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Subject: Iron Fighters rss

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Merric Blackman
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Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
The last several sessions of Martin's GMing have been looking at the game of Iron Heroes - a badly flawed attempt to remove magic from Dungeons and Dragons. We finally finished the campaign tonight, to great sighs of relief from all, and given we'd finished a little early, we decided to have a game of Inn Fighting, the new card & dice game by Rob Heinsoo (of D&D Minis, D&D RPG and Three-Dragon Ante {3DA} fame).

As Rob notes in his excellent article about the design of Inn Fighting, this is not a strategic game like 3DA. Instead, it's really a beer and pretzels game. As such, it's likely to be played by our more casual gamers (e.g. most of the D&D set), or as a warm-up before some more serious games.

The game didn't play as fast as I expected - a 5-player game lasted about 50 minutes. A lot of this was due to unfamilarity with the rules, but there's also more of a calculation element to the game than 3DA. 3DA plays quickly with little player downtime. In Inn Fighting, you'd roll the dice, then look at the other characters, your own characters, the dice, see who you could attack, and eventually resolve the attack. I think this element would improve with familiarity.

There is a large part of "pick on the leader" in the game, as well as general silliness. (It'd work very well as a drinking game...) So, I shot to an early lead, only to find Adam and Peggy attacking me and eroding and eventually destroying that lead. Then Adam had a time in the lead... but only for a short time as Martin and Craig took him out.

One of the cool things about the game was the wacky combinations that could develop between your adventurer and the bystanders that had started fighting with him. Craig was the master of the bystanders this game... his adventurer was giving him a damage bonus to his special attack for every bystander he had, and at one point he had five bystanders! Eek!

I've always had a problem with Munchkin where the game comes down to the winner is the first player who tries to win when everyone else has exhausted their "stop people winning" cards... generally after three or four people have done so. I didn't feel that IF had this problem. Sure, it had pick-on-the-leader mechanics, but they weren't dependent on what you had in hand. Hand cards could help... not that I had many during the game... but mostly it came down to the dice. And, even if you were about to die, a lucky defence roll could save you.

About everyone had a shot at victory: Adam, Peggy, then Martin. Martin just couldn't roll high enough on his attempt, and found himself one point short of the 20 VPs needed. Then Craig attacked, and Martin couldn't defend himself. A win for Craig!

Everyone was on 15+ VP. Adam had managed to keep his adventurer for the entire game, but everyone else had lost their starting adventurer at some point and gotten a replacement. I ended up with a Wizard who kept magic missiling everyone... Peggy had the Beholder Barfly.

So, not quite as good as 3DA, but still fun. That's based on one game, though. Martin said it played a lot quicker with just 3 players - I could well imagine.
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