Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Roll Through The Ages

Product– Roll Through The Ages

Producer– Eagle/Gryphon Games

Price– ~$40 here http://www.amazon.com/Roll-Through-Ages-Bronze-Age/dp/B001POAECY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416486454&sr=8-1&keywords=roll+through+the+ages

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-30 minutes (2 to 4 players)

TL; DR– A great Euro-style dice game. 85%

 

Basics- Roll to see how civilization grows in this Yahtzee like game.  Players take the roles of different civilizations during the Bronze Age.  Each turn a player rolls a number of dice equal to their cities (starting at three). These dice have different faces ranging from workers, food, goods, coins, and disasters. A player can reroll the first roll twice just like Yahtzee, but all disaster faces must be kept.  After a player finishes rolling, the player collects food, workers, and goods depending on the dice results.  The most confusing aspect of the game is you earn goods.  Each player has a peg board and a score sheet.  This peg board has spots for food and goods.  There are six different tracks for goods, but you gain goods by moving each peg one space starting at the bottom for every one good you have.  If you gain more than six goods in a turn, then the bottom good gains another rank and so on up.  As an example, if you gain seven goods, you would gain one rank of each good, then gain one extra rank in the bottom two goods.   After collection, players then feed their cities and have disasters happen.  Don’t have enough food for your cities?  Then you gain disaster points at the bottom of your score sheet.  Some disasters give negative points at the end, cost the player goods, or even attack other players like the literal plague (rolling three disasters results in a plague that gives every other player three negative points.  Players can then spend workers to earn more cities or monuments for points by spending workers to cross of boxes.  When you cross off all the boxes in a city or all the boxes of a monument, you have built that monument or city and now get the points or dice in future turns.  The first player to build a monument gets a higher score of points, while the players who builds after get fewer points.  Players can also buy one development a turn.  These developments do several things like preventing plagues, allow you to save more resources, or get you extra points for monuments or cities.  To buy a development, a player spends coins from dice or goods.  Each good rank has a number associated with it indicating how much it’s worth for developments.  You have to fully spend all your goods of one type if you use them-you do NOT get the difference!  Once a player is done, he/she passes the dice, and the next player takes their turn.  The game continues until someone has five developments or all the monuments have been built between all the players.  Then, the game continues until all players have taken an equal number of turns.  Player with the highest score wins.

 

Mechanics-This game is quick, but has a surprising amount of depth.  You roll the dice three times, choosing which dice to keep, and then you make choices with the resources you find.  It’s all pretty easy.  However, what you get and your own plan really make you think on your feet.  It’s fast, but smart and elegant.  5/5

 

Theme-I love Euro-style games, but these games really lack the theme and story of their American cousins.  There is a store here as you build different world wonders and have the make choices for your society.  Will you abuse your people to build great heights or will you stay small and manageable?  If you look for a story, it’s here, but the instructions won’t help you as you get a one sentence introduction to the games story.  You can tell that story isn’t the focus of this game.  The components are nice and do feel a bit old, in a good way, so it’s not a complete loss.  2/5

 

Instructions-The instruction to this game are well done.  It’s a simple game that runs quick, so the instructions are a tri-fold pamphlet.  The hardest part of the rules is understanding how goods work.  If you can get past that and the examples provided, you’re golden.  These rules do a good job of getting you playing all by yourself without having to turn to Board Game Geek and the internet for help. 5/5

 

Execution-Here is where this game shines way above most games.  This game doesn’t just have some dice; it has custom carved wooden dice.  It doesn’t just have markers for your items; it has cool wooden boards with different colored pegs for each item.  I was kind of disappointed the game didn’t come with golf pencils to mark up your score sheet, but nobodies perfect. 4.9/5

 

Summary– This is one of the games I bring with me to cons and game days whenever I travel.  It’s light as it fits into a small box, it’s heavy as its got some great Eurogame elements in a dice game, and it’s quick as it takes less than half an hour to play.  You learn how to play in less than five minutes, and you start making smart choices in 10.  If this game had some pencils and a bit more theme to it, this game would be at the top of my dice game list.  However, given what’s here, this game is a blast and something you shouldn’t pass up. 85%

Daily Punch 11-19-14 Master of the Elemental Fist quality for Shadowrun 5e

One more for Shadowrun, I promise

 

Master of the Elemental Fist

Cost: 1 PP

Prerequisite: Minimum Two Different Elemental Strikes

You are a master of martial arts and magic all rolled into one.  When you use the Elemental Strike, you may manifest two different types of elemental effects in one attack.  It takes two separate simple actions to activate both of these elemental effects.

 

Thoughts?

Daily Punch 11-18-14 Focus quality for Shadowrun 5e

More Shadowrun 5e fun for today, this on for my mages out there-

 

Focus

Cost: 10 karma

You can split you concentration easily to the point you can keep two conversations running simultaneously in different languages at the same time.  That’s child’s play compared to what you do with magic.  When maintaining a spell, the dice pool penalty drops to a -2 instead of a -3 when you cast another spell.

 

Thoughts?

Blurbs from the Booth- Being offensive

Last weekend, I was running games at U-Con.  It’s a fun local convention near Ann Arbor, MI.  Last slot of the con and all things are going well.  I get a few people to sit at my table, and a few more people enter the room, and I wave them over gregariously yelling “There’s always room for one more!”  I start my game the standard way by asking everybody to talk about themselves.  One person asks “About my character or myself?”  I say “sure!” And my player tells the group he’s a motivational speaker for Autistic people as he’s playing a crazy Halfling rogue.  Great, we have a fun character at the table, so I’m looking forward to this game.  The game goes well.  I’m loopy from lack of sleep, so my table and I are a little slap happy and having a blast.  Until, we hear something from another table.  Another GM is talking about some NPC’s and mentioned that they were jumping around like a bunch of “spastic, autistic kids.”  I watched as my motivational speaker instantly went from having fun to pissed as he grabbed his phone to text somebody.   Whatever what said with that text can only be good things!  Right? We finished the game and had fun, but I know he was more than a little hurt by what happened.

Honestly, had I not known someone was in the room with me who would be offended, I might have said the same thing if presented with describing the same characters.  But that doesn’t really excuse that kind of offense.  We live in a pretty small world nowadays.  Not only are characters diverse, but the player base is pretty open as well.  The base rules alone mention all the different types of people you can play.  But, they don’t mention all the different types of people WHO play.  Gamers are not just white guys any more (despite what #gamergate is up to).  We’re diverse, and that diversity has some pitfalls.

What do I want you to get from all of this?  Well, keep in mind you represent.  If you’re running an RPG for the KKK (what the hell would that be?) you don’t really have to worry about who you offend.  But, in an open game at a store or a con, words can really hurt.  I know more than a few words that will get my blog destroyed by commenters (hurray traffic!), but using those words in an open game is equally as bad.  If you’re running a game for Wizards of the Coast, they want that game as open and inclusive as possible.  And saying some hurtful things will not only make you look like an ass, it will also make WotC look like an ass.  Also, keep in mind you represent you.  I’m a big, self-deprecating guy.  I make fat jokes at my own expense, but sometimes, that’s not funny to other people in the room.  Common sense and reading your audience will make your games that much better.  Not just because common sense is good to have, but because you will be as open to as many gamers as possible.  And as we become more diverse, the better we all are.

Good luck and good gaming,

Ed

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Lost Legends

Product– Lost Legends

Producer– Queen Games

Price– ~$50 here http://www.amazon.com/Queen-Games-QUG61063-Legends-Board/dp/B00EFKA14G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416372470&sr=8-1&keywords=lost+legends

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-2 hours (3 to 5 players)

TL; DR– Lot’s of little errors really hurt this game. 70%

 

Basics- Want to be the hero? In Lost Legends, players take the roles of different heroes as they try to kill the most impressive monsters.  The game is roughly divided into two phases: equipping your character and killing monsters.  When you equip you character, you take a hand of cards and select one card.  You can use that card in one of three ways: equipment, money, or skills.  You can discard the card to gain money to buy other equipment.  You can turn the card upside down and place it under you player mat with the bottom part showing to gain some skill to equip and attack with new items. And finally, you can pay the card’s cost in money, and place it on one of the four areas next to your player mat.  The equipment range from swords and wands to spells or armor.  You then pass the remaining cards to the next player as you receive a new hand of cards from a different player.  Play continues this way until you have two cards.  You select one of the remaining cards and discard the other to the center discard pile.  After the equipment phase, players then take turns fighting monsters.  Monsters are damage by your equipment. Some cards do damage, then do damage based on the number of skill icons you have, and can do extra damage by exhausting the card.  Exhausted cards cannot be used again until the equipment phase.  If you kill your monster, you take the card and turn it upside down and place it under your player mat with the bottom icon showing.  You gain points based on the monster icons you have killed with extra points ranging from getting four different monsters to three monsters of the same kind.  Also players compete to see who’s killed more of a particular type of monster.  The first player to get the extra points for a specific goal gets extra points with the last player getting the least.  In addition, you also gain experience which allows you to get extra money, health, or mana.  If you don’t finish the monster, it damages you, and the next player fights his/her monster.  Monsters can kill of players, so planning how you fight the monster is important.  If you start your turn and don’t have a monster, you can take the current face up monster next to the monster deck or take a randomly drawn monster from the monster deck.  When there are no monsters, the round ends after everyone has one more turn.  The game goes through two more cycles of equipment and monster fighting.  The player at the end of the game with the most points wins.

 

Mechanics-The mechanics of this game are pretty simple.  You draft for a few cards, and then you fight the monster in front of you.  No monster?  Draw a new one. When the monsters are all gone, you repeat till three rounds pass.  That’s not bad, but the random nature of the monsters really hurt this game.  You have the drafting mechanics for the items, but the monsters just end up either killing you or being a cake walk, and that has everything to do with the random draw.  It makes the draft work against the second part of the games randomness. 4/5

 

Theme-This game has some great art, but beyond that, there isn’t really a theme.  All the items are cool, and they give the world a feel.  However, the rule book has less than a paragraph of story.  I had fun, but I didn’t feel like I was really in a different world fighting monsters. 3/5

 

Instructions-These rules are confusing!  The rules have out and out misprints leading to some problems, but beyond that the examples have extra information that major rules don’t, the flow is hard if not impossible to follow, and cards don’t really make sense when you look at them critically.  If you have the rules, board game geek’s forums, and some understanding friends, you can get through this game and have fun.  But, don’t expect your first play through to be an easy one by any means if you only have these rules to go by! 2.5/5

 

Execution– I didn’t hate what comes in the box.  The parts and markers are reasonably well done, if a little small.  What will CONSTANTLY annoy you is having to pick up your player mat to play more skills and monster cards.  It’s extremely hard to do without any nails.  I would have really liked a chunkier cardboard player mat, so I could pick it up!  4.5/5

 

Summary– I had fun playing this game, but don’t think it I’ll get this one to the table soon.  It’s a drafting game where half the game is random.  It’s a game where you might be equally able to play without the rules as with them.  It’s a game that I reasonably enjoyed, but couldn’t play some of my cards as I don’t have long finger nails.  If you want to play Seven Wonders but want a DnD theme on it, this isn’t a bad game.  If you want a drafting game outright, you may be better with Seven Wonders or Among the Stars. 70%

Ring Side Report-Crawl! No.8: Firearms!

Product– Crawl! No.8: Firearms!

System– Dungeon Crawl Classics

Producer– Stray Couches Press

Price– ~$3 here http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/121302/Crawl-fanzine-no-8?term=crawl%21+firearms

TL; DR– You brought a wizards to a gun fight! 93%

 

Basics-How about adding some guns to your DCC RPG game?  This book provides rules for adding firearms to your game spanning black powder cap and ball guns to laser rifles.

 

Mechanics or Crunch– Overall, the rules in this book are really well done.  This book provides different types of guns for however advanced a GM wants the guns to be in his/her home game.  The guns from different ages have distinct feels.  In addition to the standard gun y does x damage, there are new rules for duels as well as critical hit and fumble tables.  I like most of the added mechanics, but some of the things like a critical hit that disarms you I don’t like.  It’s good, but some things you might not completely agree with. 4.5/5

 

Theme or Fluff- DCC RPG has some of the best gonzo fantasy rules and themes of any RPG.  I love what I see here.  You can have modern day armies show up in a DCC RPG game and start drawing on your wizards and rogues.  It’s a blast! 5/5

.

Execution-This one was reasonably well laid out, but some of the tables were a bit off.  I could read everything well enough, but I would have liked the information separated into a table and then had a larger description of the tables contents in a separate area.  It felt a bit cluttered.  Nothing is horrible, but it wasn’t my favorite layout for a Crawl! magazine. 4.5/5

 

Summary-If you love DCC RPG as much as I do, then you are going to buy this anyway.  If you are not an addict, this is a good one.  It’s not my favorite, but it’s a good addition to the magazine.  There are some great rules for adding guns to a fantasy game.  It’s all optional, but if you want a touch weirder game by giving the warrior a blaster, this is a great way to handle the rules. 93 %

Ring Side Report-Victoriana 3rd Edition

Product– Victoriana 3rd Edition

System– Victoriana

Producer– Cubicle Seven Entertainment

Price– ~$25 here http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/116730/Victoriana-3rd-Edition?term=victoriana+3rd

TL; DR– You can’t go wrong with Steampunk, Lovecraft, Penny-Dreadful Shadowrun! 93%

 

Basics-Ever want to mix steampunk with Victorian sensibilities and add a ton of Middle Earth to the equation?  That is the mix for Victoriana-an RPG set in 1856 where magic is semi-common place, steam power is beginning to conquer the world, and “heroes” are called from all walks of life.  This is a whole RPG in one book, so let’s break this down into its important parts and numbers.

 

Mechanics or Crunch– At this games core, it’s a simple d6 pool game.  Let’s see how that plays out on each level:

 

Base Mechanic- Victoriana is a d6 dice pool game.  Each task you do will be a combination of an attribute and an associated skill.  Shoot a gun?  Dexterity and firearms.  Ride a Wyvern?  Presence and Animal Handling.  A few small things make this game amazingly fun and different from other dice pool games.  One is the numbers you want.  You are looking for 1’s and 6’s.  Even better, 6’s explode and you roll them again counting 1’s and 6’s.  AND THE 6’s KEEP EXPLOIDING!  I love the dynamic addition of exploding dice in any game!

 

Task Difficulty-Most tasks you perform require two successes with some task allowing partial successes.  That is a quick and easy mechanic for deciding failure and success.  The system builds on this simplicity by adding “black” dice.  Want to mix dangerous chemicals on a bumpy train ride?  Well you roll your normal Attribute and Skill, but you also roll 3 BLACK dice.  These black dice work just like normal dice, but they take AWAY successes.  AND, they explode like normal dice!  AND, THE PLAYERS ROLL THEM!  This puts some of the pressure on the player and it’s just pure fun as a GM.  If you have negative successes at the end of a roll, then you have a foul failure.  These situations are where the GM gets to absolutely play with the player.  Guns break.  Mechanical arms are ruined.  Spells summon crazy monsters.  It’s the whole nine yards of bad things for a player.  Some tasks have opposed rolls like attacking and dodging, but black dice can still be added to both sides of a combat.  If you’re shooting in the dark, and my bad guy is dodging while on a slippery floor, both sides get to add black dice to their rolls.  Whoever has more successes wins.

 

Combat-You could have an RPG without combat, but why!? Each round players can choose to do one action (move, attack, cast a spell, etc) at no penalty.  However, a player can do up to his/her dexterity in actions per round.  Each action the player performs divides the dice pool for that action.  Run and shoot?  Divide your pool by two.  Run, shoot, and mix a bomb?  Divide your pool by 3 for EACH action.  Your black dice are NOT changed as your divide your pools!  You can do anything you want, but the more you do, the worse you can fail!  Damage also is dependent on d6’s.  Each weapon has a damage value.  If you score more successes than your target, you get to roll a number of d6’s equal to the damage value for your weapon counting the 1’s and 6’s as before WITH EXPLODING DICE!  After you count your successes, you add your initial number of successes to your count and the opponent subtracts his/her armor and takes the difference as damage.

 

Character Generation-Character generation in this system is divided into two broad categories: completely homemade or guided.  If you make your own character from the soles of your feet up, have fun!  If you want a little more guided approach, then you can build your character by selecting your background, breeding (social standing and race), build package (where you fit in the breeding and background), spend attribute and skill points, and earn and assign extra build points via drawbacks and other abilities.  It’s pretty simple, but flexible allowing all kinds of different characters to populate the world.  As a word of caution, this system has the kind of flexible that a few example characters could help to keep players from killing themselves during character generation.

 

Magic and Machines-It wouldn’t be magic and steampunk without magic and machines.  Magic is divided into a few different categories.  Basically, each mage has training in one of these areas of magic and makes still tests as previously discussed.  It’s simple and quick.  The different types of magic all feel different as hermetic wizards throw around all kinds of elemental magic, while people of faith have much more religion based magic like healing and exorcism.  All magic uses another metric called quintessence.  Quintessence is spent to cast spells and is recovered over time and rest.  Also, if you don’t have quintessence, you can just take damage.  I LOVE cast till you pass out systems!  This is only the tip of the iceberg, but magic does feel like magic and not just another skill roll.  Machines on the other hand are built once and then never have to be paid for again.  They may require fuel like steam or gas to run, but the different machines fell like they have different functions.  Most of these functions have different actions than magic, but part of the theme is how magic is beginning overtaken by the age of steam.  Some of these devices even require magic to be built!  Whatever steampunk idea you have in your head, based on the marvels here, you can build your favorite toy!

Order and Chaos- Victoriana’s spiritual fight isn’t between good and evil.  Don’t get me wrong, good and evil are here, but the major fight is between the forces of entropy and order.  The RPG spends some time outlying that order isn’t necessarily good as a crazed priest of order can easily be as evil as a demonologist of chaos.  Players can decide to side with one or the other, and when they do an action that advances their side, they can get dice depending how advanced they are on the cogs of their faction.  Order provides a straight bonus to an action, while chaos provides many more dice than order, but you have to roll these dice to see if you succeed.  It’s a fun addition to the game, but one that your players and you will have to choose to get deep into.

Summary-I love what is here.  It’s simple in a good way, quick, and flexible.  It’s got a fun feel with action and puts some of the dirty, hard choices in the players hands themselves with black dice.  I love when I make the players be the bad guys for a change! 5/5

 

Theme or Fluff-Victoriana is an “almost Earth” setting.  Even with elves, magic, and steam powered robots, people are not all that different.  So, this book assumes that history will pretty much follow the same path to 1856.  And, you know what?  It works really well!  I liked the world this book built.  Also, if you remove all the “wizard/steam robot did it” references in the setting back story, the first half of the book is a well done summary of European history till 1856.  Honestly, a world with different races (really different races not just Spanish compared to English, but Ogre compared to hog-faced beastmen soon to be German Chancellor) explains the wars in Europe better than the petty motivations that have occurred through all of our real history.  The story of this world drew me in, and I sat and read the intro fiction as well as the world guide.  It’s a well done world with lots of depth to help you understand the world and live in it as you game.  5/5

 

A note on history, truth, and the “isms”- Victoriana is set in a time when it was amazingly awesome to be a white, European, rich male.  For every difference from that standard, things got steadily worse.  This RPG introduces the realities of that life, but doesn’t dwell on them.  It leaves how much of that you want to throw into your game up to you.  That’s important since some players might not be too comfortable roleplaying in a time when a husband could not technically rape his wife.  And, if you wanted to, things could get worse from there.  Sexism, racism, and specisim are alive and well here, but the book walks that line well and wholly lets the GM and players decide how much of the more horrible parts of history and alternative history they want to explore.  I feel it’s important to note that there are some possible adult themes, but they are handled well.  If you just want some pulp steampunk with orcs and magic, then you can easily get that from the system too.

 

Execution-I liked this book, but the problems I have with this book are not getting enough book.  What’s here in this book is great, but could use a bit of help to distinguish information from background text.  The book is black and white.  That’s not a bad thing, but some of the information isn’t as highlighted as well as it should be.  My next major complaint is the lack of examples.  Combat and character generation could both really benefit from an example of creating a character and how to systematically tear another character to bits via combat.  I liked the layout in general.  The pictures did a great job explaining the world and people and keeping me engaged.  Even with this complaint, my comments are positive. 4/5

 

Summary-If you want some steampunk, some magic, and some Victorian history; you can’t go wrong with this system.  Character generation is easy, actions have the players doing more thinking then just roll one die, and combat is quick.  This RPG runs like a good watch-it looks like lots of too complicated moving parts, but when you really get down to it, you see its got a simple, elegant design.  Magic and machines are there, but the subsystems that make them run are not overly complicated.  A new player could easily play with either of those systems with no trouble.  My only complaint is I feel more examples of combat, encounter generation, and characters in general would have really helped players get into the system easier.  It’s not a game breaker, but it’s something to note.  Overall, I love this system.  If you’re looking for your steampunk Shadowrun fix, you cannot go wrong with this one! 93%

 

Full disclosure: I was provided a reviewer copy.