It's Thursday, so it must be time to go to Jesse's place for a nooner. A gaming nooner - get your head out of the gutter! I went in expecting a Combat Commander game, but Jesse wanted something a bit lighter. We settled on World of Warcraft (WoW), each of us taking two characters and playing competitively. I tend to prefer the game played solitaire, but Jesse really wanted to get this one on the table, so off we went.
When we opened up the box, I was somewhat stunned to see all of the small cards and figures loose in the box. Jesse is "Mr. Organization" and so I would expect his game to be in sixteen Plano boxes and sub-indexed. I promised I'd put up pictures of how I organize my game, and here they are:
This picture shows the "prep" Plano box. All of the character bits are in the top rows, with the item cards in the middle, and markers you use in setup (and dice) on the bottom. The idea is that once you use this box (including removing the item cards, which include the expansion cards in Shadows of War), you are done with it. The box tends to be a little bit thicker than it's companion.
This pictures shows the "play" Plano box. It holds all of the small mini's and markers that come and go during the game. I find that while trying to put all of the mini's away adds a little time to clean-up, at the same time you gain all that time back in spades during play when looking for that elusive blue Worgen.
As an added bonus, I use the lid as a dice box, shown here. With so many counters and on the character sheets, and so many pieces on the board, it just gets too hard to use the board as your dice rolling area. By using the lid, you can easily keep the dice in one place.
Here is a picture of both boxes stacked one on top of the other to show the differences in size. I found that having the thicker one for setup allowed me to put the item decks in it rather nicely, and the thinner one does work well for the mini's. Both fit within the WoW box (sans crappy cardboard insert that came with the game), with room for rules, board, character sheets, etc. Notice my clean kitchen in the background, complete with plant - clearly I am married.
The bigger mini's and cards are all bagged separately by deck or group of decks - for example, the Horde quest decks go in a single bag. I found that having separate baggies for the various item and character decks took forever to sort through, having them in a Plano cuts set-up time by a good five minutes. The various components go in the box as follows: board, followed by the two Planos, followed by the various big card bags stacked to the side (they fit very nicely that way), then the big mini bags on the end over the rules and character, overlord, and aid sheets. It's a bit of a snug fit, but then you really want that with a game with this much stuff in it. Sorry, no picture (haven't there been enough of those in this post?)
My Horde characters were the Sharpshooter and Cleric, while Jesse's Alliance had the Swordswoman and Paladin, with Kel Thududududud as our overlord for the evening. Sorry if I screw these up, I'm not a WoW player online (I like my kitchen clean and organized, which it would not be were my wife to leave me). Jesse found the game very evocative of the online experience in many ways, telling me that various areas were "level this or that" which was interesting to me in an anthropological sense but otherwise purely academic. Nice to know the game is such a good fit, but also nice to know that I can enjoy it without the added addiction.
So how did the game itself go? For me, really well. For Jesse, not so good. He got stuck in a corner of the board early surrounded by independent monsters, which you have to fight and really give no payoff for (fixed a bit in the expansion, which we weren't using). Then, he had both characters attack a Naga in the midgame, only to watch a raft of 2's show up for both characters. It wasn't pretty. Me, I waltzed through the game, with every fight going my way, every quest being fairly useful, lots of special items showing up in the quests, etc. I did a good job of managing my characters, true, but I also was given a very straight path to follow.
Once I got to level 4 (and had a few nice special items, including the Head of Ras al'Ghul that lets you drop the Threat level of all of your opponents during one attack round, very handy for fighting overlords), I went straight for Kel. I was rolling lots and lots of blue and red dice, not so many green ones. My Sharpshooter did pretty good damage, but took quite a bit as well thanks to a few ones and twos (which cause damage for this opponent). However, my Cleric got her clock cleaned but good, rolling five 1/2 dice even after rerolls, not enough for even her Greater New Jersey Healing Potion to help save her (I'd loaded up on offensive powers before going in). Fortunately, I managed to generate something like 22 hits, easily surpassing Kel's measely 17 health. I was helped immensely by my pet Tiger, Boo-Boo, who kept the Sharpshooter from dying before all of that damage could take effect. All by turn 25.
Jesse was just getting to the point where he could have been thinking about a run himself, but his Swordswoman was still at level 3 and he didn't have the great items like I did. I figure he was about three or four turns behind, perhaps just enough to get to the point where he could actually take on the Overlord, but I suspect I'd have gotten a chance to grab at least one or two more items and it would have been a pretty tough PvP fight had it gone that far.
Total playing time was around 3.5 hours, including set-up. Not bad, although I still prefer the solitaire experience. Our game was helped tremendously by the two of us taking care of any non-combat/movement activity during downtime (like what talents you level up with, what powers you add through training). As such, the game moved right along, and 3.5 hours was not bad considering that close to 30 minutes was set up. Go with the Plano, baby.
Thanks to Jesse for suggesting this game, which I will definitely consider for two-player play in the future.