I have read Kalidor's review, and I agree with much of it. I have to say that it was Richard Weld's CCG review site that lead me to the game as well (and it is most unfortunate that his site is now gone. I got to it just in time).
APPEARANCE AND LAYOUT
The Good: I love the layout of the cards. Simple, elegant, and flexible. The cards use the CCG standard for layout, such as Strength (Power) on the left, Defense (Toughness) on the right, title at the top left, etc (for more information on this, see http://www.misterorange.com/2005/02/ccg-card-layouts.html). With only two numbers, no complex symbols or keywords, and a simple layout, the game was easy to pick up and play.
The Bad: When I first started playing the game, was making an error in the way that I played it: I thought that a character could have one shield, one helmet, one set of gloves, one suit of armor, etc, and that the makers made a mistake by labeling all of these various armor items as simply "armor." For this reason, it was hard for me to understand all of the "this game is difficult" reviews that I was reading. I was able to consistently lose no more than 2 heros, with about 50% of my games involving no losses at all (for a score of infinity!) by turning each of my heroes into veritable tanks. It was very easy to get each hero to a point where he/she could not be killed even if the Young Dragon's attacks were concentrated on that character!
As it turns out, I was playing it wrong; the character could only have one piece of armor, PERIOD! While this made the game a greater challenge, it also made it so that the game didn't make much sense thematically. Why should my hero have to take off his helmet to put on his gloves? This was easy to get over, though, because it enhanced the excitement.
Notes: One thing that took a while to get used to was stacking the cards in play. In Magic and other card games, I usually stack the cards behind the characters so that the title shows out the top of the card. Since this system is so numbers heavy, though, it made more sense to stack the equipment and item cards out of the bottom. Once I got the hang of this, it became incredibly easy to do the math when making my attacks.
The artwork was a mixture of quality, ranging from superb (they got Phil and Kaja Foglio art in there) to mediocre. The flavor text was...well...flavorful, but would have been better if it had some context (such as a background story).
the Good: I LOVE the idea of a solitaire game, and I love the idea of a two player cooperative game even more. This one delivers, and it keeps you worrying with each roll of the dice.
The Bad: The most frustrating thing about the game was the number of piles involved. You have 5 different decks on the table: Heroes, Monsters, Treasure, Equipment, and Magic. During your draw phase you can either draw from the Equipment or Magic pile (your choice). In addition, you have 3 Heroes, 5 monsters (with a treasure card underneath each), and a discard pile. That's 14 separate card placements, and that is before you have even begun to play the game! The setup for the game is very cumbersome, so I made a few changes to streamline it:
1. I shuffle the armor, weapons, magic items, and spells into a single deck. During my draw phase, I draw one card at a time.
2. Since I can only attack one monster at a time (and I generally want to finish him off before going to the next), I only bring one out at a time.
Doing this, I reduced the arrangement to 9 card placements, and those 9 can fit into a much tighter space.
NOTES: I've learned that you have to play defensively to be successful in this game. The idea situation is a fighter character in the first slot, followed by a healer and then a mage. Only the fighter attacks, with the healer reserving his actions for healing, the mage reserving his actions for spellcasting. Always beef up to the highest armor possible, and chip away at the monsters. Of course, it doesn't always fall this way, but in time this is usually the arrangement that it settles into.
Also, I found that using three different die is ideal. Just roll 2 or 3 at once (depending on the number of monster attacks), and have a predesignation of which one is attack 1, attack 2, etc.
The Good: Straight forward and simple, the rules cover most of the scenarios that you will face.
The Bad: I have to agree with Kalidor that the rules are somewhat simplistic. Also, the wording on some of the cards is inconsistent. This makes it tricky in some of the situations to figure out how to resolve some of the rules.
The Interesting: You ultimately have to do what seems correct, and play through it. It's not like you are going to accuse yourself of cheating. If you do, then you probably shouldn't do what you did to make the accusation.
On the whole, the game is fun. I keep it shelved, and I pull it out every once in a while to see how I do. Also, it is a great conversation piece to bring to gaming nights. People will come up and ask you what the game is, and how it is that you can play solitaire. Per Richard Weld's suggestion, this is a good time to reshuffle and deal out a two player game with the person inquiring.
I hope you enjoy the game as much as I do. Maybe one day the makers will resurface and make an expansion.
Being one of the artists, Bill Burt, (I did 13 pieces for the game) I gave up trying to play it, after the 1st week's release or so. We all were busy, digging up other work projects. It became available at a
Gen-Con in Milwaukee, WI, maybe 97's.
Drew, (I don't recall his last name, the creator)was considering a possible second set of cards. Many of the artists were considering whether we wished to work on an expansion or second set of cards. This was discussed briefly at Minnicon (Easter wkend)in Minneapolis, MN.
For all of you interested, the whole thing died a sorted death shortly thereafter. Drew disappeared, location now unknown. I believe I did 2-3 sketchs, which were approved by Drew to be painted, but never went into the painting stages, for this second set.
Someone did contact me, maybe Doug, about info concerning the game,3 months ago,Aug. 06? which I gave him. But, I believe it's now long dead.
My suggestion for rules, is make-up or change what you need to, to play the game your way.
Yeah, it was me that you talked to. It appears as though I got a response back from Drew on this thread:
Hopefully I will be able to find what I need.
Thanks again for your help.
I bought this game at GenCon in Milwaukee in 97 while I was there for the Battletech CCG World Championships. I remember enjoying it in a light hearted manner, but never taking it seriously.
My wife was organizing the closet and stumbled upon this just tonight. The timing was rather humorous, as I was just wondering whatever happened to it and what its name was.
Too bad it disappeared. It looked like a fun idea at the time!