Thursday, May 13, 2004

Fondues, Flaming Zeros and Freezing Death is a Harsh Mistress

Observations on last night's session:

1. Fondues, while extremely yummy, are very non-condusive to rapid starts to the evening.

2. Mmmmmmmm. Fried bread.

3. Never try to explain game rules over sizzling fondue.

4. Zeros tend to make short work of F4F Wildcats.

5. It's a lot more fun to turn Zeros into flaming paper kites.

6. Shemp likes calling things by strange, masculine first names, i.e. "Zeke", "Jimmy". He finds this very humourous.

7. Captain Park is a harsh mistress.

8. Elabourate stories about heroic adventures in far-away lands are best told in a really bad accent.

9. Used fondue pot oil is not for drinking.

The games for the evening were: Zero! The Rise of the Imperial Japanese Air Force by GMT Games and Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition by Cheapass Games.

Zero! The Rise of the Imperial Japanese Air Force is a stand-alone, non-collectible card game of air-to-air combat in the early years of the Pacific theatre in WWII. Up to six players can fight, each controlling one or more aircraft. Using a fairly simple "attack-response" combat system which has added layers of complexity built onto it with the addition of wingmen and altitude, the game does a really decent job of simulating quick and deadly aerial combat in 15-30 minutes.

Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition is a game for up to six players. Having witnessed the fame and attention accorded to Captain Park for a completely fabricated story told to the Adventurer's Club of London, you set out into London to acquire photographs, anecdotes, "facts" and biographies of "heroes" to embroider your own elabourate tale of daring-do. Unfortunately, Captain Park doesn't want his thunder stolen and will report you to the club as a fraud if he catches you. A simple game mechanic with many "Kill Dr. Lucky" undertones, Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition plays in about 60 - 75 minutes.

I really enjoyed playing Zero!, but I fear it may suffer from "wargame trying to be a simpler card game syndrome" that many of today's 'new and improved' wargames suffer from - the basic system is quite simple and elegant, but a number of fussy exceptions make it difficult for non-wargamers to penetrate... which is basically a general critique of all the "real" wargames I played prior to 1998 or so. I fear that Zero! may not get many repeat playings for this reason. I enjoyed it, however, and rate Zero! a 7.

As with many Cheapass Games, Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition was hard to judge in advance. Like Deadwood and Kill Doctor Lucky, the rules are pretty basic. Fortunately for the late start of the game, the rules of Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition are simpler than even most Cheapass Games, with even fewer fiddles. Overall, I didn't find the gameplay as engaging as Deadwood, but more fun than Kill Doctor Lucky. I can't really see it improving with multiple sessions, but it's not all that bad. I rate it 6.5, sliding halfway between Deadwood and Kill Doctor Lucky.


  1. Kozure,
    Glad you got in...

    Agreed regarding fondues...
    Fondue is a long, slow, yummy mistress.

    My take on the games:
    I thought it was a fun game, but I think your analysis is correct: there was a simple game in there with some very odd, non-intuitive rules thrown in. If this is "Wargame-light" syndrome, then I am afflicted. Still, I did enjoy it and the length of the game could easily land it as a "second game" regular like wreckage, deadwood, bang!, etc. One strange note: Was I the only one who enjoyed the "Wingman vs Wingman" combat more than the other types?
    Rating: 5

    Captain Park's ....
    For me, this is the epitome of the "novelty game". I had fun, mostly as bad accents retold unlikely events, but I can't imagine wanting to play this more than maybe one more time (ah, who am I kidding... I'll play anything. Where's my copy of snakes and ladders?..) Unlike Kozure, I would not rate this higher than Kill Dr. Lucky, because it seems to me to have better replay value (Of course, Captain Park IS funnier).
    Rating: 4

    As always, no matter what we play I have a great time. Thanks to Kozure for his seemingly endless supply of new and original games!!!
    (I'll add the ratings to the list)

  2. Fondue IS yummy. mmmmmmm. Fondue.

    The only problem with the oil fondue is: when you get home your wife thinks that the oil smells like fish, and that YOU smell like fish, and makes you take a shower before you are allowed to go to bed. But that's not really a very big problem. Anyhow, to the games.

    I'll admit, I was NOT digging Zero the first time around, at all. The second time, though, I quite liked it. Using the vertical capabilities of combat made this different from a typical, just throwing the cards down type of game. The play is a little too luck-dependant to be one of my faves, but I agree that this is a worthy 2nd type game, now that we have a grasp on the rules. I'd say its a 6, subject to revision after further playing. (And I didn't prefer the wingman combat. The mechanic used is way too arbitrary - fine for supporting the leader, but not at all compelling on its own, IMO.

    Captain Park, I LOVED - this is the kind of game you can get anyone, game fans or not, involved in. Silly accents are must. I preferred this to the other Cheapass games, mainly because it didn't have any parts where it dragged. I think this gets a 7.5, and a strong recommenadation for replay. Mrs. Shemp might even like it, which is saying something.

    And really, I was only calling things "Jimmy". The axis powers were the ones referring to all of their pilots as "Zeke".

    Over and out.