Arkham Horror LCG: Dunwich Legacy Review - We've Only Just Begun!

0 comments
OK first up, no story spoilers here, I wouldn't be that cruel to you all, but I will mention briefly some of the mechanics involved so you might get slight spoilers of those, though to be honest, it's more about the story right?

Arkham Horror LCG has gotten off to a flying start, luring gamers in droves to the soft embracing tentacles of Cthulhu........err I mean to a quality card game set in the Arkham universe that Fantasy Flight refuses to let leave your subconscious. It even hit my Top 10 of 2016 on a podium position, that's how good I think it is. It even replaced Netrunner for me, not because they are similar, but because coupled with Lord of the Rings LCG, I can only carry on so many LCG's and co-operative play just suits the format so much better than a tournament meta heavy 2 player competitive game for my needs.

Well as with any other LCG, expansions are going to come out at a ridiculous rate, however co-op games are easier to get to the table so getting them played and reviewed for Arkham will be much easier (just a small delay currently due to having to catch up with a review backlog for Q1). Rather than just give us a bunch of new player cards, Arkham LCG (like with LOTR LCG) will provide us with new stories to dive into which hopefully will change up the mechanics over time. But an LCG has to get the first few expansions right to keep people interested, I mean they messed up royally with Game of Thrones LCG for me (too many factions, not enough cards, same old tournament dominating meta) so it's critical that Dunwich sets a high benchmark from the get-go.




Read More »

Mansions of Madness: Beyond The Threshold Review - Traumatized and Beaten And I Love It!

0 comments
Mansions of Madness was a slow starter for me throughout its life. I was first introduced to the previous edition and I was a bit disappointed. It was long, very clunky, you had to have a DM and you felt very time constrained. Then the 2nd Edition came out with the app implementation and I was instantly grabbed by the amazing blend of technology and tactile pieces that made up the game. It was still insanely long, which was a worry, but we did have a full complement of players so I held on to my copy for further plays.

Since then the fire has stoked and grown brighter and brighter to the point where it made the upper half of my Top 10 of 2016. It's a fantastic, thematic, immersive co-op experience which I have just as much fun playing solo as I do with friends, if only so that I can keep the time length down, which is still a bit of a pain. Might try to get a video review of that done when I get back to YouTube as I feel like that's slipped the net.

But there's already been a few extras you can pick up for the game. The content from the 1st Edition was re-printed for 2nd Edition and I'm throat punching myself for not buying them when I did, now I have to wait for them to get reprinted, at which point I'm grabbing them immediately. But Beyond the Threshold is the first official new expansion for Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, which promises more content and more scenarios. So more of the same then? Fine with me, that tends to make the best kind of expansions anyway. . . .All Hail Cthlulhu!!  




Read More »

Season 2 Episode 8 - AIRECON

0 comments
Well AIRECON was a blast, surpassing the previous one in October. Now an annual convention, it's only going to try to expand and be bigger and better.
On today's episode I talk about the convention itself, what new board games I got to play and a couple of particular highlights from my experience.


Read More »

The Colonists Review - Long Term Storage

0 comments
Before obtaining a game for review, naturally it's worth doing a bit of research into what other gamers and content creators have to say. You'll usually get a mix of mountain-top praising and horror stories from doing this, but having that information going in can be a great aid. It gives you aspects to look forward to, but also helps to mitigate that sense of disappointment if there's parts you don't like.

Most of what I heard about The Colonists seemed pretty appealling. It looks the business, it's essentially a resource management / civilization game (technically a colony, but same feel), which I tend to like and offered a lot of variety. Sounds pretty sweet so far. Then I noticed a more scary trend among the stories. 3 hours, 6 hours, anywhere up to 9 hours for a potential game length. My reaction to that was basically a homage to The Angry Joe Show....<slo-mo>..UP TO NIIINNNEEE HOOOURRRSS?!?!!

What on earth?! I'm not the biggest fan of games that outstay their welcome and rarely does any game justify more than 3 hours of my time to indulge in it. But six to nine?! I have other committments in life you know, chores, a job, a relationship, etc just like most people, it's not like it's easy to find nearly half a waking day to play a single game and even then that game has to not just be good, it has to be outstanding and keep me engaged the whole time. I hoped that it was simply a case of learning the ropes or maximum player count, which rarely is a good idea in any Euro game anyway (seriously why do some people play Through The Ages with 4 players, are you just insane?), because if these horror stories are true. . . .



Read More »

Gateway Games With Board Gaming Ramblings

0 comments
Back in February I was fortunate enough to be invited on Board Gaming Ramblings to talk about Gateway games with another board game podcaster - Johannes Lindrupsen. The two of us had a blast chatting, bantering and talking about everything to do with Gateway Games.

What makes a game "gateway"? Why do we love them so much? How do we teach these games to new players? And if we ignore the staples that dominate this genre, what alternatives do we suggest for your collection?

You can find the episode at the link below, I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did recording it.





Read More »

Time Stories: Endurance Spoiler Free Review - Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

0 comments
Seems like ages since the last Time Stories expansion was released and my set has just sat on my shelf waiting impatiently. I've had concerns with the last few expansions that Time Stories was on a downward spiral as I wasn't blown away by Marcy Case or Prophecy of Dragons. Under the Mask was ok, I liked the story and I loved the cool twist with the characters. But overall nothing ever seems to come close to Asylum - is that because it was the original and there was all that buzz? Maybe, but I think when it comes to art, story, mystery, choices, challenge, puzzles, combat, etc Asylum beats all the rest.

So after a bit of a delay, we've got Endurance, set in Antarctica. This opens up some cool possibilities and made me think of The Thing, a film which to this day still traumatises me to no end. I really shouldn't have get curious when I was younger. But in a board game setting, this could be really cool and the extreme cold could add a new twist. I didn't know what to expect, but I was just glad of another adventure to try. I grabbed my two companions from "The Game Shelf" and we tackled it head on, hoping that we wouldn't need a giant FAQ this time. . . .




Read More »

Season 2 Episode 7 - EXCEPTIONS

0 comments
OK, first of all I said I was doing this before Rahdo did! :P

A quick explanation regarding AireCon this weekend and my games played with The Game Shelf on 5 March including Time Stories: Endurance (no spoilers) and Coliseum.

And then the meat of the episode, my Top Ten Games that are Exceptions to the Rule - games I normally shouldn't like for various reasons, yet managed to impress me enough to either like them or in some cases, adore them.




Read More »

INIS Review - A Clash Of Styles

0 comments
INIS (the Irish/Celtic word for Island apparently) was a miss for me at Essen 2016. But I was involved in a game with 4 of us and nobody to teach who understood the rules. Seriously a note to publishers, if you're going to make a big deal about particular games at a convention, make sure your volunteers know the game inside and out, just saying. So it was essentially self taught by me and we ended up calling it mid-way anyway. Since then I wasn't paying much attention and I figured I'd wait until full retail release to look at it properly.

Well that time has come and yeah I got to admit, I can see why people struggle with the box cover, but we'll get on to that later. Reading the rules within my personal mind palace made for a much easier learning experience and reminded me of some aspects that I do recall liking from my initial demo - a twist on the drafting mechanic, gorgeous land art, tactical gameplay, multiple winning conditions. . . . did a poor demo drive me away from a potentially good game?




Read More »

Eldritch Horror: Dreamlands Review - Fantasy Flight, Take Five!

0 comments
Oh my word Fantasy Flight, SLOW DOWN!! It's no surprise that they chuck out expansions at a greater rate then they do actual games, but it's getting ridiculous now how unbalanced some of the devotion seems to be. Now of course you would beef up your big sellers that's understandable. But only one X-Com expansion and over 6 for Eldritch Horror and a 7th announced for the next quarter (Cities In Ruins)? Surely we can take a break and spread the love a bit? As much as I love Eldritch Horror, it's not like I can get it to the table that often in between releases!

Every single expansion to date has been a case of "more of the same", which is always a good thing for an expansion to do, but very few additional mechanics have been introduced or variations on Ancient One scenarios and I'd like for something fresh to pop up. The whole "destruction of cities" mechanic from the upcoming Cities In Ruins sounds cool and exactly what I'm looking for. A quick skim of Dreamlands doesn't seem to reveal anything new.

Big boxes mean lots of cards so give me a couple hours to figure out how I'm going to store everything and I'll be right with you. . .



Read More »

Star Wars Destiny Review - Seduced By The Dark Side Of Gaming

0 comments
I thought we were past this. I know there are some very popular CCG's (Collectible Card Game) around like Magic the Gathering and Pokemon, but I was hoping that LCG's (Living Card Game) would now take over as the norm. 

For the unitiated, a CCG is one where after you have the initial starter box full of fixed cards, you have to purchase additional booster packs to obtain more cards and each pack will be different in accordance with whether a card is common, uncommon or rare (and beyond). In contrast an LCG starts off the same, but instead you purchase expansion packs which contain the same fixed cards in each one so that every regular player is on the same level. There are no common, uncommon or rare cards. Both can be expensive to maintain, but it is no surprise that a CCG will always end up more expensive especially if you're desperate to collect every single card or obtain the rarest, most powerful cards for tournament play.

I personally am done with CCG's and only maintain two (originally three) LCG's now. But Fantasy Flight have brought out Star Wars Destiny, a dice/card game to rival Marvel Dice Masters that both use the CCG model. Assuming Destiny is good enough in the first place, is there enough value in the original starter box or is this going to be a huge money-sink for anyone wanting to take it up competitively?  

Designer: Corey Konieczka, Lukas Litzsinger
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games Age: 10+ Players: 2 Time: 15-30 Minutes RRP: £14.99 / £3 per booster From Fantasy Flight Games Captain Phasma and Count Dooku battle Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Jango Fett and Jabba the Hutt attack Rey and Finn as they pass through the frozen wastes of Starkiller Base. Play out your own epic, saga-spanning, “what if” battles in Star Wars™: Destiny, a collectible dice and card game for two players! In every game of Star Wars: Destiny, you’ll gather your small team of iconic characters and battle to defeat your foes, using your dice and the cards in your deck. The last player with characters left standing wins the game, but to successfully outmaneuver your opponent, you’ll need to carefully consider your options and enhance your deck with new dice and cards. If you ever wondered who would win a duel between two teams of heroes and villains from the Star Wars universe, there’s no better way to find out than with Star Wars: Destiny. Each character in Star Wars: Destiny comes with a corresponding premium die. These large, full-color dice are different for each character, and by rolling the dice and spending their symbols, you’ll strengthen your forces and deal damage to your opponent’s characters. Each character’s health is shown in the card’s upper right-hand corner, and once you’ve dealt that much damage to a character, it’s defeated! Of course, the dice aren’t the only tool you have as you duel your opponent—you also have a thirty-card deck of cards that you’ll draw throughout the game. On your turn, you can take an action to play a card, paying the resources in the card’s upper left-hand corner as you can see below.


The cards in your deck are divided into three major types: events, upgrades, and supports. Events offer an immediate effect when they’re played, and are then discarded. For instance, you may use an event to stage a Daring Escape from an enemy attack or remove your opponent’s dice with The Best Defense. Upgrades like Force Choke, on the other hand, attach to one of your characters, giving them dangerous new tools and skills. Support cards such as the Millennium Falcon remain in play, independent of your characters but still contributing to your overall plan. 

Many upgrade and support cards have their own dice associated with them. When you play these cards, you can bring the corresponding dice into play, giving you more dice and thus more options for outwitting your opponent! Finally, it’s important to know that the cards in your hand all have more than one use—as an action, you can discard a card from your hand to reroll any number of dice in your dice pool, giving you a better chance of getting the results you want.

Star Wars: Destiny invites you to command a team of iconic heroes and villains from throughout the Star Wars saga and face your foes in a massive duel. Whether you join the heroes or villains of the galaxy, the only limit to your battles is your imagination. Tell your own Star Wars story with this collectible dice and card game!



I LIKE THIS GUN!


You've got two starter decks to pick from depending on your Force preference. Kylo Ren for Dark and Rey for Light, naturally based on the recent Star Wars Episode 7 movie (which I still defend as being better than Rogue One). Each of the boxes contain a pre-made twenty card deck with two character cards, a battlefield and six dice and of course all the various rule sheets and tokens. As with all pre-packed starters you'll forget how to repackage it afterwards to make it all fit snugly again! 

Each dice has some great imagery to depict the card it relates to and thankfully they're not just stickers - could you imagine how bad a reception that would get if it was? They are larger than your average D6, and have a very nice weight to them, solid and chunky. Not quite the level of "Seasons" awesomeness, but still pretty decent. The cards are of equally impressive quality, but it's Fantasy Flight, so what's new?

So the production quality is higher than your typical CCG and certainly higher than Dice Masters, but then each booster pack is 3 times the cost of its competitor and you only get one die in each. But at least these ones don't require ironing the minute you take them out of the booster (seriously WizKids what was up with that, how did you ever expect that to fly?)


NOW THAT'S ONE HELL OF A PILOT!


With Dice Masters, the dice were really the main driver of the game. The cards themselves had abilities, but I felt that the synergy wasn't that strong. In Star Wars: Destiny it's a different story with the dice and cards synergizing very well together. There's also a decent amount of player interaction durin gameplay. Players can force their opponents to discard cards and resources, manipulate their dice results and of course lay the smackdown on their characters. 

Knowing the best times to pull these tactics off will aid you considerably. Now we're not talking deep levels of strategy here, overall Destiny is a fairly light game, but you can't simply auto pilot yourself to victory.

Blowing away your opponents characters isn't the only way to win though. The game also ends if you run out of cards in your deck. I like alternate victory conditions and this is something you don't get in Dice Masters. It's perfectly feasible to simply let their characters live, but force them to discard cards constantly. Not only does it deny them useful cards, but suddenly the option of drawing cards becomes a liability.

Even with the balance of different tactics to employ, you are playing a dice game at the end of the day, so from time to time, luck is going to be the crux here and sometimes a flukey or unlucky set of die rolls will swing the game, however you knew this going in and Dice Masters wasn't exactly short of luck with the bag aspect on top. Destiny games are also nice and short so if luck was a factor, just play again, we don't mind too much luck when it's for a short period.




IT WAS SAID YOU WOULD DESTROY THE SITH, NOT JOIN THEM!


Now I've enjoyed the game and if I could end it right there, happy days. But I'm sorry and I know I'll get flack for this, but hey, a review is a review, but here comes a rant. Those 3 letters that are stapled onto the end of the title "C-C-G". They alone single handedly destroy any intention of me wanting to continue playing this game and may be an automatic turn off for some of you as well. Why Fantasy Flight have taken this route after having so much success with the LCG model I don't know. 

You have to know that going in, this will be an expensive game to continue. The whole tension and excitement of opening a booster and seeing what you earned is all well and good, but that feeling died in the 90's for me. And more often than not you're met with disappointment instead of cheer. And at £2-£3 per booster it's too much to spend just to get the deck you want. I know of people who have paid £20+ just to get a specific legendary card in their deck from the secondary market. Really? There's disposable income and then there's being too young to appreciate what a mortgage payment is. 


I got a few booster packs with my copy of Star Wars: Destiny to see how deck building would fair. Each booster has 1 rare/legendary card, 1 uncommon card and 3 commons. I had a duplicate of something in my starter set and the other cards weren't really that cool either. Certainly I didn't see no Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader in my packs, hell I'd have settled for C-3PO. They added to my array of cards, but I didn't feel any would make any significant impact on my starter decks. And as fun as the game was, it will not last long enough with just a starter deck to entertain you. If you're keen on this game, you've got to go in properly. 




VERDICT ON STAR WARS DESTINY


If we were to simply take Star Wars Destiny by itself without outside considerations, it would be a cool game that's good fun to play. Games are quick, so it won't take long for the rules to absorb, there's a good amount of tactical depth and the component quality is solid. The luck aspect is going to be a big factor for some though as in other similar dice games I feel there is more you can do to mitigate it whereas here you may simply get hosed because you can't roll well.

But we can't simply take it by itself, let's face it. This is based on a CCG model, one which I consider to be outdated and basically a source of generating money for a publisher. You have to unload a ton of funds into this game to reach the level of variety required to make it last. Simply grabbing a starter and a few boosters isn't enough, it's good as a test drive, but you'll quickly get frustrated that you don't have access to your favourite characters.

If you don't mind the CCG model and have the cash to spare, it's a good game to sink your teeth into and you'll have fun, certainly I know I would if I owned every card and had the choice available. But if money is tight or you have other CCG's and LCG's on the go, I'd think very carefully before heading to the store to grab this one.  


     

BROKEN RATING - 5 Chasers for Unpaid Debts (7 Lightsabers if you're happy with the CCG model)




YOU WILL LIKE STAR WARS DESTINY IF:



You enjoyed Dice Masters, but prefer a Star Wars theme.


You like the synergy aspect with the cards and dice and having an alt win condition.


You like the quality of the dice themselves.




YOU WILL NOT LIKE STAR WARS DESTINY IF:



You hate the CCG model - this will be an expensive game to collect, period.


You feel the luck aspect is too high.


You wanted something a bit more involved and strategic.


Read More »