Daily Punch 11-18-13 Lycanthrope Haratage feat in Pathfinder

I recently read and reviewed Blood of the Moon for Pathfinder.  I loved it.  How about a feat that give you just a taste of the power of that book…

Lycanthrope Heritage

Somewhere in your family, someone wasn’t quite human

Benefit:Choose a skinwalker type, you may shape change once per day as that skinwalker.  You now count as a skinwalker for all requirements.

Ring Side Report- Review of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: The Skinsaw Murders Adventure Deck

Product-Pathfinder Adventure Card Game- The Skinsaw Murders

Producer– Paizo

Cost– ~$19

Set-up/play/clean-up– 1 hour per scenario

TL;DR-Good second offering, but I feel a little less engaged 68%

 

Summary– It’s the second installment of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and this time it’s a plague of undead!  Players must defend Sandpoint from the horrors of the second part of the Rise of the Runelords adventure path-The Skinsaw Murders.  First the undead attack in mass in Undead Uprising.  Next, the heroes make their way to the outskirts of town to defend the farmers in Crow Bait.  With the undead somewhat quieted, the heroes go to the source and attack the Skinsaw Man himself in Foul Misgivings in a haunted house.  With the main source put down, you then move to putting down the cult supporting him in The Cult Exposed.  The climax of the quest is Angel in the Tower!

 

Theme– This adventure has a strong undead theme, and it’s fairly well done.  I did feel that the undead were nipping at my heels.  However due to the nature of the random monster draw, not all the monsters were undead.  It takes away a bit form the theme of an undead horde when I have to put down a goblin raid.  Also, I only get minimal story from the cards; there is not much written on the cards, so I don’t get the feeling of a coherent story between the adventures.  What would make this much better would be a deeper delve into the story.  Having not played the adventure path, I kind of feel lost in the fiction behind the card game. 3.5/5

 

Mechanics– The mechanics are fairly well done, but somewhat repetitive.  The basic mechanics of the intro game are how most of the scenarios play out. Explore, find henchmen, kill guy, close place, continue till all closed and fight villain.  It’s not bad, but it does get somewhat monotonous.  The real shining star of the game is the scenario Foul Misgivings.  This one has a crazy haunt mechanic that makes fights happen and made me really enjoy this game.  However, since the game doesn’t have any included instructions, the cool new mechanic that is introduced becomes somewhat hard to implement.  This led to my wife and I scrambling to several internet forums to find how to resolve an important issue midgame.  Again, I really want a single sheet explaining the scenario a little bit.  All and all, nothing is bad. It’s just not great. 3.5/5

 

Instructions– This pack came with no instructions whatsoever except for what’s on the cards.  I don’t really like how the base instructions explain the game, so now that we are adding several decks to the game, I’m not sure I’m playing the game right.  I don’t like mid-game having to scramble to boardgamegeek or paizo.com to figure out if I’m doing things right. 2/5

 

Art/Construction– The Art is good and well done.  Some of it comes directly from Paizo’s other properties.  Since this is undead crazy, the art is the right amount of unsettling.  It even unnerved my wife sitting at our kitchen table.  The cards are of decent stock, but after a few plays you will expect some corners to tear. 4.5/5

 

Summary-Not a bad second effort.  I like the core mechanic of exploration, but I feel it gets old fast.  I really enjoyed Foul Misgivings; this scenario gives hints of just how far this card game can be stretched in both rules and theme.  I’d prefer a few tweaks to really help me feel like I’m playing the Rise of the Runelords adventure path, but I’m basically getting the experience of the table top RPG.  I think a few changed would really make this game top notch.  If you have the base game, this is a pretty good follow up. 68%

Ring Side Report- Review of Pathfinder Player Companion-Blood of the Moon

Product– Pathfinder Player Companion- Blood of the Moon

Producer– Paizo

Cost– ~$13

Page Count-32

 

Summary– This book focuses on the “in-between” creatures called skinwalkers.  These creatures are not quite were-creatures, but are not wholly human either.  This book presents eight separate skinwalker races giving an rundown on where each might come from in the world, the background on their psychology and physiology, as well as a suite of powers and abilities for each one.  In addition the book give ways to become a lycanthrope as well as some gear/items that each were-creature might need or you might need to combat them.

 

Art/Layout– This is the Pathfinder art we know and love.  It’s well laid out and every skinwalker has a picture to show what they look like when they change.  I thought the art was well done in this one. 5 /5

Story or “Fluff”–  This one is fluff-tastic!  Every skinwalker gets a full, well done rundown and their own section.  You can make an extremely well rounded skinwalker from this book, and that is the sign of an excellent source book.  Also the addition of how true were-creatures interact with the various skinwalker does give some surprising depth to the book.  2.25/2.5

 

Mechanics or “Crunch”– Each skinwalker gets a great section on its own mechanics and its own traits.  Also there is a large section of skinwalker feats that any skinwalker would want.  In addition, each skinwalker gets an associated class that gets its own powers.    Mind you not every class can have powers/abilities in a 32 page book, but what’s there is done well.  Even better, most of the class powers/abilities/features are not limited to skinwalkers!  2.25/2.5

 

Execution– This book was well executed.  As a reader, I learned about a whole new sector of society and its background.  It felt natural.  Also, the background filled me in quite well.  Each section is self contained, and nothing in the book feels like it was tacked on.  Even the sections of complete fluff feel like they were needed.  5 /5

 
Final Thoughts –This is an excellent book.  I enjoyed reading this from cover to cover.  I want to play one of these confused, misunderstood monsters!  And honestly, even if you don’t want to play a were-thing, the extra class options really make this a well done book on its own. 97%

Ring Side Report-Game Review of Trains

Game-Trains

Publisher-AEG

Cost-~$60

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-~1.5 hours

TL;DR– Great mechanics that compensate for a slight lack of theme 83%

 

Basics-Think Thunderstone meets Ticket to Ride.  AEG brings all it learned from Thunderstone and combines it with area control.  Each turn players play cards that give them resources or abilities that they can use to buy more cards, place markers on a board, or do both.  Each card features icons indicating what you can do on your turn.  Players try to connect stations on the board and reach point spaces on the outskirts of the board.  When you get to a station you can use other cards to build stations on these spaces to score points.  Other players can enter any space you are in and vice versa.  This game features no player combat or destroying other player resources.  The lack of player combat and shared terrain makes interesting choices occur during the game.  Game ends when all station markers are on the board or a player runs out of trains.

 

Theme-This isn’t very theme heavy.  A theme is there, but it’s not necessary to enjoy the game you are playing.  You are playing cards with train pictures.  It’s not bad, but it’s not great.  I was felt like I wanted more. 3/5

 

Mechanics-Here the game absolutely shines.  AEG has absolutely learned from games like Dominion and Thunderstone.  The mechanics are crisp and the game moves fast.  There are lots of cards that interact in interesting ways making novel strategies emerge based on what random cards you pull at start up.  I had a blast, and I can’t wait for the expansion.  The combination of terrain control is pretty seamless, and it really adds a new level of depth the deck building genre was missing.  5/5

 

Instructions– The instructions are relatively well written, but do need a bit more.  I kind of wished for more to help me understand what I was doing in a few corner cases.  Once you know, the icons on the cards do a lot of heavy lifting while keeping the game moving fast.  However, some strange situations emerge that an extra page or two of the book would really help. 4.5/5

 

Construction/Art– Again good, but not great.  I would have wished for little train cars or something else besides cubes and columns for the board.  The use of standard game components like colored cubes kind of hurt the game because it doesn’t enhance the theme.  However, all the components and box are solid and well put together.  You can tell the AEG learned from Thunderstone and the box comes ready for the next expansions.  I will be buying those. 4/5

 

Summary-This is a good game that misses great by inches.  I loved what I played and want more, but I also want some more to make the theme come through.  The mechanics are fantastic, and the game plays pretty fast.   What keeps this from getting my game of the year is the lack of theme.  If I had plastic trains and train stations, I would have felt that much more “in” the game.  But the proof is in the pudding.  I can’t wait to buy the next expansion to this game or to play this game again! 83%

Blurbs from the Booth-My Thoughts on The Sundering (so far)

            With the completion of the DnD Next playtest, the release of The Godborn, and the final of Murder at Baldur’s Gate, we are at least 1/3 of the way into The Sundering.  The Sundering is the multi-author plan Wizards of the Coast has to reinvigorate the Forgotten Realms.  Let’s go point by point and let’s see what I think.

DnD Next-I “like” DnD Next, but I don’t know if I “like like” DnD Next.  Since DnD and I went on kind of a break, other games have filled the void that DnD had in my life.  I’m not exclusive, but I do play Pathfinder, Arcanis, and Shadowrun.  Will DnD be able to pull itself back to the main focus of my life or will these other games stay there?   How many other people will be like me and just play the other games they found when DnD went away?

DnD Next isn’t really new DnD like 4e was, it’s almost like a strange combination of 4e, Pathfinder, and older DnD editions.  It’s not bad, but it’s not as innovative as I think it could have been.  But then again, innovation got them in the trouble they are currently in.  I was part of the rare breed who loved 4e for what it was, so I feel slightly betrayed that all the books I bought and novels I read are being changed.  I have selves of DnD 4e books that are little more than paperweights now.  I’m not leaving this relationship, but I feel like DnD and I have grown apart.   The adventures-The Sundering adventures are interesting.  I really enjoyed running Murder at Baldur’s Gate, but I know it wasn’t what my players wanted.  My players didn’t get the chance to really be heroes as every option that they could follow with the city would pretty much lead to its doom.  I hope the next events give them the chance to be heroes not just adventurers or pawns in a bigger game.  I’m having fun, but I don’t know if my players are.  I know my wife more the once said she almost doesn’t want to play since no matter what she does she helps someone evil.  WotC, please give my players a chance to win and win big here!  It doesn’t have to be an epic, destroy Shar win, but harken back to the old days of encounters where the players get to be heroes and kill some bad guys.  And while we’re on the subject of bad guys, please give me better ideas on how many bad guys to throw at my PCs at any time.  I can wing it with the best of them, but I want some consistency with other groups out there!

Also, limit player options helps a DM with the game, please.  When you give the PCs three options, they will take all three.  I know it’s awesome to give three ways the story could go, but giving my players that many options limits how much time I can dedicate to anyone.  I felt I had to speed race through my games so everybody would get a tiny bit of main focus.

All said and done, I’m intrigued.  Murder at Baldur’s gate was fun.  Not sure where it goes next, but it will be fun.  What I’m really interested in is what’s going to happen next and how WotC pulls it off.  If DnD Next launches at GenCon 2014, then I wonder when Forgotten Realms books will launch.  It’s impossible to launch them next year AND have a full year of player input into the setting.  Print times will not allow this!  Does someone have timestop out there?

The Novels-The Companions and The Godborn are on store shelves now.  I liked both of them.  Read my reviews here and here.  However, when I look at them together, I don’t like the whole.  The novels are not rebooting the Forgotten Realms, but they are rebooting the Forgotten Realms.  It feels like all the changes from the spell plague and the weave dying won’t matter.  And, that kind of pisses me off.  I loved that Forgotten Realms, and I feel like I’m being told that that was a mistake and should never have happened.  To me, WotC is almost ashamed of 4e and its changes.  As someone who loved their stuff, it almost feels that by extension WotC is ashamed of me and my devotions to those things.  I felt the changes that happened were good ones.  It shook things up and created design space for new threats.  Now, it’s back to the prespellplague status quo.  Good gods vs bad gods with pawns in between.  It’s not bad, but it’s not what I want.  Maybe I’m just one guy screaming into the wind.

In the end, I’m not amazed.  I plan to keep buying stuff, but its more out of waiting to see what happens next then really being a true believer in the Sundering.  I have a ton of Forgotten Realms good will, and right now that is what’s keeping me buying.  I wondering if that will die off or will it get refreshed with the next adventure path and novels?