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Subject: Playing with devils, black sheep, and really bad eggs. Yo ho! rss

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arrrhDisclaimer: I kickstarted this game and have a whole of the expansions/exclusives. However only the base game plus the additional heroes for the two base factions were used in games played.

Introduction
Rum & Bones is the latest mound of plastic published by Cool Mini or Not that draws heavily from MOBA computer games. The premise of the game is two opposing pirate crews are trying to destroy the others ship. Players control "hero" characters while there are rules governing the movement of mindless minions careening forth to die. In order to be successful you have to either outwit, outmaneuver, or out roll your opponent and score 6 victory points by destroying the enemy ship before yours falls.

Yarr! There be treasure in this here game - The Good

The Rules
The game is incredibly simple to learn. Very few weird edge cases and quickly taught and learned. Here's your turn. 1) Put gold on reserve heroes. 2) Fire deck gun. 3) Spawn Creeps. 4) Attack with creeps. 5) Move creeps. 6) Deploy heroes if someone died last turn. 7) 3 actions on the hero to be split between movement and abilities. 8) Check for angry kraken. 9) Draw cards. 10) Pass turn. REPEAT. Even if you want to read the rulebook word for word, I figure you'll be playing in 10-15 minutes without too many times where you're diving for the rule book or asking about that one rule that happens when Neptune is passing through the house of Jupiter except not on Wednesdays in odd numbered months when the moon is full after a rainy day.

Keep a weather eye on the horizon - Things to know before going in

MOBA - Strategy?
Everyone I've played this with described this as very much a MOBA in board game form. If you like MOBA style games, this isn't a problem. If you're looking for deep strategy with complex decision making, you need to look elsewhere. The decision making often boils down to "Do I hit it, or do I hit it harder?" as you choose between two abilities your character has.

The real strategy I see in the game is balancing the creep push versus opposing heroes. The creeps, if left unchecked and with some luck, will eventually destroy the opposing side. However, enemy heroes left unchecked will also destroy you (and much faster). So the real strategy, and pretty much the most meaningful decision in my eyes, is what to kill each turn. If you can assess risk quickly and accurately that's pretty much all you need. I don't really feel there is a lot of meat on the bones here.

Components
Each hero has a "class." Each team is made up of one member of each of the five classes. Each class is assigned a color. Both captains are white, both quartermasters red, etc. I understand why this is done, but it can make the game a little hard to parse visually. You are given different colored bases to affix to the bottom, which you will need to switch between figures if you change your crew. Nothing major, but this isn't a game you can leave "set up" per se.

Luck
Dice. Many dice. Combat, rigging between ships, spawning the big bad sea monsters, their combat, deck guns...so many dice. Depending on how lucky you are the game can swing wildly. We played a game where the kraken kindly wiped out all opposing creeps, beat up the enemy heroes (which ended up being moot), and then Lucky Slevin KO'd both heroes on the next turn with his insta-KO ability.

Balance
Time will tell how "balanced" the game is, but my first impression is only sorta kinda maybe. And honestly, I don't think it has to be. I mean the game is incredibly lethal to the heroes, but they respawn. And if a hero is being targeted at the expense of everything else, as mentioned above, the creep push will eventually become a threat. I don't feel you can compare hero against hero (even within the same class) and see a perfect balance. Team compositions can give different synergies that can swing who is the "better team." I think this game is balanced along the lines of Cosmic Encounter. Theoretically it could be balanced, but theoretically everyone is also broken.

Walk the plank! - The bad

The Packaging
Ok this is me complaining about something totally not related to the gameplay. WHY MUST YOU PACK SO FEW THINGS WITH SUCH A CAVERNOUS PLASTIC TRAY? ...that is all.

Overall Impression

This is an interesting one. I want to say this game is great fun, but there are several caveats to that:
First, it's a dice fest no two ways around that one. To be honest, boiled down the game is move/roll/move/roll repeat until someone wins.

Secondly, the weight is far lighter than I think most people are expecting. This is not Malifaux, Warmahordes, Mordheim, or any other tactical miniature game even if you superficially think it should be. True that each character has unique abilities, true that there are objectives to fetch, but frankly that's where the similarity ends. Most obviously the board is different and makes tactical terrain use almost non-existent. However the major difference is that most of the characters don't have a method of defense. If your opponent rolls well enough you're getting hit, and there's almost nothing you can do to mitigate it. I equate it to the different in strategy/depth between Pokemon TCG and M:tG. As mentioned before the decision you'll get most often is "Do I hit it? Or do I hit it harder?"

Third, it is based around a MOBA which means the game can get snowbally. The look of boredom as you go through the motions of turns you know only delay the inevitable is a reality in this game.

But with all of that in mind, I like the game. Is it a masterpiece of gaming? Oh dear god no. However the question is did I have fun? The answer, yes. I feel that part of the fun of this game is being able to tell stories of sessions and the wackiness that inevitably happens in a game, and hence the lack of depth/weight/complexity is not all that relevant to me. If you're looking for a tactical minis game...go play one, this is not it. If you're looking to be a pirate and throw dice around this isn't a bad choice.arrrh
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Moe45673
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Does this game have the MOBA idea of if you keep getting killed, you're handing victory to the other team because you're levelling up your opponents?
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Eric Sawler
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Moe45673 wrote:
Does this game have the MOBA idea of if you keep getting killed, you're handing victory to the other team because you're levelling up your opponents?

From what I've played, yes. Not only are you penalized a turn without a hero, you also lose gold to the opposing hero, allowing them to use their stronger abilities. I think a big part of learning to play this game well will be to realize when and where you need to focus your heroes' attacks.
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Manuel Bourgeois
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Moe45673 wrote:
Does this game have the MOBA idea of if you keep getting killed, you're handing victory to the other team because you're levelling up your opponents?


I would say this is generally not the case.

The game is far more about tempo and action economy than it is about building up or hero killing.

Besides the tempo loss that comes with dying, your opponent does not recieve a long term bonus from killing you.

It takes between 8 to 14 damage to kill an enemy hero, and this does not include bonus card effects etc. In the base game objectives have only 8 HP and have no way to regenerating or having damage dealt to them reduced. You are better off dealing that damage to an enemy objective.

If a hero dies full of gold, then you could be giving the enemy team a pile of gold for killing you, but since that gold does not improve your opponents hero in a permanent manner, it does not result in the same MOBA snowball effect. It is tantamount of regening mana/resetting cooldowns after a hero kill in a MOBA. With the extra gold you get to use your special abilties again.

Killing an enemy hero with no gold, is a waste of your time unless you need that hero dead to get to the objective or prevent him from killing yours.

After having played 10 or so games, the winner is rarely the team with most hero kills. I generally only kill enemy heroes if they are easy to kill, have a bunch of gold, or are threatening/blocking my plans.

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Anthony Wilborn
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I don't see how it could. In a normal MOBA, handing gold to an opposing hero nets them more effective items which increases their potency absolutely. In this, they may score some gold, but that gold will be used to POSSIBLY increase the potency of 1 or 2 attacks. Once that gold is spent, it's gone and they are as good or bad of a hero as they ever were.

Additionally, i say POSSIBLY because the increased effect of that more expensive ability they can afford to use twice in a row because they killed you could be entirely canceled by a bad roll or two... This is not, he killed me, brought a more powerful item back to lane, now I simply lose lane.

 
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