Posted on September 28th, 2012

Well we’ve got a small lull in the new game releases, but October will be a busy month with Mice and Mystics, the Doctor Who card game, and Smash Up hitting the shelves. Also, many companies are building serious steam as they head towards the largest tabletop game convention in the world this October, the Spiel in Essen, Germany. Whereas our GenCon had about 40,000 attendees this year, the Spiel expects about 150,000, HUGE! Europeans sure love their games, not sure exactly why, possibly because they are far less concerned with ‘wasting time’ than we are here in the states? Here at Cloud Cap, we are very aware that the social act of playing games with others is never a waste of time!

Well, since we have no new games to discuss, we have consulted with our Customer Care department and devised a complete and fantastic schedule for your weekend, here’s the breakdown:

Friday, 6-7:30pm: A wonderful outdoor meal at Zenbu, Okie Rogie Perogies, or one of the many other great food carts on 13th and Lexington. Or for lighter fare, small plates and a fine wine at the Bottle Shop.

Friday, 8pm: Walk on over to Lunacy Stageworks in the old Masons building on Milwaukie Ave for a fantastic performance of The Clean House, a sad and funny examination of how the lives of 4 very different women intertwine. We just saw this last night and highly recommend it.

Saturday, 10-Noon For those with young ones, bring them to the Pokemon League for some playing and trading. If you don’t have kids, sleep in, or grab a coffee at Blue Kangaroo. Either way, lunch at the food carts at noon, you’ll need the fuel for the next event.

Saturday, 4-10pm: MEATY GAMES DAY! That’s right, come sink your teeth into a rich & lengthy gaming experience, though there’s  always room to pop in for a shorter game as well. Our friend Claudia is trying to rally support for a Dominant Species game!

Sunday, noon-6pm: Bring your friends and family for gaming in the shop all day long. Sundays have really been filling up with game players, it has been a blast to see so much table action all day long. We’ve got great coffee and food within blocks of the shop, so grab some long term parking! Join in!

There you have it, a no-brainer weekend fun schedule. And while you are in the shop, check out Kirsten’s awesome new spooky window display! Oh, and check out the new Halloween version of Spot It!

Happy gaming everyone.

Posted on September 21st, 2012

There should be a month between September and October that starts with an ‘L’, because from a retail perspective, this time of year is SLO. But, on the bright side, we now have the opportunity to do some things we did not have time for this summer, like play a bunch of new games and work on a few new projects. One of those projects did happen to include attempting to repair our price gun without realizing how important one screw can be when you have a spring-loaded machine: Ka-Boing! At least my lightbulb changing attempt was successful.

Before I get to the games, I just want to mention one project I’m pretty excited about working on, but may need some advice from the more experienced among all of you reading this. We want to facilitate use of the shop as a meeting place for game playing in small groups. For example, say you want to organize a game of Eclipse at the shop and are looking to fill out the number of players. Or how about organizing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, or even a Magic the Gathering meeting? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a common site on our website where you could post your plans to organize a game, or just see what others are trying to organize and express your interest in joining? This is what I hope to set up over the next few months, a forum format is probably the most useful, but can also be a bit too much work to manage, I think. Facebook is a bit funky, maybe meetup.com could work though. Anyway, I am VERY open to suggestions and feedback.

As for games, I love trying new ones. Sure, replaying favorites is fantastic, but nothing triggers a Dopamine surge like opening a new box to see some pretty things, then reading the rules to figure out how all the awesome bits will work together to create a fresh experience. So this post-GenCon period is great for me, because every week new games arrive. During the past few weeks, we’ve been able to bring some of these to the table and test-drive them. Most recently, we’ve played Battle Beyond Space, Seasons, Netrunner, Libertalia, Pirates of the Spanish Main card game, Dominion Dark Ages, 7 Wonders Cities, and Ugg-Tect. That is a lot of games, and honestly there is not a bad one in the bunch, I would gladly replay all of them.

I find this incredible though. The quality of game design nowadays is so high that if you want to buy one and take it home, the decision can be a bit overwhelming, you just can’t possibly take all the good ones home (well I guess you could, but then you’d be shopping online and probably not really playing them all). Have no fear though, we have systems in place to help you. All the new games I mentioned are either available to play for free in our demo library, or for a small fee you can take them home with our rental program. So if you are like me and need a hit of newness, come on in!

This week we have one more long awaited new game, Mage Wars. Imagine a smash up between Magic the Gathering and Summoner Wars. Basically, you’ll be summoning allies, in the form of cards, onto a battlefield, then tactically maneuvering those units to battle your opponent’s forces. The neat trick here is that you are not randomly drawing from a deck of cards, you assemble your spellbook before the game, and every turn, all of your spells are available for you to cast. True wizardry! Now this game is HUGE for a 2 player game, and won’t have addicting random rare pulls. So don’t pack away your Magic or Summoner Wars cards, but if you are looking for a rich 2-player fantasy card-driven board game experience, check this one out. We will have a demo copy this afternoon.

OK, no special events this week, but the regular ones are listed below. I would like to mention that a friend wants to run a game of Dominant Species on the next Meaty Game Day, September 29, so let us know if you want to reserve a seat (boy, wouldn’t that forum be great right now?).

Magic the Gathering Club (Friday, 4-6pm): Bring your cards for playing and trading, or just come to learn the game.

Pokemon League (Saturday, 10am-Noon): Trade and play and earn some free cards and badges.

Family Game Gathering (Sunday, Noon-6pm): Sunday is family game day, arrive when you want and test drive some games from our demo library. Do not be shy about asking us to teach you a new one.

Strategy Game Gathering (Wednesday, 6pm-11pm): One of the best darn game nights in town!

 

Posted on September 14th, 2012

My what a busy month so far, we are swimming in stunning new games at the shop, and they are still coming. And lucky for all of you, most of these new titles are ready for renting if you want to give them a test drive. Check out the end of this post for a list of the newly added rentals. Our used game section has received a minor beefing up as well, again, check the end of the post for the new additions. But don’t jump to the end just yet, because we have a pretty big game arriving today, ad if you cue this tune while you read the next paragraph, you’ll have a huge clue.

That’s right, the big release this week is a classic Star Wars themed game, in this case it is the X-Wing miniatures battle game. You know you have always wanted to command a small squadron of rebel or empire ships, and now you’ll have your chance. The X-Wing game allows you to assemble your own squadron of ships and pilots and fight it out on any playing surface, no board needed. You might even be able to regress further back into your childhood and battle it between the top of your dresser and your desk, and with enough imagination you could incorporate your action figures and create an entire space saga. Sorry, the music is getting me all riled up, back to the actual game. X-Wing miniatures uses a very efficient and easy to learn maneuvering system for some nice tactical dogfight-style action. If there is one thing Fantasy Flight has done an excellent job of this year, it is making streamlined rules systems that provide a lot of varied replayability, and this looks like another fine example. Now, out of the box, X-Wing is a small scale ship battle, with only 3 ship models in the base set. But, you still choose from a variety of pilots, each with different maneuvering and combat specialties. And, of course, there are extra add-on ship packs to buy to expand the size of your battles. But what I do like about this game is its small scale and ease of play, which should allow the younger generation to jump in and battle it out with you. Most miniature combat games require swimming through some serious rulebooks, but with X-Wing, Fantasy Flight is trying to give players a more visceral experience by keeping the rules out of your way. If there is an ounce of child in you, at least come fondle and drool all over our display copy. Who knows, if we get enough drool on it, we may just have to open it up for a demo or a rental!

OK, now let’s leave space and come back down to planet earth and battle it out on the high seas with the Pirates of the Spanish Main card game. Many of you may remember the awesome Pirates of the Burning Sea collectible miniatures game, where each booster pack came with a few punch out plastic model ships that you could play a game with. Well, that awesome game is no longer in print, and this new card game is not that, sadly. But through my tears I was able to read the rules for this new card game, and while it in no way replaces the cool plastic ships, there does look to be a very enjoyable casual or filler game here, especially for a group including some younger folks. I won’t go into any detail on gameplay here because the post is already getting long, but ask us for a demo next time you are in matey. Oh, I should mention that one of the designers is our favorite Australian designer, Phil Harding, who made the wonderful Archaeology card game.

We have a new puzzle item this week, a brand spanking new Perplexus puzzle ball, the Twist. If you love to torture your mind with spatial puzzles, this puppy will pleasantly frustrate the heck out of you. Perplexus is a clear ball with a 3-dimensional marble maze inside, and you have to rotate the ball to move the marble through the gates. In the Twist, the maze inside is no longer a largely static structure, now you have to twist the two ends of the maze to line up the correct tracks. I tried it at a trade show and had to force myself to put it down so I could get to other tables, it is tough and addicting, just like the others.

Finally, just a brief note, we were hoping to receive one of the GenCon favorites this week, Seasons. Every Podcaster and reviewer I’ve listened to or read has returned from the show with nothing but high praise for this game. Sadly, Seasons will not hit our door until Tuesday of next week. But this is a game that we are very excited to play, so expect to see a demo or rental copy as soon as we get our sweaty paws on it. Also expect us to be pushing it on everyone like a fine white powder on game night.

 

Whew, that’s it for the new stuff, here’s our events list, all regular events this week. But remember, we are always open to someone trying to organize a game session or event. If you want to get one of your favorites to the table, let us know and we’ll rally some support through our various channels. Games like Twilight Imperium, Descent, Lord of the Rings card game, and Mansions of Madness have been run in the past as examples.

Magic the Gathering Club (Friday, 4-6pm): Bring your cards for playing and trading, or just come to learn the game.

Pokemon League (Saturday, 10am-Noon): Trade and play and earn some free cards.

Family Game Gathering (Sunday, Noon-6pm): Sunday is family game day, arrive when you want and test drive some games from our demo library. Do not be shy about asking us to teach you a new one.

Strategy Game Gathering (Wednesday, 6pm-11pm): One of the best darn game nights in town,

Fresh Used Games:

New Rentals: Battle Beyond Space, Atlantis Rising, Netrunner, D-Day Dice, Libertalia (by the end of the day hopefully).

Posted on September 7th, 2012

Alrighty gang, let the new games flood the shelves! Mr. and Mrs. Cloud Cap have family in town, so you will not see us in the shop too much over the next few days, but be sure to give trusty Chris a hard time when you visit! I’m also in the middle of preparing the family some breakfast, so I’ll be brief but informative with this update.

First off, the Netrunner Living Card Game is finally here. This is a much anticipated 2-player game where one player is a hacker attempting to steal corporate data, the other player is the corporation, setting up traps and firewalls in the network. The asymmetrical nature of the game, strong hand management possibilities, and variety of both the hacking and protecting options set this game up for lots of interesting replays. We do have a limited number of copies for the weekend after filling our preorders, so if you want this puppy, earlier is better. We will be getting a rental copy ready next week as well.

Z-Man Games has just released 2 of its big GenCon premieres, Atlantis Rising and Battle Beyond Space. I’ve written more about these games in a prior post here, but it is nice that we will finally have them in our hands and get to dive in. We still need to wait for Mr. UPS to deliver the goods this afternoon, so wait until about 3pm if you want to grab a copy of either of these. Again, we’ll try and get rental copies of both of these titles ready for next week for the curious or fence straddlers (I happen to be both).

 

Finally, we received a very unique party style game produced by Fantasy Flight called Ugg-Tect. Now party games are not generally my thing, but this game comes with an inflatable caveman club and provides the opportunity to grunt orders at your opponent as you guide their attempt to build a structure out of blocks. We’ll work on getting a rental copy ready today in case anyone needs some serious silliness this weekend.

 

 

Ok, that’s it for games, here’s a list of upcoming events for the week, have a great weekend:

Magic the Gathering Club (Friday, 4-6pm): Bring your cards for playing and trading, or just come to learn the game.

Pokemon League (Saturday, 10am-Noon): Trade and play and earn some free cards.

Family Game Gathering (Sunday, Noon-6pm): Sunday is family game day, arrive when you want and test drive some games from our demo library. Do not be shy about asking us to teach you a new one.

Strategy Game Gathering (Wednesday, 6pm-11pm): One of the best darn game nights in town,

Posted on August 31st, 2012

Here we are at the transition from summer to fall, and the last long weekend hurrah for a while. Temperatures will moderate, kids will be trapped inside classrooms once again, and board game lovers will rejoice as awesome new games hit the shelves. A few of those awesome games arrived last week, and one big one will arrive next week.

Before I get into the games though, I wanted to throw out a huge thanks to Josh, our fearless Pathfinder Camp gamemaster. During the past week, Josh has taken a group of eager kids on an adventure that could potentially change their lives forever. A few of the kids were participating in the camp for a second time, so they were already hooked on the fantastic world of roleplaying games, but the other kids had never experienced anything like Pathfinder. Josh has patiently helped these newbies learn the intricacies of their character sheets, the rules of the game, and the importance of creativity and teamwork. Our playroom has not been quiet at all this week, every time we walk in we hear shouts of “I’m doing a perception check” or “Somebody help my velociraptor!” or “Doesn’t anyone have good diplomacy?”. Both camps this summer have really been fun to watch, and sometimes participate in. So thanks Josh, I hope you are enjoying it as much as the tikes are, and I hope you are proud of yourself for setting these guys up for a life of imaginative geekdom!

And now, more roleplaying-related news. After the camp this afternoon, Josh and I will continue deliberations over the possibility of setting up a few different roleplaying events. One may be a once-a-month campaign for kids, probably Pathfinder, but other systems will also be considered. The other event would be a once-a-month roleplaying evening for adults, either on a thursday or saturday evening. These nights, we hope, will be open play, where gamemasters run players through one-off adventures in any system they choose. If you are at all interested in either of these events, contact us and we can set up a mailing list, but also contact us with any ideas we may want to consider. To make these events work, we will really need some gamemasters, any out there?

Alrighty, now for the games. We sold out of our first batches of 7 Wonders Cities, Dominion Dark Ages, and the Glory to Rome Black Box yesterday, but we have more arriving this afternoon, so wait until the evening if you were hoping to pick up any of those titles for the long weekend. I have now played the 7 Wonders Cities expansion a few times and am enjoying the extras. I am always amazed at how the addition of a few minor mechanics can have a potentially profound impact on a game. The price tag of $30 seems a bit high for what’s in the box, but let’s see, so far 3 people have enjoyed the experience for a total of 2 hours, so about the price of a new movie release. But we will put in far more than 2 hours of play over the next few years or more, and we have been socializing the entire time. When looked at this way, meaningful social entertainment does not get much cheaper, unless of course you buy your copy online, which is so droll (I’ll explain that opinion in a later post). I have not tried the Dominion Dark Ages expansion yet, but I have been reading the cards and am imagining all of the really strange new ways to play.

While we are waiting for the small publishers to get their production and distribution issues sorted out to finally ship the games announced at GenCon, the folks at Fantasy Flight, the game lords of 2012, are sitting comfortably in their thrones, issuing their second massive release of the year (Descent was the first). On Thursday of next week we will have the revised edition of Netrunner in our hands. This is a re-imagining of Richard Garfield’s other great collectible card game, with Magic the Gathering being his mint game. Fantasy Flight will be adding Netrunner to its Living Card Game line though, so you’ll get to enjoy the game and not fuss with the whole collecting part. Those of you who pre-recorded this title, keep your phones close to your chests on Thursday!

Well, I thought there would be more new games to talk about, but after reviewing the email from my rep, it looks like no one wants to go up against Netrunner next week. As far as used games, the only fresh ones we’ve acquired are copies of 2nd edition Bang and the Dodge City expansion, as well as a quirky little card game called Who Stole Ed’s Pants. No new rentals this week, but we added the new Dominion expansion to the demo library.

So on to the events. Meaty Games Day was a bust last saturday, probably because everyone was out of town, hopefully the next will work out, mark those calendars now for September 29. Here’s a list of events for the upcoming week, happy gaming everyone:

Magic the Gathering Club (Friday, 4-6pm): Bring your cards for playing and trading, or just come to learn the game.

Pokemon League (Saturday, 10am-Noon): Trade and play and earn some free cards.

Family Game Gathering (Sunday, Noon-6pm): Sunday is family game day, arrive when you want and test drive some games from our demo library. Do not be shy about asking us to teach you a new one.

Strategy Game Gathering (Wednesday, 6pm-11pm): The best darn game night in town, as evidenced by the amount of friendly smack talking and raucous laughter during last weeks game night. And much of that was over Power Grid and Le Havre, games not typically associated with the word raucous!

Posted on August 29th, 2012

Hey everyone, those of you who read my latest weekly shop update may have noticed my somewhat negative reaction toward the Z-Man and AEG games that were recently released at GenCon. More specifically, I stated that the games from both publishers were “largely forgettable”. Well, after reviewing the expanded info that has made its way from GenCon attendees to the greater digital world, I need to backtrack on that statement a bit, at least for the Z-Man games.

My reaction to the Z-Man games releases was largely based on what I was discovering about their flashiest title, Atlantis Rising, and quite honestly, my initial reaction to this game still stands. Atlantis Rising is a slightly unique cooperative game that uses a worker placement mechanic, which is actually a favorite mechanic of mine, found in games like Lords of Waterdeep and Agricola. But at its core, Atlantis Rising is really a generic cooperative game, bad things continue to happen and the players need to communicate about how best to deal with them while accomplishing a single goal, in this case to construct a cosmic gate to get the heck off of Atlantis. Now there is nothing wrong with the standard cooperative formula, games like Pandemic, Forbidden Island, and Castle Panic use the formula very well. But unlike these games, Atlantis Rising has a $60 price tag, so you are getting more of the same for about twice the price! That makes this puppy largely forgettable in my book, which is not to be confused with it being a bad game though, so definitely give it a go if you are a fan of cooperatives.

OK, so Z-Man’s next game at Gencon was Alcatraz: The Scapegoat. Here is a game with a nice new twist. Everyone is trying to escape the famous prison by forming partnerships to complete tasks, such as digging tunnels or creating shivs. But every turn one person is voted the Scapegoat and that player does not get rewarded as the other players do. The scapegoat, however, can use blackmail cards to mess with the others. There is much more to the game, but the unusual aspect of voting every round for a scapegoat brings something fresh to the cooperative game realm. This game also has a more reasonable price tag of $40, and plays in about an hour. So this game may not be as forgettable as I originally surmised, though it may still lose table time due to the hurt feelings that can develop during scapegoat negotiations.

Finally, Z-Man presented Battle Beyond Space, a very fast tactical space combat game. Originally this game looked like just a miniatures battle game, but the information coming from GenCon suggests much more. Now I’m picturing something like Kingdom Builder with a real theme. At its heart, the game is a combat game, you earn points by destroying other players’ ships, as well as by collecting tokens from the board or occupying specific locations. What makes this game fascinating though is its very limited rule set. Like Kingdom Builder, a very small set of basic rules can lead to some interesting fleet maneuvering choices. Also like Kingdom Builder, the addition of just a few special actions, and the fact that those special actions will be different every game, makes the whole of the game so much more than the sum of its simple rules. I am now actually looking forward to this game, especially since the price is a standard $50, less than I originally thought.

So I apologize Z-Man for being so harsh last week, and I apologize to the Z-Man fans. We’ll know much more about these games in a few weeks when they hit the shelves.