Calamity and Water

The new office is great, but it does have some problems.  One of which is the lack of a working hot water radiator.  As those of you who live in BC know; it’s a touch cold out here right now.  Okay, cold for BC – I hear it’s a lost worst in other parts of Canada.

After complaining to the landlord, they came in on Monday morning to look at it – and proceeded to create a mess.   One of the screws in the radiator came completely free, proceeding to spray water across the office.  Dirty, brown water.

Cue spending the next 2 – 3 hours wiping down board games, checking for damage and placing the various  soaked cardboard boxes out for drying.   We’re still assessing the final damage, but all I can say is ‘Thank God for shrinkwrap’.

Thanks to the fact that the radiator was basically spraying direct onto the various packing boxes and not the games, we avoided damage to our stock mostly.  A few games were unfortunately damaged, but much less than I had anticipated.  We’re waiting for the games to dry out completely for a thorough check on the contents, but the worst damage was to our packing boxes, many of which will have to be tossed.

The silver lining? Expect in a week or so for us to be adding some new board games to the ‘Ding & Dent’ section once we confirm the extent of damage.  A few games might not be salvageable at all, but most are just badly stained on the front it seems.

Work hours, discipline & productivity

It’s an interesting life, owning your own store.  Since it’s an online store; other than ensuring that stock goes out everyday I can dictate my own work hours.   Of course, these days, I have someone else doing the shipping so I often spend most of the day at the home-office, giving me an extremely high-level of flexibility.  If I want to, I can wake up at Noon and work till midnight; or vice versa.

Of course, that’s the theoretical possibility.  Reality is; I often work the same work-hours as everyone else; just more. Customers call anywhere between 6am (figuring we’re in the East Coast like they are) till 6pm during the day.  Vendors & other suppliers are only open during work-hours; so I need to ensure my orders and contact with them fall within that timeframe.  And if I’m placing a restock order, that needs to be done early in the morning so that it has time to be packed on their side.

While I have more a flex-time than a physical retail store that has to be open by a certain time-period; the reality of business is that we’re still locked into the 9-5pm work cycle for high productivity.

In many ways, that’s a good thing for me. It ensures a certain amount of discipline on my side – I have to be up and out of bed by 10am at the latest; I have until 5pm to get my calls / e-mails / orders completed.  Canada Post comes by at 3.45pm every weekday, so orders have to be packed by then.  And so on, so forth.  The routine creates a timeline, that you just need to follow; reducing the self-motivation / discipline requirements.

Of course, being a night owl; I find myself working at night a lot too. It’s just easier to get work done sometimes, especially if I’m coding or updating the site.

Zombie State : Diplomacy of the Dead Review

Zombie State : Diplomacy of the Dead Review is an interesting board game that has players controlling continental nations in a battle to end the Zombie plague.  The game starts out in catastrophe and keeps getting worst, with players having to decide which countries to sacrifice to conserve limited resources and actions.  Zombie State is a fun game that takes just a little too long; but still worth trying out.

Appearance:  Okay, this is my largest gripe about Zombie State.  It has one of the worst graphics I’ve ever seen on a board game.  The world map is horrendously designed; with colours that are hard to read and worst to look at; while the rulebook looks like a first year Graphic Design Student knocked it out.  It’s bad.  The only saving graces  are that the quality of the components are great (the tanks/armies are cute) and the well thought out player aid.  That’s about it.

Rules/Ease of Learning: Zombie State is broken into a few different phases in each turn – starting from receiving resources & actions (known as Freedom Points); random events, the Zombie Action Phase, Player Action Phase & Upkeep Phase.   Of those, the meat of the game is in the Zombie & Player Action Phases.

An interesting take on the action points is the ‘Popularity Track’.  As players lose regions; they remove the dice that indicate the population of that region onto their player aid Popularity Track.  The track indicates the number of actions a player gets a turn as well as the number of armies they can draft.  So, as players lose more regions, their options reduce.

In the Zombie Action Phase, the Zombies Eat, Move & then Fight in that order.  Eating is relatively simple – one Zombie token eats one population and creates another Zombie.  Movement is more complicated; with Zombies moving towards the highest population regions first in groups.  However, not all Zombies move together; 3 then 2 then 1 to regions with populations of descending amounts.   At which point Combat occurs; with armies and zombies canceling each other out.

In the Player Action Phase; players can research technology; generate new resources, create and move armies and use any technologies that are appropriate.  The focus of a the player’s decisions are here – which technologies to research, where to build armies and whether to move or fortify the armies, what regions to evacuate or abandon if possible.

It’s worth noting that because players fight zombies; they have almost no direct interaction with other players.  Most of the interaction is via deciding how to deal with the zombie movement, mostly by channeling the zombies into another player’s region.  However, you can’t send armies into another region nor can you ‘steal’ resources.

In the last phase; the mutation markers move ahead.  Acting as a game timer and a zombie mutation & outbreak timer; the mutation track just makes things worst for everyone continually.

Overall, the game takes about 10 minutes to teach.  None of the rules are particularly complicated for a gamer; though there are quite a few details.  The hardest part to learn / understand is the numerous technologies that are available and how zombie movement occurs.

Gameplay: Zombie State is fun to play.  In the beginning, the game starts out with zombies in 2 regions and multiplying.  It just gets worst as the next turn, another outbreak occurs and in 2 more turns, another outbreak.  Within a few rounds, you have multiple zombie outbreaks that are chewing through your population.

Of course, you only have a limited number of resources; so you have to decide to either slow down the zombie plague by sacrificing expensive units or focus on researching technologies to win.  Stay focused on or the other path too much though and you’ll end-up over-run by the zombies.  The crux of the game is figuring out when to switch between the two paths.

Like any other good game; there’s a lot of choices but unfortunately, there might just be too many in Zombie State.  Between analyzing where the Zombies are moving; the decisions on the technology track and the allocation of armies on the board; the beginning few rounds are slow.  Players are all engaged during this period for the most part; but after 3 – 4 hours players begin to wear down.  While the later game is faster as there are fewer actions and fewer regions to concern yourself about; by this time player fatigue is catching up.

Lastly, there’s a bit of a  problem with player elimination.  After 2 – 3 hours; its certainly possible to see who the winner (or potential winners) are.  Quite often, there’s a few players in the lead and the others are stuck behind, either due to bad luck or bad decisions.  Unfortunately, there’s still at least another hour or two left of gameplay at this point; and while there’s still a lot of fun left, it is a bit of a let-down for the players stuck behind since there’s really no way to turn it around completely.

Conclusion:  Zombie State is a lot of fun; don’t get me wrong.  It’s not a Risk game as players aren’t fighting each other, instead they are combating zombies.  On the other hand, the game does suffer from a high play length and player elimination.  It’s still a game I’d keep in my collection to take out once in a while.

November 2010 Newsletter

Review Contest Winner

This month’s winner is Eric L. with his review of Camelot Legends. In his words “Camelot Legends is a good looking card game but there is some major problems that ruin it all. After a few games, it is obvious that if the players are experienced, only luck decide(s) the winner… there is too much bad knights compare(d) to good knights so if a player get two or three good knights, he’s almost assured (that) he will win.”


On-Going Contest

Don’t forget, we are also awarding 50 Citadel Points to each approved review. Lastly, the winner is enterred into the end of the year draw for the Grand Prize of $250 of board games!

Read more about the Contest

Site Updates

We have moved offices to a new address at3 11-Rear West Cordova St. The Google Map of the location is here.

Our coupon codes system is still down. We are now doing a complete wipe and reintallation of the site on a development server that seems to be going well and should be fixed in a month or soon. Our apologies on this delay!

Christmas is coming soon, and we’ll be updating the site with a ton of new games that are making their ways from Essen & released just for Christmas. Keep an eye on the site for all this information.

Read more on our blog

Upcoming Hot Games

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A ton of great new releases are arriving in the next few months including the restock of Dominion : Prosperity, Jerusalem, Automobile and Merchants and Marauders.