Review: Night of the Grand Octopus @IelloUSA @IelloGames

night-of-the-grand-octopusI picked this game up a few months ago because it looked like something I could teach my then six year old to play.  I had to laugh after I unboxed the game, got everything ready and we played our first game because it took me longer to get everything ready that it did for us to play our first game.

The average game last 15-20 minutes, which makes this an ideal game to play multiple times in one sitting. It’s also a pretty easy game to pick up and teach to someone. My six year old was playing like a pro in no time.

So the gist of the game is this: you are playing as one of the Elect, trying to gain power for your cult to raise the Grand Octopus through the Ritual of Appeal. To complete the ritual, you must move into a room to gain an item. If there are no cultists or Offspring in that location, you gain the item. If another cultist is there, you need to negotiate for the item or the cults lose power. If another Offspring is in the same room as a cultist, the cults lose power.

That said, there’s a big elephant in the room that could pose a problem for some Christians: there are cults. Now, I get past this when teaching it to kids by referring to the pieces generally: your little guy and the big octopus. I also don’t go into the back story when I break this out at a church game night. This game is not story driven, so the backstory doesn’t necessarily matter when explaining the game to a bunch of 6-10 year olds. It may not even matter to adults.

Pros

  • The game is super easy to learn. My daughter picked it up in no time.
  • There’s something for everyone. My daughter just moves around trying to grab the necessary items to win the game. I’m constantly trying to strategize to figure out what move someone is going to make while being able to grab the items myself.
  • The game is pretty short. It takes roughly 15-20 minutes to play one game.
  • Great game to play with kids. It introduces them to strategy, but does so in a fun, easy to understand way.

Cons

  • This is not a game to play with adults only.
  • This game is light on strategy.

Overall, this I love this game because it is one I can play with my wife and daughter and I’m looking forward to teaching my son to play when he’s old enough. I like that it’s simple enough for a six year old to play and is short enough to hold their attention for the entire game. If you can find a copy and are looking to introduce your kids to tabletop gaming, pick this game up.


Update for 5/27/17

I’m in the process of updating a bunch of things and addressing some of the errors (Twitter!) on the page. Please bear with me over the next few days while I make some updates to the page, blogroll, menus, etc. I hope to have it done by the end of the week, so I can start another project I’ve been wanting to do!


Review: Mansion of Madness 2nd Edition

pic3118622_mdIt’s no secret that I LOVE Fantasy Flight Games. They are probably my favorite company for board games (I play several games from FFG and have several more on my wishlist). It’s also no secret that I love Lovecraftian horror. So, when I saw a copy of Mansion of Madness in the wild, I jumped at the chance to get it.

Mansion of Madness 2nd Edition, is a cooperative game in which you assume the role of an investigator looking in to strange occurrences. The game utilizes a companion app that controls the flow of the game. The app provides the story, tells you what rooms to place, spawns monsters and provides random events.

Game play is divided into two phases: the Investigator Phase and the Mythos Phase. During the Investigator Phase, players explore the mansion, search for clues and items and fight monsters. During the Mythos Phase, the app take over and controls monster movement and attacks, monster spawns and the random events.

Investigators take damage or horror depending on what monster they are fighting or how the monster attacks. The random events can even cause an investigator to take damage or horror. Once the limit for damage or horror is reached the first time, the investigator is wounded (for damage) or insane (for horror). It is possible to be both wounded and insane at the same time. But, take enough damage or horror a second time and it’s game over.

My wife and I have played twice and both times we lost to the app. But, we did better the second play through. The is quickly becoming a go to game when we want to play a horror survival game, but don’t have enough people to play Betrayal at House on the Hill.

Mansion of Madness 2nd Edition supports 1-5 players and can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours depending on the scenario.

Pros 

  • I love the app integration. It’s basically the players vs the app. No one needs to be the bad guy driving the story.
  • The game is highly repayable: the two games my wife and I played, while basically the same story, utilized a different layout. So replaying the same scenario multiple times retains some freshness.
  • Expansions! My wife thinks expansion are the biggest racket in board gaming…well,  next to sleeves (Apparently she’s not familiar with DLC in video games). At this time, there is one expansion as well as two tile & monster sets that bring the tiles and monsters from the 1st edition to the 2nd edition.
  • Already have the 1st edition and want the 2nd edition? No problem. The 2nd edition comes with a conversion kit. Just buy the base set for the 2nd edition and integrate your existing components from the 1st edition and follow the instructions to convert the 1st edition to the 2nd edition.

Cons

  • My biggest complaint is the bases for the monster miniatures. They are big, unwieldy, and the miniatures are constantly falling off. I wish I did not pace the monster cards into the bases and only used the monster cards for the game. I would have been so much better. But some of them are tight in the base and the artwork is scratched.
  • The tiles don’t connect together so tiles are constantly sliding on the table.

Podcast: Bard & Bible

Lately, I’ve been listening to Bard & Bible, a newer podcast by Mike Perna of InnRoads Ministries. I don’t know much about Mike’s background other than he went to seminary (I believe Dallas Theological Seminary…correct me if I’m wrong).

After listening to a few episodes of Bard & Bible, I must say, Mike is a talented story teller with a mind for taking theological concepts and making them accessible to everyone. I was highly impressed with the narrative of the podcasts and the way Mike brings in the theological.

This has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts!. I can’t wait for more. I highly recommend Bard & Bible.

If your interested in what InnRoads Ministries is doing and hanging out with a great group of board games, check out The Tavern on Facebook.


The New Plan

With the start of the new year, I’m looking for ways to help myself relax after a long day of work and dealing with the kids. To do this, I am going to be writing again. I’m looking at doing one to two posts per week initially to see how things go. The topics of my posts will still center on the intersection of faith and pop culture. I’ll be writing about books, gaming, movies and tv. Join me on my new adventure.


Friday Review: Betrayal at House on the Hill

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One of my Christmas presents this year was the game Betrayal at House on the Hill. This was one of the games I had wanted since I first saw it on TableTop (part 2 can be found here). Basically this is a horror movie in game format!

The premise of Betrayal at House on the Hill is simple; a group of people explore an abandoned house until a haunt is uncovered. At this time, one of the players betrays the rest of the group and the game dynamics change from cooperative to competitive. The haunts are determined randomly based on the room and omen card that triggers the haunt. When the haunt is triggered, the traitor is given a book full of haunts where they are told the rules and objectives of the particular haunt being played. The traitor then leaves the room to read their haunt. The remaining players have a similar that explains their objectives.

This is a dynamic game that changes each time it is played. At the start of the game, players have access to the Entrance, Foyer, starts to the second floor and the second floor landing. There is a basement, but that comes into play later. As players move throughout the house, additional rooms are discovered. Rooms can affect players stats as well as provided Items, Events, or Omens.

The replay value for this game is very high, with 50 different haunts. A game takes a little over an hour to play (it took a little longer to play the first time as we had to reference the rule book a little more). I’ve not read too much into either of the books that explain the different haunts as I don’t want to ruin future games.

Christians may not find this game is for them. There are overt references to demons, phantoms, witchcraft, phantoms, etc. (In the two games we’ve played, we’ve had a werewolf and a phantom). For those who are bothered by this kind of theme, this may not be a game to buy. If you’re not bothered by it, this game is a must buy!


A Major Announcement

After (not so) quietly watching from the sidelines for the last few years, I’ve come to the realization that 90% of people who comment of pop culture and faith are (loudly) blowing hot air out of their ass. The 10% who actually know what they are talking about are not loud enough to combat the drivel coming from the rest. Beginning in January, I am going to throw my voice back into the ongoing conversation. Articles will be posted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with Fridays being a review day. Feel free to join the conversation!


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