Ring Side Report-Review of “Ace of Spies” By Albino Dragon games

I’m catching up on all the games I’ve bought over the summer.  This game comes from meeting the guys at Albino games at Origins.  What drew me in was their custom Cthulhu T-shirts, and they offered me a deal on two of their games: “Ace of Spies” and “Genegrafter.”  Let’s see what I thought of “Ace of Spies!”

 

TL;DR-This is an excellent game.  Plays very similar to “Ticket to Ride,” but adds in an element of direct competition.  Theme comes out well and the mechanics are tight.  Great game-82.5%

 

Mechanics-Think “Ticket to Ride” with only cards, BUT fixes some of the major problems in “Ticket to Ride.”  In the game you have mission cards.  These cards show a number of symbols( hand lens, suitcase, spy, or location) that are either all one color or a color and grey.  The symbols are matched by cards from one of three decks representing three cities that you must spy on.  When you have cards with all the symbols on a mission card, you can turn in the mission for points.  On your turn you can either: draw two cards, play an agent, draw new mission cards, or discard cards to perform new actions.  The basics of the first three actions is pretty self-explanatory.  Draw cards to make missions.  Play agents for their special agent powers.  Draw new mission cards to score points.  The last is the key that makes this game stand out.  In “Ticket to Ride” when you draw cards that don’t really have a use…..TOO BAD!  The can just sit in your hand till the games done.  This game enforces a 10 card hand limit.  When you don’t want to draw cards, you can discard cards for effects such as forcing others to discard cards or search the deck or discards to get cards you need for each mission.  As someone who LOVES “Ticket to Ride”, but hates being locked out of cards, this is a phenomenal improvement to a “mission completion” style game.  4.5/5

 

Theme-In this game you are all spies working against one another.  Since on any turn you can discard cards to mess with any other player, this is done excellently.  The mechanics really serve the theme well.  Also, each card has some flavor text which is awesome.  However, there is no real story that ties everything together besides any story you bring to the game yourself. 4/5

 

Art-The art is fairly well done.  Its nothing amazing, but its done well and gets the points across.  My only real complaint is that the symbols for points (spyglasses) look like the symbols for the symbols needed to complete the missions.  They are in different places, but still, it might serve to make them different to keep things a bit different. 4/5

 

Instructions-The instructions are pretty well written.  I still have a few questions, and some points are not explained very well.  But, all in all nothing game breaking is in the rules.  4/5

 

Final Thought-As someone who plays “Ticket to Ride” almost daily on my Ipad, this is a breath of fresh air.  It occupies enough room that you can play in a bar on a small table.  Nothing is overly complex, and its easy to teach.  Great game.  And for 35 on Amazon it’s worth the money 16.5/20-82.5%

Daily Punch 8-31-13 Ability Feats in DnD Next

I’ve been thinking about skills in DnD Next.  what do you think about these feats?

 

Ability Focus

Benefit:Pick one ability which which you do not have an expertise die.  You gain an expertise die in that ability similar to the rogues.

 

Ability Mastery

Prerequisite: expertise die in an abilty

Benefit:When you use perform a skill check using an  ability which which you have an expertise die, you gain advantage on the check.

 

What do you think?

Daily Punch-8-27-13

How about some love for 13th Age Clerics of the Magic God?

 

Domain:Magic

Choose sorcerer or Wizard.  You may swap out a spell of your lowest level with a sorcerer or wizard spell of the same level.  You use ability needed for the sorcerer or wizard power for its effects and attacks.

Adventurer Feat:  When you use a sorcerer or wizard power, you may use wisdom instead of the ability in the power.

Champion Feat:  You may swap out a second cleric spell for a spell of our chosen class.  You must still use a lower level spell instead of a higher level spell.

Epic Feat:  You may swap out a higher level spell for a higher level spell of your chosen class.

Ring Side Report-Pathfinder Adventure Path Skull and Shackles-The Wormwood Mutiny

TL;DR-Better then Ok adventure.  Has some elements that drag on a bit, but its to be expected in a 1st-3rd level adventure.  Definitely worth your time! 3.5/

Plot-Spoilers ahead!- The PCs wake up on a ship after being kidnapped.  They join the crew under the cruel Captain Harrigan.  They work as crew for a bit before joining in on their first pirate raid. The crew is split and the PCs are now under the even crueler 2nd in command and his cronies.  The ship is damaged in a storm and the PCs have to fix the ship, rescue their friends, and finally mutiny against their captors.

GM Impressions-Good adventure, but it does drag on a bit in the first act.  Like any good adventure, the goal is to get the PCs out of the level one “death zone” as quick as possible.  If the PCs take a single crit from a goblin, the show is over before it begins!  To get past this, the adventure does  a series of day job checks.  That’s ok, but if nothing really exciting happens for five days, the PCs are just rolling dice.  As a GM it gets hard to spice up the fifth day of that.  However, the PCs didn’t seem to notice too much and they had a good time.  Its fun to really ramp up the hate from the PCs to a villain and then have them kill that person.  Its cathartic for them.

Good-You’re pirates in Pathfinder.  You don’t have to be good, you’re pirates!  Let’s be bad guys!

Bad-Some dragging moments as they PCs have to do menial jobs.  Its not heroic, but its grunt work for several days strait.

Final Thoughts-Good adventure, but not the greatest.  Memorial cast that you can really ramp up hate for an excellent ending to the adventure.  Keep the drag in mind and maybe skip ahead if your players get bored.  3.5/5

Blurbs from the Booth-Happy New Geek Year!

Well its been GenCon….If us (gamer) geeks have a holy day, there it was.  And to use that as a milestone, let’s say Happy New Geek Year!  And since its New Geek Year, lets make some resolutions for myself and my blog:

1)Blurbs from the Booth-I’m introducing a few new categories and this one will be my thoughts about the gaming industry and gaming in general. I’m aiming for three a month.

2)One Game Review a week-I want to develop my presence online as a game journalist.  Hence my WordPress blog.  Because if anything screams professional, its WordPress!  In either case, be prepared for more of my board game reviews.  Want to help me?  Give me feed back!  I will listen! I’m aiming for three a month.

3)One RPG Review a week-Lets build up the supplement. Same reason as 2. I’m aiming for three a month.

4)Couch’s Corner-I want to do some advice for GMs based on all the strange things I’ve seen.  Let’s see how this goes. I’m aiming for three a month.

5)Starting the random RPG club again.  I’m trying for google+/skype with an online table.  I want to try a bunch of different games and see how it goes.  I’m sitting on way too many RPGs that I haven’t played.  I’ve already dragged my wife into this….Let’s see where this goes.  I’m aiming for two games a month.

6)A contest on Throat Punch Games!  I want to build the readership of this blog.  Let’s have a contest.  I’ll have to figure out what it will be….

7)A PDF of Throat Punch Games ideas.  This may be a bad idea, but it sure will be fun!  We will have to see how Drive Through RPG works….from the other side….

8)A submission to the open Pathfinder Call.  Again, this will be crazy and fun.  Let’s see if I’m freelance material…..

9)Be a board game and RPG demo guy for a few different companies.  I want to spread my hobby, lets spread the word right!

Well that’s a big list.  Wish me luck.  Follow me on Facebook and on twitter   Root for me or taunt me, but in either case keep following me and see what we get done!