Glory to Rome

Let’s talk about a great game you can’t buy unless you want to sell your kidneys.

As we enter another week of quarantine, I’ve spent a lot of time playing games with people over the internet. This week, it was Glory to Rome in tabletop simulator, a board game with a really weird ass history. While I could spend time writing about that, I’d just be retreading ground already covered by Cyrus Farivar, in his article on arstechnica. So yeah, if you want to see how a Kickstarter can go horrifically wrong, and why being in a relationship with your only translator for your production line might be a bad idea, go read his stuff instead. It’s fascinating.

(Side Note: I find the failure of Glory to Rome especially interesting as the only components for the game are paper and cards. It’s all cards! No complex inserts, no expensive plastic models, nothing. Where’s the Jason Schier of the board game industry? There’s probably a fascinating and horrifying story about global supply chains in this thing.)

So instead, lets actually talk about Glory to Rome. I had a lot of fun with it. I was playing with three other friends, one of whom had played before. I also got crushed, coming in last place. Generally speaking, I get pretty salty when I lose games, and while there was some of that, I mostly want to play it again.

Probably the thing I find the most impressive about Glory to Rome is the same thing I sorta mocked it for up above: the only component is cards. The cards are your resources. The cards are your buildings. The cards are your victory points, your actions, and clients. The game manages to pack a stupid amount of functionality into each card WITHOUT making them illegible or hard to read. (Unless you’re playing on tabletop simulator with blurry scans. In which case, yeah, they can be a bit hard to read.) But the fact of the matter is, the game feels like it does a lot with very little.

The second thing about Glory to Rome that I find interesting, and would be helpful if I played it again, is how fast the game is. Most building games I’ve played tend to sorta drag out near the end, getting to the point where you’re playing kingmaker, or where you’ve lost, but the game keeps going. Glory to Rome ends with a bang. Of the four people in our game, I would say the two highest scoring players earned most of their points in the last two to three rounds of play, in one person’s case, scoring around 20+ points in one turn. (My end game score was 12 total. 3rd place was 13.) There’s an explosive energy to it by the end.

I honestly don’t really have any nitpicks with the game, and honestly, if I could, I’d go out and buy a copy. But you can’t, and no one can. At the time of writing, Ebay shows maybe two copies of the first edition, clocking in at about $130, and a single copy of the “Black Box Edition” at $425 (To be fair, that’s including the $50 shipping. To be unfair, that’s probably more then it would cost you to go and get an entire copy of the game professionally printed.) The next several results are all for games that describe themselves as “Glory to Rome-like”.

If you want to play it though, there is still a way to do it. First, you’d need Tabletop Simulator installed, and then, theoretically, you would need to go and find a mod version of the game in the workshop. You know. Theoretically. And playing this way would still cost about $20 per person, since you’d all have to buy a copy of tabletop simulator.

But it would still be cheaper then buying the actual game.

Sento – Ultimate Arcade Fighter

Holy shit, I want to own this game.

There are a lot of games at a PAX, and honestly, many of them do not click for me. There are things that can be fun when played with other people, but might not transfer to a single player experience, and there are things that just don’t grab me.

I personally don’t really like writing about things that very much, because making things is hard, and going “Hey, you know that thing you poured a decent portion of the finite time, the only truly real and limited thing that is yours on this planet, into? I think it’s trash.” has the all the tact and moral generosity of stomping on a puppy. Most people I know who make things have started by making a lot of very bad things, and then moved on to making better things. I know that for the things I currently make, many of them are either garbage, or “Shows promise, needs improvement” stage of creation.

So yeah, unless you directly ask me for feedback on whether I think something is good or not, anything I say will be more in the “I like it/I don’t like” sphere.

I don’t have to do anything of that shit with Senko fighter, because I mostly just want to play more of it.

Senko is a puzzle matching, fighter game. It’s a board game, which is also kinda weird, and honestly, you could make it into a video game, but I’m not sure if it would actually improve it. Pulling rows of marbles of the board, and dropping them back in to the randomizer is deeply satisfying. (Someone told me “Oh, like Potion Explosion?” but I’ve never played it, so I have no idea if that’s accurate.)

I think the big thing for me though, is that Senko really gets at the heart of what fighting games feel like if you’re good at them. Each turn, you’re making several decisions, all in one simple action. Do I want to attack, or build up for another turn? Am I going to try to trigger my characters feature, or set stuff up? Am I trying to go for a knockout, or just chip you down? Do I need to try to block something big you can set up next turn, and if so, can I even do it?

And the way you decide all of these things is simple, reach down a pull out a bunch of marbles, then do your attack. Different marbles correspond to different attacks, with combos at 1, 3, and 4 chains. There are three colors of marble, and each size chain is a specific attack, except your health is also tied to these marbles to an extent, and if one of your three bars gets knocked down, you can’t use those color marbles, locking out an entire set of attacks, EXCEPT now you can use those marbles you can’t use as part of an even bigger chain of other colors, so now, even though you’re “weaker” it just got much easier to pull off some of those bigger attacks, which is one of the coolest catch up mechanics I’ve ever seen.

I’m sure that as it gets more coverage in the coming months, and Kickstarter launches and whatnot, we’ll get more articles and stuff about it, but I’ll just finish by saying the following:

One thing I feel a lot in video games, but almost never do in board games, is the sense of having MY guy. In Smash Bros, it’s Ike or Ganondorf. In Pokken, it’s Chandalure, and in Pokemon in general, it’s Kyogre, my fat happy blue murder whale. But board games very rarely give me that feeling, even with things like Scythe, and it’s fairly distinct pieces and characters.

The DJ in Sento Fighter already feels like she’s MY dude, nailing the asymmetric options without watering them down so much they become more then just a random starting objective or something. And when this game comes out, I’m looking forward to playing it with friends, and dropping sick, sweet beats, directly onto their exposed, fragile cranium.

Here’s the link to their depressingly empty page, but at least you can sign up for their newsletter about when the Kickstarter is coming. And you should, if you like GOOD THINGS.

PAX EAST 2020 – Part 1

Another year, another PAX East, another massive hole in my wallet due to purchasing way too many incredibly wonderful DND related objects I don’t need. But yeah, you’re not here to read about my wallet being eviscerated, you’re here because I’ve linked you to this page.

VIDEO GAMES

LUCIFER WITHIN US – As much as I’d love to just copy paste the games description of itself, I can’t do that, because 1. It wouldn’t be fair, this game looks really cool, and 2. I only have their handout for it.

So, here is the website for it instead. I’ll do a longer write up on this one a bit later, and hopefully, more once I’ve actually gotten to play it. But yeah, really neat aesthetic in which you’re a sort of tech-priest, comparing the testimony of witnesses to a crime to try to find out who dun did it. Thing I’m most excited to see how it turns out.

KNUCKLE SANDWICH – I didn’t actually play this one. I just looked at it. It looks sorta like a combo of Earthbound and Warioware? Weird shit. Looked neat enough for me to care about it though. More info here.

GIGABASH – I did play this one. I did not win. One trend I’ve noticed over the last few years is games that are really fun to play at Cons, but actually kinda suck once you play them elsewhere, because they’re intended for couch co-op, and I don’t have friends. But yeah, GigaBash is a monster brawler where you try to beat the shit out of each other while not being murdered. You play as a bunch of Giant Kaiju things. It looks really nice, I just can’t say whether I liked it because of the convention atmosphere or the game is just good. GigaBash can be found here.

GENSHIN IMPACT – It’s some anime thing. Gameplay looked kinda like a brawler? I didn’t get a chance to play it, didn’t want to wait in line. Looked pretty though. Click that link to get to it’s website.

TURNIP BOY COMMITS TAX EVASION – Yeah, that’s the name of the game. Seriously though. I didn’t play it, did watch for a bit. Catchy title if nothing else. Kinda hard to tell if it’s YouTube bait, or legit good gameplay. I’m gonna be keeping an eye on it if nothing else. Here is the steam wishlist page.

That’s all for part one. In the next several parts, I’ll work my way through the rest of the video and board games I saw, and then maybe finish with a few brief posts about how amazing Sento Figher is. Like seriously, I need to own it.