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This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game. For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

Summary

Game Type - Thematic Conflict Game
Play Time: 90-120 minutes
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Mechanics - Roll and Move, Dice Based Combat, Leveling Up System, Variable Player Powers, Hand Management
Difficulty - Moderate (Can be learned in 30 minutes and understood after 2-3 plays)
Components - Fair-Good
Release - 2008

Designer(s) -

Daniel Clark (I) (Android)

Michael Hurley

Jeff Tidball (Beowulf: The Movie Boardgame)

Corey Konieczka (Battlestar Galactica, Starcraft: The Boardgame, Tide of Iron, Warrior Knights)


Image Courtesy of Surya

Overview and Theme

WoW: The Adventure Game, which shall be known as WoW: TAG from now on, was released by Fantasy Flight back in 2008 well after its release of Descent and Runebound (both in 2005) but well before games like DungeonQuest 3rd Ed. and Runewars (both 2010).

The game obviously uses the license to the WoW universe and came on the back of the WoW boardgame (2005). That title was more of a classic ‘Risk’ style conflict game, whereas this incarnation has more in common with Runebound as the players are really in a race to complete as many quests and adventures as they can in order to reach the Valour (VPs) needed for victory first.

I am sure that FFG had high hopes for both WoW titles but it would be fair to say that they have failed to capture the imagination of the gaming market and make a successful crossover from the computer game to board game genre.

Why? Well let’s find out…

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The Components

The first thing to strike you about the game is that this does not appear to be a classic FFG release, at least not in component terms. There are plenty of cards to be sure but the number of other tokens and cardboard chits are toned down considerably compared to other games they offer.

d10-1 Board – The board is a long affair, quite similar to that of Arkham Horror, although I don’t think quite as big. The similarity continues with the visuals too as the game here offers up a host of locations, many of which are depicted as a circular portal. Short paths connect the many locations and the board is adorned with sections of grey, green, yellow and red. These colours represent the various areas of difficulty and are linked to the leveling up system for heroes, but more on that later.

A small legend outlines many of the icons that are depicted at the many locations and a strip of blank spaces feature on the right hand side to accommodate undefeated encounters (something the Runebound board didn’t quite have room for).

The final point of note about the board is that many of the more important locations have text below them to outline special powers or considerations. Unfortunately the font size of this text (and the names of locations) is far too small. This can be a real pain if you are not sitting right next to the board or the section you are traveling in.

All in all the board doesn’t really evoke excitement and only gets a pass mark at best.


Image Courtesy of zethnar

d10-2 Miniatures – The game comes with 4 playable characters, each of which has its own miniature. These are of about the same quality as those found in Runebound and Descent. I’m going to grumble here too because 4 characters really doesn’t cut it for a game of this adventure style.

What really irks at you is the fact that a further 8 characters have been released since the games creation in their own individual expansion packs. This smells of a planned grab for the money of fans. Perhaps it was a necessary evil based on the cost of the license. Either way it rankles.


Image Courtesy of riledguy

d10-3 Character Decks & Tokens – Each character in the game comes with its own deck of cards. Four of these represent the Character’s base attributes at each of the 4 levels of experience. These cards are also double-sided to represent 2 potential stances or combat readiness.

The Character Cards contain all the standard information you would expect – life points, attack type (ranged or melee) and value, defense rating and damage value. But they also include a series of icons, which represent the class based restrictions for that character (armour types that can be worn and weapons that can be wielded).

Another set of 23 cards represent the skills, spells or abilities of each character based on their class. All of these Ability Cards have pre-requisites (power requirements) to be used and they consist of a base effect and a more powerful ability if the character has reached a particular level of experience.

Rounding out the specialized character components are the character tokens. These feature an illustration of each character and are used to mark important locations on the board. Oh there are also tokens to represent a character’s Bag and Quest log. These two items really border into ‘over-produced’ territory.



Images Courtesy of binraix and SvenVR73

d10-4 Quest Cards and Trophy Cards – These smaller than normal cards (the same size as the Quest cards found in Defenders of the Realm) offer up all manner of quests that the heroes must undertake in order to earn Valour. The game offers up initial quests, which the players start with, and a larger deck of Elite Quests that can be drawn as the game unfolds.

The Trophy Cards represent special items that can be gained by defeating key monsters/generals or completing special challenges. These are finite and they offer special benefits and/or additional Valour needed to win the game.


Image Courtesy of slightly askew

d10-5 Challenge Cards – The game offers up 4 decks of Challenge Cards which also come in the smaller than usual format. The cards come in the same 4 colours that feature on the board.

Some cards are events and others are encounters that involve combat. All of the cards are double sided and in most cases one side displays the reward (armour, weapon, ring, artifact etc.) for winning the battle or overcoming the event.



An example of an Encounter and a Reward card

Images Courtesy of arhtu

d10-6 Card Shoes – Double sided cards may seem odd but they work here because the game also provides 4 card shoes. These also come in the 4 colours that represent the difficulty/experience levels of the game. All cards of the matching colour are housed in their card shoe and when cards are drawn during play, they are drawn from the bottom of the pile to ensure that the future cannot be known by the players.

Whilst this is a novel approach, the card shoes are made of flimsy plastic, which reminds me of similar components in games like Monopoly from the 80s. To me the card shoes are tacky and they make the game feel like a Hasbro production.

Thankfully FFG hasn’t used them in any of their other releases.


Image Courtesy of GarfSeth

d10-7 Other Chits and Dice – The components proper are completed with the inclusion of damage tokens, discovery tokens and encounter tokens. Whilst FFG could have simply replicated damage/wound tokens from Runebound and Descent, unique tokens are found here to help the game feel at least somewhat different from those offerings.

The game makes use of 3 dice in all. The blue dice is used for movement with each face displaying a value and a number of Power Symbols. This is similar to the dice used in Descent and Doom but with only 1 symbol type it is not as involved.

The red and black dice are used for combat and represent attack and defense. These 6-sided dice include all values from 1-6 with the 6 being represented by a sword icon.



Images Courtesy of GarfSeth and riledguy

d10-8 Rulebook – I actually got a fright the first time I picked up the rulebook to WoW:TAG because it is much thicker than I expected it to be. The reality is that it is really padded out with half page illustrated examples and even promotional pages towards the end. The rulebook itself is written well enough and doesn’t create too much to ambiguity. There are a few printing errors in some of the combat examples though.


Image Courtesy of binraix

d10-9 Box Insert – The insert is something of a mixed bag. The small central well that is provided is only just adequate if you like very tight packing of your components. However the two side sections lift up easily enough and components can be stored under these, which also help to keep them from sliding around too much. So provided you don’t mind tucking your game pieces away out of sight after each play it works fine.


Image Courtesy of slightly askew

Overall the components get a decent rating. I like the artwork and the quality of the components such as matte finish/linen cards is good. I just don’t like some of the design decisions I guess, with the small cards and the card shoes.


Image Courtesy of slightly askew

Set-up

Before the game can commence each player must choose their starting hero and take all items related to that character (cards, chits and miniature). Each player then receives 2 Starting Quest Cards and these may require that they place some of their hero tokens onto locations on the game board, which serve to remind them of goals and locations that must be visited.

Each player also draws 3 cards from their Ability deck and they must then select 1 of the 3 Grey Cities as their starting location. This decision may well be influenced by a player’s initial Quests should they need to travel to a certain location. Players are allowed to start in the same city as each other.

Once all other basic requirements have been met (shuffle cards and place in their matching card shoe, place other tokens in easy reach etc) the game is ready to begin.


Image Courtesy of willdesigns

The Game Play

In reviewing the game I will first outline the flow of play before analysing the key mechanics or systems that the game makes use of. Then I will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the game before offering my final opinion and comparing it to other fantasy quest games of the genre/theme.

WoW:TAG requires that each player take a complete turn before play passes to the next player. Each player's turn is managed using 5 phases –

d10-1 Movement Phase – Movement is simply managed by rolling the blue movement dice and the result rolled is the maximum amount a hero can move for the turn – in other words, the game uses a fairly simple roll and move mechanic. But there is one small twist. Each face of the dice also contains a number of Power symbols. Power is required to play most of the Ability cards available to each hero. The higher the movement value the lower the Power available to a character for that turn and vice versa. So the game tries to balance out the options available (in terms of locations to visit) versus the amount of Power available to play more powerful abilities.

It is also worth noting that a player can choose to not move at all for a turn should they wish to try and defeat an Encounter at their current location. In this case however they should still roll for movement to see how much Power they have to use.

Whilst I like the balancing nature of movement vs Power, I’m not sure how it thematically makes sense. Perhaps it is meant to reflect that more time spent traveling means less time to prepare (build your Power) and vice versa. I guess this makes sense.

One final note is that a character can never enter a region (coloured section of board) that is beyond their current level.

d10-2 Exploration Phase – Once a character arrives at their destination they are given a chance to explore what is there. One of two things can take place during this phase –

Resolve Discovery Tokens – During the course of the game the players have the opportunity to place these tokens on locations of their choosing (except Cities). If one or more Discovery Tokens are present in a player’s location they must be turned over and resolved.

Make use of a Resource –
If no Discovery Tokens are present then the active player is free to make use of any 1 resource at their location. The options available are printed as a series of icons on the board location itself and the legend at the top of the board helps the players to remember what each one is. Many locations will offer up multiple resources but only 1 can be utilised per turn. In all there are 7 types of resources that can be used to aid and assist a character. I’ll outline these in more detail later on.

d10-3 Challenge Phase – Once exploration is complete the active character must undertake a Challenge Phase unless they are in a City, in which case they are safe from such ordeals.

In a Challenge Phase a player must either attack another character or face an encounter lurking at their location. Attacking another character is simple enough – it’s fight time. If the active player enters a location with more than 1 Character, they must choose whom they will engage.

If an Encounter must be faced then the bottom card of the location's level (think colour) must be drawn from the bottom of the relevant card shoe and faced. If an Event is drawn it must be resolved but the active player must keep drawing cards, even if they are multiple events (ala Runebound), until an Encounter Card is drawn. All Encounters feature some form of beast, humanoid or monster to fight. So again it is fight time.

The Challenge phase can end with victory going to one or both adversaries involved. I will outline these in more detail when I analyse the Combat mechanics.

d10-4 Maintenance Phase – This phase is very much one of book keeping as it allows a player to announce that they have met the conditions of a Quest, equip weapons, armour and items and pass the movement dice to signify that their turn is over.

d10-5 Winning the Game – The first player to reach 8 or more Valour points is declared the winner. This really highlights that each player in WoW:TAG is in a race to level up and reach the target required for victory. I guess this is no different to a game like Runebound however, with the only difference being that players in that game are in a race to level up and defeat Margath or a total of 3 Dragonlords.

Now that you have a feel for the flow of a game turn I will analyse each of the core mechanics that drive the game and make it tick.

The Core Mechanics – The Engines that Drive the Game: Pros and Cons

d10-1 Leveling System and Board Design – Like Runebound, WoW:TAG uses a 4-level system to represent harder challenges and keep the players from advancing to the next level before they are ready. However the two games go about it in entirely different ways.

In Runebound the heroes must earn experience points by defeating creatures in battle. These points can then be traded in to advance one of their skills. The 4 levels of difficulty (for encounters) however are never out of a heroes reach and can be accessed at any time. Of course taking on a higher level encounter before a hero is ready can be damaging and this is how the game controls the actions of players and forces them to suitably level up their skills, find better weapons/armour/allies before advancing.

In WoW:TAG there is no experience to be gained. Instead the game itself locks players out of sections of the board until they have advanced to the next level (colour). Leveling up requires that an Encounter be defeated at various Key Locations around the board.

When analysing the board it becomes evident that it contains 3 non-connected sections for each of the 4 coloured levels. Within each of these 3 sections a level-up 'Key Encounter' can be found. In this way it does not matter at which City a player chooses to begin the game and as they travel from location to location, they will always have the potential to reach a Key Location to try to level up. In this way the board maintains a balance of sorts.

What this ‘board-designed’ locking out approach does is to simulate a computer game like WoW very well. Computer Games have for years used systems where a key item or powerful weapon is needed to get past a gate or boss that blocks access to a whole new section of dungeon or realm. This is exactly what has been replicated here and because the Encounters found at the Leveling Up Locations are much tougher than the average Encounter found in that level’s deck of cards, the players feel compelled to explore and find armour, weapons and items to prepare their Character. This in truth is what drives the actions of the players in WOW:TAG.

Verdict – thumbsdown Whilst it may be a novel approach to managing the limitations of players, for me at least, it just feels too limiting. The maximum number of locations you can travel to at any one time within a given level is 23 and that just doesn’t feel like enough. It must also be remembered that the players are in a race to reach the required 8 Valour and in most cases this can be best achieved by advancing to Red level, where big Valour gains can be earned.

If one player manages to reach that level well ahead of the competition then the endgame can be foreseen by the players and the game is robbed of any real excitement. That is what makes Runebound so compelling for me. A player may know that the competition is bearing down on victory and although they may not quite have the skills and equipment they were aiming for, they can still take on those endgame Encounters and risk the consequences. That tension will not always be present in WoW: TAG.

Some may also compare the locking out system here to dungeon crawls like Descent and Doom where keys are required to unlock doors to new sections. The difference though is that dungeon crawl genres differ greatly to adventure based games because what drives their tempo is the escalation of creatures than can spawn. A good dungeon crawling game will force the players to keep moving for fear of being overwhelmed and defeated before their goal is reached.

These mechanics do not work in an adventure game like WoW:TAG as each Encounter is an individual moment in time. Therefore the leveling system found here fails in comparison to dungeon crawling implementations as well.

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d10-2 Character Advancement and Abilities – In an Adventure Game it is important for the central Characters to be the central point of the narrative. For a game to feel compelling we as players want to see development of our character and each character should feel unique.

In WoW:TAG there is no experience that can be earned to improve a player’s Character as they wish. Instead each Character has 3 base attributes (attack, defense and damage) and these change only slightly with each level up. Each Character also has a series of icons, which represent the equipment limitations of their class and a unique power that can be employed if a condition is met (like discarding a beast card from your bag).

Each Character then has their own deck of Ability cards. These are the shining light of the Character advancement mechanics provided by the game. These do help each Character to feel unique and different and it is imperative that a player understands the strengths and weaknesses of their Character if they are to make the most of the subtle advantages at their disposal. This element has the most in common with games like Runewars and Chaos in the Old World, where each race must also be played to its strengths.

For example Burbonn Fang, a Dwarven Hunter has a deck of abilities that allow him to access weapon like attacks, gain powers by taking on the Aspect of certain animals and slowing down other Characters by placing cards as Encounters.

This is in stark contrast to Grumbaz Crowsblood, an Orcish Warrior who can gain a variety of combat based abilities, gain additional movement and turns and inflict damage on nearby Characters. Grumbaz also has a lower Power requirement to play his Ability Cards compared to other Characters.

Verdict – thumbsdown Despite the uniqueness of the Ability Decks, the overall feeling you get when playing with these Characters is…Meh. This is largely to do with the minimal changes you see your Character go through with each Level Upgrade. The change to the 3 base attributes is minimal, usually resulting in a single +1 increase to one of the 3 stats. The base Power on the Character card itself sees no change from Grey to Green level and even at the higher levels the increase is minimal (although Grumbaz gains a total of +4).

Because the Ability Cards are available throughout the entire game, you don’t get the sense that your Character is all that more special at the end of the game than he/she was at the beginning. There is no sense of a journey and an arc that has been taken. In defense of the game I must admit that the Ability Cards do have dual abilities, with the more powerful one being available when a Character reaches a certain level…but this hardly makes up for the negatives.

Another point worth noting is that because some of the more powerful cards have Power costs, it can be very frustrating to be in a key moment, only to find you cannot use a crucial ability because you didn’t roll enough Power Icons on the movement dice. This can result in the game hinging on 2 or 3 key moments that are decided in large part by the luck of a single dice roll.

Whilst this criticism may be leveled at any number of games where dice are involved, at least in Runebound once you have those attribute bonuses they are there to stay and a player has more control over their chances of succeeding in an Encounter.

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d10-3 Discovery Tokens and Resources – These two elements are a major part of how a Character interacts with the game world, moves around and gains valuable gear.

During the Encounter Phase a Character must reveal and resolve any Discovery Tokens present at their location. If none are present then they can access 1 of the Resources at that location. Some Discovery Tokens are good and others have negative effects (there are 5 of each type). The key thing to note here is that if Discovery Token(s) are present then the active Character cannot access any of the Resources.

This is a very subtle element of the game that many first time players seem to overlook. Discovery Tokens are placed by the players by using the appropriate Resource icon found at many locations (and they can look at its effect before placing it). By placing Discovery Tokens at Key Locations required by other players, it is possible to slow them down as they must deal with the Token before accessing any resource icons they needed - which requires as extra turn.

If the Discovery Token is a bad one then all the better. When a good token is drawn by the player placing it they may chose to place it in such a way as to make it look like a bad one and then casually make their way to it (in effect they are double bluffing as to the nature of the token).

If a Discovery Token is not present at a player’s location then they can access 1 of the listed Resources found there. In all there are 8 types of Resources. Some are simple like Healing Potions or Scrolls that allow wounds to be healed or another Ability Card to be drawn, thus opening up a player’s options.

A Book allows 2 Ability Cards to be drawn but all other players can also draw 1. New Elite Quests can be drawn, although only 2 can be held at once. But discarding a hard to achieve Quest is not a bad idea at times.

An Auction House allows a player to discard an item from their bag to draw a new random one from the bottom of the matching Encounter Deck and this can be good if a player is holding an item of a class they cannot use. The Flight Path is a crucial resource as it allows a Character to teleport to other accessible location that have the Winged Boot icon.

Then there is the ‘Place a Discovery Token’ icons that allow players to place a Discovery Token as I have outlined above.

Verdict – thumbsdown I really like what this mechanic tries to achieve but in the end it fails on several counts. First off the subtlety of the Discovery Tokens in slowing down your opponents will not be recognized by many players. This is because the game as a whole is just too weak to see many players bother to reach that 4th and 5th play required to recognise the importance of them. Players will often not realize just how important the racing aspect of the game is either. Slowing down an opponent for only 2-3 turns over the course of the game could be crucial in buying enough time to get the win.

Then there is the nature of the Resource icons themselves and how they are distributed on the board. Many of them are crucial such as regaining health, gaining new Ability Cards, Quests and traveling from one region to another. All of these are far more beneficial (on the surface) than taking Discovery Tokens so this only undermines that mechanic.

Upon closer inspection most of the Discovery Token Icons are in locations where more desirable icons are present or they are in locations that are only stepping stones to more important Cities or Key Locations. So unless a player rolls poorly for movement they tend to move past locations that feature the ‘Place a Discovery Token’ icons anyway. All of which makes this mechanic somewhat irrelevant.

I can recall a game recently where we only had 3-4 Discovery Tokens placed for the entire game.

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d10-4 Combat – Unlike many games of this type where combat is repeated until one participant is defeated, WoW:TAG uses a ‘single round only’ approach where it is possible for one combatant, both or neither to be successful or defeated.

In brief both players must roll 1 dice and add its value to their attack value (either their starting stat or the stat or a weapon or Ability card) and then add any bonuses they get from various sources (weapons, battle stance and the like). Each combatant is trying to reach an attack value that is equal to or greater than the other combatant’s defense rating (starting stat or Armour value). If they achieve this then a number of wound’s equal to their damage stat is inflicted. But this may not be enough to defeat another Character or an Encounter Card.

It is also important to note that Ranged Attacks take place before Melee Attacks. So if a Character or Encounter is defeated with a Ranged Attack, the battle ends immediately and any melee attacks are not made.

Defeating a Character will allow the victor to take any one of their items and they are sent to the nearest City and lose any ‘attached’ cards but not their general gear.

Defeating an Encounter will earn the item on the rear of the card. Defeating a Key Location Encounter will bestow the benefits listed on the board location, usually a Level Upgrade or other ability.

Failing to defeat an Encounter Card will see that card added to the ‘Undefeated Encounter’ track on the right side of the board. A matching numbered token is then placed at that location to denote which Encounter is still lurking there. This is exactly the same system used by Runebound. The only exception is that the board is big enough here to actually place the Encounter Cards on the board itself.

The other important note to make about combat is the inclusion of Sword Icon special abilities. These special benefits are bestowed on many Ability Cards, Items, Character Cards and even on Encounters should a Sword Icon be rolled in attack or defense.

Verdict – thumbsup I really like the approach that has been taken to combat in this game. The ‘1-round…1-roll’ combat system is elegant and quick. I also like how combat does not have to result in a game-turning moment where your Character is set back so badly that it will take another 40 minutes to get back to where you were. Instead combat can be used tactically to slow your enemy down, forcing them to seek healing before they go after that Encounter that they were ready for.

The implementation of the Sword Icon, also feels a bit like a ‘critical hit’ element that gets my Ameritrash juices flowing. I can see younger gamers in particular getting all excited when they roll one of these.

The final thing to like about Combat in WoW:TAG is that the designers have tried to minimize the ability for players to dominate the opposition by building a tank and chasing everyone down to defeat and steal their valuable items. When two players do lock horns in combat, the defender receives 1 Power Point to help play Ability Cards to turn the tide in their favour. This can make a potential attacker think carefully, especially if they rolled a low Power result themselves when moving.

This (player v player combat) is something I have never liked in Runebound, but WoW:TAG gets this spot on for me.

The only negative I can think of is how thematically logical this system is. Would a Wild Boar stop goring you after 1 round of combat if you were still conscious? Probably not...but hey it is a game after all.

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d10-5 Quests, Trophies & Valour – This is the ‘goal’ of the game…to earn 8 or more Valour before anyone else to be declared…um…the winner (the game doesn’t actually state that you will be crowned Saviour of the Realm or any similar thing). shake

The initial Quests (of which there are 18) are worth 1 or 2 Valour Points and usually involve collecting a Token here and reaching that location there.

The Elite Quests are worth between 1-3 Valour Points and involve more varied requirements like defeating certain creature types, acquiring certain item types or defeating a certain Player Character (to name a few).

Then there are the Trophy Cards that can be earned by defeating various top end Encounters (the Red Ones). The exception is ‘Bounty Bay Bling’ which is worth 1 Valour Point and effectively requires players to collect a set of like Potions.

All of the other Trophies award 4 Valour Points and are awarded to the first two players to defeat each of the 4 Red Encounters.

Verdict – thumbsdown I give this the thumbsdown rating on 3 counts. Firstly the very nature of Quests is boring in the extreme - they just don't feel epic or heroic.

Then there is the issue that completing some Quests is highly random and difficult. If I need to kill 2 Undead I really have no control over finding an Undead creature except for getting lucky in pulling one from a deck or if an opponent was defeated by one and is now located on the undefeated track. The realization that downs on you after 45 minutes is that the Trophy Cards are really the glittering prize.

And once you realize that reaching Level Red is all but mandatory you need to stop and assess what WoW:TAG really is. We are left with a racing game to the end goal where the players must level up to Red Level in order to reach the Red Encounters in order to earn the Trophy Cards that are the only reliable way of ending the game.

Does Red Level and Red Encounters sound familiar? Heck even the Red Encounter bosses use terms like High Lord on several cards. Suddenly one can’t help but realize that WoW:TAG is really nothing more than a Runebound clone of sorts, with a few twists thrown in and a board that is channeling the visuals of Arkham Horror.

The problem is that WoW:TAG is not even close to being anywhere near as good as either of those games...and that's the kicker...in the ballza...so to speak.

The Final Word

I really wanted to like WoW:TAG, heck I want to love every fantasy adventure game that I play because I love the genre. But this just isn’t up to scratch. The game does not engage you with its play and it outstays its welcome at 90-120 minutes. Poor component decisions serve to keep you at arm’s length and in the end it borrows too much from other games that are simply more fun to play.

So why would you ever choose this over those other options. That is me being kind.

If I want to be brutal I would make the accusation that this game is nothing more than an excuse to drape some existing mechanics and ideas that FFG had in their closet over the carcass of a WoW license in the hope that it would make a few dollars. And while we are gagging on the initial creation they had the gall to try and make us swallow Character Expansions, some of which should have been included in the base game to offer more variety. Sure those extra characters are likely to alter your play style but if the base game is not compelling enough on its own, why would I invest more in additional characters?

All this and I regard myself as a fan of FFG games with more than 30 boxes sitting on my shelves. I guess nobody is perfect and few companies avoid a blemish or two.

My final verdict is to look elsewhere for your fix of fantasy adventuring. Runebound is near perfect for 1-2 players and for multi-player fun you may like to seek out Return of the Heroes, Prophecy or Talisman (although I haven't played those first two...yet).

Until next we meet may all your adventure games draw you in and take you to faraway places.

Links

For a full list of my 300+ reviews in a search-able Geeklist -

My Review Geeklist for Easy Reference

Here are some direct links to several other fantasy adventure games that you may find interesting -

Claustrophobia - A Detailed Review

Descent: Journeys in the Dark - A Detailed Review

HeroQuest - A Retro Review

Runebound 2nd Ed. - A Detailed Review
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Kevin Outlaw
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I was really looking forward to this game when I asked my wife to buy it for a birthday present a few years back, but when it arrived it fell pretty flat.

The biggest issue for us was neither of us play World of Warcraft the computer game, so we didn't get all of the "in-jokes," the special powers didn't really make sense because they just give you a name from the game and expect you to know how they work, monsters dropping certain items didn't make much sense (apparently they drop the same stuff in the computer game), and worst of all, the missions didn't make a jot of sense because again, they rely on you knowing what those missions mean in the computer game. You could argue this was my fault for buying a WoW themed game when I don't play WoW online, but I don't feel like I should be excluded from playing a game just because I am not familiar with the theme. I think this was a massive oversight, and it meant me and my wife could never get fully engrossed in the world.

The game sat on the shelf for a few years as one of my biggest disappointments, but I refused to get rid of it because it was a gift. Then I saw some character packs online for £2 each. I grabbed three, and was gifted another one by a good friend, and we gave the game another try. It was still confusing, but for some reason I enjoyed it a lot more. A few more plays, and I was really taken with the game.

Now, I never ever recommend playing a game endlessly if you hate it first time round (too many good games in the world, so why waste your time), and I hate arguments stating that you have to buy an expansion to fully enjoy a base game; yet surprisingly, in this case (for me) that was exactly what I needed to do. It is still not my favourite game in the world, and I still wish I knew what all the missions meant when I am playing, and why certain locations are so important; but I now really enjoy the game.

Good review - very in-depth.
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Great review Neil. I pretty much agree with your analysis, although being a WoW player probably benefited me a bit more fun in recognising the locations, mobs and other abilities.

Just a quick correction:
Neil Thomson wrote:
For example Burbonn Fang, a Dwarven Ranger (I presume…I don’t know the WoW classes at all)

This is in stark contrast to Grumbaz Crowsblood, an Orcish Warrior/Fighter (I presume)

It's a Dwarven hunter actually (there are no 'rangers' in WoW), and the latter is an Orc warrior. cool
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I too wanted to like this game but it really just didn't deliver. I did think it had some neat ideas in the game, but the board game didn't make me feel like I was playing WoW. It was too long and just not fun enough to keep in my collection.
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Thanks for the feedback.

Changes made Dave - I knew I should have checked that with you first. I also agree that there is probably just a little more here for the WoW fans as the creatures and locations would have more meaning to them.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Well done as always, Neil.

It seems we all have more or less the same opinion - we'd like to like this game more than we do. I picked up all eight expansion characters at heavily discounted prices a year or two back, and still delude myself that I'll eventually have fun with it solo. I have so many more appealing titles though, that the prospect seems unlikely,
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Sphere wrote:
Well done as always, Neil.

It seems we all have more or less the same opinion - we'd like to like this game more than we do. I picked up all eight expansion characters at heavily discounted prices a year or two back, and still delude myself that I'll eventually have fun with it solo. I have so many more appealing titles though, that the prospect seems unlikely,


Thanks Sphere.

I agree totally. It is quite possible to tweak it here and there to improve it perhaps but why would you when games like Runebound, Descent, Claustrophobia and Memoir/Battlelore/Ancients sits on your shelf waiting for a play.

That's why I traded it...having said that I hope you enjoy it Peter.
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The play's the thing ...
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Thanks Neil.
Great review, and I can certainly see where you're coming from. I'm hoping to get something out of it but time will tell.
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Awesome well thought out and constructed review. I do have the game and character expansions though am yet to bring it to the table so when I do, I'll be adequately braced or pleasantly surprised!
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Thank you very much for this excellent review, Neil.

For myself I have to say I am a fan of the online game, but in the end I purchased World of Warcraft: The Boardgame for all the fancy figures, so the adventure game never really appealed to me.
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Excellent, well-thought out review. I agree with many of the points made in the review, but do enjoy the game a lot more with some house rules (more movement and reroll to keep combat going and avoiding the phenomenon of a player being stuck fighting a monastery for 3 turns). I'd be interested in any fixes you might recommend for the game to make it more enjoyable.
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Mythdracon wrote:
Excellent, well-thought out review. I agree with many of the points made in the review, but do enjoy the game a lot more with some house rules (more movement and reroll to keep combat going and avoiding the phenomenon of a player being stuck fighting a monastery for 3 turns). I'd be interested in any fixes you might recommend for the game to make it more enjoyable.


I'm glad you have managed to get some more mileage out of this one Mythdracon than I did. I am just to anal to houserule stuff and this one got traded a while back so I can't recommend much anymore.

Keep gaming.
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