Wednesday, December 27, 2017

In Media Res: Charterstone and Legacy Games

Hi! Angie here! It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged about gaming. I’m going to take another stab at this. There’s so much to catch up on! Instead of making any kind of attempt at “getting caught up to current”, I’m going to fast forward to *right now* and start writing about the things we are playing today, this week, and recent times that really stand out. If as I go along this spurs something from the gap years that seems fun to fill in I’ll do one of those flashback things and, well, we’ll see what happens…

I’ve got many areas of interest in gaming these days:
  1. Board Games
  2. Roleplaying Games (this currently consists of a weekly Shadowrun 5E campaign)
  3. Console Video Games
  4. Mobile Games
  5. Hearthstone (my interest/time investment is big enough for it to get its own category)
  6. Magic the Gathering (I don’t play much outside occasional Magic League these days but I’m still very interested in the game)
  7. Game Design (we’ve released two published games since I last regularly blogged!)
  8. Any Game I Can Play with My Littlest Kid (the big one plays almost everything)
  9. Sports/Competitions the Kids Participate In (Battle of the Books, lacrosse, the little guy insists he is going to play football and baseball but we’ll see)

The idea is that for a post I will grab a category or two, tell you what we’ve been playing, and share some thoughts or experiences… anything from a mini-review to a rave about a great mechanism to a rant about a frustrating level to a funny story about a game I played. Hopefully this will be interesting enough that you’ll come back. Enough blah blah… :)

Board Games: Leaving a Legacy

I think the current definition of a legacy game is a board game that changes and evolves as you play it to reflect the choices the players make, and has persistent effects on the game from session to session. This usually involves writing on the game board and cards, using stickers, (maybe ripping stuff up!), opening up surprise boxes of new pieces, and adding rules and other twists to the game. The ones I’m familiar with have a set number of games that form a “campaign” of linked games, and once you play through those game you are done exploring the new content and have created a unique version of the game that you can (theoretically) continue to play. One big draw of these games is the sense of wonder and discovery as you find out what comes next. Another is the variety of gameplay as the game is constantly changing and evolving. Both of these have an incredible appeal to me.

The only time I’ve played one was Risk: Legacy, and we blogged about our first three games (we played 5 or 6 total) but didn’t write them all up because we weren’t entirely sure how to deal with spoilers and while the in-depth character stories we were writing were fun it was a lot of work to keep up with after playing a few back-to-back sessions. Additionally we had the problem of trying to coordinate sessions where exactly the same players (and no one else) got together to play and ultimately we just decided there were other things we’d rather do.

Since Risk: Legacy, I have watched from the sidelines as legacy games have taken off and become a whole genre, and wanted to dive back into one, but wondered how to surmount those problems. Enter Charterstone. It’s so cute. Everything I read says the games take about an hour… but, a *real* hour, not one of those “this takes and hour but really 2”. My husband Randy and just-turned-12 year old daughter Katie both really like worker placement games, AND they are a captive audience that I can get to replay a game with me over and over without so much coordination. SOLD SOLD SOLD. And, after a *few* well-placed hints, Katie got me a copy of Charterstone for Christmas! Let’s do this! We are three games in, which we played all in a row on Christmas day, and I’m loving it. I want to open all the crates and see what all the cards do and cover the board in stickers. And, did I mention that it’s so cute??

One thing that cracks me up is that when I showed Katie what Charterstone was she was like “No no no, no…. Why?!? No. Writing on cards? Stickers on the board?! This is… no. We can’t do that. No.” She said it was sooooo stressful the first game, but a few games in and she’s peeling of stickers and asking for the sharpie with a big smile on her face. She’s perfectly happy to write "something funny" on a card now, so thanks Stonemaier Games for breaking her aversion to the concept of legacy games!

So far I have only one complaint, and I suppose you could call it spoiler-ish so avert your eyes and skip to the next paragraph if you are very sensitive….. In our last game I eagerly opened a crate right near the end of the game and three REALLY great buildings came out. I didn’t have enough time left to build any of them because another player (*ahem* Randy) spent his influence on that same turn and started running out the clock, and I can only carry one over in my personal supply to the next game (the rest will go into the general advancement supply). And because we have 3 inactive charters there’s a chance they will get built immediately into one of those. But if they don’t they will be available for my opponents to grab and build for *very many points* even though I worked so hard on the chain of things to unlock them, and it feels really unfair. I knew I might have to chose one to go in the general supply if I couldn’t get it built, but I had no idea so many could come out of a crate at once. If I had any idea that was going to happen I would have opened the crate at the *beginning* of the next game so I had some time to build one or two of them myself. /SIGH. I guess it’s just a thing about legacy games is that you will sometimes back yourself into a corner that is disadvantageous. It’s just a really weird feeling in a worker placement game where points are tight, and where you have a sense of building up towards an overall victory at the end.

I’m really eager to play again and excited for all the cool new discoveries. I feel like there are many things we aren’t yet fully using that we *have* uncovered, and obviously many things yet to reveal. I’ll check back in on this one after a few more plays.

Have you played Charterstone or another legacy game? Thoughts?

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