Of hulks, horrors, and talismans…

Recently I’ve gotten into Table Titans, which is an official webcomic for Dungeons & Dragons. The story so far basically revolves around a single group and their current campaign. It’s a fun comic, and the story makes me pine for the days where I would play tabletop RPGs with my friends. I’d submit a story for the site (they’ve asked for funny stories of campaigns or game times), but the problem comes from the fact that almost all of my tabletop RPG experience is from playing World of Darkness games as opposed to Dungeons & Dragons.

These days, though, I’ve pretty much actively given up on playing actual tabletop RPGs and have settled for fantasy board games instead. The reason for that is because with the board games, the game gets wrapped up in a single session. I only have two friends who I do tabletop gaming with, and we only get to meet once every month or so. One friend lives on the other side of the city from me and the other friend, and the other friend has a very busy post-work schedule. We’ve played Dungeons & Dragons twice, and each time we played a different campaign. Neither was followed up on, so it felt like a TV series with an overarching plot line that is cancelled an episode or two in. At least with the fantasy board games we get some semblance of closure, if only through actual victory or defeat. :-)

This past weekend, we had a game night at my house… or should I say, a “game weekend” as one friend (George) stayed Friday and Saturday night. On Friday night, we decided to finally break out my copy of Space Hulk and give it a whirl. For those not familiar, it’s a two-player game based on Warhammer 40,000, where one player controls a contingent of Space Marines, and the other controls a group of aliens known as “Genestealers”. The game itself borrows very heavily from the setting and theme of the movie Aliens. When looking over the rules and the pieces, we realized the miniatures needed gluing together, and I didn’t have any model glue or paint. We then opted to play later, once the miniatures have been assembled; Jennifer wants to paint the Genestealers in Hello Kitty colors, so once I get her some paints she’ll have some fun. :-)

On Saturday, we went ahead and picked up Arkham Horror from Montag’s Games, a gaming store local to my house. Arkham Horror is a board game based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, where the players are characters in the fictional city of Arkham, Massachusetts in the 1920’s, investigating otherworldly activity and aiming to prevent an utterly alien and godlike Ancient One from manifesting on Earth. The players work with each other to beat the game; either everyone wins, or everyone loses. George and I played for a while until Chris arrived; once Chris arrived, we decided to move on to our favorite game: Talisman.

Playing Talisman this time was something of a challenge. For my birthday, Jennifer had gotten me two expansions for the game: The Reaper, and The Dragon. Now, when we first played Talisman (second edition) back in our high school years, Games Workshop had made several expansions for the game, but other than adding extra boards and extra cards, they tended not to change the game too much. The expansions made by Fantasy Flight Games for this version (revised fourth edition) changed things up quite a bit. In The Reaper, for example, Death was a non-player character who stalked the players and could do anything from permanently killing them to giving them boons. The Dragon took things one step further, and had the characters deal with three dragon lords fighting amongst themselves to become the Dragon King, all while said dragon lords’ servants (human and dragon alike) make their presence known throughout the land. Even the endgame is changed, where the winning player is the one who slays the Dragon King as opposed to the one who uses the Crown of Command to kill his enemies. We had a blast with the new rules, making the game even more fun. I may end up looking to get other expansions later, like The Frostmarch.

All in all, it was a good weekend. I’m thinking that Arkham Horror may be one of the featured games at the next game night, as it’s something new that Chris hasn’t played before, plus it’s a good “everybody work together” game. I’m also pondering getting a copy of DungeonQuest, provided I (or my parents) don’t find my long lost copy from my high school days. That would provide a challenge; it’s a dungeon-crawl game, with a time limit and the players all fending for themselves. My original copy’s instruction manual says players have a 15% survival rate. ;-) In any event, I’m looking forward to the next game night. It’s just too bad it’ll be in a month or so…