Adventures in Gaming

A few years back, all my game group would play are what are called “Euros.” These are games where you basically do a lot of math and strategize for 3 hours and hope you mathed better than everyone else. There was always a theme, though light, and what mattered was calculating the perfect strategy.

RPGs are a great way to combine both strategy and storytelling in gaming.

A year or two of playing games like that burnt me out. Around the same time I started playing my first role playing game (RPG). It was Star Wars and super fun! Then after that campaign, we decided on trying out the new Dungeons and Dragons rule set (5th edition). What a whirlwind that’s been! I think playing RPGs both digital and physical has completely changed the way I approach gaming.

I love getting into the adventure and story. I love rolling a fist full of dice, hoping I defeat the monster. While I still love math and strategy games, I love the lighter and more fluid games more these days.

Why the change? I’ve actually always been a very imaginative person. I used to sit in my apple tree and come up with all sorts of stories and worlds in my head. I had an imaginary friend named Yoshi and had created an entire story and world around him. In middle school, I would write Star Wars Fan Fiction and random comics with friends. So it’s actually no surprise that I would love storytelling in gaming.

A Call to Adventure is an awesome game that you tell a story of your character at the end but there’s still strategy involved.

I also have a math degree, so there is a measure of strategy and mathematics that I love in gaming. Most RPGs actually have quite a bit of math in them and adding up dice rolls and stats on the fly is a great lesson in mental math.

Does this mean I won’t play an abstract game with little theme? By no means! I’m loving games like Azul, and word games like Codenames are quite fun too.

I just find that as I grow older, the type of gaming I am into has changed. Not only that, but our gaming group has changed drastically. While we still have the core 3 of us, we have added a couple other gamers to the group. These gamers are more into shorter games, especially ones that are cooperative. And when learning new games, they enjoy games that can be learned in 20 minutes or less.

I’m okay with this change though. While my Monday night group isn’t totally into storytelling games, they are into a good mix of gaming and adventure. One big example is Mansions of Madness! It has strategy, theme, storytelling, and math. Another game we have been enjoying lately is Mystic Vale and Call to Adventure. There’s a good combo of strategy and theme in the game.

I think gaming is a great outlet for my imagination. As a kid I wrote stories and playacted, now I get to do that in gaming form. I think as adults we sometimes lose that imagination and forget what it’s like to role play and be in different world. As my son grows older and his imagination develops, I’m excited to enjoy adventure gaming with him and create amazing stories!

My Gaming Journal Winter ’18/19

Cold and wet weather is always a good opportunity for gaming, and this winter we played a lot of gaming! I won’t be doing a weekly gaming journal this time around, but I do hope to do a gaming journal bi-monthly in the future. Here’s what we played in the past few months!

7 Wonders with the Armada Expansion!

Switch/iOS Gaming

Let’s Go Pikachu: I wasn’t expecting this one to be a legit Pokemon game on the Switch and it did not disappointed! I played through twice between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate: We played this one loads over the holidays and it was just as good as we expected. I even had a Super Smash Bros party for my birthday!

Octopath Traveler: Got this one for my birthday and it was amazing! A classic style JRPG with plenty of new style content to keep it fresh.

Star Realms (app): The app has grown since it first came to the app store and not only boasts a popular online gaming area, but also a robust solo campaign mode that just keeps on giving.

Board Games

Dropmix: Found this one on super discount at Target. A great party game that combines using an app with a bluetooth compatible board with cards. Great for anyone that loves music!

Azul: I got this one for my husband for Christmas and it turned out to become one of my favorite games of the year! Easy to teach and learn and games take under an hour.

7 Wonders Armada: An expansion to our favorite game and it did not disappoint. Brings freshness to the base game that keeps us on our toes. Plus the theme is amazing!

Werewords: We got this one earlier last year, but we keep getting it to the table. I love how easy it is to play and how each game takes only about 6 min to play. It’s a great game for almost any family event.

Dungeons and Dragons: We play D&D with friends every other week. My husband got a 3D printer, so now we have custom minis and terrain! It’s so much fun doing storytelling with dice.

Gaming Goals for Spring 2019

I’m hoping to dial back my Nintendo Switch gaming and try to do more board gaming. We had to cancel a lot of game nights in January due to schedule and weather. Hoping to be more consistent in the spring, and also hope to get more regular 2 player gaming in with my husband! Our evening schedule should start lightening up in just a few months.

Transistor: Thoughts after First Playthrough

Transistor keeps tugging at my thoughts and heart strings!  This game is very intense, unlike its predecessor Bastion.  While Bastion was more lighthearted and humorous, Transistor is more dark and mysterious.  The theme, music, narration, and even the battles have hardly any lightness to them.  However, does this make it an inferior game to Bastion?

Gorgeous art through the whole game. Gorgeous art through the whole game.

About halfway through the game I almost didn’t even want to continue on.  The stress it was giving me plus the more difficult battles were steering me away.  However, I’m so pleased that I kept playing!  The last two hours of gameplay were stunning.  You got to battle more interesting enemies, plus get to wield some epic weapon functions.  I loved doing Void() then Cull() to do some serious damage to enemies.  I highly recommend playing through the whole game before making any serious observations about it.  Now I can’t wait to play again on Recursion mode (New Game Plus).  What makes Transistor great?

Can't get enough of the art style. Can’t get enough of the art style.

Theme: The theme is cool!  It’s like Cyberpunk meets Film Noir.  You have this awesome Transistor weapon in which you load Functions as you level up in the game.  At the same time, the main character is Red, who looks like a singer from the 1920s.  I love this unique take on Cyberpunk/Coding theme. While the Narrator (the unnamed man in the Transistor) doesn’t have quite as cool lines as in Bastion, he does lay out the mystery of the game well.  There is much to uncover after all.

Music: Once again, Darren Korb with Ashley Barrett doing the vocals do a stunning job as they did in Bastion. Without the music, this game wouldn’t have been nearly as good.  I even purchased the soundtrack, as I did with Bastion.  Nothing like the haunting vocals of Ashley Barrett as you go through the Processed Cloudbank.

Story: The story is a bit like a murder mystery.  You (Red) and your unnamed friend in the Transistor are trying to uncover what has happened to the Cloudbank and why the Process is attacking you on site.  The story does start to unfold, however, I did feel like I had more questions at the end than I did at the beginning.  I’d say the story is the main weak point of the game, but that may change with more playthroughs.

Combat: At first, I really hated the combat.  I typically don’t like difficult action RPGs, and this was beginning to look like one.  However, once I utilized Jaunt(), I was able to dodge the enemies while my turn based planning sequence charged up.  By the last hour of the game, I was breezing through the combat without too much difficulty.  I think I’ll especially like the Recursion playthrough, with all my strong weapon functions.

I have the sense that Transistor may become one of my favorite games.  I did not expect to like it this much midway through, and didn’t even think I would playthrough a second time.  The last half of the game captured my attention and gave me the confidence to truly enjoy Transistor.  Gamers may not like how quick it is to beat the game, however, given the difficulty and darker theme, the gameplay time felt just about right.  Plus, there’s a New Game Plus, and the challenges in Backdoor to accomplish as well.