Thursday, 29 July 2021

Godzilla vs Kong - With Added Jaeger

I ran the Giant Monster Rampage setup again yesterday, but with both Godzilla and Kong as attackers, and adding in the jaeger Cherno Alpha as a defender. Cherno Alpha would score points only for damaging Kong and/or Godzilla, plus a bonus based on how destructive they'd been for knocking either out.

The two monsters set to work demolishing the city as fast as they could, whilst Cherno Alpha plodded into action. It went after Kong.

The two exchanged blows. They're fairly evenly matched, with Kong having an edge on speed but the mech being tougher. Cherno Alpha also has some nasty surprises attached to its punches, being able to charge them up for extra damage. 

Meanwhile Godzilla demolished buildings, but edged over to where the fight was as well; if one of the others gained a a serious point score Godzilla needed to be ready to take them down.

Kong was actually making so little impression on Cherno Alpha that a retreat was called for so that he could concentrate on smashing buildings. But Cherno Alpha pursued - slowly - and the fight continued.

However Godzilla was building up a good score, so Cherno Alpha switched its attention to him.

Kong was now making heavy weather of some skyscrapers and not really doing much to improve his score. Godzilla retreated and continued to destroy buildings.

Cherno Alpha had now taken a reasonable amount of damage, but was dishing it out in return. However he still needed a KO for a winning score, and that was proving elusive.

Eight turns into the twelve turn game I got called away, and had to abandon it, although to be fair my tired brain was struggling to manage the three monsters anyway. Godzilla and Kong were about even on points, with Cherno Alpha well behind. 

The issue here really was that with two attackers the poor defender is forced to concentrate on one whilst giving the other free reign. I guess that with a player per monster, though, the two attackers would be watching each others' scores closely and would switch to fighting each other to prevent the other monster winning. But maybe not - doubling down and destroying as much property as possible would also work. Cherno Alpha was actually a tricky foe as a defender in some ways. The two attackers could fight it, but in fact it has a high toughness, so is hard to damage. Can a monster afford to spend time and energy doing that for a lower points reward than buildings would give? Or are you better off  concentrating on the buildings and simply hoping the Cherno Alpha doesn't damage you too much. There's always a decision to be made in a Giant Monster Rampage.


Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Godzilla vs Kong Again

It's been a very long time since I played Giant Monster Rampage. A few years ago I gave Mighty Monsters a try, and that's been my go-to game since then. But as is always the way with these things, both sets of rules have their good points and their bad points, and after my experiments of the other day I thought I might try Giant Monster Rampage again.

I spent Monday evening re-reading it. Whilst not complicated, it is one of those 'toolkit' games with lots of optional rules dotted through the text. And, as I always do with these things, I have house-ruled it to death, so I had to find my notes on those as well.

Anyway, last night I felt confident enough to give it another try. I've done Kong vs Godzilla before, but always with Lego minifigures, so this was a great chance to do it with 'proper' miniatures. I also gave the Attacker/Defender scoring system I was playing around with a few (six) years ago another try. 

I set up a city, and plonked down Godzilla as a proper attacker. He gets points for wounding other monsters and destroying buildings.

I ran Kong as a Neutral Defender. He's not out to destroy the city - he's just there to fight other monsters. So technically he's defending the city but isn't worried if chunks of it get destroyed. He gets a bonus for knocking out Godzilla.

Godzilla had already started destroying the city before Kong came in sight. Kong ripped out trees from the park and threw them at the big lizard.

Godzilla threw rubble back. He couldn't generate enough energy to use his heat blast, though.

Kong rushed into the attack, using chunks of a destroyed skyscraper as an improvised weapon.

He got lucky with his hits, hammering Godzilla hard, and driving him back (he scored two critical hits with two consecutive attacks, which really stacks up the damage).

However the random military intervention saw Kong knocked down by an explosion

Whilst the giant ape got to his feet, Godzilla took the opportunity to retreat to another part of the city and begin destroying that. If he could tot up a large score of building destruction points then he could win even if Kong knocked him out.

Unfortunately Godzilla's run of bad luck continued - he simply couldn't destroy buildings fast enough. Kong rushed in for another attack ...

... and smashed Godzilla to the ground, defeating him.

Godzilla scored 9 points, mostly for destroyed and damaged buildings. Kong scored 16 points - 11 for wounding Godzilla and a 5 point bonus for the KO. So had Godzilla been more destructive early on the scores would have been very close.

For my next game I will run both Kong and Godzilla as attackers, and add in a proper defender and see how the points work there.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Godzilla vs Kong

Over the weekend I found myself pottering about with my giant monsters. I was inspired by playing 'Tokyo Clash' to have another fiddle with the old kaiju game 'Monster Island'; I'd had it out a couple of years ago and felt at the time that I could smooth off some of its rough edges. 

I set up the classic Kong vs Godzilla, but I can't say I got anywhere with it. Part of that was me simply setting up a straight head-to-head fight. This kind of game either needs combat which forces the protagonists to move around relative to one another, or it needs solid objectives that force the protagonists to move around to achieve victory. I had neither. 

(As an aside this is an issue with gladiator rules, which can easily consist of two models hacking away at each other to the point where you may as well not have them. One of the things we tried to do with 'Munera Sine Missione' was create small moves and dodges that kept the fight travelling around the arena. )

I have considered adding in some kind of automatic push back, and have some idea of how to do it (maybe driven by various doubles on the 3D6 roll to hit). But nothing solid crystallised.

Anyway, after initially hurting Kong with a heat blast, Godzilla was gradually pummeled into submission.

Afterwards I switched to the idea of was playing around with last year for a monster game based on 'What A Tanker' dice-pool system. As with the previous game, I didn't get very far with it, mostly because I was making up rules as I went along and none of them really seemed to work the way I want them to. I'm convinced there's a possible game there, but I haven't teased it out yet.

So unfortunately it was an unproductive session, but it was a nice distraction from the various things happening (or not happening) at the moment, so that was good.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Another Tokyo Clash

Catherine, Maya and I gave 'Godzilla: Tokyo Clash' another outing yesterday evening; a chance to try it with three monsters. Catherine and I took Mothra and Ghidorah respectively, whilst Maya took Godzilla.

It was great fun with three. You get a larger board and, obviously, 100% more targets for your attacks. Catherine got Mothra straight into the action, inflicting hits on Ghidorah. I built up a suitably dramatic retaliation. Ghidorah gets to progressively charge up his three heads and, once all three are active, can launch some really meaty attacks (before having to charge the heads again). I got to launch a meaty attack at Mothra, and drew an appalling hand for trophies, scoring nothing. Twice.

Anyway we crashed around the city attacking each other. Catherine had a nice pile of victory points, whilst Maya and I seemed to be doing less well. Here we can see Godzilla launching his Mega Heat Ray into the back of Ghidorah. Thanks Maya.

Anyway, on the last turn I got to throw Mothra into Godzilla, and claim the King of the Monsters token. Which was satisfying.

The final victory totals were less so. Even with King of the Monsters I came last. Godzilla did slightly better. But Catherine got a convincing with with Mothra. We all had a lot of fun, though, and Ghidorah was interesting to play. I think I was very unlucky with my victory point draws for my powerful attacks, and could have done better, but that's how things pan out sometimes.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Godzilla: Tokyo Clash

We're still in lockdown here, so boardgames are still proving a popular diversion. Yesterday evening Catherine and I had a go at a new purchase - 'Godzilla: Tokyo Clash'. I've fancied a giant monster boardgame for a while, but I've never been that excited by what I've read of those available. The reviews for this one, however, suggested that it was exactly what I wanted and I wasn't disappointed.

The game is rooted firmly in the classic Showa era of Godzilla movies - 1954-1974 - and teh choice of the four monsters in the game reflects that . Obviously you get Godzilla, and Ghidorah was included as his most important foe. Mothra made the cut as the best example of a 'good' monster, and for the fourth monster the designers went for Megalon, as they were aiming for something that was distinct from the otehr choices as far as possible. The game has these gorgeous figures, which are about 2 1/2" tall.

It's designed for 2-4 players, and each player plays one of the monsters. The aim, obviously, is to bash the other monsters and gain the most points by the end of the game. Play is card-driven. Each monster has their own unique deck of cards, and these cards control their attack, defence and move options. Obviously the key to playing well is to understand how the cards in your monster's deck work together. Godzilla, for example, has a number of decent ranged attacks, and has cards that can be used to boost them as well, so his aim is to get these enhancements into play, build up plenty of energy and unleash that heat-ray. Megalon is based around speed; his attacks are less powerful but he can use card combinations and a deck-management special ability to make more of them.

The suggested two-player starter is Godzilla vs Megalon. Mothra and Ghidorah both have abilities that require a little more understanding of how the game works, although they aren't overly complicated. Anyway, that's the pairing we set up; Catherine took Godzilla, whilst I took Megalon. The board is modular, and features large buildings, which have models, and small buildings, which are just counters. At the start of each game you select two event cards, which are in play throughout. These add vehicles or other tokens to the board which can help or hinder the monsters. In our game we had trains (which can be destroyed to gain energy) and tanks (which home in on monsters and damage them). 

Energy is the key to the game. Kaiju can throw vehicles, or other kaiju, to destroy buildings or other vehicles, and doing so gives them energy. Each card you play has an energy cost, so there's a constant competition for the energy resources on the board. Vehicles respawn throughout the game, so are always available, but the best energy sources are buildings, and once they're gone, they're gone. There are always plenty of small buildings to destroy, but there's a downside to doing that which I will cover later.

With energy you can launch attacks on other kaiju. Here you can see Godzilla unleasing his fearsome Mega Heat Ray on Megalon. Attacks have a damage value, and may be partially or fully blocked by playing defence cards which have a corresponding defence value. The difference is the amount of damage the target monster takes. Damage is rather neat. For each point of damage you inflict you draw one card from your opponent's deck.  Each card has a Dominance Value from 0-3, and you take the card with the highest Dominance as a trophy, placing it face-down in a victory pile, putting the rest in teh discard pile. However you can't take cards with a Dominance of 0, so no matter how much damage your kaiju takes you will always have some cards left to play (and often you will have quite decent cards with a Dominance of 0). This nicely reflects a monster being worn down by a series of attacks, and becoming less effective, but in games with three or more players it also means that picking on one kaiju isn't always a valid strategy, since eventually cards with a good Dominance score will be harder to draw from their deck. In addition to this, since your trophy pile is face-down, the players have no idea exactly how many victory points an opponent has; all you can see is how many cards they've taken.

Attacks can be ranged or close combat. Megalon retaliated against Godzilla's ranged attack by rushing in and using a series of card combinations to inflict multiple small hits on Godzilla. The turn sequence is normally that kaiju alternate playing one card each, but some cards have what is called Momentum, which allows you to play them and immediately play another card. If that second one has Momentum, then you can play a third. Megalon has a lot of Momentum abilities, although they burn through energy.

Close combat attacks can be used to throw other kaiju. Here Godzilla has thrown Megalon into a skyscraper, which will give Godzilla a nice haul of energy.

You can see how, as the game progressed, the buildings are lost. There were still plenty of tanks in play at his stage, and thanks to Megalon's mobility I was able to keep away from them so that they focused on Godzilla.

So how does the game end? Well, throughout the game it assumed that the humans are building the Oxygen Destroyer, a fearsome weapon that will destroy all of the monsters. Each turn teh Oxygen Destroyer marker progresses along a track, and the game ends when it reaches the end. Kind of. There is also a second track running in the opposite direction. Any small buildings that are destroyed are placed on that track. If the Oxygen Destroyer marker passes the small building track coming the other way, then the game ends. So the more small buildings you destroy, the quicker the end of the game happens. 

And that's what happened here - the marker moves at the start of the turn, so you always play the last turn.

And it was an exciting turn. We started in the centre of the board. Catherine had taken a large pile of trophy cards from me, and was also King of the Monsters. This is a token which is assigned at random at the start of the game, and which grants you and extra card in your hand, as well as being worth 2VP at the end of the game. Its downside is that events which attack kaiju use the King of the Monsters as a tie-break if there's a choice, so you tend to attract attention. If you damage the kaiju with the King of the Monsters token, then you take it from them.

And that's how the last turn panned out, We both spent the early part grabbing what little energy there was left, and engaged in some brief close combat. I backed off, having no energy left. Catherine launched one of Godzilla's heat ray attacks, and inflicted damage on me. However I blocked some of the damage with a deflection move which allowed me to destroy a nearby building. And that gave me enough energy to retaliate with a ranged attack of my own. I damaged Godzilla, and took the King of the Monsters token from him.

We totalled up the points, and found that we had scored exactly the same on trophies - Catherine's big pile was all low-value cards, whilst I had a few 3s in mine. However because I had the King of the Monsters token I got the extra 2VP needed to claim the game.

We thoroughly enjoyed this game, and will look at trying the other two monsters sometime soon to see how they function. Then we need to rope Maya in for a three-player game.

Anyway, if you like giant monsters, and especially if you like your classic Godzilla, this is a game for you.

Sunday, 18 July 2021


Catherine and I tried another race-themed boardgame this afternoon. Swapping bicycle for yachts we played 'Spinnaker'*, a game which appears to have been produced here in Australia around 1980**. Maya found a copy of it in the charity shop they volunteer in, and bought it for me for the princely sum of $3.

Of course it has the vital selling-point of nice plastic pieces; in this case little yachts, with detachable spinnakers. Sadly my copy of the game is missing spinnakers for two of the yachts, but they should be easy to make from craft-paper.

The start of our game was delayed by a big black cloud in the shape of a cat. Mr Wednesday is a big boy, but easily persuaded to move.

We played one game with a yacht each to get used to the movement, before playing a second race with two yachts apiece.

The aim of the game is to do one or two circuits of the board, heading clockwise around three buoys, before looping back around the first one again and then heading for the finish-line.

The board is a square-grid, and yachts can move orthogonally or diagonally. Movement is determined by the wind direction, obviously. Winds can be light (offering 1 or 2 movement points) or strong (offering 1-4 movement points). A yacht must move in a straight line based on its facing at the start of the turn, but can use a movement point to change facing to any direction at the end of its move. You can opt to spend points to raise the spinnaker, which doubles your movement points, although the spinnaker must be lowered in certain wind aspects. Here's the four yachts in our second game all heading west with spinnakers deployed.

Changes of wind direction are controlled by a deck of cards. At the start of  their move a player may decide to check for a change, drawing a card. This could indicate no change, or will have a new setting and strength, which will then affect all players on the board until one of them manages to change it. Most cards, even the No Change ones, offer some kind of movement bonus or penalty for the person who drew it 

As you can imagine, it may be possible to get a wind setting that benefits all players equally for several turns, but eventually one player will need to move in a direction requiring a wind that is not favourable to others. And that's where the fun of the game comes in. This picture was taken towards the end of our race - Red has rounded the final buoy and is heading for the finish line, but the other three yachts are still trying to round the buoy, so need a different wind. There were a lot of cards being drawn, and the final stages were chaos.

A zone across the middle of the board is prone to gales, which can blow yachts off course. You can see that in this picture, where Red has shifted a long way to the right.

Red  (one of my yachts) crossed the line first. The others finished way behind; a shift of wind saw them blown by a gale away from the finish, and it took several turns for us to work our way back towards it.

Spinnaker is set up with three levels of rules - the simple Novice version just covers basic movement, the Advanced game adds the spinnaker, wind strength and the gale zone and teh Master level introduces a more realistic start and more flexible movement where the yacht can make its single turn at any point during its move. We played the Advanced game, but I think with that under our belt the Master level won't prove too troublesome.

Anyway, we enjoyed this game, and will probably get it out again. 

* According to BGG, there are two games called 'Spinnaker'. This is not the 1985 version from Overlay Games.

** There's a small note on the box saying that if you have any questions about the rules to send a stamped, addressed envelope to a particular residential address. It's actually less than ten minutes from my house. But I suspect that after 40 years the unnamed designer has long gone.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Lothar vs Helium

I had a comment that I'd never properly posted a game featuring my Bowmen of Lothar Barsoomian army, so I played a game today. They took on the winners of the previous battle - Helium.

The Bowmen of Lothar are a tricky army, since they are illusionary. When I originally designed them I ran them as hordes, since there are effectively limitless numbers of them, but it didn't really do their deadly archery any justice at all, so I switched them to shooters, but with a couple of hordes to allow them to stave off defeat by bringing back troops. They are also the only Barsoomian army to feature a magician, since they are controlled, indeed summoned, by the mental powers of one or two individuals.

Helium defended, and limited the amount of bad going available. With shooters and beasts (very real banths, or Martian lions) Lothar likes a bit of bad going, whilst Helium's arm is equipped for fighting in the open.

Here they are at the start of the game.

Helium hedged their bets, putting out a long line of blades, and aerials on both ends. The aerials would have to be careful of Lothar's strong missile capabilities. And both they, and John Carter, would have to take care of Lothar's magician general.

Lothar put the banths in the centre, where they were evenly matched with Helium's blades, and bowmen on the flanks to hold off the aerials.

Both armies advanced cautiously, adjusting their lines as they did.


Lothar's bowmen opened up as soon as they were in range, and Helium's warriors advanced doggedly through a storm of arrows.

Helium charged into contact with the fierce banths.

The attack was successful - one banth killed, one driven back, and some bowmen slain as well.

Lothar countered, and their mentalist tried to confuse John Carter, but failed.

Helium's aerials now entered the fray, attacking the bowmen on Lothar's right.

But they were driven back.

And then destroyed - Helium lost an airboat and their flyers to archery.

However Lothar was doing badly in the centre, where the warriors of Helium were slowly cutting their way through to the Lotharian general.

John Carter rushed into the attack, slaying the last banth. 

And this left the way clear for some blades to attack and slay the Lotharian mentalist, to win the battle. 

Helium won 15g-5

I played a second game (unphotographed) in which Lothar defended. They limited Helium's opening moves with a series of woods, ambushed their advancing blades with banth attacks and before Helium could organise their army properly, ensorcelled John Carter to win the battle.

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