Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Nightmare House and Gotham City Chronicles

Work and my daughter's curling play downs are conspiring to keep me away from both the club and the painting table. But I have gotten in a few games.

A few weeks ago, Bruce invited me over for a go at Nightmare House. This was a game he found in an old Aries magazine. The game basically has two maps: the haunted house and the astral map. You explore the house to find stuff and portals (and fight ghouls) in order to get on the astral map and win your way to the top of the pyramid before dawn.

The original game had a a crazy wagon-wheel astral map and incomprehensible rules. Bruce fixed that plus made it a co-op game by preprogramming the ghouls (his ability to fix games is pretty amazing). We managed to win with an hour or two of time left on the game clock, but it was not an easy win!

This weekend, Craig had me over to play a team game of Gotham City Chronicles, a kickstarter from a few years back. Good guys are blue; bad guys are grey. Scenario was bad guys need to arm and protect at least two of the five bombs in the ruined subway station. Good guys need to prevent these conditions at the end of eight turns.

Not sure of the logic of the scenario: arm the bombs and then wait around?!? Be better to arm the bombs and then flee (forcing the bad guy to decide who to rescue and who to risk and giving the good guy more space to get at the bombs).

Anyhow, the game plays well and is very pretty and there were a tonne of minis. Bad guys got three bombs going while delaying the police and pulling back to form a perimeter. The bad guys won using a meat-shield tactic in the end.

Some characters have special powers. Firefly can throw bombs, which have an area and area-denial effect. Huntress can open a can of whoop-ass on multiple opponents. Harlequin moves easily and fights well.

The most interesting part of the game (I thought) was the resource management part. At the top of the unit board (below) are discs. You start with three and get two back per turn. First unit activated costs one disc. Second costs two, etc. So you can always do one thing and sometimes two. But maybe you want to stockpile activations to have a big push?

In the middle of the board are cubes. You start with 10 (?) and get five back per turn. You can spend cubes to roll extra dice, soak off hits, etc. But you also have to spend cubes to activate specific units (after your pend disc to get activations). The cube cost of the units depends on where their card is in the "river" at the bottom of the board. Left-most card costs 1 cube, second from left costs 2, etc. When you activate a unit, you move the card to the right (so it costs 7 cubes to activate again).

The dynamics of this reward planning, to try to get your big hitters moving to the left on the river and forces you to use all your units. They also allow you opponent to manipulate your board a bit. I knocked down some of Craig's unit's early on (eliminating 2 or 3 of the 4 figures). So he left these units unactivated. But the mechanics of moving the cards to the right after activation meant these damaged units eventually occupied the "cheapest to activate" spots on the left side of the river. So he had to either activate them (and they were pretty useless) or pay a higher cube cost to activate other units.

The board itself is a bit dark (for my old eyes!) but there is an interactive map that shows LOS and includes bonuses. In the shot below, there is a shooter in the bottom left space (which is elevated). So he can shoot up the left side (any green space, on the same level) or out into the rail station (any yellow square). The yellow squares are below him so he gets an extra (yellow) dice.

Overall, the game was fun. Lots of resource management and the game play forced difficult decisions on the table top. The minis cry out for paint (they are lovely)! I had a very good time.


Simon Quinton said...

A few games are better than none at all!

Scott M said...

The interactive map is a godsend. We saved a ton of time and brow-furrowing having that. Craig's got a great set up for it.