Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Playing Hellboy board game

A month since last update. Sigh [Please insert generic excuses about real life here, blah blah, whine whine. OK; that's enough].
I had the chance to play the Hellboy board game. My pal got it from the Kickstarter campaign and invited me over to give it a try. Besides, first time he paints a full game set, so kudos to him on the achievement!

You can easily find the rules online and the game isn't particularly difficult to grasp, so I'll just try to give a general overview of my impressions.

We played the introductory scenario, so I'll use it for the basic explanations. The game allows you to play coop against the AI, which is becoming more usual nowadays. In this case there were three of us: Hellboy himself, Johann Kraus and Abe Sapien (played by myself).

The board is set by individual tiles
If you are into the Hellboy comics world, you'll get a lot of references at once. The aesthetics of the game, the way the scenario is presented, that kind of stuff. It's all pretty narrative, which also helps with the whole experience.
You have to explore the tiles and solve the Encounter Cards you will find on them, as well as get clues on your current investigation (the yellow tokens in the pic below).

Of course you will have to face some enemies
The enemy minions are all different kinds of Frog Monsters (Rampaging Frog Monsters, Venomous Frog Monsters, Armed Frog Monsters and Transforming Frog Monsters). There are also Frog Swarms, which act not exactly as enemies to face, but more like tokens downgrading the heroes skills.
Another quite a common thing nowadays is the use of different dice (you know, colours and stuff). The novelty here is the use of another special die, which will act as a modifier of the roll):

In this case the skull meant that I had to discard the highest scoring die from the roll. Besides, I run out of ammo
While my character is best used in range attack with firearms, Johann Kraus has quite interesting psychic abilities and Hellboy prevails by the use of sheer brute force.

Which was clear since the beginning
Each character has a number of activation points each turn, so it's up to you how you use them -and how you interact with your team.

Hellboy could re-roll any dice here, which obviously was not necessary
You discover new places and clues as you move forward.

That piece of card represents a table
Which Hellboy uses to smash the Frog Monster
The fight goes on and new monsters arrive
Johann Kraus is severely injured
But the situation is soon under control
There is a Rest Phase each turn, during which the characters can recover from wounds, exchange items and so. A good use of that phase can be critical.

So OK, let's move forward
Quite a punch
There's a clue over there, but Hellboy and Abe have run out of actions
Johann uses his abilities to leave his body, appear close to the clue and inspect it
Oooops! Now you get back to your body? Now? Seriously?
We tried to get rid of the minions first
An event card got us stunned
The event cards each turn add some uncertainty, as they can turn any situation from one side to another!

Fortunately we killed the minion...
...and the giant frog monster after some hard struggle!
We won!
The game itself is easy to learn, the core rules bear no difficulty. The scenario is atmospherical and delivers some fun, but it was just the introductory tutorial. As it had taken us less than an hour, we decided to run a second game.

BEWARE. If you plan to play this game, you may want to skip the following pics, there are spoilers about the scenario.

Ye be warned.

Same players and characters, new challenge
We got some action pretty soon
Fire! Those are Inferno Markers
That's a special rule, areas set in fire causing damage to the characters if they stay there. Can be removed just the same way as the frog swarms.

This scenario is clearly more challenging than the previous one
However, we managed to keep moving forward
Abe was the quickest of the three, so he was the explorer
Kind of crowded place to be an abandoned mansion!
Activating a determined token we made a discovery...

A secret room!
Hellboy explored it...
...while the others kept the enemies at bay
Which wasn't that easy!
We even got some backup!
You can get some remote support from other BPRD agents (or even direct support). We had some help from Bud Waller this game. The agent is assigned to a determined character.
Whatever the case, we made some progress on the investigation and we found the agent that was missing (the reason for the whole scenario!). But suddenly...

That's Rasputin as a ghost! Glubs
Things get wild in a minute
Rasputin's Ghost cannot really be destroyed...

...but can be temporarily stopped
We could only run towards the exit
Looks easy, but we all were severely injured
Oooops, he got up again
We were not leaving that easily
Uhh, guys, we better move fast
We 'knocked' Rasputin out again, just to bauy us some time
But certainly not enough!
Finally, after some struggle...
...we reached the exit with our injured agent. The rescue was a success! Hooray!
This scenario was much a better experience than the tutorial, and I think it served as a real measure of the game itself. It's quite a narrative experience. It sometimes reminded me the kind of Mansions of Madness storytelling (well, but this one is of course waaay more simple!). It's immersive and all the aesthetics and the way the game is developed clearly takes you to the Hellboy comics universe.
The game is easy to learn, making it accessible to all the comic fans that are not so used to this kind of board games; yet it provides fun to those more veteran players. I regret the lack of variety of the enemy minions, but those in the game give some good moments. The way they are activated or the frog swarms being more an impediment than a real enemy is also a good point.
On the whole it was really fun, we had a nice evening and managed to play a couple of games in maybe about three hours. Cannot ask for more!

Saturday, 5 October 2019

First neighbourhood finished

New installment in my vertical board project!

I have been slowly expanding the town. I had to add new floors and so:

There will be an ascending ramp right there
The issue is that I soon realized that I couldn't move forward without finishing what I already had built. I mean specifically the rock cut houses.

Thre will be another block of houses right there in the centre
The moment I added a new building there I wouldn't be able to reach the interior of that neighbourhood with the brushes. So I had to finish that part before I could go on...

A place to live in
I sprayed the whole thing again to have an uniform colour on the places that were still unpainted and then painted the doors. As it was too plain, I added some piping (the large one is the case of a brush!) and started to work on other details.

Having such an open plaza there was useful in terms of gaming, but I thought I could still add some kind of object to fill in. I found a cologne tap and glued som bits and rubbish onto it...

Air purifier? Comm relay? ATM? Who knows...
Here you can see what I got in the end:

More like a real place
Lights over the doors were almost mandatory, I guess. Of course this is a neighbourhood, so the doors also have a sign over them (the mailman has to identify them so he can deliver all those minis from kickstarters!). AC units, a street lamp... and most definitely tubes and wires, which add a lot of depth to any place.

Still playable. Hardly, but playable
Not quite clean, but still cozy
I thought of adding way more details and colour tones, but I had to keep in mind that this is a gaming board, not a doll house, so this is the compromise within both. While I guess it will be tricky to play this particular part of the town, it's still usable and I'll see to keep it this way when I build in front of it.

This is the board right now
I guess I'll have to work on that large wall on the right before I build the central section, but now you have an insight of my aim here and the general tone I pretend to achieve on the whole board. It looks feasible in my mind, but it's still to be proven on the real world!
It will take some time, but I hope it will be worth of it... Fingers crossed!