The Lost Reviews – Governor of Poker 2

18 10 2016

GOP29

If you like board and card games as much as me, you may have a huge stack of games. Lots of games you enjoy, some probably more than others, and maybe some you have yet to play, but the one thing that is probably more true than most is that, you probably don’t get to play many of them all that often. There maybe a few for instance that you have not played in a while. This is definitely true of me; some of the time I play more of than others, while games like Munchkin for example I don’t get to play as often as I would prefer, because sometimes they are hard to bring to the table. Some of the time when you play games, it’s best to play ones other people have experience of just so everyone can have a good time, and don’t need to learn a lot of new details. This can be true of other games too, and in my experience I can go long periods of time not playing a basic card game like Poker.

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I was introduced to Poker over a decade ago, but it can be hard to get a game of it in. I can watch it on TV, like I used to during the good old days of the William Hill Poker Grand Prix, but there is nothing like actually playing it, which is why it’s a good thing that there are many video games out there that allow me the opportunity to play a game of poker in the meantime, whenever I want to, and in my experience, there is none finer than Governor of Poker.

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I originally used to play this games predecessor on Kongregate, but then it was more of a demo, never got to play the original in its full form, however when I noticed this sequel on Steam; I near leapt at the opportunity. In Governor of Poker 2 (by Youda Games), much like the original, you are a wannabe poker champion living in Texas, and you spend your days go from town to town, competing in games, acquiring enough to take over the entire town, before moving onto the next. Purchasing buildings provides you with an income, while competing in tournaments and cash games provides you with an opportunity to acquire more money much more quickly while also building up your reputation. As you progress, you will encounter star NPC players, taking them on in the hope of becoming the number one poker man in the whole of Texas.

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The games main piece though comes to its Poker games, which thanks to the Wild West theme, mean that you and everyone else are represented at the table via hats and hands. This part of the game really does come down to the core gameplay of most Poker games, and there can be tells, there can be bluffing, while all the time still creating tension and panic as you watch the chips build up, change colour or reduce in quick fashion. From there on it comes down to how good of a poker player you are, and how far you are willing to go to get the table win.

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The game is nicely designed, even if the designs themselves have not changed much since its predecessor. The animation is nicely implemented, from walking, to cut scenes, to even the flicking of chips at the poker table. The only issue I really have with the design side is that the maps are rather static. The only person moving around is you, while everyone else stands mega still not moving before or after you enter a saloon; it does not carry much in the way of life. The game’s soundtrack is nicely designed as it comes more down to a couple of pieces of music, but leaves everything else to the stiffening sound a bliss of silence, with a little bit of noise coming from other characters and of course the dealer. While the original definitely still carries the best theme tune, the game’s soundtrack is at it’s best when there is virtually no sound at all. The gameplay is nicely mixed up, and the differences between games, hats, and even the allowance to buy houses and make an income is rather good, I just don’t think there is really any need for a story in this game, it does not adapt or change over time, it just sort of pops up when you reach a goal, even if reaching that goal requires you to play for several hours before you reach the next one. The only thing you really feel, is the disappointment and crunch as you begin to lose money and property, and wonder how you are going to get back onto your feet. There is a lot to like, and a lot to enjoy, but there is a lot of crowding and a lot of wasted bonuses which just don’t work or appeal, it brings a down note to what is actually a pretty competent and thoroughly enjoyable game.

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Don’t get me wrong, I really do like this game; I just think it provides you with things you don’t need or even want. At heart, its basic charm is how this game succeeds, it’s not because you want to free poker from the corrupt hands of those who would rather not play it, but because you want an environment that allows you to play Poker, as close to real as possible. At the tables, you get a real sense of dread, passion and emotion as you win or lose, and as you strive to believe that you can win, and know when it’s time to push or pull back. Everything is there, the poker side works, and the other gameplay pieces included continue to enhance your experience. That’s all this game in the end needs to provide, it does not need a story, just a sense that you are awesome at poker……….at least when you are.

GOP25

GENEPOOL

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Building The Raid

4 05 2016

TR3

For over a year now, it has become evidently clear that there are 2 things I really like. One (given by the status of how much time I have played on it) of them is the PC Game Prison Architect (by Introversion Software). The other one (given by how much I have talked about it) is the Indonesian Action Film The Raid. As a fan of both I thought it might be fun to combine the two. Now, for those of you who know what the two things involve, you may be wondering how I combine a game about building Prisons with an Action film series that mostly takes place in an urban setting. Well, that answer is pretty easy to answer as it happens. Quite a lot of the first act of The Raid 2 takes place in a Prison. Basically, during the first act, there is a fight in the prison yard, when taking a look at the shots surrounding the yard, such as the shape of the prison surrounding the yard, plus the scene where Rama (Iko Uwais) is inside a prison cell, such small details like that gave me plenty of ideas as how to construct a prison in Prison Architect to look like that Prison.

One of the main ideas with a game like Prison Architect is to let your mind flow and almost make a work of art, but seeing as building the prison is only half the battle as you get caught up in prison Management and Administration also, I thought that building a prison based on a Prison I saw in a film would be a good idea. I thought that such shapes and designs could help me come up with something relatively basic, but also help me in the running of a prison on the Large Map game setting. Well after 3 attempts; I have come to the conclusion that it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. Let me explain. Designing prisons based on ones in either real life or even a film as it is probably a real prison, does not mean that something in the real world is going to work in a game, not to forget that it’s just a design, and that it does not mean also that it will equate to the management and administration of a prison too. Those kinds of things come down to service quality, not bricks and mortar.

Prison Admin

On my first attempt to build The Raid, I started out normally. By this I mean I started designing out the look and shape of the prison using the in-game planning tool. This acts like something as like a blueprint sketch, where you can plan out where the walls and objects within your prison are going to go before you start building them. As I wanted to get it right, that was the best Idea. I planned out where Cells were going to be, where showers, solitary, yard, canteens, and other various rooms were going to be, and then I gradually built it bit by bit. In the game, you can acquire grants that provide you with money for completion of a task. It’s a useful feature as the first few prisons you build in the game are likely to have the use of them as money to begin with is short. When a prison is complete you can then go and sell it, and receive money in aid of constructing your next prison. Well, having done quite a few prisons by this point, I had quite a lot to use. In the end, when I did complete the prison, I was nearly out of usable grants, but from what I remember I still had plenty of ownership of my prison. One other way of making money you see is to sell shares in your prison for large amounts of cash, this will reduce your overall ownership of the prison, but it’s a great way of making a lot of money really fast. The other way of doing it quickly is to open your prison early and receive cash injections for the arrival of inmates. Anyway, by the time I thought it was complete; I had near to no money at all or ways to get money. And then things got worse. A fire broke out, and it just engulfed an area of my prison that was strangely made out of rock. Prisoners now had an easy escape route, plus I had no money to fix it, so I abandoned that Prison in the hope that one day I would learn from my mistakes and build a better version.

The Raid 2

Well, recently, back in about February, on the final night of BBC Three as it happens, after a while of not playing this game, I decided to re-install it. After a few games and time to try out some of its new elements such as women prisoners and a finally working Execution facility I decided to try and rebuild The Raid. I went through the same old thing again; design then build bit by bit. One thing about this time I remember though was that I was able to secure a large amount of money and get a lot done before opening it. However, I have sort of forgotten what happened, but given the pictures I took, I believe it had something to do with a Riot. If you look at the canteen area on the below picture, you can see a large area shaded Red, that shows that in that room a riot is taking place, so it’s sort of more like The Raid films, but not exactly great for prison designing. And given by how much money I had, I can bet I was not able to survive. I think in the end, I gave up. I did not stop playing or uninstall the game; I just deleted that save file and start all over again.

The Raid 2 Riot

So, with my having yet another go at building The Raid, I played a few more games in the hope of building up to that again, well I have had one more go. I did things differently this time however. Given by the success I have discovered in imprisoning women as they appear to not riot as much as Men, I thought I would give it a go as a women’s prison. Same thing again, designed it by sketching it out, and then built it from the ground up. This time however, I did not have as much money, so I had to be quick when I did have money. I slowly but surely built up the first bit, and it was going relatively ok.

The Raid 3

Then a riot broke out, and another if my memory is correct. It became clear, that building The Raid was never going to be an easy task. Over the last few games I had actually come up with new ideas on how to design a prison and those ones actually worked out ok, but as the design for this one was so much different, it was not going to be as straight forward. I tried to do things differently by having two separate large canteens instead of one big one, but it was becoming ever clearer, that this Raid was going to plummet before it was even near finished. So just before I wrote this post up, I sold it, and deleted the save before uninstalling the game. Well, I have played on it for nearly 200 hours now (189 to be exact, my most played game on Steam), so maybe it’s time to move on and try something else for a bit. I am not a sore loser or anything, it’s just clear to me that building The Raid time and time again is probably not going to work.

The Raid 3

If anything, this project has taught me, never to design anything in a game based on something in real life. They are two different realities, life and video games, and it’s clear the two are not meant to mix (not unless I get re-inspired when The Raid 3 comes out). Thinking about it, the signs should have been clear. I mean, how many times Video Games and Movies mixed…..have and came out positively. Not to sway your opportunities if you want to try to build The Raid, give it ago, let me know how you get on.

The Raid 3

Now, let’s end on a reflective piece of music.

GENEPOOL (please have a read of my review of The Raid).





Timeline Of An Empire

9 12 2015

Age of Empires 2

I recently picked up a copy of Age of Empires II HD on Steam. Upon hearing that many of you are probably thinking: “What, have you only just played it” or along those lines anyway (or possibly even; “What is Age of Empires II HD on Steam? Well, click the above links). No, it is not the first time I have played Age of Empires II. It must have been when it was first released that I played it for the first time. I remember when it first came through and on that evening playing the tutorial mode with my Dad, and my Dad noting the bad attempt of someone from America trying to do a Scottish accent. Anyway, I have played it before, but purchasing this copy on Steam marks the first time I have played this version of the game (which comes packed with previously unofficially unreleased extras), plus the first time in a long time I have played it. And it has been fun. I enjoy playing different skirmish games, attaining new trophies in Steam and just generally having fun playing this game again. I am not too fussed by playing the campaign mode, I played the Tutorial again a few weeks ago, and was so bored, but general Skirmish games I find rather fun. I also find it rather fun playing Empires that I did not necessarily use before like Byzantines and Franks as well as old favourites like the Japanese, Teutons and Koreans. My one hope at this time though is to hopefully have a multiplayer game of it at some point in the not too distant future.

AoE Score

Anyway, why am I talking about this game in the first place? Well, one thing I rather like about this game comes in the end of game stats, the ones that show you statistics of how the game went. Now I am not really all that fussed by Economy or Military stats, but what I am interested in is the Timeline functionality at the far right of the menu choices.

AoE Timeline 1

I like this feature because it features a very detailed colour coordinated graph showing how your empire in the game, and those of the other players fared, and these can be very detailed. Take the above picture for example. It shows the names of the players or AI, what army they were, when they advanced to certain stages, when there was a battle, when a Wonder was built and when a Wonder was destroyed. Doesn’t seem like all that much to gawp at I know, but looking at the way that colour can take over the chart is something in particular to behold.

AoE Timeline 2

When a certain colour/nation fills the chart more than any other, it shows who at that time the strongest empire was. These strengths of colour increase and decrease throughout all the way to the end of the game as it stands (so either as overall victory is achieved, or when someone decides to quit) come the end. Some of these colours of course begin to decrease down to a small-scale as the end draws near for that empire; however abdicating is simply not enough. I have found that even if a nation abdicates; i.e. Loses, the empire can still carry on, on the timeline even if it is just a small slither across the screen. This comes in the form of leaving their buildings and some villagers and ships alive and not destroy them when they give up. Thus to end an Empire outright, and take over the chart that little bit more, you will need to make sure there are no survivors, either people, ships, or buildings. This will cause that Empire to be wiped out and disappear altogether from that moment in time, similarly to real past ancient empires of this world.

AoE Economy

I know it’s something to do a weird post about, but it’s a nice little feature in the game that I wanted to point out and mention. You can be someone who ignores the impact of ancient empires, but something like this can show, at least in a fictional video game stance how powerful an empire can become, but similarly also how it can simply disappear and be forgotten, as other greater, mightier empires forge their own future, quashing competition in their stead.

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

GENEPOOL





Machi Koro

3 12 2014

 

Machi Koro 1

Machi Koro is a City Building/Set Collection card game for 2-4 players designed by Masao Suganuma whose other titles include Candy Chaser and Diamonsters. The game is set in the fictional Japanese city of Machi Koro and involves the player having to build a city from nothing more than a Wheatfield and a Bakery. On each turn one player roles a dice and depending on what buildings they have built, they gain income and can build up their town. The only problem is, is that there are three other players out to do the same thing.

Machi Koro 2

Players start with a Wheat Field, a Bakery, 3 coins and 3 un-built Landmarks and ends when all four different landmarks are built. In order to build those landmarks however, players need to pay for their construction, and they’re not cheap. They range from 4 coins to 22 coins and the starting ‘establishments’ the player controls produce no more than 1 coin. So the player will need to build up their settlement into a city in order to be able to produce more money so that they can eventually build their landmarks, which consist of an Amusement Park, a Radio Tower, a Shopping Mall and a Train Station. On a players turn they roll a dice, and if the number on the dice matches (when using two dice, it’s summed together) a number on one of the establishment cards in their city, then they perform that action. Most of these involve collecting money from the bank, or sometimes other players, and then using that money to build another establishment to increase the size of their city and hopefully produce more money. There are four different types of establishment card though, and each colour does something different:

  • Blue (Primary Industry): Receive money from the bank during anyone’s turn.
  • Green (Secondary Industry): Receive money from the bank on your turn only.
  • Red (Restaurants): Take money from the player who rolled the dice.
  • Purple (Major Establishment): Take money from all other players but only during your turn.

This system of establishments means that players will need to decide carefully about which establishments they construct during their turn. Blue cards will create income for the players during anyone else’s turn (including their own) provided that the correct dice number is rolled. Green on the other hand provides you alone with money for the green cards you have, and also means that no one else will make money either, however it is the same the other way around. Green does also offer some multipliers depending on what other establishments you have, but they can only work during your turn which is equally bad. Red only works on other players turn, which is a bit annoying, however if the number on the dice matches the number on one of your red cards, then you receive money from them; that is, if they have any money. Purple meanwhile work a lot like red, but only provide money on your turn and only when you roll the same number as it, however if you are successful, not only do you take money from other players, slowing them down as a result, but you also increase your coffers.

Machi Koro 3

Cards can also be bought and used several times over. For instance, you can have more than one Wheatfield, or more than one Café, or more than one Cheese Factory meaning that the effects of buildings can be multiplied. So for instance, if someone rolls a one and a player has four Wheatfield’s, they will receive four coins, one for each Wheatfield.  This applies to many establishments, the ones with multipliers especially meaning that if you have more than one multiplier, you just use it over and over again. However, this rule of more than 1 type of building does have one other little rule. A player cannot build more than 1 of each different landmark and purple building. So a player can’t have more than 1 Radio Tower, or more than 1 TV Station. They can build several different purple buildings and landmarks but only one of each. These buildings provide extra little abilities though that the other coloured buildings don’t provide; from being able to roll an extra dice (which allows the player to activate the abilities of the higher number buildings, provided they rolled that number), to having an extra turn.

Machi Koro 4

In a sense Machi Koro is an ‘engine building game’. By that I mean a game where the player builds up an engine or a formula that as it gets bigger, it pays out more as a result. When you begin you have a small settlement, as the game continues, you have a fully working city which provides more income allowing you to build much bigger things more quickly, where as in later on you start off relatively slowly. The games use of dice and different colour/type cards means that it really comes down to luck as to who gets money and when. The mechanic of stacking cards improves chances of more pay-out while the diversity of establishments improves chances while also allowing room for creativity in the gameplay and themes for its setting. Another thing the game also offers is that some buildings are not held down to one number, nor the only card with that number on them. Some buildings have 2 numbers increasing the chance of them being used, while some have the same number as other establishments, bringing with it the possibility of more than one being activated at the same time. The relatively slow pace of the game (as in being allowed to build no more than 1 building per turn) also means that it is not a quick game either. While it is quicker than most games and in a sense is a quick (possible party) card game, it is not a quick 5 minute or 10 minute game and can last to close to half an hour for most games; allowing the game and players to breathe, take their time and fully enjoy the experience, of which it is an enjoyable one at that. Although I would say that another landmark or two would benefit the gameplay also; allowing room for those who would prefer perhaps a longer game as well as more red cards to fully utilize the ability to take other people’s hard-earned (rolled) Cash.

Machi Koro 5

With a very basic yet beautifully colourful look and a very quick but complete instruction booklet, Machi Koro is a terrifically fun game and one that can be enjoyed many times over and over again in one sitting. Its main mechanics work well together and provide hours of replay enjoyment too as you’ll want to try other techniques and make a better gameplay system while also remembering chances of probability and the luck of the dice roll. From hard-core enthusiasts to casual gamers, Machi Koro a terrific addition to anyone’s board game collection.

Machi Koro 6

GENEPOOL





REUS

13 08 2014

REUS Logo

Have you played Godus yet? I haven’t. Why? Because it’s still in early access and I don’t quite fancy playing a buggy game until it is supposedly finished to a point that it isn’t so buggy. It’s also why I have not played Folk Tale, MAIA, Prison Architect and War for the Overworld. All these are games I am eagerly anticipating to play, just not yet. But why am I talking about said games if the title suggests a 2D game with Giant Monsters in it. Well it sort of looks like games like Godus and Populous.

REUS World

REUS is a game about a world, a world that currently nothing exists, except for a group of Elemental Giants who each have the power over a certain type of land and abilities. One makes mountains and can create deserts and mines to mine (obviously) minerals. One can create oceans and sea life while another can create grass lands and fruit. Then finally there is a swamp giant who can create swamps and technology and sciences. What is basically a God Game where the giants are such entities and can create life and resources for the humans down below and provided the humans stay loyal to them, and not get to greedy, the giants and humans will stay in happiness together and some humans may join the giants unlocking new abilities for them. Although, the player has no direct control of the humans (a lot like Evil Genius) and if the humans get too greedy, they may declare war on each other, or even on the giants themselves which are not invincible. But if a race of man gets too powerful you can just destroy them, provided that you still have a giant that can?

REUS End

REUS is nicely designed and has a nice cartoony look about it and is also very colourful which is always a bonus. So even if the humans decide to go to war with each other, or sometimes you, at least it’s not all gloomy and horrible. The games mechanics are in the ability to give the peaceful/war like humans the things they need in order to survive/kill. So each giant while having maybe some similar abilities, each one does something different, and on top of that different types of region and the people that live on them require different kinds of resources. Grasslands initially require food, desert initially requires wealth and swamp initially requires Technology/Science. What do they require these resources for? Projects. As soon as a town is settled they begin building something which usually starts off quite basic and if accomplished thanks to the help of your giants, they grow in prestige (I think, it’s been a while since I last played it) and then may decide to upgrade that building into something better. By that point though, they require more resources and of different types. It is through this that they can get greedy and if you give them too much, equally so. But in order to achieve even these potential accomplishments the game introduces a system of multipliers. These are basically points in the resource system where combining certain things together will cause more abundance in those resources, and seemingly the strongest way of doing this is through the buildings themselves as they cause larger multipliers than the actions of the giants.

Reus Water Giant

The game while fun, colourful and perhaps playing in a more arcade style game than the standard RTS is also quite difficult as you need to inspire and provide for the humans, but also need to control them in some respects. But the game is very addictive and on your part you want to see the projects completed and do things to see them completed, but the multipliers aren’t as easy to complete as you think they are and can get quite frustrating as you try to use them to provide, but there is a real sense of accomplishment though when the projects are completed. And it is through such things that make me think of Godus as in that the humans create their own villages and building, and the same goes for this. And even when the humans decide to go to war, it is interesting to watch them do so. The world is beautifully animated, from the giants, to the humans, to even the plants and animals that live in the world and it is great to see so much diversity in the game, particularly from the animals themselves to the projects and if you are able to accomplish bigger ones, they lead onto even bigger ones. And if you are a game who likes accomplishments, there is an in-game accomplishment/trophy like system where in the lifespan of a single game you are able to accomplish a group of tasks you chose at the beginning of the game, that sense of accomplishment returns.

Reus Mountain Giant

REUS is an extraordinarily fun game. Addictive with a lot of replay value in a beautifully crafted, animated, colourful and even sounding world with lots to do and achieve while also trying to survive and do all of that within a predetermined amount of time with lots to unlock too, it is seriously good fun. Give it a try, I highly recommend this game (it’s both available on Steam and GOG.com, I have the GOG.com version).

GENEPOOL








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