Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Labyrinth: Can can, can you do the Catan can you do the Catan =D

April draws to a close and the smell of spring is in the air!
Birds are chirping, flowers blossoming, and fanatical gamers are busy donning their best battle attire.
That's right guys it's tournament season!
Time to flex our beefy gamer muscles and find out once and for all who among us has the strongest geek-chi.
And what better game than a few Settlers of Catan matches to kick off the year?

First on the docket this spring is the 2011 Settlers of Catan North American Prequalifier. It's taking place HERE at Minotaur this Saturday April 30th with a kick-off time of 10am and an end time of approximately 5pm.
Sign up in advance if possible or if you're running short on time and can't make it in before the 30th then you can still just drop by on the day. Just make sure that if you haven't signed up in advance to arrive fully covered in war paint and bearing some form of banner or flag to demonstrate your overwhelming desire to compete =)
The cost to enter the SOCNAP is a measly 8 bucks and the prize for winning the tournament is a seat at the actual qualifier also hereby referred to as SOCNAQ which wont be taking place until June 25th
(heheh these abbreviations make me giggle)

"But..b-but this was too short notice!" you might be saying to yourself OR you might have been thinking something like "Grrr if only I didn't have to work that Saturday." Well have no fear you have two very viable options if the 30th of this month is a write off for you.
You can either start by making several additional sacrifices to the gaming gods and hope that they smite down your previous engagements with lightning bolts OR there will be a 2nd prequalifier towards the end of May on the 28th that you can attend should you miss the 1st. The format for the two prequalifiers shall be the same, as will the entry fee.
So book some time off work, gather about you a band of your best Catan buddies and come on down to the store!
Undoubtedly some of those who entered the 1st prequalifer may be back for round two and I'm sure like any avid Cataner, Catanian, or Catanist who has lost but lived to play another day they'll be out for vengeance.

An aside... people who live in London are Londoners. We here who live in the true north strong and free are Canadians.
Lets see some comments on your thoughts...those that play Catan are called _ blanks _

But anyhoo back to the main dish before we get too carried away and move on to desert.
I know a bunch of you just saw the word FORMAT above and started hopping up and down in your seats like you need to go potty.
So here's the rundown.

It, like previous Catan tournaments hosted in the past here, will be base Catan only.
There will be no expansions extensions or hybrid versions of any kind!
All current up to date Mayfair rules apply and players participating must, to the best of their ability, be playing solely for themselves to win the tournament.
IE: no teamwork or shenanigans.

Captain O'Hagan: I swear to God I'm going to pistol whip the next guy who says, " Shenanigans."
Mac: Hey Farva what's the name of that restaurant you like with all the goofy shit on the walls and the mozzarella sticks?
Farva: You mean Shenanigans?
Heh classic line.

This means in turn that all matches will ideally be tables of 4 for the entire tourney. Depending on attendance it will most likely consist of 3 scoring rounds of standard play and at the end of those matches players cumulative scores will be tallied and used to determine overall rankings. Then from this point onwards the tables will be arranged according to ranking placement for the semifinal matches.
i.e.: the #1 rank will be seated at a table with the lowest ranked player and two people from the middle of the pack.
Games at this point will become sudden-death eliminations.
Those that go on to win these semi-final matches will make up the final table of four who shall be pitted against one another in a mighty all-or-nothing duel to the death!

So slap on your best Rocky-themed training music!
I expect pictures of everyone jogging up and down stairwells with your seafarers strapped to one leg and cities and knights to the other.

Break out the cliché never say die t-shirt and headbands!
Got a rabbit foot? Lucky pendants or coins? A 4-leafed clover?
Best bring everything you've got if you want to have the edge on the competition.
The fighting shall be fast and furious...just like that movie about cars... and dudes...who own the cars... that usually explode.
But ANY and ALL explosions that are set off here at the store will be ignored by the Minotaur staff because as we all know cool guys and gals dont look at explosions.

But in all seriousness I'll bring my suped up car in honor of the fast and the furious movies if you all promise to do the same...I've been doing a lot of shop work on it but this bad boy is finally able to ROLL OUT!

And together we shall make it a 5th of November that shall never ever be forgot!
Or it will be the tourney right at the end of April that we'll have all forgotten almost immediately due to our excitement over the May prequalifier...either or.

This has been the Labyrinth and I'm Henry McCulloch. Game On!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Labyrinth: 7 Wonders - What does it mean?

Hello sports fans!
Boston lost again last night on the mound to the Rays.
It’s being called a massacre by some with a score of 16 to 5 but Boston proved their mettle on the ice managing a solid win over the Ottawa Senators last Saturday…
What do you mean this isn’t about games?
My column is about gaming…hockey and baseball are games…
Well fair enough they aren’t board games but there ARE several good one’s based of both sports.

Pond Hockey-opoly springs to mind!!

A refreshing strategy game where players buy their favorite ponds and rinks, then collect ‘warm-up’ shacks which can later be traded in and upgraded to ‘arenas’. With balanced game play Pond Hockey-opoly offers…
What do you mean it isn’t a strategy game?
It’s chalked full of tough choices and nail-biting scenarios, like if you’re passing the Face Off! Square and you land on a property that’s owned you need to decide how to pay the player and if the pond is unowned you decide whether or not to buy it.
Although you typically buy everything you land on no matter what…
Alright I’ll concede the point…

Well then gamers lets at long last end this preamble and focus our attention on a brand new 2010/2011 game.
7 Wonders.

Wow there’s been some serious hype surrounding this game, so it’s a WONDER that I managed a post on it at all! Researching this lightning fast 20-30 minute game has just made my eyes roll due to the sheer # of gamers clamoring to be the first to praise the new(ish) release. Already the title has over 5000 player ratings on BGG and as of today is sitting comfortably at 14th on the game rankings list, sandwiched between such classic titles as Tigres and Euphrates and Steam.

7 Wonders is widely being toted as an amazingly addictive new card drafting game that allows both experienced and new gamers alike a chance of an uber light uber fast civ-like card game that in no way other than flavor resembles civ. Uber -Urban Dictionary (The ultimate, above all, the best, top, something that nothing is better than. “Dude I'm Über confused...” )

-Game play synopsis-

Players are each given a wonders board at the start of the game along with 7 cards. The game begins with Age I and ends after the third is fully resolved. Each age is played out over 6 turns, in which the players will put into play a single card, simultaneously. These cards will be used to make structures that give players resources/points, towards building up player’s world wonders, or to acquire more coin. After each round, the remaining cards in each player’s hand are passed along to an adjacent neighbour. Most structure cards have a coin cost to build and players can also use the resources of their neighbour’s wonders for the price of two coins. After each of the three ages military points are tallied and on the final turn these points in combination with the points from wonders and structures determine the winner!

But as we all know, when praise is given and success achieved then so too must come the trollz! Angry gamer trolls seeking to destroy any claims of 7 Wonders being a decent title! For every positive review that I stumbled upon from the average gamer there seemed to be an equally venomous reaction or post from the camp of ‘hardcore’ strategy gamers. The main ‘beef’ that these gamers seem to have is 7 Wonders’ unfortunate similarities to Fairy Tale and the sever lack of foresight in selecting cards during the draft. While the game is certainly reminiscent of the color coded card game Fairy tale, several distinct game elements such as the turn-by-turn exchanging of hands and the more varied abilities of different cards makes the game a bit meatier. It’s nothing novel it’s true and its straight forward game mechanics will leave many power thinkers feeling empty after a quick ‘throw away’ playthrough. But to be fair the things that 7 Wonders offers and does, it does exceptionally well.

What it boils down to is this…
Do you enjoy the deck building aspects and booster drafts experienced in Magic the gathering?
Are San Juan and Race for the Galaxy up there on your list of all time favorite games?
Do you HATE long 2 to 3 hour games that just leave you snoozing at the table?
If you answered yes to any of the above then most likely 7 Wonders will be a game that you’ll easily fall in love with. Due to its short playtime and easy to teach style of draft gaming it should be a game that you’ll play time and time again.

Is Peurto Rico a game that would always be your choice over a lighter game like San Juan?
Are the different symbols on the cards in Race for the Galaxy just an instant turn off for you?
Is Dominion a card game that just never sparked your interest, a non collectable version of MTG that you found dull?
Then as stated before, beware!
This simply wont be a game for you.

I’d probably give 7 Wonders a 7 out of 10 but after a few play throughs to get a better feel for its replay ability that # may jump up or down a bit. Overall I think the hype is well founded for the types of gamers that like these style of light card games.

This has been the Labyrinth and I’m Henry McCulloch. Game On!

The Labyrinth Conception

Hey and Hello!

Bonjour, Ciao, Ni hao!
Greetings, Salutations, howdy and wasssup?!?

I just wanted to start off my very first weekly gaming column here @ Minotaur Games and Gifts with a biiig hearty 'e-hug' for everyone reading this.

While this column may at first be read solely by those that I pester to do so my hope is that eventually gamers, geeks, nerds and fans will flock to our site by the baker's dozen.

But what will the posts be about you may ask? The subjects will vary, the style will not.

Once a week I will cover...
What's hot and what's lukewarm.
What is shaking the core of the gaming industry?
Or simply what funny new pictures I've discovered of meeple-snorting furry critters.

“Monopoly…really? That feline is saving those poor lost souls.
Come back to the liiiight!”

But in all seriousness,
Look for a new column post every Tuesday.
It will contain game reviews and critiques, upcoming in-store events including tournaments, polls for subjects of interest to get customer feedback, and anything else that rattles free from this olde brain box of mine.

This is the Labyrinth and I'm Henry McCulloch. Game on!