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Conclusion: I wasn't expecting much from this game, so it was a nice surprise when I had fun playing it. I did not play the game and then think this is the greatest game ever or even that it was a great game. There is a lot of luck in the placement of the tiles and when the things you were searching for became available. It was a mad race around the board to encounter things and hope these encounters helped make your character stronger. I guess this is not a fatal flaw as many of these adventure games seem to have this mechanic, but as these encounters were limited it just felt like a race. Having a good movement seemed to be important, but not over powered as you had to often stop before using all of your movement points.

The components were nothing to write home about and I'm not sure this game really stacks up well against Runebound or even Arkham Horror. I understand it may not be a direct competitor per se, but as for what I'll dip my toes into for an occasional adventure game, those two fit my needs. This felt more like the "Wal-Mart" version of an adventure game, if you will. What I mean by that is it felt fun enough, the bits were okay (decent), I had enough run, but it wasn't really a "gamer's game" or anything too special. I got a nice enough game, but nothing really stands out about it really.

I had fun playing the game, but I'm just not sure anything would bring me back to it. I can't see me pulling this off the shelf and getting my friends to play it. It was nice enough and I could play it solo just to see a small story unfold in front of my eyes.

I'll likely purge this game.



Components: This is where the game could have shined to me. While the mechanics were okay (not a whole lot going on), the components could have stepped this game up from a nice enough simple adventure game, to something a tad better than it is. Instead, we get cardboard people, some cheaper tiles (with nice art though!), and some chits on odd cardboard. The art work of the characters are generic and nothing stands out. It is forced to try and get a character story out of these characters. You do get a girl and a guy for each character but it is just tacked on. There is no reason for it and they play exactly the same. The dragon is just a chit and a cardboard card and it does not really come alive. Nothing about the bits brings the game to life and in a story driven game I really need (or maybe just want) that. The bits are fine for what they are, but they are easily forgotten as soon as you stop playing.



Rules: The rules book is not too bad. While I would have organized it differently, like putting all the movement rules under the movement section (hidden routes, I'm looking at you!). Overall, the game is not very deep or rules heavy and one can pick it up real fast. I still had some questions: 1. the rules state you can put a new chit anywhere you choose, does this include the NPC's that have to be in specific locations? (I played they had to go on their spot) 2. If you have to find an artifact, how do you find it unless it randomly appears on a spot?.

The glossary was nice, but it should have included every tile, not just some. Overall, you can play a solo game and learn the rules on the fly (and I recommend learning the game that way), but it won't win any awards either.



Flow of the Game: This is simple. You move and then you do actions. That's it. Each character has movement points and you can move up to that amount. Then, you can do your actions depending on what chit you flip over (combat, add it to your tasks, etc.). Each character has hit points, experience points in three different categories (ex: ranged combat, close combat, et al). These skills can go up. The main mechanic is you have a number in each category (which can go up) and you role the number of dice based on your experience but you must choose two of the dice rolled to pass the trial (your number in that skill). That's it.

The game is simple and I could see teaching your son to play adventure games while starting on a game like this. The flow of the game is easy and you are limited actions/things to go. It keeps it real simple. Too simple for me.




Should I buy this game?: Perhaps. If you want a simple adventure game with easy rules and/or want to play this with a kid, then yes. I think there are better adventure games on the market (I believe this is currently out of print). I'm not really sure why this game is hyped so much. With that said, I did have a moderate amount of fun playing it, but I think after the newness was over I'd rather play Runebound (or something else). It is a fine enough game, but better games there are.

I will purge this game.
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Jason Farris
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Just an FYI for those who may not know, while this game is playable on its own, it is really an expansion to Return of the Heroes. Thus it is lacking compared to the full game.
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The review is pretty ho-hum, but I think of Return of the Heroes / Under the Shadow of the Dragon as one of the best fantasy adventure games ever, especially for play with older children. People who want something that plays faster than Talisman, with more freedom of movement and not much more overhead, should give these games a serious look.
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I've never tried UtSotD without adding it to RotH, so I have no idea how it would play, but I know I *really* like RotH with or without any expansions, for solo play (although I typically just play vanilla RotH for the sake of simplicity...no trying to separate components during breakdown).
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Sphere wrote:
The review is pretty ho-hum, but I think of Return of the Heroes / Under the Shadow of the Dragon as one of the best fantasy adventure games ever, especially for play with older children. People who want something that plays faster than Talisman, with more freedom of movement and not much more overhead, should give these games a serious look.


Yes!

These games have long been a favourite with my wife and I (so much so that I spent an absurd amount of time creating an exhaustive counter glossary and a quick-playing variant that combines a couple of the expansions).
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dochogan wrote:
I've never tried UtSotD without adding it to RotH, so I have no idea how it would play, but I know I *really* like RotH with or without any expansions, for solo play (although I typically just play vanilla RotH for the sake of simplicity...no trying to separate components during breakdown).

I've played UtSotD standalone; it's basically just a shorter game with fewer tiles and different counter set. Playing time varies as you'd expect given the varying number of tiles:

3x3 grid ( 9 tiles) UtSotD for 1 or 2 players
4x4 grid (16 tiles) RotH for 1 to 4 players
5x5 grid (25 tiles) combined game for 1 to 6 players


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Smilinbrax wrote:
Just an FYI for those who may not know, while this game is playable on its own, it is really an expansion to Return of the Heroes. Thus it is lacking compared to the full game.


I don't have the original, so I couldn't review it as an expansion. It was sold to be as a stand alone game that could be an expansion. Perhaps it is the other way around.

Even so, it is a good, but not great game to me.
 
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Sphere wrote:
The review is pretty ho-hum, but I think of Return of the Heroes / Under the Shadow of the Dragon as one of the best fantasy adventure games ever, especially for play with older children. People who want something that plays faster than Talisman, with more freedom of movement and not much more overhead, should give these games a serious look.


I thought the game was great for a light game and could be played by children (with a little guidance the first couple of times). I really am sorry this opinion did not come across. Yes, it is a good game, but because I don't play a lot of games like this I don't need a lot. If I had a 6-8 year old, I'd keep this game.
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squash wrote:
Sphere wrote:
The review is pretty ho-hum, but I think of Return of the Heroes / Under the Shadow of the Dragon as one of the best fantasy adventure games ever, especially for play with older children. People who want something that plays faster than Talisman, with more freedom of movement and not much more overhead, should give these games a serious look.


Yes!

These games have long been a favourite with my wife and I (so much so that I spent an absurd amount of time creating an exhaustive counter glossary and a quick-playing variant that combines a couple of the expansions).


The game is good (I don't believe I said it was bad), but I wasn't crazy about the components and I felt like Runebound was better. This really isn't a cheap game to buy either (if you buy the original game).

Overall, it was a decent, easy to play game, just nothing that excited me. But I don't play a lot of these type of games, so I only need one or two (and right now that is Runebound and Arkham Horror).
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Some thoughts base on several plays using it in conjunction with the base game:

1.) It really makes the game longer (+30-60 minutes), as you need to travel farther to get where you want to go. However, for those who think the base game might be too short- you don't have enough time to level up as much as you want to before someone starts running to fight the Nameless One- this is a nice extension of time.

2.) The dragon that steals gold is not only brutal, but at times game breaking. Especially for the one Herioc Quest which requires gold to complete (I don't recall which one), the dragon's stealing of the gold not only robs the players but also makes him much more difficult to kill in the end. As such, while other portions of the expansion are nice this enemy makes the game less enjoyable to me.

3.) Some tiles add cool twists and turns, and some just add frustration. At first the labyrinth and the potion spell house seemed interesting but after waiting several turns to roll the right number it became apparent that avoiding them was a much better alternative.
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superflypete wrote:
Nothing particularly special about that.

The most special thing about the base game, RotH, is how bad the rules presentation is. Spectacularly bad! It is the Titanic of rulebook presentation styles. Still a good game, and probably the most manageable (once you figure out how to play it) of all quest-centric games that allow players to level up their characters before taking on the Big Bazunga.
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superflypete wrote:
I actually tend to agree with most of the article; it's a very simple pick-up-and-deliver game with a Fantasy theme. Nothing particularly special about that.

The art is quite engaging, though. I really like the art.

As others have pointed out, while this is a standalone expansion, it really is best played with Return of the Heroes. That said, it's really not that much better. Just longer.


Pick up and delivery! Yes, that is what I should have said. Yet, there wasn't a lot of fighting over what to pick up. If you did not have the task, then you would not be able to "see" the item.
 
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After careful consideration and thinking about the game, I stand behind my review (this is a good, but not great game). With that said, I have decided to not purge this game. I felt like I should post this addendum to the review as I did change my mind (for now). I still go back to the fact this is a great (yes, not good) adventure game for a young kid to play to learn this type of game.
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I played it once as a standalone. When playing with 2 players, playing this is actually better than Return of the Heroes, due to the simple fact that it's smaller. It's a bit more random, though, the Dragon sort of never came out, but we had a blast anyway.

It shines a bit more when playing it together with Return of the Heroes, but mostly when you are 4 or 5 players, as the board becomes pretty big.

I'd pay hard cash to get rid of the art though. From my vantage points, it's downright horrible.
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superflypete wrote:
william4192 wrote:
After careful consideration and thinking about the game, I stand behind my review (this is a good, but not great game). With that said, I have decided to not purge this game. I felt like I should post this addendum to the review as I did change my mind (for now). I still go back to the fact this is a great (yes, not good) adventure game for a young kid to play to learn this type of game.


NEVER COMPROMISE! EVEN IN THE FACE OF ARMAGEDDON!

It was a good, instructive review. Perhaps a little terse, but still, it told me what I wanted to know. Well, in this case, reinforced what I knew. I've been following (read:stalking) this little series of articles and it's actually quite fun to watch you explore your collection. Keep it up. There's some of us out there that are really digging it.


Thanks! You type this up into the vast internet with no thoughts that anyone reads them. It is fun and I hope to go through all 1,000 of my games
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superflypete wrote:
I've been following (read:stalking) this little series of articles and it's actually quite fun to watch you explore your collection. Keep it up. There's some of us out there that are really digging it.


Is there a geeklist somewhere that links each "purge" article?

~Jonathan
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Kurposkano wrote:
superflypete wrote:
I've been following (read:stalking) this little series of articles and it's actually quite fun to watch you explore your collection. Keep it up. There's some of us out there that are really digging it.


Is there a geeklist somewhere that links each "purge" article?

~Jonathan


Not yet, but great idea. I'll get one up tonight.
 
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william4192 wrote:
Kurposkano wrote:
superflypete wrote:
I've been following (read:stalking) this little series of articles and it's actually quite fun to watch you explore your collection. Keep it up. There's some of us out there that are really digging it.


Is there a geeklist somewhere that links each "purge" article?

~Jonathan


Not yet, but great idea. I'll get one up tonight.




http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/145695/the-purge-revie...
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That was a long night!
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