Saturday, September 20, 2014

Love's Lost Legacy

While attending PAX Prime 2013 with friends, one of the highlights of the weekend was being introduced to the micro card game Love Letter. My good friend JP picked it up and showed it to us, having played it himself while visiting San Fransisco.

Love Letter, by designer Seiji Kanai, consists of a slim 16 card deck. The basic mechanic every turn is Draw One, Play One. You always have a card in hand, and draw a second, chose one of the two you now hold, and play it. Card actions are clearly described on each card, and none are particularly complex.

The round ends either when one player remains in play, or, if all cards are played, the remaining players compare their cards and the highest value card, displayed in the top left-hand corner, becomes the victor. The game is played traditionally on a first-to-four-points basis, though it works fine as a one round per game quick filler.

AEG's Love Letter is a wonderfully tight game, with beautiful art on every card, and presented in a beautiful red velvet pull-string bag. It's fast, fun and intense, resulting in lots of laughs and gasps of astonishment as people get knocked out in the most unbelievable way. Deducting what cards are left in play from those that are sitting exposed on the table is a fun, taxing time, with a light-hearted tension resting over the players.

As well as the red velvet bag edition of Love Letter, I also picked up the green velvet bag edition themed around the world of Legend of the Five Rings. This is the exact same game with roles and art reskinned to match the L5R universe.

Then I discovered Lost Legacy: The Lost Starship, from the same designer. Another micro game with a 16 card deck, and the same Draw One, Play One mechanic, this game has a fantasy tinged with Sci-Fi theme. It plays very similar to Love Letter, but the card actions are universally different.

The goal of Lost Legacy is to discover the location of The Lost Starship, a unique card in the deck. It also adds a Ruins location on the table, containing one or more cards. Card actions allow you to look at, swap or shuffle cards in the Ruins during the game. The endgame mechanic is unique as well, introducing an Investigation phase on top of the Elimination victory. If the game makes it to the Investigation phase, the players that are still active have a chance to discover the location of The Lost Legacy, either within the Ruins, or in other players hands. Whoever successfully discovers The Lost Legacy wins the game.

Like Love Letter, Lost Legacy is a tight, fast game. Some two players games have been over in a single action! The art is, again, beautiful, with very cool and interesting depictions of a fantasy world infected with Sci-Fi technology. Adding to my collection of beautiful packaging, Lost Legacy comes in a blue velvet pull-string bag.Unlike Love Letter, Lost Legacy is played in single rounds. The winner of a single round is the winner of a game. In the future, there will be sequel sets, Flying Garden and Whitegold Spire, allowing you to mix two sets for a bigger deck, or playing each set back-to-back as a campaign, which I'm ready to buy into.

While they seem very similar, both Love Letter and Lost Legacy share playtime at my gaming table, sometimes one directly after the other. They are equally fun and I love introducing both to new players and watching them understand how much depth can be had in just 16 cards. Highly recommended, if you're not already enjoying either of them.

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Monday, September 08, 2014

The Year So Far

I've been really terrible at posting this entire year! This is actually my fourth post in 2014, easily heading for my worst year yet on this blog.

But mostly, that's because it's been one of my best, busiest, fun-filled years in recent history! Claire and I have done so much this year, from getting our Permanent Residency at long last, to taking a holiday all to ourselves for the first time since we got married!

Both of us have taken this year to get healthy and fit. I've been swimming again for well over a year now, and I recently started jogging everywhere I can, for as much as I can. That usually means I jog for two or three blocks, walk for a block or two, and rinse and repeat until I get to where I want to go. The hope is that I'll build stamina and extend those periods of jogging to three, four, five blocks while minimizing the breaks in between. I still swim most mornings before work, which gets me going for the day ahead.

Claire, meanwhile, gave up swimming in exchange for swordfighting! She joined Academie Duello in Downtown, near where she works. Several of our friends have been doing it for years, and in the six or seven months that she's been involved, she's rarely gone less than three evenings a week, putting in about eight hours of intense training a week! She's recently started noticing that her t-shirts are getting tight around her biceps, and her pants are getting looser around the waists, but much tighter around the calves! She's far more flexible, happier and loves swinging big metal weapons around. I'm delighted for her, and only a little afraid for my own safety.

Summer has been amazing. We've enjoyed trips to the pool, lots of outdoor activites, and generally loving the warm weather, even if it did get a little too hot to comfortably sleep for a while there. I spent the summer working with the school age summer group, which involved loadsd of field trips and spending a lot of time outdoors, developing a vicious farmers tan in the process!

Last summer, boardgames fell to the wayside in favour of outdoor activities, but this year we've balanced our time better, and we get together with friends almost weekly to game, chat and hang out. New, old and even as-yet-unpublished games have been played and enjoyed, and our circle of friends have grown significantly in 2014, thanks to this wonderful hobby.

Speaking of hobbies, I'm still reading at a phenomenal pace, powering through sci-fi, adventure and murder msytery books throughout the year. I've read a few comics as well, but not as many as I used to, usually one or two in between two novels, sort of as a short downtime. Though I did read the entire Superior Spider-Man run, which I highly recommend. Fantastic stuff! I really loved that new, meaner Spidey for a while.

On the other hand, video games have been very seasonal, with lots getting played in the opening months, but quickly falling off once the weather started to improve. I even did a bunch of Let's Play videos for my YouTube Channel, including a long XCOM series staring all my friends! Some died. The video thing is something I do hope to get back to as the winter evening creep back in. They were a push to learn all new skills in audio and video editting, as well as trying out commentary work, which is something I've always wanted to do. I definitely improved between the first and last videos, but I have a long way to go yet.

At the start of August Claire and I went to Whistler, a holiday village about two hours north of Vancouver. It's best known for its ski season, with stunning slopes, beautiful log cabins and lots of places to warm up around a cosy fireplace. But the summer season is awesome fun! We went on a two hour ATV trail up the mountain, during which time we saw no bears, unfortunately. We went to the top of the mountain on the gondola, and then across between the two mountains on the longest and highest unsupported gondola lift in the world! We have a buffet barbeque at the mountain peak, played crazy golf at the base, got lost in the woods around Lost Lake and relaxed and recovered in a Scandinavian Spa for a few blissful hours. And all that was just the first three out of five days!

Now we're into September. We have so much happening over the coming months, which you'll be hearing about as it happens. I have craft projects I can't wait to show off (Hint: They're boardgame related), new artwork I'm super proud of and more. Claire is hard at work on her writing and web development, constantly inventing new ways to create awesome things.

So while 2014 has been quiet on One Terrific Day, it hasn't been in our lives. New things are happening every day, and we can't wait to share them with you all as they come up.

Stay reading, stay gaming and stay tuned!