Ring Side Report- Unboxing, How to Play and Review of Cottage Garden

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Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Sojourn

Product-Sojourn

Producer– Wyvern Gaming

Price– $20 here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wyvrengaming/sojourn-a-journey-through-time on kickstarter

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 5-10 minutes (1 player)

Type- American

Depth-Light

TL; DR– A great intro to solo gaming. 92.5%

Basics-  Our next leap might be home!  Sojourn is a single player adventure game where you’ve broken your time machine watch and need to randomly jump through time to find pieces to fix the machine.  You start out during dinosaur times. On your turn, you can play cards to heal, gain charges for your time machine, or jump to new locations in time to avoid others.  Aside from that, every time you jump to a location a new location opens ahead of you in the time stream. When you enter a location you have to discard charges from you time machine and cards.  Also when you arrive, you must roll a d100 die to see if you are hurt from the events of that time ranging from nothing bad happening during peaceful negotiations to taking four of your seven hit points at once dodging the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which damages you 90% of the time!  If you survive you can then jump to the next location. You can also spend charges from your watch to open another location in the same series above your current one, hoping for a better draw, but knowing that each charge means you could be stuck in the past! If you draw a piece of the time machine from the deck, then you draw a location in time where it is.  You can jump to that location as normal, and if you survive, you get to take the piece. Get all four pieces, not die, and have a charge to power the machine, you jump to the safety of your home in the future in the year 2020. Die, not have cards to discard, or not have enough charges, and you’re dead or stuck in the past. Good luck!IMG_20180521_212426890

Mechanics–  I do and don’t play a lot of single play a lot of single player games.  I don’t think it’s fun to pull out cardboard and play some game by myself because I feel why bother.  On the other hand, I play lots of Onirim and Star realms on my phone. Downtime at a line-rock a game of of Onirim.  This game feels like an Onirim. I get to make choices, but there is random factor that you have to figure out how to deal with.  You could jump from punishment to punishment and be absolutely wrecked based on the randomness, but it’s still fun. It’s amazingly simple, and that’s a good thing.  I don’t have tons of things to keep in mind. It’s just hit points, charges, and cards in my hand. It’s got enough pieces to keep me making choices, but not too many to make this a slog.  It’s 10 minutes of fun that hits the table fast and feels fun. It’s not too punishing, but it is not for the only hardcore. If every game must be a gut punch, then walk away. I’ve won more than I’ve lost, so some of the ubergamers might be turned off by difficulty.  I am not! 4.5/5

Theme-This game honestly feels like Sliders.  You jump to a place, try to survive, and look for the way home.  Do not expect a year long DnD game of story in this one, but for five minutes of game, I do feel like there is a story I make when I jump through time.  I feel like I’m the time traveler,and that’s the sweet spot! 5/5IMG_20180521_212639339.jpg

Instructions-The instructions are the weakest part of the game.  That said, these instructions are pre-release rules, and furthermore, they are not horrible, they could just use a bit more.  It just took me about two read throughs to make sure I had it down pat and wasn’t cheating by accident. Not as many pictures on the simple text document I got with my review copy, but the rules will be better going into a nicely polished book with real production.  The rules are not bad, but they could use another fresh coat of paint before it’s ready for prime time. 4/5

Execution– This game feels like Fantasy Flight made it.  It’s a simple card game, so we obviously need lots of different colored tokens, dice, and two different sized cards.  Again, I got a pre-production copy, so I expected some crappy cardboard, simple chits, and cards. Heart and soul went into this game!  The art looks great. It is way better than it has any reason to be, and it handles major events like September 11th with tact while still showing its importance.  Card layout is easy to pick up and well done. Once you’ve got the rules down, it plays in 5 minutes because you can easily see what each location needs and if you want to try a jump there.  It even has nice cubes to give the game a little extra bonus. It would be easy enough to have one cube for each thing, and have them act like a slider. But, it’s an extra little touch to have lots of cubes for each resources that even makes me forgive the cube being plastic and not wood (I have issues I need to deal with, and my compulsive need for only wood cubes is one!).  I like everything in this! 5/5

Summary-I was given the chance to review a pre-production single player game.  I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this pre-kickstarter game, but I’ve been won over.  It’s a fun, fast game that makes me feel like a time traveler. For a hardcore gamer, I don’t game as much as I should and single player games like this might just convince me to pull out physical solo games more often.  It’s 20 bucks, and that feels right. You get a lot in the little box from phenomenal arts to great components, and it’s something simple and a blast to pay but won’t overstay its welcome. The rules need a bit more work, but I expect a full color rule book with pictures is easily going to fix any problems I may have.  Hands down a fantastic game and something that you can pull out anywhere when you just want to get some gaming in on the fly. 92.5%

 

Ring Side Report- Black Void Quick Start Rules

Product– Black Void Quick Start Rules

System-Black Void

Producer– Christoffer Sevaldsen

Price– $12 here on kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/68133405/black-void-rpg

TL; DR-The D12 DOESN’T cry itself to sleep! 90%

Basics-.Welcome to Llyhn the eternal!  In the Black Void, characters survive in a world where giant almost black holes, the Black Voids of the title, opened up around Babylon and swallowed the chunks of the world whole, dragging men and women off screaming into the darkness.  After some time and much loss of life, humans found themselves in Llyhn, the eternal city, where inhuman masters rule. Will you survive in this world where you are far from home as characters scrabble in the dirt in this fantasy Middle Eastern RPG?

Base Mechanics- This game uses a d12 as its primary die.  Characters add either their traits and/or abilities to the roll hoping to reach a 7, the normal success roll that can vary quite a bit depending on the complexity of the action.  It’s a pretty simple system that makes me think a bit of other roll to a set number games like Savage Worlds.

Stats-  Your stats in this game are called traits which are Agility, Awareness, Stamina, Strength, Intellect, Manipulation, Presence, and Willpower.  When you build a character, you get 24 points to buy your traits at a one for one basis. All of them start at one and none can be greater than six at character generation.  When you use your traits, you take the trait minus three to determine the modifier you get for your rolls. Also, for every three points in a trait, you can buy a talent for another three points.  Think of talents like feats in DnD-they give you bonuses and abilities that normally you would not have and you have to take them as you grow in power. This game is classless, so these are ways to build to something you want to be in the world.  You can also spend points on background abilities like your caste, the ability to access blood magic, or to even not be completely human. All of these things act like feats as well with character buying new ranks in blood magic, different background abilities, and new abilities if you are a half-breed.

Blood Magic- Magic in this game looks more ritual based than the snappy magic of DnD.  The quick start guide presents Blood Rituals where a character can sacrifice a creature to gain a bonus or a boon.  These boons provide different powers and abilities that a character can use in the next 12 hours ranging from a simple reroll to gaining different talents.  The skills for blood magic are gained during character generation and bought using a character’s trait pool.

Skills– Your skills in this game are called abilities.  You start the game with 24 ability points that you spend on a 1 for 1 basis.  Your skills start at below 0, then 0, and finally you can spend points up to 3, so 3 ranks in a skill costs you 4 ability points.  The modifier is -3 for no ranks, then 0 for 0, and up to +3 for 3 ranks. Unlike games like Pathfinder and DnD, some abilities are tied to multiple traits, so a character might be doing an Athletics roll, but use Stamina instead of Strength if the character was testing their endurance instead of testing their physical prowess.

Combat and Initiative-Combat runs how you would expect, with a few differences.  Players roll a d12 and add their agility talent as normal for rolling for initiative.  Then on a character’s turn, a character chooses one action that can range from attacks, reacting to attacks, or simply moving.  The standard value of 7 is used for attacks unless a character took an action to change it or react with a character adding their Strength or Agility trait and their weapon skill to the attack roll.  If the attacker hits, then the attacker rolls damage with damage dice ranging from a d4 to a d12, the hit character reduces the damage by their armor value, and then the turn moves to the next character.  Characters have conditions depending on their hit point total with the more banged up a character is, the character gains more penalties to their rolls.

Health and Sanity-  The game has some simple rules for character generation of hit points and sanity.  Characters have health points that are determined by rolling a d12 for each Stamina Trait.  This game also has some slight Lovecraft elements as characters will encounter horrors beyond time and space surviving in their new home.  A character’s sanity points are determined by rolling a d12 for each Willpower point their have. When a character encounters a horror they roll a d12 and add their Willpower modifier aiming for a number depending on the creature.  If they fail, they lose sanity points. Sanity point loss has penalties associated with it just like health point loss as the character will gain madness conditions. Sanity can be regained through time and rest just like health points.

Character Advancement-  Characters advance in a few ways.  First, the normal experience points are gained.  Characters spend these to advance traits and abilities according a table in the book.  Characters can also advance in Wastah and Enlightenment. Enlightenment is how a character understands the Void and the cosmos as a whole, kind of like getting the rule book to the universe.  As a character becomes more enlightened, they might gain new abilities, attributes, and talents. Wastah is much more simple-it’s a character’s social rank. As you adventure, you gain prestige that makes you more important.  The caste system in this world is rigid, but if you save the leadership of the city enough times, then even the lowliest street rat might become something impressive with ranks unlocking new patrons, facilities, funding, or a whole host of other options.

Ok, that’s how to play.  Now what do I think!

Theme or Fluff-This is honestly the high point of the book.  You feel like you’re in the City of Brass with powerful elemental lords using humans as playthings.  It’s pre-Islam middle eastern fantasy with bits of Lovecraft thrown in. I don’t see enough middle eastern themes in fantasy aside from fantasy Egypt, so this is a good welcome change!  I like the work this book builds as the characters scrabble to survive in a supernatural world full of horrors post magic apocalypse on Earth. That is all good! Better, none of this feels racist.  It’s easy to just make some stereotypes and run with that as a game. This book feels like it’s trying to make the world stand out and be much more than some simple stereotypes with new races and creatures that rule the eternal city.  That makes this an even better place to play instead of just a blatant copy of folklore. 5/5

Mechanics or Crunch-This game has novel mechanics that I like, but there are a few things that catch my attention.  The d12 based system is something unique that I really like. I don’t see that die used too much, and it takes center stage here.  The bonuses are something that catch my attention. They seem somewhat inconsistent with trait rolls being the trait minus three while ability rolls are -3 for no ranks but one rank is considered a zero in the skill and all other ranks result in continued bonuses, so four ranks is a +3.  That’s not horrible, it’s makes sense from a numbers perspective to make the math of a d12 only system work, but the flow feels off. If you play, it’s going to work. But, it’s a slight barrier to entry. My other major issue is the combat action economy. One day I will learn to just stop being angry about being able to move or attack in a turn, but not today!  Again, it makes sense from a system perspective, but I never feel right only being able to run up to take a hit to the face. It will emphasize the role ranged combat plays. The thing I do like is the amount of tables the game has. As you go crazy, critically hit an enemy, or simply screw up an attack, you roll on tables. Random event tables are always a great way to throw fun into a system and it takes pressure off the GM to always come up with fair, random events that the players experience when stuff goes really well or really badly.  Overall, it’s a good system that I personally have a few issues with, but you may absolutely enjoy. 4/5

Execution– The book is laid out well, but I have a few minor issues.  Tables interrupt the text, and that is good because it reduces eye strain, but the text begins above the table in the next column, instead of the same column below the text.  I don’t know why, but I kept trying to read below the column and getting mixed up. This isn’t always consistent and might be changed in the final book. It’s not a big thing, but it threw me.  I’d like the text a bit larger and maybe the gray background of the book doesn’t make the black text pop as much. Minor problems, but some things I noticed. But, the book does have nice art that interrupts the text to keep me engaged, and the rules are written well enough that I can easily read what is going on and get running the game quickly.  Also, as a guy who reads tables for a living, the tables are well laid out and make me not hate reading. 4.5/5

Summary-This looks like a fun game that I have a few minor reservations with.  I love the setting. This is fantasy middle east, but not simply a copy/paste of some folklore.  It has its own unique spin that I really want to see played out, and the world here is honestly the largest draw to this book.  The system works well, but I have a few minor gripes. I want to play the d12 based system some more, and once I get past my walk-or-attack aversion, I think I will enjoy this a lot more.  The book is done well, but a little more consistency in the layout and possibly a slight change in background color might help. Even with those slight issues, this book looks good. I know I’m in.  Its 400+ pages of a whole new novel RPG PDF for about $12 bucks. Thanks a great value for something that is whole cloth new. Some established RPG books charge that much for 30 page supplement. And this thing is scheduled to come out in September of this year, meaning this thing is probably done already.  So, I’m in! I can’t wait to read this new setting with a new system from a new creator. Go give this one a look. 90%

Ring Side Report- Dice Review of Q-Workshop Pathfinder Ruins of Azlant Dice Set

Originally posted atwww.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

 

Product– Pathfinder Ruins of Azlant Dice Set

Producer– Q-Workshop

Price– $13.00 here https://www.amazon.com/Q-Workshop-Pathfinder-Ruins-Azlant-Board/dp/B074XCZTM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523157540&sr=8-1&keywords=azlant+dice

 

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TL; DR-I got free dice that my wife loves so much I’m going to buy more!  93%

Basics-Long forgotten lore is appearing across Golarion and you need a nice dice set to face it!  Q-Workshop bring you a new set of dice tailor made for your next Pathfinder game. Let’s take a look at what I think.

Quality-Q-Workshop knows how to make some higher end dice!  These are not a top of the line $50 dice set, but let’s be honest, almost no dice are worth that much unless they are blessed by Gygax himself!  What is here is an amazingly well produced dice set. They feel good to roll, are about the right size, and are a decent cost for what you get. These will cost you a bit more, since they are custom made for the Ruins of Azlant adventure path, but a standard dice set costs $8-$9, and this set retails for about $13.  I would like these dice to be a bit larger as well. I like a bit more heft to my dice, but this isn’t a major problem. Overall, these are a well produced dice set. 4/5

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Readability– Ed’s getting old, and if I can’t read a dice face from across the table, that dice goes away in the Royal Crown bags in the depths of my basement.  These faces pop! It’s a nice blue base with a bright yellow color to the faces. I can see what I rolled from three feet away, and that makes me happy!  5/5

Style– The dice faces have more on them than the simple numbers.  I really like the little extra bits and the symbol on the high dice face of each die.  It all looks beautiful and makes me want to use these dice. You’re paying for a bit more for some pretty art, and it does feel like it comes out in the designs.   5/5

Summary-We all start with a simple set of dice.  Basic numbers on a set that get the job done.  Those dice are fine. But, there is NEVER enough dice, and when you can play an adventure path with dice made for that adventure path, it feels amazing!  This is a great set of dice that looks awesome, feels great at the table, and won’t be an eye strain. If you want to be the best looking roller at your Azlant game, this is the place to start.  93%

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Extra items- Q-Workshop sent along a few other goodies for me to look over.  One of them is my personal favorite. They sent me a dice that show off all their different designs on d6s.  THIS IS AMAZING! All the different faces look cool, and if you see your new favorite dice design, check out Q-Workshops page and different designs.  Q-Workshop if you are listening, this may be a great thing to consider selling….

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They also sent me my wife’s favorite thing-they catalog of dice!  They produce dice for many different systems. What’s awesome here is the sheer variety of different dice and systems they support.  Want to bling out your Arkham Horror game with bless and curse dice? They have them! I don’t know what Polaris is, but I know I’m buying a set and going to get a copy of the game to read about it!  My wife loved the different Pathfinder dice and was picking out new dice as I wrote this review. If you want to check out all the different Q-Workshop dice they sell you can go directly to https://q-workshop.com/en/ I know I’m going to be spending a bit more money to get a few different dice sets.  And bonus, all the things I said above that I can read the dice from far away, they look pretty, and they are a great value look like they apply to all the different dice they sell on the site as well!

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Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product– Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends

System-Starfinder

Producer– Fat Goblin Games

Price– $6.95 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/222888/Close-Encounters-Hyperspace-Fiends?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Horrors from the low planes in the upper skies! 98%

Basics-Where we’re going, you don’t need eyes to see!  Close Encounters: Hypersapce Fiends is a new book in a series bringing old fiendish monsters and things from Pathfinder into space with Starfinder.  This book bring demons and devils into space, TOGETHER! Turns out hell and the abyss collapsed into one horrible thing and now they’ve joined a tag team battle against the universe, if they can stop knifing themselves in the back!

Theme or Fluff– The base Starfinder game is devil and demon poor, but this book brings all your classics back, and their stats feel like they should.  There are even some crazy fiendish effects on magic, some ships that are stated out, and some environments traps that can affect your players should they enter the lower plane.  There is also story to backup why these two age old enemies are working together to kill everyone. Overall, I like what I’m seeing here as it’s a great way to bring back some fun Pathfinder elements to your Starfinder game.  5/5

Mechanics or Crunch– All the crunch is right.  The CR are good and the monsters hit the places they did in Pathfinder with basic updates of the mechanics to fit the slight changes between the systems. I love what’s here, and it’s going to fit mechanically well into any game where the GM would like to put a Technomancer in Hell.  5/5

Execution– Is this available in PDF since its past 2015?  Check. Is it hyperlinked even though its less than 40 pages?  Check. Ok we’ve hit all the basics to make me happy. Now the extras!  This book has lots a art with the creatures looking like the demons you’re used to but with a Starfinder art twist.  There are demon/devil ships, but I would like a few more and some close up art of them. The art for the ships isn’t bad but its only one picture of the two new ships. The book even includes the rough seeds on an adventure from levels 1 to 20.  Also, my favorite devils the low level lemure isn’t in the book, so that makes me a little sad. Finally the price is a tad high as its about $7 for a 30 page PDF. These are by no means going to keep me away, but it’s something to note. 4.75/5

Summary-Fat Goblin was one of the first on the scene making Starfinder Compatible products and they have really demonstrated what you can do as a third party publisher.  Its some fantastic material. I love putting demons and devils in my game and now I can easily do so. This is only GM book. It’s fun, but honestly players need not apply as there are no player specific material here.  GMs get fun new toys and things to inflict on their players. It’s not perfect with a few minor things like price and some minor monsters being left out, but in total, this is a great resources if you want to put some horrible demons and devils into your game. 98%