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Dragonmeet Southwest – Date Moved - Sunday 28th June 2009

Dragonmeet Southwest has changed dates!

The show will now be taking place on Sunday 28th June 2009.

The venue remains the Crofts Sports Centre in Swindon and will open its doors to the game player public at 10am and run through to 6pm. The Trade Hall will run from 10am until 4pm (the shorter hours are due to Sunday Trading Laws).

The show will have Traders, Games, Seminars, a Bring & Buy, Guests and on-site food and drink (non-alcoholic).

If you would like to run games at the event, or exhibit if you are a trader or games publisher, please contact us on info@dragonmeet.co.uk

Dragonmeet Southwest is the first foray outside London for Dragonmeet – The UK’s Friendliest Games Convention – that takes place each year in November and was founded in 2000.
Angus Abranson
Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd
Publishers of SLA Industries, Victoriana, Starblazer Adventures, QIN:
The Warring States and the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game
Livejournal: www.livejournal.com/users/angusabranson/

  • pwca

(no subject)

Dave came over and after a cup of tea and a chat we played a game of Munchkin Booty which was as silly and as puntastic as you would imagine. It is essentially a Munchkin game with Piratical and Nautical puns ahoy. It is not a great game, probably being too much based upon the luck of the draw for some players, but it is playable enough for a quick game.

Then after Dave mentioned how much his Thursday night board game group liked Pandemic, I got out my copy and we persuaded lulucthulhu to play. I had only played twice, and that was last year and my copy was brand new. We opened it up and set it up, and got playing. With the Scientist, the Operations Manager, and the Medic we managed a very successful game, working hard to gain all four cures. No more than a quarter of the disease cubes came out of their bags before we had the game sorted and that was with about a third of the play cards out too. The playing time says 45 minutes, but for our first game it took us an hour.

I really like Pandemic. It is a very clever, highly balanced co-operative game, and it is no wonder that it appeared on Twelve Boxes for Christmas: A dozen boardgame gift ideas for 2008 at Ogrecave.com. I did not place it on the list, but I agree that it should be.

Anyway Dave won the Munchkin Booty game and we all won Pandemic.

[I gained because I have to review the first game, and lost because I did not get to playtest any of the other boardgames that I have to review.]
  • pwca

(no subject)

[After a back and forth train journey, I managed to get to the club to continue my game of Dark Heresy. My lateness meant that we could get in couple of hours’ worth of play before I had to get home. The real bad news was that Stew was not able to make it, so between us, Sarge and I played him.]

I am running “Shattered Hope,” the demo scenario made available before the actual game was released. I only have a cast of three, the ex-Guardsman Ferrus (played by Sarge), the Adept Zaddion Cortez (Mike, a new player), and Arbiter Klightus (Stew), so was prepared to reduce the threat that they faced in the Gorgonid Mines. In this second session, it turned out that this was necessary, as together they managed to survive facing a hulking ham fisted mutant and a plague demon without taking any damage!! All thanks to Ferrus’ judicious use of lasgun bursts, which managed to burn the flesh off the mutant, the layers sloughing off in fatty piles at its feet (Sarge managed a damage roll of 34!). I managed to some really bad rolls that meant that not a single character was hit.

The trip into the far reaches of the mines was arduous, both Ferrus and Klightus nearly falling into the depths after slipping down a crevasse caused by tremor that dropped the passage down several meters. Ferrus did get a bloody nose though! All of the trio were affected by the noxious vapours in the Chaos infected sub-section known as “The Shatters,” which made breathing and every action a little awkward. Signs of a struggle and a massacre were everywhere, pools of congealed blood and gobbets of rent flesh, some of it still in the uniforms of the guardsmen victims.

Ferrus was deafened though in the first fight. He froze at the sight of the mutant creature that they subsequently discovered to be Hastus, missing friend of the recruit Jurtz, whom they meet shortly after landing. Whilst the Mutant-Hastus flailed wildly at Ferrus, he stood shocked still and it took a shotgun blast from Klightus past his head to get him to act. Proceeding further into the Shatters, Klightus was the one that noticed a throbbing pink glow in the distance down the central corridor, and rather than exploring the side passages, Ferrus decided to lead the trio in that direction.

At the end of the corridor, they enter a small cave complex and follow the pink light to be confronted by a great stone running from floor to ceiling and pulsating in a sickening lavender hue. Almost in response to the trio’s approach, the stone pulsates and all three are held in thrall to its ghastly light. In particular, Ferrus felt his head tighten, but the others merely blanched at the sight. Worse was to come as the stone appeared to bulge and then it spit forth a bloated and malformed, horny headed creature of the Warp, its skin shining with excrescence. It seemed unsteady on its feet, rusty blades held ready and its single milky white holding them with an unknowable regard.
Arbiter Klightus had never seen the like and fled back out of the cave complex, knowing only that he wanted to get as far away as possible. The breaking of his resolve was too much for Cortez who followed in his wake, but only as far as the start of the corridor, as he could hear Ferrus’ stiffened resistance -- resistance backed up by steady bursts of cleansing lasgun fire. Nethertheless, Cortez shouted after Klightus, running to catch him and calm his nerves. The Adept’s progress was blocked by two mutants that boiled out of a corridor -- one that they failed to check earlier -- to confront him, as another two mutants chased down the fleeing Arbiter.
  • pwca

(no subject)

This evening I started running Dark Heresy at my Thursday night club, which went rather well. We had two experienced players and one inexperienced, the latter doing surprisingly well. He knows the Warhammer 40,000 setting, so that is a big plus. We rolled characters up bar the choice of Career, and everyone seemed to have got the character that they wanted. So we have an Adept, an Arbiter, and a Guardsman, and I am running the demo scenario, "Shattered Hope." Thankfully they have not played it.

So far, the trio have landed on Sepheris Secundus and know that something nasty is going on, but nobody is talking. The troops on planet say that there is something nasty in the mines, but clammed up after. An insane trooper's gibbering hinted at tentacles and eye, but nothing more.

Although I am worried at not having run anything in months, I am looking forward to carrying on.
  • pwca

Sad News

I just saw a post on the Delta Green Mailing List that said Keith Herber passed away earlier this morning. If so, I am saddened to hear this news. I always had an affection for his contribution to Call of Cthulhu. In particular, his Fungi From Yuggoth was the first campaign that I ever bought and remains a favourite to this day.

More recently I had the opportunity to review his new book, New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley and that was a pleasure.

Battleship Express Review

Hasbro’s “Express” line of games – including Clue Express, Monopoly Express, and others – takes classic games, games from our childhood, and creates fast-playing games that maintain the theme of the original while crafting an entirely new play experience. Designed by Reiner Knizia, Battleship Express plays completely differently from the original but still lets players shout out that classic line of “You sank my battleship!”

Why Did I Buy Battleship Express?

Two reasons. One, I was curious about the “Express” line and wanted take a look at what was in the package and what the games were like. I figured Battleship Express was as good a choice as any, and liked the idea of dice with naval ship sides.

Two, as simple and repetitive as it can be at times, I have fond memories of playing Battleship when I was a kid. Could Battleship Express do anything to spark those old memories, or was it simply an attempt at tacking a known property to a new game? There was only one way for me to find out.


Battleship Express, packaged in a black plastic case (referred to as a “game pod” in the rules), is – unsurprisingly – a professionally presented game that includes:

Ship Tiles: 20 double-sided tiles, 4 each of five different ships, each one of which has all of the necessary rules for using it in the game, are packed inside the case. These are heavy chipboard tiles that feel durable – not as nice as the components inside some of the more recent games, but heavy enough to survive for many years – and are cut to fit side-by-side (see Gameplay, below).

Dice: Called “attack dice” in the rules, the eight six-sided dice – all identical – included with the game depict each of the five different ships, one on each of five sides of the die while the last side shows a “burst” icon (see Gameplay, below). These are standard-sized dice and each face comes with the stickers already applied. No setup required! (This is more than I can say for Stratego, including the newest edition of the game, a game I should really review at some point.)

Rulesheet: This short sheet, folded over to fit inside the game’s small case, gives the players rules for both a basic and an advanced game. Either game is simple enough for young players; the advanced game can be picked up very quickly by experienced gamers while young children can grow into the advanced game after playing the basic game several times.

The package includes everything needed to play the game.


Before the game begins, each player takes one of each ship type – Aircraft Carrier, Battleship, Destroyer, Patrol Boat, and Submarine – and chooses a set of rules: Captain’s Game (basic) or Admiral’s Game (advanced). Players line up their ships to form fleets, the ship at the right of each player’s fleet is the front of the fleet, and then one player takes the first turn. The game doesn’t provide starting player rules; I recommend youngest player first, especially if playing with children.

Captain’s Game: On each turn a player selects a ship to attack with, moves the attacking ship to the front of his fleet, and then selects an enemy ship to attack (the first or second ship in any opponent’s fleet). The player then rolls a number of dice depending on which ship he’s attacking with – 7 dice when attacking with the Aircraft Carrier, 5 dice when attacking with the Patrol Boat (information is displayed on each ship tile) – and tries to roll “bursts” (which always count as a hit) or the color of the target ship (which count as hits against the chosen target). If the player rolls enough hits to sink the ship – 4 hits sink the Battleship, 3 hits sink the Patrol Boat (as with attacking, this information is displayed on each ship tile) – then the ship is sunk and he takes the target. If he did not roll enough hits to sink the target, all hits are set aside and any remaining dice are rolled again. If the re-roll results in hits, and the total number of hits rolled at this point is enough to sink the ship, then the attacker takes the sunken ship.

Submarine: The Sub only rolls 2 dice, but any “burst” rolled automatically sinks the target.

And that’s a turn. The first player to sink a set number of ships (total number required depends on the number of players) wins the game.

Admiral’s Game: Similar to the basic game, the advanced game gives each ship a different rule. The Battleship, for example, can roll the dice up to four times, though “bursts” do not count as hits. The Destroyer, on the other hand, can only roll the dice up to two times but each “burst” counts as two hits.

Other Opinions

As always, others have already discussed this game online. The only two reviews I could find each make some points that are worth considering before buying or playing Battleship Express.

Larry Welborn, in his review at BoardGameGeek, says:

“Battleship Express is a game that I can highly recommend for parents. The only warning I would give is that it is possible for a player to be eliminated during the game and some young children may get upset if knocked out of the game. The game plays so quickly though, that another game will start up in a minute of two, so hopefully that will mitigate any concern.”

While younger children being upset at being knocked out of the game early could be a concern for most parents, it’s an easy enough game to play that it’s also easy to create variants or handicaps to combat this problem before it pops up. A few ideas include:

No Re-rolls: Parents, and older players, only get one die roll when attacking.

More Re-rolls: The youngest child gets one extra re-roll; in the basic game, roll three times when attacking.

More or Fewer Hits to Sink: Increase or decrease the number of required hits depending on age of the children.

More or Fewer Ships: In a two or three player game, the youngest child could be given two of one ship type (two submarines for example), while older children sacrifice one or more ships.

The number of changes made to the game will depend entirely on play group. In my opinion, the no re-rolls and more re-rolls options are the easiest to use.

For experienced gamers looking at this as a filler game, players need to go into the game expecting a simple filler. In a review at BoardGameGeek, Kane K. sums up the proper attitude when he says:

“There are definitely choices to be made and odds to be weighed, but even for a dice game it’s pretty light. In one way it’s sort of like Knizia’s ‘Double or Nothing’. If you’re just going to pick it up and try one game, you’d probably hate it. Give it a few plays in a row though and pretty soon you’re yelling at the dice and having a good ol’ time.”

Agreed, Kane. In my opinion, this is an excellent dice game that is perfect as a filler during long game sessions or as an introductory game for children. Battleship Express takes the familiar Battleship game and twists it into a simple, fun game that can be played by two to four players in less than 15 minutes.

Was It Worth Buying?

Yes. I won’t play this often, but I’m willing to toss Battleship Express in the same category as Can't Stop. That is, a game that I’ll yank out of the closet a few times a year when we feel like rolling dice.

Anyone who enjoys dice games should buy Battleship Express, as should anyone who has children or needs a gift for a child. The game is inexpensive, and the Admiral’s Game adds just enough complexity to help a child make the move from simple, mass-market games to the less complicated games of the hobby market. I wouldn’t take a child from Battleship Express to Agricola, but I would be willing to take a child from Battleship Express to Heroscape's basic game.

It's a good game and I look forward to grabbing another game in the Express line. Maybe I’ll buy Clue Express, next.
Go Play, d20

Fond RPG Memories

Remember the days when RPGs came in boxed sets and you could find them on grocery store shelves next to the board games?

Remember when a complete RPG boxed set cost only ten Amurikan dolla'?

Remember when you could read, understand, and play an RPG out of the box when you were ten years old?

Because, damn, the RPGs I'm seeing for sale currently, no way could those be considered easily comprehensible or playable by a ten year old.

Sad, really.

(No wonder tabletop RPG fandom seems to be steadily shrinking ...)