Episode 3: Thunderstone Quest

You may have noticed that we have had Thunderstone on our minds for the last little while. Steve has been coming to terms with his changing relationship with the somewhat epic deckbuilder as it has drastically changed with it’s newest incarnation.

In our third episode of Everyday Meeple Steve leads us in a conversation about what Thunderstone has meant to him, and to us, and how Thunderstone Quest has changed the game, as it were.

We talk about Thundersone Advance and its numerous expansions including the somewhat mysterious stand-alone set based on the Monte Cook Numenera universe. Then we heap praise on the newest incarnation that is Thunderstone Quest and all that it has changed and all that it may offer moving forward.

I couldn’t not back. I was forced to back it.


[ Mitch ]

I screwed up again. I mentioned that I had a thought that Donald X. Vaccarino had maybe been the first American to win a Spiel des Jahres (which he won in 2009 for Dominion and again in 2012 for Kingdom Builder), that was wrong. Not sure what I had heard that stuck in my head crooked like that but a quick Wikipedia check shows Sid Sackson winning in 1981 for his game Focus. IN fact the very next year Alex Randolph won for his game (with Michel Matschoss) Enchanted Forest. The list goes on from there. Richard Borg (Call My Bluff) 1993, Bill Payne (Villa Paletti) 2002, and I might have missed one or two.


Thunderstone Advance

My Sordid Love Affair – Part 1

I’m not gonna lie, playing and enjoying Thunderstone Quest feels a little morally wrong now. Thunderstone Advance and I go back a ways and at some point in my short gaming life I’ve hailed it as my favourite game.

Thunderstone Quest

My Sordid Love Affair – Part 2

AEG launched Quest as a Kickstarter and in no time at all, the game was fully funded. People were a little perturbed that you couldn’t use your Thunderstone Advance cards in this version of the game, but the folks at AEG promised that it was a new, streamlined experience and that Thunderstone fans would not be disappointed.

Episode 2 : Terraforming Mars

  • BGG Rating 84% 84%
  • Production Value 65% 65%
  • Solo Game Action 80% 80%
  • Chances of your bits getting messed up 90% 90%
Space… It’s really, really big. Even what’s close is so very far away.

But sometimes all you need to explore, at least, a little part of it can be found in a small box. You’ll also need at least a little imagination, or a competitive nature.

So welcome to Episode Two of Everyday Meeple as Mitch, Steve and I discuss Terraforming Mars. And that’s how we podcast. We pick a game, we play it a whole bunch and think about it a whole bunch more and then get together and just talk about it. We don’t teach you how to play, or give strategy tips. But we do hope our enthusiasm and our organic, rambling yet somewhat structured — conversations are half as fun to listen to as they are to have. Or grow on you like subzero moss in really dusty, red soil.

A bit about the game: It’s for 1-5 players (the solo version is as addictive as Ed Wood movies, and way more scientifically accurate); is recommended for ages 12 and up and takes between 90 minutes and two hours to play according to the box, which is pretty accurate… so about as long as your favourite space colonization movie. It was designed by Jacob Fryxelius and is from Stronghold Games. I should mention that the version I have always played Terraforming Mars with, includes the Corporate Era Expansion which came with my base game. I don’t know why you wouldn’t.

Each player runs a corporation that, over several generations, will collectively make The Red Planet habitable. One thing we don’t really talk about in the podcast that I’ve thought a lot about is that several of the things you do in the game to convert Mars are the types of things that our environmentalists will tell you are killing our planet, releasing methane and increasing the planets temperature for example. An interesting concept to keep in the back of your head as you crash asteroids into the planet and strip mine for the ore used in steel and titanium,  while also releasing oxygen from under the surface.

The game ends when the temperature reaches 8 C (from -30), the oxygen level reaches 14 % creating an atmosphere, and 9 ocean tiles are placed on the planet surface shown on the board.

Player’s buy project cards which give them resources, or allow them to accomplish other tasks that ultimately help the planet along on it’s journey to house humans. Then you total up points, which come from laying city and forest tiles on the planet, from some cards played in the tableau in front of you, including some of those face down event cards, don’t forget to count those, as well as from reaching milestones and winning awards, two elements not in the solo game, but increasingly important the more you play with others.

So that’s the podcast, give it a listen.

Notes on podcast:

  • Clarification: Starting temperature on Mars in -30C, and each time a player raises it by 1 step, the mercury moves up 2 points.
  • When Steve says “the last time we were on these microphones…” he means Episode 1.5 The In-between, where we focus not on a single game, but on general discussions about gaming.
  • As of June 15, 2018: I’ve played (Dave) Wasteland Express eight times and have yet to win. I’m itching to get out in the radiation and gang patrolled dust (once I have a rad-shield and a gunner of course)
  • As of this podcast, Dave has played Terraforming Mars 48 times, only 4 of them were with others. (It was a long winter.)
  • For third party inserts, and there are lots, check out Gaming Trunk or check out the shop at BGG to see the Game Trayz version (which sellout frequently).
  • The second expansion of Terraforming Mars we spoke of is called Hellas and Elysium
  • If you don’t mind pictures of his cat, garden, the local landscape and whatever else he feels like sharing, you can (often) see (new) pictures of board games Dave plays on his public Instagram account @dgrbartlett
  • The JG Ballard short story Dave references is called Thirteen for Centaurus
  • Dave didn’t quite remember the major plot of Stranger in a Strange Land (check it out here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land). But the parts he remembers the most are the descriptions of earth through Smith’s eyes. Time to reread that sucker again.
  • It should be noted The Misfits were inspired by B-Movie legend Ed Wood’s 1959 classic Plan 9 From Outer Space. Or check out the Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic starring Johnny Depp as the titular Ed Wood.

[ Mitch ]

I was completely wrong. There is definitely a moon smash card. Not just asteroids and what have you but an actual moon. It’s one of Mars smaller moons though so that’s not so bad right? The card is called Deimos Down and it is one of the more “expensive” cards in the game costing 31 MegaCredits – it also raises the temperature 3 times, ups your steel production by 4 and kills off up to 8 plant resources from any player. It’s a real doozy of a card. Sorry I misspoke. 

Episode 1 : Wasteland Express

  • Funtimes in a Wasteland 90% 90%
  • Customized box inserts! 100% 100%
  • Learning Curve 80% 80%
  • Box Size 85% 85%

So, this episode is our first venture into Podcasting and you can probably tell from the rough edges that we just decided to jump in feet first (possibly head first) and see what happens. This is what happened.

For our first effort we decided to talk about Wasteland Express Delivery Service a 7.5lb box of good times designed by Ben Pinchback (Fleet, Eggs and Empires), Matt Riddle (Fleet, Eggs and Empires), and Jonathan Gilmour (Dead of Winter) and published by Pandasaurus Games. Wasteland Express is pick-up and deliver game set in a post-apocalyptic, dare I say irradiated, wasteland populated with the dregs of crumbled society scrounging and scheming to get on with life. You play as truckers working for a delivery company in the heart of the wasteland and you are racing your other players to get some big deliveries done.

The production value is over the top on this game with beautiful art, stunning design, incredible attention to detail and fantastic game play. The box is filled with nested organizers that make setup and tear down of this game smooth and simple and setting a bench mark for future games.

This one was a Christmas present from my wife (Melissa, she is very good a Christmas). She was deciding between Wasteland Express and Jamaica (very fun light race game that we had played a while back at a board game café). She decided on Wasteland Express Delivery Service because (a) I have a tendency to buy games that I think have a broader appeal to our group and as much as Wasteland Express was on the top of my list it was more of a guilty pleasure since I didn’t think everyone would want to play it so she knew I would eventually buy Jamaica and (b) she loves Mad Max (all of them – except maybe Thunderdome, too much saxophone). Also, possibly (c) I wouldn’t shut up about it.


Then I started trying to devour the rules. I went to the Watch It Played video they link to on the box and it was brilliant. It was like downloading the setup and rules directly into my brain. This is pretty much learning by osmosis. Watch the video once and you can approach the setup with confidence and explain the basics and get going. From there it was just some quick referencing rules here and there as things came up. The layout and design of the game makes short work of understanding the mechanics and after a few turns driving your truck feels automatic and you start to feel at home in the wasteland and you sink into the game.

Needless to say, we love this game. We love everything about this game. The artwork by Riccardo Burchielli (DMZ, Virtigo Comics) is just so spectacular. So much eye candy that creates such a great feel for the world and that artwork is then tied together and dressed across every single piece by the graphic design of Jason Kingsley (Lanterns, Ophir)

Even with no hope of winning I could play this for hours. Just the impressiveness of the world and the challenge of getting things done is enough to keep me entertained. Every turn is engaging, every frustration sinks you deeper into the hopelessness of the wasteland and every success feels hard earned and genuine.

Possibly the most fun I have had in a wasteland. Me.

[ Mitch ]

I had a bit of a glitch while we were talking, as is often the case, my retention and recall can be problematic at best sometimes. I was mentioning how when I had first brought up Wasteland Express to Steve it was about the artwork. It was not close to being released yet and I was showing Steve my favorite artwork in up coming games and it was Wasteland Express and Dungeon Degenerates – Hand of Doom (by Sean Äaberg) is the other one that I could not remember. The art on this one is similarly fantastic in a day-glow spectacle (although in completely different styles – Dungeon Degenerates is a very Rat Fink Weirdos). Just thought I would be remiss if I didn’t come back and mention that.