for a couple of years, mainly due to the cutesy art style, so we were happy to get the chance to play it. I was a little concerned when I only noticed very shortly before Gen Con that the event page actually stated that some experience with the game was required, but fortunately, that wasn’t the case. In fact, the GM said that of the several events he had run so far, he had yet to have a player who knew how to play the game.

Game play was pretty similar to the RPG-in-a-box style without the actual role-playing/story element: players each select a character and move through one room at a time trying to defeat all the enemies. At the end of each room there is a mini-boss, and at the end of the last room, the final boss appears. Defeating enemies gives you treasure in the form of equipment players can give their characters, which is needed as difficulty increases with each room you face. There is an ‘Arcade Mode’ in the current rule-set which allows all players to play against randomly drawn enemies, but the GM chose to play as our antagonist to help the two of us and the other player at the table learn the game. There were a couple questionable mechanics, but generally, it played very well, balanced nicely and quite dependent upon effective cooperation between players.

Our game did, however, end on a rather exciting note, so permit me to go into greater detail for a moment. Due to time constraints, the GM recommended we skip the final room and summon the final boss after completing the third room, so that we could finish the game. The battle against the final boss started well enough, but when it dropped to half its health, it spawned another mini-boss (which were difficult enough on their own). The two bosses then swiftly killed both my husband’s character and the other character on the board, leaving my barbarian alone against them both.

As the other players began to discuss strategy regarding my character using her actions to revive the other characters, I looked at the board and suggested an entirely different tactic. My character had a special move in which she could attack once for every movement point spent. Given that I was equipped with an item that increased my movement, that equated to a lot of attacks – enough to potentially drop the mini-boss in one turn. It would decrease my defense for the following turn, but my character was at full health. If I was able to defeat the mini-boss, I could survive whatever attacks the final boss could dish out.

Given the time and that we were just playing for fun, the other players encouraged this strategy and I tried it. One dice roll after another, my four or five against the GM’s one with a minor bonus, I picked away at the mini-boss. In the end, it worked. I soloed the mini-boss and ate the final boss’s attacks, leaving me alone against him.

I then drew a treasure card for defeating the mini-boss. The GM more or less dismissed it (though it turns out that’s because he thought it was a different card at first glance), but I let out an excited howl as soon as I saw it – the card allowed a player to double their current equipment.

We were then faced with the same choice again: I could use all my actions to revive another player, thereby ensuring I would be killed in the following turn, or I could equip this new card, along with three other items we had saved up, and do my special move again with the potential to kill the final boss.

The players told me to do it. I was able to add two more, and better, dice to my offensive rolls, along with a bonus on the roll. And it worked. One roll after another, despite the GM’s improved dice against mine (but still less than half what I was rolling), I managed to take out the final boss as well. It was a hilarious and exciting conclusion to the game, one that the GM admitted he had never seen before, and we all walked away smiling.

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