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Legendary Musings

A cross-posting of Jason's musings on the Legends Family and Hobby Games website at http://www.legendsgames.net -- Some of these posts are aimed at people that are new to board gaming, and may not be anything new and groundbreaking to the BGG community.

Archive for Jason Cline

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New Year, New (and old) Games

Jason Cline
United States
South Whitley
Indiana
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There are a few things that I’m going to try to do this year. I’m not sure I’d call them resolutions, just some personal goals. Two of those things are tied directly to gaming, and they are to keep track of which games I play, and talk and post regularly about the games that I play.

So here we are on the second day of January, and I have some games to talk about.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a while is take games out to public places and play for a few hours. Having Legends Family and Hobby Games is a great thing, as it always gives us a place to get together and play, but it’s nice to have a change of scenery sometimes, and it’s great to give people who wouldn’t go out of their way to come into a hobby gaming store a chance to see some great games being played. Saturday, we delivered a copy of the new Dino Hunt Dice game to both local coffee shops. On Sunday, we went back to one of them, and spent our early afternoon playing Starship Catan. A few people asked us about it, and it gave us a chance to talk about it and other games for a bit. We had a great time with it, and it was Jamie’s first experience with Starship Catan.

On Tuesday, we decided to have a New Years Gaming Day at Legends, and had a few friends join us. Jamie and I played The Rivals for Catan while we waited for others to show up, and enjoyed it quite a bit. We haven’t tried it with any of the eras, but that will be coming soon.

Over the holiday, I picked up a copy of Mission: Red Planet while visiting family up north. We played two five player games of that, and while the first one took a bit, we got the hang of it pretty quick, and played a second game. Jamie won the first game, and tied for first in the second. It made us both realize how much we want a copy of Libertalia, though. That’s going to have to be corrected very soon.

A friend of ours brought Jamie some maternity clothes, so she dropped out for our last game of the day. Allen also had to go, so we only had three people by the time we got started. Honestly, I wish I had waited til we had more players. The game was Cosmic Encounter. And while I can see how much fun it can be, only having 3 players really detracted from it. I look forward to playing it again, but REALLY want at least 4 players before we do it again. At least now we know what we’re doing, I think. I have two different copies of Cosmic Encounter, the newest FFG printing, and the 2000 Avalon Hill version, which I got in a recent BGG auction. We played the FFG version.

All in all it’s been a great week for games, and it’s not over yet. I won’t get to play as many games this year, as we are expecting our first child (a daughter) in March. But while I won’t get to play as often, I’m going to try very hard to make the most of the playing time I *do* have.

Things I want to play in the very near future (for the first time): Game of Thrones 2nd Edition, Star Wars LCG, Battleground: Fantasy Warfare

Things I want to play again in the very near future: Descent (campaign in progress), Warhammer: Invasion, Starship Catan, Mice and Mystics, Summoner Wars (If I can ever get a Jungle Elves deck), Mansions of Madness, Libertalia (I need a copy of this).

And to the handful of you who have been following my thoughts in the past year, thank you for reading. I hope you find it interesting enough to keep coming back.
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Wed Jan 2, 2013 4:09 pm
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Family Game Day - Recap

Jason Cline
United States
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Indiana
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It was kind of a last minute decision, to have a Family Game Day this weekend. We do them from time to time, but I usually try to give more notice. Even so, we had a great turnout for our Family Game Day this month.

I can’t speak for everything that got played, but I can talk about some of the things that I got to play today, starting with…

Indigo
I picked this game up nearly two months ago, and hadn’t gotten a chance to play it. It came in about the same time we added Flash Point Fire Rescue, and sadly, it kinda fell off my radar. We actually started playing this before we even opened the store today. We’re all fans of Tsuro, and this has a very similar feel, though I’d describe it as a bit more competitive. We had a great time with it, and we met a new (hopeful) gaming regular while playing it.

Tsuro
This came out so we could contrast the two for our new players. We introduced it to two new players.

The Great Dalmuti
I remember when this game first released. Even so, I’d still never played it. One of our new players came in to pick up sleeves for her old copy, and decided to pick up a new copy as well. So we all learned it, as well.

Gauntlet of Fools
Jeff brought in some of the games that he hasn’t had a chance to get to the table yet. He got Gauntlet of Fools during the kickstarter, so it was definitely time to check it out. I have to say, the kickstarter exclusive cards (The Armsmaster and Cleaver) are a dangerous combination together. I’ve heard some reviews claim that this only feels like half a game. While I can see that, I enjoyed this. We didn’t get to heavily into the boasting, but enjoyed trying to outlive one another in the dungeon.

Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game
Another one that Jeff picked up recently, and hadn’t gotten to play yet. While I’ve had the original Shadows Over Camelot for months, I’ve never found the time to play it. It took us a little bit to get into the swing of the card game, and we suffered from a few distractions, but had a lot of fun. I’d been in the mood for a good traitor mechanic game, and we enjoyed this quite a bit. I’m not sure how well the bit about not talking whenever a Morgan card comes up, but it’s worth checking out again. Playing it did really put me in the mood for the theme, and since I’d still not gotten Shadows Over Camelot to the table, it was time for….

Shadows over Camelot
I’m kinda irritated with myself for not breaking this out and playing it sooner. I *LOVED* this game. I think it might be our Tuesday Night game in the upcoming week. We had 5 players, and we managed to not have a traitor in our midst, and still only barely squeaked out a victory. I need to check a bit, and see how much information each player has to keep hidden about their cards. I’m really looking forward to getting this one out again. With luck, I’ll get Jamie to play, too.

We finished up the night with a few more games of The Great Dalmuti and Indigo. It was great meeting some new players, welcoming back some of our old ones we haven’t seen in a while, and generally having a good time.
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Sun Dec 9, 2012 2:04 am
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GenCon 2012 Thoughts: Friday

Jason Cline
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South Whitley
Indiana
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Friday seemed to pass incredibly quickly. We bisected our day in the exhibitor hall with a seminar by the producer of TableTop, which was a lot of fun.

Our first stop of the day was the Plaid Hat Games booth, where we snagged a demo table (which was technically closed, but we waited for someone to be avaliable) of...

Mice and Mystics
I've been looking forward to this since I heard of it. I love dungeon crawl games, and I also love Dungeon Crawl games with a strong story element. Mice and Mystics does that very well. It has big tiles, with story bits that have you flipping the tiles as you tell the story. If you're not familiar with this game I highly recommend checking it out. The models are beautifully sculpted, the gameplay is a lot of fun, and the experience and threat trackers involve a wheel of cheese. What more can you want? This was Jamie's highlight of the convention, and it may have been mine, too. Hopefully, I didn't annoy the Plaid Hat guys too much, but they all tolerated me wonderfully. Especially Mr. Bistro, who ran the demo for us and Jerry Hawthorne, the designer of the game.

We grabbed an early lunch and headed to the Tabletop event, where we heard some fun stories about the making of Tabletop, and failed to see the Elder Sign episode a week early (curses, technical difficulties). From there we wandered the exhibit hall, and finished out the open hours with...

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
I've had this for a while, and considering it's both a cooperative game and Lord of the Rings, should have made it a no-brainer to get to the table with Jamie, but things had just kept that from happening. We sat down at a 4 player demo, and had a lot of fun with it. Since then, I've played it solo three times, and twice with another friend. I plan to try to get it to the table again with Jamie very soon.

We also attended the "Damsels at Dusk" event, with our friend, and laughed almost the entire time. Followed that up with dinner and a long visit to the Auction Center.

Coming up on Saturday: Crowds. Lots and lots of crowds.
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Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:49 pm
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GenCon 2012 Thoughts: Thursday

Jason Cline
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South Whitley
Indiana
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We went up Wednesday night for the Best Four Days in Gaming. I've been several times in the past, but I'll be honest, I had more fun this year than I ever have before.

First, my wife and I have both lost a significant amount of weight since our last visit. We were much more able to stay active, and not wear out, and just downright enjoy the visit. And despite the recent development of us being expecting (she's at 11 weeks), she didn't fatigue nearly as often as we worried she would.

Highlights! Mice and Mystics! Libertalia! Wil Wheaton! the new Star Wars Roleplaying Game! Many many other things.

There's really too much to list in one post, which is why there will likely be several updates. I think this post will be about Thursday.

Overall, we got to see a lot of great things on Thursday, with my very first stop being the AEG booth to pick up a bag and a cheap copy of Nightfall and one of their comically oversized bags. We then made a beeline for the Media Guest of Honor booth to get some stuff autographed by Wil Wheaton. Two years ago, we saw Wil at GenCon just before our wedding. He gave us some great advice then, and we got our picture taken with him. We gave him some of the dice we had made for our wedding, and got a new picture taken with him. As always, he was super-nice, and talked to us at length about Tabletop, and some of the things they have coming down the road for retailers. We also got to talk a bit about the Leverage RPG

Infinite City
Somehow, I hadn't heard of this. It's a pretty simple tile placement game from AEG. As you play tiles and place your markers on it, various effects will change the play of the game. Draw more tiles, force tile placement, etc. The first player to run out of markers triggers the endgame. We had fun demoing it, and my wife snuck in the win. I may pick up a copy soon, but I'm not in a huge hurry for it.

Android: Netrunner
Though I had Netrunner cards back in the late 90s, I never got to play. It wasn't popular enough in this area to generate a following, sadly. I enjoyed the asymmetric method of play, and look forward to playing this on both sides of the board. I look forward to the official release of this, as I didn't get to the FFG booth in the first seven minutes of the convention.

Jamie had to work from the hotel room for a bit, and I had an event to run (kind of), so we didn't get to enjoy the Exhibit Hall much more on Thursday, though we did manage to sneak in a game of...

Summoner Wars
Oddly, I've never been able to get Jamie to sit down and play Summoner Wars with me, though she's wanted to. We were hoping to get into a demo of Mice and Mystics, so we sat down to get her a quick how-to on Summoner Wars. She played the Jungle Elves vs my Mercenaries, and outmaneuvered me. She enjoyed it enough that I might be able to get her to play with me again (she doesn't generally like playing competitive games against me, though she likes gaming in general).

Snake Oil
This was an unexpected one for us, as well. We attended the Dice Tower dinner, and our table-mates had picked up a copy, so we tried it. Snake Oil is an Out of the Box Game that is similar to Apples to Apples. The judge is a certain type of person (Police Officer, Babysitter, etc) and the other players choose two single-word cards from their hand, and then try to sell the judge a product whose name is made up of the two words. A great party game, with some room for easy expansion.

After dinner, I wandered the board game hall and ended up at the Pick-Up and Play room, which was easily my favorite place outside of the exhibit hall (the Retailer lounge and the Auction house were tied for second).

Libertalia
This game slipped under my radar entirely. I think I heard it mentioned on a podcast or two, but the description wasn't enough to do it justice. This is the game I enjoyed most that I had NO intent of trying. There are other and better reviews of it floating around, so I'll leave that to them, but I'll give a quick synopsis. Libertalia is a 2-6 player game where each player sends out one crewmember to collect booty a day for six days. The other players (pirates) will also be doing the same, and each card has one or more effects that might affect other crewmembers, the booty, or the dubloon supply of one of the players. The game plays over 3 weeks (rounds) and is really easy to pick up, and a LOT of fun.

Divinare
A fun quick game I played with some of the same people I played Libertalia with. Divinare is a prediction/guessing game where you have a deck of 36 cards, with cards of 4 different colors, and 3 different quantities of each color. Each round you will play with 24 of those 36 cards, and your goal is to predict/wager on how many of each of those cards are actually being used. We enjoyed it, and I was able to get Jamie to the Asmodee section on Sunday to try both of those, but I'll tell that tale when I make it to Sunday.

Coming up in the Friday post: Tabletop, Mice and Mystics, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
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Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:59 am
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Family Board Game Day July in Review

Jason Cline
United States
South Whitley
Indiana
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We're still building up our board gaming community, but I've been very happy with the group that we've gathered so far. We held our monthly Board Game Day at Legends on Saturday, July 14. Several great games got played, and some old familiar faces made their way back to us.

I got the opportunity to teach the basics of Memoir '44 (Sword Beach) to Stephen, who wiped the board with me, 5-1. He went on to help a few of our younger players get the feel for the game.

We also got to dive back into Mansions of Madness. Jamie and Jeff joined Stephen as they braved their way into a monastery where villagers had been disappearing nightly. They managed to survive the ordeal with one life each.

We then discovered that Jeff had yet to play Pandemic, so we jumped into that for a couple of games. I believe we won once and lost once.

Then Dave and his family arrived, and we jumped into a new game of Mansions of Madness, which Dave had not played before. The keeper (me) claimed victory this time, but it was definitely a close one. I won't spoil any of the possible storylines, but they were plagued by maniacs.

Other games got played, but I wasn't able to keep up with everyone else. It was a great Family Board Game Day, and I can't wait til the next one (which will have to be late in August, due to GenCon)
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Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:18 pm
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The Best Four Days in Gaming

Jason Cline
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South Whitley
Indiana
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I think I've used that title on another blogpost, on another blog, the last time I was unable to attend Gen Con. Thankfully, that's not the case this time. Jamie and I will be attending Gen Con this year, and I thought I'd share what I'm looking forward to. I'd love to hear what others are looking forward to.

Some of the Legends crew go to Gen Con for the Magic: the Gathering events. I've never personally been a competitive Magic player, so that draw isn't there for me. But for those that are, it's a great experience. Events going on nonstop during convention hours, and I'm sure well beyond.

A few others of our "family" go to run events and network. Our resident freelance writer goes to promote his material, make contacts, and run several games. One of these days, I'll get to sit in on one of those. Maybe I'll catch one and observe, this year.

Personally, I'm going with a different focus this year. I've always been a roleplaying geek, and that has taken most of my attention over the years. Lately, I've found myself in a bit of a roleplaying rut, and have turned to board games. There are several things for me to be excited about this year.

Some games I've been wanting to check out for a long time, and plan to use Gen Con as the chance to do so. Twilight Imperium has been a part of my collection for 15 years. However, it's the first edition, and back then, I was never able to get it to the table. To that end, I've never even punched out the tiles. I've heard a lot about the third edition, and I'd love to see it played, or maybe get in on a demo. Other FFG titles that have me curious are Nexus Ops, Cosmic Encounter and Rex: Final Days of an Empire, the upcoming Android: Netrunner also appeals to me, and I'm hoping that it either releases at Gen Con, or a preview is available.

Speaking of upcoming games, I've got a list I'm taking with me, of games that I want to know more about before they release. Chicken Caesar, Road to Enlightenment, Space Cadets, Pirate Dice, and Mice and Mystics are at the top of that list. I've been a big fan of everything Plaid Hat games has released so far. I have high hopes for Mice and Mystics.

I know Z-Man games will be there, and I'm looking forward to checking out The Ares Project, but I'm really hoping I get a chance to talk to the game's designer, Geoff Engelstein, as well.

All these games, and I've not actually signed up to play ANY of them. Of course, I get the most enjoyment out of the exhibit hall anyway. I am, however, hosting two seminars this year, which is new for me. A couple of years ago, I took over the development of a windows app for D&D 4e DMs, called the D&D 4e Combat Manger, or DnD4eCM for short (is that really shorter?). The program is great, and it's been an honor to be able to keep it going after the original author could no longer keep it up. I've dropped the ball, lately, though, and have been very delayed in getting out a major release that I've been working on. I'm hoping to get that finished before Gen Con, as the seminar I'm running (twice) is a Q&A on the software and a discussion on where we go from here, considering the looming D&D Next, and a lack of new support for the 4th edition game experience.

I guess the other thing I should mention that I'm looking forward to, is the first announced Media Guest of Honor. In 2010, Jamie and I attended Gen Con as our early honeymoon. We got to attend Wil Wheaton's performance, and stood in line for a long time to talk to him. He was super-nice, and gave us some wonderful advice for our upcoming wedding. I'm really looking forward to thanking him for that.

I've rambled long enough. Now I'd like to hear from you. What are you looking forward to at Gen Con, and if you're not going, what are you sad you're going to miss?
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Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:45 pm
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Mansions of Madness Initial Thoughts

Jason Cline
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South Whitley
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So our merry band of adventurers decided to break out Mansions of Madness for the first time this evening. I must say I rather enjoyed it. I'm on a hiatus from RPGs at the moment, so it was scratched a nice storytelling itch I'd been having.

The game really takes a play through before everything starts to fall into place. Setup is a little rigorous, but the tasks are divided up nicely. The group picks the overall scenario, of which there are 5 in the main book. I usually fall into the DM role in our roleplaying games, so while the players set up the map, and pick their characters, I made decisions about what's going on, and where the secrets are kept. This keeps someone who's read through the game from immediately knowing what to do. Based on the choices the Keeper makes, he then adds the challenges to the board.

My victims tonight were Jeff, Thomas, and Kent, though Thomas gave his spot up to Sarah about halfway through the game. Our first play through was a little slow, and several mistakes were made in early turns (one of which make it a little easy for them to win in the long run), but I really feel like the game will play through much more smoothly the next time we break it out (Which I hope I can do within the next week or so)

The components of the game are wonderful, with beautifully done double-sided tiles, giving you a bunch of combinations to work with, should you wish to create your own scenarios, which I think are fairly doable. Also, there are fairly cool puzzles that the players will need to solve throughout the game, And of course, the miniatures. Who can argue with plastic representations of most of the characters and fiendish creatures from Arkham Horror?

All in all, it was a little slow getting started, but once we got into the groove of it, I think a great time was had by all.
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Fri Jul 6, 2012 8:58 am
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Small World Tournament

Jason Cline
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Legends Family and Hobby Games is hosting a Small Worlds tournament on Saturday, June 23. To that end, I've been running demo and teaching games of Small World lately, and will continue to do so throughout the week. I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk about it a little bit.

Small World is a land conquering game. Some have compared it to Risk, but I think that's a disservice. I don't have anything against Risk, but it can be a bit repetitive. The key feature to Small World is the combination of races (Humans, Elves, Orcs, Giants, etc.) and special powers (Flying, Hill, Mounted, etc.) to make a large number of unique forces that you can play during the game. You're also not stuck with one combination for the whole game. After taking your Flying Skeletons on a rampage through the countryside, you can put that race into decline, and bring in your Aquatic Halflings to terrorize the coast.

Combat is fairly simple. You only need to move in enough forces to equal the number of other forces (other players races) or features (mountains, dens, camps) on the area, plus two more (for the area itself). A few things modify this, but they're all spelled out for you.

You may or may not have seen the first episode of Tabletop. If you haven't, you should. It features Small World and is a great introduction to the game. There are also some good reviews and tutorials on Board Game Geek.

I've noticed that this is a good game for non-gamers. It's fun even if you've only ever played games like Monopoly or Risk. It doesn't take long to learn, and you can jump right in and start slaughtering your friends in good fun!

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Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:00 pm
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A few board games

Jason Cline
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I've been taking an interest in various board and card games lately, of the non-collectible variety. Thought I'd share a few of them with you here.

First up is Summoner Wars: Master Set...

Summoner Wars is a two-player strategy card/board game designed by Colby Dauch of Plaid Hat Games. In it, each player takes on a faction which has a summoner, 3 champions, 18 more common units, and a number of events that are geared toward that faction. Several cards are placed on the board in a starting arrangement that is specific to the summoner. Players then take turns, going through phases, summoning cards from their hands, playing events, moving, and attacking. The interesting thing to me is the way you pay for the units you summon to help you. You have a Magic Pool that consists of cards you discard and enemies that you've killed. These cards are used to pay for the cards you wish to play from your hand. During your turn, you have to decide if you want to keep a card in your hand and play it in a future turn, or discard it as a resource to summon a cheaper or better creature in a future turn.

Summoner Wars generally takes 15-30 minutes to play, and I rather like it. I'm not great at it, but I like to play it, and I like to teach it.

Next up is Castle Panic

Castle Panic is a cooperative/semi-competitive board game in which you and your friends defend your castle (in the center of the board) from a horde of approaching monsters. Cards in your hand can be used to attack monsters in certain color zones at certain distances. During your turn, you plan forward the next few turns, and trade cards to other players as you plan for the monster approach

The competitive aspect comes in the scoring of monsters you slay. Monsters are worth between 1 and 4 points, and the player who has the most points at the end wins, in the semi-competitive version of the game. You can plan ahead to keep your fellow players from defeating the tough monsters, but you have to make sure they don't break through your castle walls, and kill you all.

All in all, I find it a great game for younger players, and a fun time for older players as well.
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Thu Jun 7, 2012 4:18 pm
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My first Dungeon Run

Jason Cline
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In Dungeon Run, you and your party are all trying to defeat the monsters in the dungeon, and collect the Summoning Stone that is carried by the dungeon's boss. Once someone has it, though, all bets are off, and whoever escapes the dungeon with the stone wins the game.

In our first run, my Dwarven Treasure Hunter entered the dungeon first, and sprung a trap. If anyone's ever seen my Binwin Bronzebottom shirt, they probably know that's par-for-the-course for me. However, I didn't let this setback stop me. I started the game with a card that let me reset the trap, so it would trigger anytime another player entered the room. Right outside the entrance.

Our party consisted of my Dwarf, Robert's tundra Orc Exile, Elisabeth's Necromancer, and Stephen's Paladin.

We valiantly fought our way through the dungeon, splitting the party. Combat in this game really caught my attention. Each hero has two stats that they can use in combat, either Brawn or Magic. The monsters have a single stat, but they have certain hit and defense dice. It works like this: They roll their stat's worth of d6 dice, and then you compare their dice to their Power rating. For example, if the monster's power rating is 5 6, then any roll of 5 or 6 is a potential hit on you. Then YOU roll your stat in dice, say 5. You roll 2 3 4 5 5. You compare these to the both the monster's HITS and the monster's Defense stat, which may be 4+. You can optionally remove the monster's hits on a one to one bases (remove one of your 5s to cancel one of its) and then count your remaining dice that meet the Defense stat. So all of your 4s and 5s hit it, except for the one you used to counter its hit. In this example, you would do two wounds to the monster, and it would do one to you.

We battled through, until Robert uncovered the Boss's lair. A terrifying Colossus. Stephen dispatched it handily, however, using the paladin's Transferrence. This was a it anticlimactic, as the boss never hit anyone, but that's ok. The ensuing race for the exit was a blast.

The Treasure Hunter caught up with the Paladin about 5 rooms from the entrance, and managed to off him before he could get away. But the other two part members were converging from the other side of the dungeon. It came down to the very last tile, outside the entrance... Remember that reset trap?

Elisabeth's Necromacer was wounded pretty badly, and couldn't even enter the room, so it came down to Robert's Orc Exile and my Treasure Hunter. The trap went off, damaged him for 3 points (of his remaining 5) and then we entered final battle. It came down to the very last possible roll. In the end, my trap weakened the savage orc enough to let me finish him, and escape, a newly empowered Summoner, ready to amass my army.

All in all, a fun game. It's not too heavy, easy to set up, kinda reminds me of HeroQuest or Castle Ravenloft, mixed with the backstabbyness of Munchkin. I love the combat mechanic. It's easy to pick up, despite my terrible description of it. I highly recommend checking out the example in the rulebook at plaidhatgames.com.
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Thu Jun 7, 2012 4:10 pm
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