Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Shadows Over Camelot & The Walking Dead

We got together for our usual Tuesday night adventures, and like last week, we had 6 of us - myself, Brian G, Mike R, Tom, Traci, and Carson made a return appearance after a few weeks away.  Unlike last week, we actually brought some games that accommodated more than 5 players.  After some debate we settled on that granddaddy of co-op games, Shadows Over Camelot.  We also opted to play with the expansion, Merlin's Company.  Published in 2005, while it may not have been the first cooperative game, SoC definitely invigorated the sub-genre of co-ops, and was possibly the first to add in the "traitor" element.  Merlin's Company adds in some cards to be drawn as you attempt to travel between quests, which may be a hindrance or beneficial.

We randomly passed out loyalty cards, and also knight cards.  Alas, we were to fight against the dark forces without help from King Arthur himself!  We had a few knights bravely leave to search for the grail, Mike R. went to find Excalibur and I, as Sir Gareth, went to fight the marauding Picts.  Traci cast some suspicion on herself by remaining behind in Camelot for several turns and simply collecting cards.  Carson eventually joined me and helped me defeat the Picts, and after a somewhat long search, Brian claimed Excalibur.  That put a total of 3 white swords on the round table.  With many "despair" cards coming form the deck, the Grail looked to be lost at one point.  However, I had the "heroism" card, which added a white sword to any successful quest...that meant claiming the grail would be worth 4 white swords!  It took some time, but we were able to eventually find the grail!

The Grail has been found, and Merlin is warding off siege engines
Unfortunately, no one challenged Lancelot for his armor, and the Saxons overran our shores, which gave us several black swords.  At one point, we had 7 white swords and 4 black swords on the table.  Getting a 12th sword of any color would end the game.  But we were wary of the traitor, who if he remained unrevealed could flip 2 swords from white to black.  We also had a black card in action that would add an extra black sword to any failed quest.  Traci played a card that allowed the knights of Camelot to win the next tie...including the sword count at the end.  Mike R. was able to get rid of the "extra black sword card", and we were able to win a victory against the Saxons for an 8th and final white sword.  No one was accused during the game of being a traitor...well, no one was formally accused - there were certainly suspicious glances and mutterings about certain actions or non-actions.  But no one was confident enough to accuse a fellow knight of being a traitor...and for good reason - as it turned out, there was no traitor!  Battlestar Galactica tends to get the nod as the superior Coop-with-a-traitor game, but SoC is no slouch, and if you're in the mood for a coop game, this is a great game.

Next up, we pulled out The Walking Dead.  Mike R. is always quick to point out that this is the game based on the comics, not the TV shows (of which there is another game).  Basically, in this game, you are trying to be the first to successfully scout  3 locations on the map, based on location cards that are visible to everyone, and one secret location known only to you.  As you travel around, you leave hordes of zombies in your wake, and draw encounter cards, which can be zombie fights, or other tasks that require you to roll your dice pool.

It gets successively harder to scout each of your 3 locations.  In our game, Tom won in the end, although technically he "cheated", as he scouted the prison twice, and legally you can't scout the same location twice.  But that's OK, I think we were all ready for it to be over.  Now, I'm not a zombie fan(I really wish the whole zombie fad would star to die), so that's one strike against the game for me.  But that's not really what I have against the game.  It's fun in it's own way, but - and this is only my 2nd play - it can tend to drag a little.  By the time people have scouted their 2nd location, I feel like most people are ready to be done.  It didn't help that we had 6 players, which slows things down (although we allowed both Traci and Brian to "regenerate" after they were killed).  The other thing that is a little annoying is that it's impossible to plan for some of the encounter cards.  Sure, you can stock up on ammo and such to prepare for zombie encounters...but you may get a card that simply reads "you are successful at this encounter if you have the lowest amount of food - otherwise you fail". can you possibly plan for that?  But, as was stated several times at the table, this game is all about atmosphere and story telling, and not really about strategy and tactics.

The zombies are starting to mass...Atlanta is a (un)death trap!

I did my part to stimulate the economy and help my FLGS by picking up a couple of items.  I did my usual walk around the Game Parlor, not expecting to really find anything, when lo and behold, there on the shelf sat the new 7 Wonders:Wonder Pack.  I had no idea such a thing existed.  So, for $15 I snatched it up.  Apparently the new Wonders are the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, Abu Simbel, and they have reimplemented the promotional Manekken Pis "Wonder".  I haven't looked at it in great detail, but the free beer has apparently been removed from Manneken Pis.  So, being committed to spending $15, I wanted to find something for at least $5 more to get myself a free ticket for the evening (Game Parlor charges you $2 to play there, which I think takes a little of the "F" out of "FLGS").  I couldn't find anything that I was interested in for that cheap, so for $35 I settled on Roll Through the Ages.  I've not played them, but I've heard good things about RTtA, and it's "big brother", Through the Ages.  So, this one was bought on reputation alone...and yet again I need to find shelf space for more games.  Sigh...I fear I'm going to have to ruthless about culling my collection soon.


  1. Re: Walking Dead. I see no reason why you can't combine that with programmed moves like Robot Rally, add a few conveyor belts, and make for a more amusing game.

    <<(I really wish the whole zombie fad would star to die) >>
    But... but... they're *already* dead....

  2. I'm with you - I'm ready for the zombie fad to (un)die.