Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Mag Blast, Anima: the Shadow of Omega

In the boardgame session on Fri 31 Aug 2007 (Merdeka Day), I played two new games, Anima: the Shadow of Omega and Mag Blast. For a change, this time we played at Han's parents' home in Kepong. Usually Han comes to my place. Unfortunately, it was a 2-player session again. One of Han's friends said he might come, but in the end couldn't make it.

We started with Mr Jack, which we have played before. This is a 2-player only game, with one player being Jack the Ripper, and the other being the inspector. There are 8 characters on the board, which shows streets, street lamps, houses, manholes, and police roadblocks. Both players take turns to move these characters and use their special powers. There are only 8 turns in the game, and four characters are moved every turn, i.e. a character will only move at most 4 times in the whole game. One of the 8 characters is the true identity of Jack the Ripper. The Jack player wins by escaping from one of the 4 corners of the board, by avoiding capture until end of the game, or if the inspector player makes a wrong accusation. The inspector player wins by capturing the real Jack.

We have played Mr Jack a few times, and so far Jack is always captured. It's not easy being the Jack player. Often the identity is revealed quickly, and after that it is easy to use any one of the other 7 characters to capture Jack. This time, in the game where Han played the Jack player, he almost won. He lasted until Round 8. There were still 3 suspects out of 8, although I knew it must be either Red Sherlock Holmes or Yellow Lamp Guy, because Green Lady had an alibi. So at the last round, I had to make a 50-50 guess, and thankfully I guessed correctly. So Jack was caught yet again. My guess was not totally random. I observed that Han on his previous turn seemed to be extra concerned about how to make Red Sherlock Holmes not reachable by other characters. So I guessed Red Sherlock. This was the closest we got to have the Jack player win.

In the next game when I played Jack, Jack was already identified by Round 3, and prompty captured by Round 4. I tried to be smart and tried to do something unexpected (I tried to escape early). That didn't work out. Now I think the best strategy for the Jack player is to stay unidentified until the end of the game. Although escaping is a way to win, I think it should not be attempted easily, and should just be used as a threat to restrict the inspector player. In trying to ensure Jack does not escape early, the inspector may be forced to make some moves that will delay the discovery of Jack's true identity. This reminds me to the other game with the same theme, Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper. Ripper escaping is a victory condition but it is hard to achieve (note: I mostly play 2-player games), but defending from it makes the game much more interesting.

Anima: the Shadow of Omega is a card game. It is a fantasy / adventure / role-playing game. You control a team of characters who have different strengths / abilities. You collect weapons / power cards; you fight monsters, or other players; and in order to win, you need to complete one small quest and one big quest.

I didn't do very well throughout the game. I was slower in recruiting and was stuck with 3 characters for some time, compared to Han's 4 (4 is the max), because during that time none of the available locations allowed me to recruit new characters. However, I got one card that totally changed things. It was the Betrayal card. At the time Han's team was about to attack mine, and I played the Betrayal card so that one of his characters joined my team instead. The game ended soon after that, when my team completed the big quest. That was a little anti-climatic. That one card single-handedly turned the game around.

I'm generally not a big fan of role-playing games, where you build up your character(s) to go fight monsters or fulfill quests. So, the game was just so-so for me. But the graphics are nice. Japanese manga style graphics, and many pretty girls.

Mag Blast is a much simpler game, and is also a card game. Everyone starts with one HQ spaceship and four other spaceships protecting its four sides. Each turn, you discard then draw action cards until you reach the hand size of 5 cards, and then you play any number of action cards. Your objective is to destroy your opponents' HQ spaceship, by first destroying the spaceship(s) on one of its sides (thus exposing the HQ), and then shooting at the HQ. The action cards have many uses, the most important being to shoot (or BLAST!). Other uses include repairing your own ships, hijacking your opponent's ships, intercepting your opponents' fighters, stalling your opponents' with an asteriod field, and even ramming your opponents' ships with one of your own.

Mag Blast (Third Edition). My HQ ship still protected on all sides, although some of my ships have taken some damage (those Blast cards underneath the ships.

"These cards suck big time!"

You can have more than one ship protecting one side. You HQ also indicate what race you are and its special ability.

Mag Blast is a light game, not to be played too seriously. We played with two, but I think it will be more fun with more. More chaotic, but more fun too. There is quite some luck in terms of what action cards you draw and what spaceships you get. There is some strategy, but not a lot. Don't bother thinking too much. After two plays, I think the best strategy is to try to use up your 5 action cards every time. You always refresh to 5 cards at the start of your turn anyway, so you might as well use them all. In the 2nd game which I lost, I probably should not have held on to the Direct Hit cards, Board Enemy Ship card and Immediate Destruction card for so long, hoping to get a Blast card. You need a combination of Blast card - Direct Hit card - Board Enemy Ship card to hijack your enemy's spaceship. It's a powerful action, but I think I wasted too much time waiting for the stars to align. I did manage to do it, but I wonder whether it was worthwhile.

This may be a nice game to play with children aged 8 - 12.

1 comment:

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