Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Product– Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

System-DnD 5e

Producer– Wizards of the Coast

Price– $33 here https://www.amazon.com/MORDENKAINENS-FOES-Accessory-Wizards-Team/dp/0786966246/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531451731&sr=8-1&keywords=mordenkainen%27s+tome+of+foes

TL; DR-It’s not plagiarism if it’s from you!  83%%


Basics-It’s not Monster Manual II, IT’S MONSTER MANUAL II!  Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes builds out the world of Dungeons and Dragons, focusing less on any one particular world and more on the higher and lower planes.  It provides players with some new options, race options, and even story to build out the characters they want to be. DMs get new monsters, focusing on higher power, extra planar monsters as well as building the universe around the normal material plane players are used to.

Theme or Fluff-This book is by the same people who made the planes in the first place, so its top notch.  The story is amazing, not just for a monster manual, but for any book honestly. You get a ton of options to really make well rounded characters from backstory to new hooks to get the characters really involved in the world.  There are multiple versions of tieflings depending on your devil parents. Those little touches really draw you in. DMs get monsters that have story as well as world-building that will really make higher level play much more interesting.  This is a great resource for any DnD 5e player that wants some planar spice in their game or character. .5/5

Mechanics or Crunch-Again, this book was written by the people who made the system, so they know their math.  The monsters feel right. There are new monsters as well as old favorites. Get ready for heavy hitters though.  This book has low level monsters, but it brings a ton of big boys to the fray. If you need high level monsters, then this is the book for you.  5/5

Execution– Is there a PDF since this book came out in 2018?  Nope, well we’re down to at most ⅘. Then, this is where I get personally angry.  This book copy/pastes the high level monsters from Out of the Abyss. I’m not just talking monsters, but art and even whole written backgrounds for monsters.  We’re talking about ⅕ of the monsters from the book, and almost all the high level monsters. And that is where I draw the line. Need big monsters to make the fight happen?  Great! Use some but not all. The highest level monsters are all the demon princes/princesses of the abyss. NO DEVIL LORDS ARE IN THIS BOOK. That means the DnD team decided to phone in ⅕ of this book by just copying another book they put out a few years ago.  So even though the book’s layout is good, art is good, and event tables of contents and appendices are great, you get a crap rating because you want me to pay full price for phoning in effort. 2.5/5

Summary– I want to like this book.  It’s got a ton of great qualities.  Players and DMs both get excellent resources to use to build up their stories with new characters options and monsters.  And honestly, the book is put together well. I like what they did here with all the different end tables and even the layout of the monsters.  However, this book breaks two important rules for me. First, I can’t get a digital version without have to buy it separately through an app. I already have a number of apps, and when that company folds, I will lose my purchase.  So the lack of PDFs really hurts this book. Second, large parts of this book are just copies of an earlier book. So, why should I reward any company for just selling the same thing to me twice? This is a great book, IF you can get past the fact that if you already own Out of the Abyss, you are buying the monsters again.  If that doesn’t bother you, or you don’t own that book, then this is going to be a great book for your DnD collection, both as a player and as a DM. 83%


Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Cthulhu: The Horror in Dunwich

Product-Cthulhu: The Horror in Dunwich

Producer– Wyvern Gaming

Price– Kickstarter October 3rd

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (1-6 players)

Type- American


TL; DR– Not perfect, but really fun!  85%


Basics-  Do you got the Moxie to take on Cthulhu?  Cthulhu: the Horror in Dunwich is a stand alone expansion to the Cthulhu: the Deck Building Game.  Players take the roles of different investigators fighting the old gods as they return. Each character has a different amount of health and sanity as well as a backstory, powers, and post death abilities. Characters choose what elder gods to fight, depending on the player count, choosing to fight one to two different gods.  In the Horror in Dunwich expansion, new elder gods are available as well as new Mythic Location cards. These random locations drastically alter the game by changing how much moxie you get, spawning new creatures, or putting other effects into the game. Players then receive seven cards giving them one resource called moxie and three cards that when played deal damage to the player.  With the god(s), mythic locations, and investigators chosen and the characters drawing five cards, you are ready to play.


Each turn is broken down into roughly two phases: preparation and fighting.   During preparation, each player places cards on the table up to all the cards in their hand for Moxie.  Moxie is the generic resource in this game functioning for both attack and currency for cards. Players might also have some initial damage dealing cards in their hands.  You may choose to play those or just discard them at the end of turn, but some cards provide extra effects depending on the number of cards played. So, taking the extra damage might be beneficial to your characters depending on what you get!  After choosing to play as many cards as they wish, they spend their moxie to get new cards directly into their hands from the cards available in the library or central purchasing area. Once this is completed, all played cards are removed, and new cards are placed in the library to buy next turn signaling the end of the preparation phase.

Start Cards.jpg

Fighting is straightforward.  First the elder god goes, doing whatever it says on the card.  Then a card is drawn from the mythos deck. The mythos cards are interesting effects that usually harm the players.  After the mythos card is drawn and its effects done, a monster(s) is drawn and then each monster attacks the players, doing whatever it says to players, from  attacking only one character to doing damage to all characters. Finally, the players can respond by playing cards to use more moxie to hurt the monsters, so moxie functions both as your money and as your attack power.  Players then discard all played cards, can discard library cards to draw more and cycle the deck, and lastly draw five new cards to start the next round. Play continues like this until the elder gods are dispatched or the players have all gone insane or been killed.

Mechanics– I like the mechanics on this one.  It’s simple enough to be quick, but not too simple to be dumbed down.  It’s an interesting mix of using the same currency for both attack and defense.  That might drive some players away as you can cast spells to buy stuff which feels strange, but the division of card types means you can focus your character in one way or another.  The library of cards feels like Ascension and Dominion had a baby. It does have it fault as it can get a little simple at times, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you want a challenge at all, you NEED to play this on the hard difficulty.  The easy difficulty might be a bit too easy for some gamers who crave a little more pain in their games. 4.25/5


Theme- Theme in deck building games is a tough one.  It’s hard to keep monsters in the right place and all kind of other issues that are just random in nature.  This game has the problem, but deals with it admirably. Mythos cards work regardless of the elder god involved, but each elder god has its own chosen set of monsters.  If you draw mythos cards related to the elder god in play, more bad things happen. If you draw creatures with no relation to the elder gods in play, then only slightly bad things happen.  It’s a simple way to focus on the gods in play. It’s still completely random, but it does add bits of story in to the game. I also appreciate the detail for each investigator as their story, power, and background will really bring you in at the start.  It’s an uphill batter to put story in a deck builder, but this game does it well. 4.25/5

Instructions– Overall, the instruction work well for this game, but they do have a few issues.  You will have to reread the instructions a few times. Overall, the rules are extremely simple, which is appreciated, but I feel they need a bit more polish in the final product.  The pieces are all there, but some things like how the mythic locations are placed are not as explained as well as they should be. Once you know the rules from the base game, then you know how to play the expansion easily.  But, the new elements need more explanation. Everything here works, but its something that will require a few passes for you to really work through to see how all the pieces work. That said, the rules are about three pages, so reading through the rules again won’t be a several hour endeavor.  4.25/5

Execution–  Oh execution … this game will drive you to one of two camps.  I was immediately drawn to the art, the card stock, text fonts, and even the box itself.  All those things feel like Hellboy or Darkest Dungeon. I loved everything I saw with this one and really enjoyed the life counters as little slide on the card indicators.  Really cool! I even love the box itself. It’s awesome thick cardboard that harkens back to the old Fantasy Flight coffin boxes. HOWEVER, my wife….she is an English an English as a Second Language teacher…she was IMMEDIATELY drawn to the errors in English grammar and spelling.  And THERE ARE A LOT OF THOSE SMALL ERRORS. So, if you just love to see awesome art on nice cards this game will be an amazing addition to your collection. If you can’t stand a card that has a few grammar and/or spelling errors on it, then this will drive you up a wall. I live and die by spellcheck, so this didn’t bother me, but your mileage will vary! You can check out our unboxing video of both the base and expansion here:https://youtu.be/3PvRMR7MwPo 4.25/5


Summary–  This game reminds me of a B movie that you love, even though it has a few faults.  My family watches Flash Gordon each year. I watch Flash when it comes on TV when I’m looking to see what’s on.  I play the fight scenes in the background when I write random stuff for my blog. The music is on my youtube work mix cue, so I’ve graded quite a few student papers to Hawkmen fighting on Warship Ajax in the background.  Flash Gordon is not an Oscar worthy movie, but it’s fun, it’s campy, and it feels right. It has flaws, but that doesn’t make it bad. This game is the equivalent of that. Are there other Cthulhu games that might have more polish?  Yes. Will those get to my table as often? Probably not! This stand alone expansion plays shorter than the box time says. I have to sort fewer cards than other deckbuilders. My favorite mythos god is Yog-Sothoth. All the stars align for this one.  My wife and my favorite game to play together is Eldritch Horror. But, even the lightest set up for that game is 20 minutes if you are lucky, and play time can easily be three hours. This game gets an Eldritch Horror experience into about 20 minutes. Is it a perfect match?  NO! Is it enough that on a weeknight when we have half an hour and just want to fight some horrors from beyond time this is going to come out? Absolutely! 85%

Basic Monster.jpg


Daily Punch 7-11-18 Solar Scalpel Envoy Expertise Talent for Starfinder

Let’s get some Envoy Expertise Talents out there.  Here is one for medicine.


Solar Scalpel (Sp; Medicine)

Requires: Solar weapon

You’ve learned how to use the star to your advantage and funnel their power into your medical practice.  Once per day, you may spend two resolve points.  If you do, you can activate your solar weapon and plunge it into a target.  that target is healed equal to the damage your solar weapon would have dealt normally.





Daily Punch 7-10-18 Ranged Solar Weapons Solarian for Starfinder

I want a Solarian with a gun…SAY NO MORE!


Class Level
Solar Manifestation
Solar Pistol Solar Rifle
1st 1d4 1d8
2nd 1d4 1d8
3rd 1d4 1d8
4th 1d4 1d8
5th 1d4 1d8
6th 2d4 2d8
7th 2d4 2d8
8th 2d4 2d8
9th 3d4 3d8
10th 3d4 3d8
11th 3d4 3d8
12th 3d4 4d8
13th 5d4 5d8
14th 6d4 6d8
15th 7d4 7d8
16th 8d4 8d8
17th 9d4 9d8
18th 10d4 10d8
19th 11d4 11d8
20th 12d4 12d8


Solar Ranged Weapon

You can seize your solar mote in one hand to form a pistol or a longarm out of stellar energy. This weapon appears to be made out of glowing light or solid darkness, as determined by the appearance of your Solar Manifestation, but it can be whatever general shape you choose. Normal ranged weapons like pistols or rifles are most common, but other shapes, such as a large rune of stellar energy, a mass of writhing energy tendrils, or an energized fist that fits over your own hand, are possible as well. Your Solar weapon’s general design has no impact on its function, and doesn’t give the weapon any special abilities such as reach. Once you’ve selected the general design, you can’t change it until you gain a new solarian level.

Your Solar weapon functions as a one-handed or two-handed energy advanced ranged weapon, and you’re automatically proficient with it. At 1st level, choose whether your Solar weapon deals  acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic  damage. You can change the damage type each time you gain a new solarian level. Your Solar weapon deals damage depending on the manifestation. This damage increases at 6th level, 9th level, 12th level, and every level thereafter. Solarian weapon crystals can increase your Solar weapon’s damage.

Forming or dismissing a solar weapon is a move action that takes the same amount of effort as drawing or sheathing a weapon (and can be combined with a move as a single move action or used with the Quick Draw feat). Your Solar weapon is automatically dismissed if it ever leaves your hand.




Blurbs From the Booth-Lessons Learned from a Bad Gamer

I mentioned yesterday before I posted a bunch of things that some crazy stuff has happened lately in my life.  the craziest is that one of my friends passed during a routine operation.  It’s got me thinking about a few things, and I want to share those thoughts with you.


Ashika McCurry was my wife’s best friend.   She’s pictured above with my fierce dog. When I met my wife, within three dates, I met Ash.  Ash was the test.  If I wasn’t up to snuff for Ash, I would not be married today.  Take note gentlemen and ladies, if you do not pass your future wife’s friends first test, she may not become your future wife!  I did, somehow, and was married.  Ash was a maid of honor, and over time Ash even became my friend.  I was not as close as my wife to Ash because I only knew 12 years compared to my wife’s 22, and I didn’t grow up with here like my wife did.  But, she was a good friend who I like hanging out with.  Again, men and women, if you don’t like hanging out with your wife’s friends, she may not be your wife for very long!


When Ash passed, my wife and I were the closest to her house and bore the brunt of her collection of stuff.  She was a hoarder, and I now have an abundance of semi-mint in package Barbie dolls and other random things.  But, as I work to basically help take apart a life, I see lots of things from her past that I remember being part of.


Ash was a geek, but nowhere deep a gamer as I.  She NEVER showed up to a game fully prepared.  She didn’t agonize over character decisions.  She liked being a ranger, shooting things with arrows, and making things die.  You had to remind her of mechanics often, and she never really read the books.  Even if you supplied her with the books, she didn’t care.  Ash liked video games, but never keep up to date.  Her systems were old, and I honestly don’t think she finished most of the games she played.  When we cleaned our her apartment, she had a mint, in box Switch that was played.  When I got mine, mine was opened within minutes of getting that bad boy home!  In short, she was the filthy, filthy casual that all the Alpha Gamers bitch about at every store.


BUT, Ash was happy.  Ash just liked to show up and game.  Ash wasn’t there to make the numbers big, she just wanted to have fun.  She played games while she enjoyed them, and left when she was done.  She didn’t agonize over choices in obscure books because why do it?  It’s just a game!  She didn’t learn to hate Pathfinder, 4e DnD, 5e DnD, Cthulhu, or any other game, because yet again, she was just there to have fun with her friends!


Now, as I get all of Ash’s board game collection, a collection that doesn’t really even add a bump to mine, I’m thinking back as I also find old character sheets of games I ran for her often.  I play EVERY game I start to completion-maybe past the point where its fun, BECAUSE I STARTED AND THAT WHAT GAMERS DO!  I run lots of different games and get deep into them then bitch about them online to anybody who will listen on my blog.  I’ve learn to hate the hobby I love because I’ve come to see how the sausage is made and learned tiny minutiae that dictate how board games are made and how that makes for sadder experiences all in the name of making a mail-able product.  My most popular blog post recently was me bitching about companies and how physical products are created vs. PDFs.  My wife often comments how I’ve turned a fun thing into a job, and I have to remind myself that BOARD GAMES AND RPGS ARE JUST FUN THINGS BECAUSE YOU ARE A FULL TIME TEACHER NOT A FULL TIME DEMO GUY!


In short, Ash was right.  Being the filthy casual is fun.  You don’t have to be an ass to others and judge the games they play because those other people are wrong!  You don’t have to hate 4e DnD because it was wrong!  You don’t have to do things because gamers finish things!  You don’t have to agonize over shipping tariffs and what this will do to kickstarter’s business model and the gaming industry overall.  Maybe, just maybe, I should just learn to enjoy gaming!  Maybe that’s Ash’s last lesson to me.  Aside from make the wife’s friends happy, the last lesson I really need to learn is just fucking game and be happy with the games you play.  If it’s shit to you, move on and don’t bitch as those who do enjoy it.  Just have fun!


In that spirit, as my friend is laid to rest in her final resting place today, I implore you all to go have some fun this week.  Go roll with friends this week.  Online, in person, on a chat, Facebook, or even in a play by post.  Just enjoy a game this week, and don’t bitch about some other ones.  It’s something I know I’m going to try to do better as I go on.