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Subject: First impression: A coop-beauty with some problems rss

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Thomas Arnold
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First review + no native english-speaker warning: Prepare for everything and be warned!

Since I discovered the beautiful artwork and the online rules, I wanted to assemble the game and playtest it as soon as possible. Last weekend, this time has come, and now I want to present the result and the first impressions of my girlfriend Michaela and myself.

Components / Artwork:

The game is freely published and you can download all necessary files for cards and counters for free, so the quality of the components is as high as your effort. But the artwort itself is, in my opinion, absolutely beautiful!

The game consists of several game boards (1 board = 1 page) two different types of cards, hero tokens for the players, creatute tokens for the enemies and some small realm-specific tokens for artifacts and itmes. For every realm, there is one game board, 14 cards, about 30 creature tokens and 5-6 small items. These all look very nice, in a bright fantasy style. Every realm has its own graphic style, and the differences are shown everywhere: in the type and appearance of the creatures, artifacts and the border of the cards.

The owner of the copy-shop where I printed the files thought from the start that I try to assemble a professional looking prototype for a boardgame that I want to release.

The only artwort that I did not absolutely love were the talent tokens. They are plain red or blue, with plain white symbols on them. They are functional and since the symbols are used through the game it is good that you can distinguish between them without problems, but a nice border or something could raise these tokens to the same level as the rest of the artwork.

Rules:

No problems with the rules.

They are relativly short and simple (5 pages) with nice explanations, examples and pictures. The writing is very good and clean, and I had very little questions after the first reading. The last page contains a summary of all creature abilities, and this was the only page I had to check sometimes while playing.

Gameplay:

The core of the game... imagine Ghost Stories with fluffy fairys, and you have a good idea.

To give a short explanation: The game world consisted of several realms, there were 2 realms in our 2-player session. Each realm has a "Dark Lord" that must be beaten to win the game.

By the way - "Dark Lord" is quite a funny word if you look at the 2 published realms, because the 2 associated "Evil Lords of Darkness" are a female Fairy with butterfly wings and a female fox-woman with a blue flower-kimono. They are not very dark... but I miss the point:

These Dark Lords must be beaten with three artifacts for each realm that must be gathered. Each turn, new creatures appear in the realms, sometimes special events or more-or-less helpful items. The players must cooperate to travel between the realms, defeat the creatures, gather the artifacts, and send the Cute Lords... I mean evil Lords back into the abyss.

There is some luck in the game: As new creatures appear on their realm, a D6 die is thrown to determine its location. Some events give random rewards, and some creatures abilitys require a dice throw, too. For example, a dryad has the ability "changeling". When you attack the dryad, you do not know its vulnerabilitys - you determine the sort of talent you need to possess with a throw of a die. This is nice as it add some random elements in the game.

Other than these abilitys, the fights or "confrontations" in this game have no component of luck: If the creature if vulnerable against "Fight" and you have a Fight talent token, then you simply have to flip (exploit in game terms) the token to defeat the creature. So the fights are - with few exceptions - very predictable.

The game flow is very nice - new creatures appear, and you try your best to defeat them as soon as possible. The added events and adventures supply you with additional talents or special moves, like a one-time teleport to a chosen location. This all felt smooth.

Problems:

(Sorry this part is so long - that does not mean there are lots of problems, I just tried to describe them quite detailed)

Now to the negative sides - although I have to admit some of these may be the consequence of a single one of our session, which can be varied easily: The game was much too easy.

In the first turn, there were 6 creatures on the board, and we defeated 5 of them in our turn. Afterwards, there were never more than 3 creatures present at once. Most of the game, I was at the first realm's town, and Michaela at the second one. In one turn, sometimes 2 creatures appeared, sometimes only 1 or none at all, if the two drawn card per round were two events. So very often, we sat there and KNEW that we can defeat the creatures at our realm, since it was 100% predictable, so we simply removed the creature without moving our hero or flipping our talents, since we KNEW it was not necessary - we would end up in town anyway, and our flipped talents are refreshed at the end of the round. Sometimes, when there was no creature and nothing to do, all we could do was simply skip our turn. There were very few real decisions, and the game was never challanging. The result was that the game was quite boring. We will try it again with added difficulties, like an additional realm or more cards per turn (possibly more creatures), maybe this can fix this problem.

One other thing: All items require one or two talents to aquire them, and all creatures have vulnerabilities that define the talents you need to have to defeat them. If you do NOT have a required talent... well... you can not do the desired action. In a multiplayer game with good mixed characters, you can rely on your partner(s) to have the missing talents, so they can jump in and help. But with some combinations, I just think that the game cannot be beaten. D'Artagnan and Siegfried only have permanent access to 2 of 5 different talents. If an enemy or item requires one of the three missing talents, you have extremely few possibilities how to aquire them, mostly a single card from the fairy card deck.

It is okay that the game should be harder with a bad combination of characters, but it should not be impossible. I felt rather useless in the game, since all I could ever do was move and fight, and I could only pick up one or two items or artifact in the whole game. Michaela played as Red Riding Hood, a much more versatile character, so together we had access to 4 of the 5 talents. If we had not gathered gold to buy lots of potions for this missing talent (and we had only two chances for this, for the two times this special card appeared), the last Lord would have been impossible, since it required this missing talent (twice!).

In my opinion, this is a balancing problem. I don't know how to fix this - maybe you HAVE to play with at least 4 characters that possess all different talents, or any sort of sure way to obtain missing talents, as costly or time-consuming it may be...


I will definately try this game again with some added difficulty, but will maybe wait until more characters and realms are published, so I can add some variety and challange. For the balancing issue, maybe I will think of a fitting house rule. Then, this game could be a real beauty.

Thank you for reading,

Thomas
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David Anam

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Nice review, and I wouldn't have known that you weren't a native English speaker had you not told me.

It sounds like a pretty good game, and maybe if playing 2 player you should have two characters each to help with the talents. That seems to be fairly common in these types of games, though the game being literally impossible is pretty bad.

Knowing nothing about the game, maybe a rule would work where if you don't have the correct talent, you can instead "exploit" two other talents. That would give you a non-optimal way to avoid impossible situations. But again, I don't know the game well enough to say if that would work well.
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Ray Smith
United States
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Thanks for the fine review, Thomas!

Since this is a self-published game, hopefully the designer will tweak any bugs that may arise after more independent play. A little refining can go a long way, and I eagerly await more feedback.
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Ignazio Corrao
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Well, the game is not impossible to beat (in fact, Thomas managed to win in his first play) as there are a few cards (and one treasure) that will grant you extra Talents. With the potions cards alone you can choose several new Talents. Plus, new Realms and characters will add more options.

I'm frankly more worried by the lack of a proper challenge. Hopefully a second game will prove more difficult to win...

Anyway, thanks for building and playing the game Thomas.
And thanks for taking the time to write a review.
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Thomas Arnold
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We tried the game again last evening. I have thought about some house rules, but we did not include them yet, because we wanted to give the game as intended by the designer another try. All we changed was that we included all non-Lord-creatures into the realm deck (we did this previously, too, because we read the rule wrong) and drew 3 cards per turn, not 2.

The result was a slightly more difficult game. We won again, but it was closer. The main problem of this round was that we waited all the time for the Potions card of the fairy deck, because it was again our only source of Magic talents.

We felt that we had too little options what we could do. Sometimes, there was only one monster I could defeat for sure - no decisions at all. Sometimes there were 2 or 3 - that was some kind of decision, because we had to think of the best way to defeat all or most of them. And sometimes, there were all these items (and one of the Lords) that required Magic - and we had to wait for the Potions card.

I will try again with the next Realm and maybe more characters, I think this will help this game a lot!
And I will also try some of my little house rules and see if they are even worth posting.
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Christopher
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Thanks for this review and the follow-up remarks!

This game seems very interesting. And the components are OH SO BEAUTIFUL!

I'll keep this on my radar for now, until maybe a V1.1 of the rules comes out, and some more realms to choose from. And then: hups, into my PnP queue...
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Chun Ping
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this is in my to do list for pnp too. already got my friend to print the first 2 realms for me in his office

hope more refinements to the rules and difficulties will come up by the time i make my copy.

definitely a very very promising game! i think there's a market for it once it is fine tuned. thumbsup
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Grognard David
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Hello

I was attracted by the design and the idea... also I love to develop a set of rules.

I will make my copy too and help you if I can.

Otherwise, on my first idea after reading the rules 1.2, I expected a fight on all 12 realms on a single game of 3 or 4 players and I thing it will not be the case ... sauron


D
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Ignazio Corrao
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Davestar2 wrote:
I will make my copy too and help you if I can.
Otherwise, on my first idea after reading the rules 1.2, I expected a fight on all 12 realms on a single game of 3 or 4 players and I thing it will not be the case ... sauron

Any help in further testing the game is deeply appreciated.

And no, the game was never meant to be played on all Realms at once; but different game sessions can definitely be combined in an on-going campaign to clear all maps.

Unfortunately, it'll probably takes me more than a year to develop all the remaining Realms and all related creatures and player characters.

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Jan Meyberg
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Chromit90 wrote:

Unfortunately, it'll probably takes me more than a year to develop all the remaining Realms and all related creatures and player characters.



I'm sure I will gladly wait a year or two to lay hands on every expanding detail of your game! I downloaded it a few minutes before and am eager to playtest it with my wife (if there were not those nasty papers my pupils had to do so I should sit correcting them at this very moment...). With the game everything seems great so far - beautiful artwork, clear rules and coop-mode. I think we will give a try to David's houserule of exploiting two !identical! talents instead of any other... (this might work fine for those characters with only swiftness and fight, for they have got an awful lot of identical talents anyway... and it might discourage other characters from "burning" their talents instead of using their strengths and avoiding their weaknesses...)

Edit: I produced a double-quote by accident... sorry!
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Ignazio Corrao
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meyberg wrote:
I think we will give a try to David's houserule of exploiting two !identical! talents instead of any other... (this might work fine for those characters with only swiftness and fight, for they have got an awful lot of identical talents anyway... and it might discourage other characters from "burning" their talents instead of using their strengths and avoiding their weaknesses...)

Be careful of that rule, or it could make the game too easy.
Even with the current limited selection of characters, you can cover all skills with just two players. Powerful two players combo are: The Nutcracker and Jeanne d'Arc, or Sugar Plum Fairy and Robin Hood.

It's true that most male characters are limited in their skill selection, but Creatures vulnerable to Combat are the most common (including the Black Fortress), so fighters should be easily able to defeat at least 60 to 70% of all enemies.

Also, in the following months I hope to gradually introduce new game-play elements that will allow some degree of character customization.


Finally, thank you for your interest in the game!

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Jan Meyberg
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Great, thank you! Sorry... somehow I supposed your game to be played with randomly drawn characters. If I am to select my chars, everything's fine...

But character customization (as randomly introduced by the Sensei-card) would be fine, too!
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Grognard David
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I just make my first play :

1 realm (the pink Japan one) with 2 players "Siegfried" and "the Nutcracker" take at random.

we stopped the game before the end for 2 reasons : we need a "craft" talent to take the second Buddha token and the only possibility to have one is 1 card in the deck with a 1/6 chance... in other place, all monster who arrived on map where automatically killed by us. So the invasion token don't moved and we wait for the card...

I think with some characters it is very difficult or long to win. By the way 2 players for 1 realm is really to easy !

I propose :
- minimum 1 realm for each player or maybe draw 2 cards in the draw phase for more monster on a real
- in a town a player may spend a gold to have a new talent on the "random talent" table (if you have a 6 you take a gold so nothing change)

we need another play for more...
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Ignazio Corrao
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Davestar2 wrote:
By the way 2 players for 1 realm is really to easy !.

The minimum number of Realms is always 2 (even for a single player/character).
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Ivan Trombik
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Have I answered all your Questions and provided good Customer Service? THAT MAKES NO SENSE! That's the Paradox, my Friend!
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So far I am very impressed by Ignazio's commitment both in game development, graphic design, answer BGG-ers questions.

Thunderfall's Review Components/Artwork, Rules, Gameplay covers excellent the game. About Problems I cannot yet talk, only next week I have access to Color Laser Printers and can print it out, glue and assemble it, guess in two weeks time first gameplay. Then I can say more about. But guess it's no big deal, as in Rulebook it's mentioned that it's not a deep lenghty strategical game like Twilight Imperium, but a lightweight fast-paced fun-game, kinda Small World, with loads of potential with the upcoming Realms. Imagine 12 Realms at the same time!

Ignazio, you really should consider to sell this Game after all 12 Realms are made and everything is fine-tuned, very funny game! Keep it up! laugh
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