Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time

Product-Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time

Producer– Fun Forge

Price– $30.00 here https://www.amazon.com/Passport-Game-Studios-Professor-Citadel/dp/B06W56ZL3T/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2PIIRCWB14ZM3&keywords=professor+evil+and+the+citadel+of+time&qid=1557748520&s=gateway&sprefix=professor+evil+and+the%2Caps%2C153&sr=8-1

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30 to 45 minutes (2-4 players)

Type- American

Depth-Light

TL; DR-Let’s steal the Declaration of Independence -FOR JUSTICE!  97%

pic3495278

Basics- Saving relics in the knick of time!  In Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time, players take the rolls of victorian themed heroes attempting to rescue items stolen across time by the evil PROFESSOR EVIL!  This game isn’t subtle, but it is fun! This is a completely cooperative game, so each turn has a phase where the players help the team and a phase where the players hurt the team.  During the phase where you help, you can are given three actions and a card action. The basic actions are move from room to room, deactivate traps, unlock doors, and rescue treasure.  You can do any action you want multiple times. Also during this phase you draw two card from a deck specific for your character and you can use these special abilities to really help the team as a separate action!  These powerful, specific cards vary a lot from having the ability to move the evil professor to turning off all the traps of one kind! The goal of this phase is to have all the traps off of all the types for a given treasure, be in the room with the item to save, and have an action left to save it.  However, after you take your turn, you roll three dice to hurt your team. These dice advance the professor around his house kicking heroes out of his house, locking doors, resetting traps, or move time forward on the different treasures or all of them at once! Once a good hasn’t been rescued before its time is up, the good it put in the safe room where no player may go!  However, all is not lost. As the game progresses, players unlock different global and personal abilities making it a much fairer fight! The goal of the game is to save four goods and return them to their own times before the dastardly professor can put four goods deep into his safe room.

board

Mechanics-This is a simple game, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.  The basic turn of do good/do bad is a quick, easy, and fun way to do cooperative games and isn’t going away anytime soon.  Those three actions and a card action get nearly surgical when you have to get to a treasure in time ramping up the tension and thought process in a fun way!  I love this game, but the dice based nature of the bad action is very random, as dice should be. But, this makes it a bit harder to plan. Not a bad, but a different, and you can get absolutely wrecked on a bad day.  Keep that bit in mind, and you will have a great time dealing with all your plans falling to pieces because the professor teleported into the room you NEEDED to be in the get that last treasure! 4.8/5

cards

Theme- This game delivers its theme very much in the show don’t tell way.  The characters and items all look like they belong to the same world, and the victorian/steampunk setting looks fun.  I would like a bit more background as I’m very much a story driven gamer. That said, you do feel like a gentleman/gentlewoman sneaking around the manor of a madman hiding and stealing his ill gotten gains from across time.  4.5/5

Instructions– The instructions are six pages, full of pictures, and well written.  When I cracked this box, I was playing in five minutes. That’s a great “opening box to playing” timeline!  I also didn’t have to consult Board Game Geek to figure out any obscure rules. It’s a simple game with efficient, well written rules.  5/5

items

Execution-Quality components, quality box, quality art, and FULL CARDS make this a fun game.  I like good quality cardboard, and this game delivers! This game is simply put together well.  5/5

Summary-Good co-op is a hard balance to find.  Good, simple co-op is a much harder balance to find, and this game delivers in droves!  It has good, simple mechanics, great art, quick to read rules, and great components. All these combine to make a fantastic gaming experience.  The only word of caution is if you expect a 10 hour brain burning eurogame experience, keep walking. This is a fun, fast game in the tradition of Pandemic, but using dice, which have their own punishing randomness at times.  If you’re looking for a great way to spend an hour with up to three buds, you can’t go wrong with this game. 97%

Advertisements

Ring Side Report- Keeping It Classy: The Barbarian

Product– Keeping It Classy: The Barbarian

System-Dungeons and Dragons 5e

ProducerKim Frandsen

Price– $5 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/275287/Keeping-It-Classy-The-Barbarian?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– Fantastic Third Party Content! 99%

Basics-BARBARIAN! Can you solve the riddle of steel?  Keeping it Classy: The Barbarian is exactly what it puts out to be-a barbarian splat book, but it’s even got a more for the rest of the table.  Tons of new content for your barbarian characters and a bit of extra stuff for the non-barbarians out there with a new race, backgrounds, and some new toys.  Let’s take a look at this book.

Mechanics or Crunch– This is a great book with lots of amazing content!  The new paths are great. The new race is fun, and the new toys and backgrounds will fit anybody.  Heck this one book has more barbarian content than almost all the current official DnD books out there!  It’s not perfect as a few small issues crop up in wording on abilities, but you can easily look past that to see a phenomenal product. 4.9/5

Theme or Fluff-Your barb is not just a dumb meat shield.  This book gives your hunk of muscle story from fun backgrounds to each path getting a full story treatment.  Each path entry is short enough to not keep it in one world or setting, but long enough for it to be something to latch onto and build more of.  This is the same for everything else here. Backgrounds? Not too long to wear out the welcome, but long enough to really get you hooked. Lizardperson race?  Fun and full of enough story to make it something you want to read, but won’t lose interest in like an encyclopedia. Weapons? Pictures and descriptions for you to see in your minds eye.  All told, this is a great product for the story based groups out there. 5/5

Execution–  PDF?  Check!  Hyperlinked?  CHECK! Great layout and ease of readability?  CHECK! This is a product you can fly through, see the flow and major beats of in five minutes, and then dive back into for each section you want to really learn about.  It’s a fun read that flies by. I also like the liberal use of pictures. Most of the pictures are free to use art, and that’s not bad! The pictures are related to the text, and the pictures break up the text while reinforcing the ease of readability.  There is new art, and that is well done too! There are a few things I do think are a bit different such as weapons getting two sections instead of one describing the weapon and any special properties. Not wrong by any stretch, but it’s different. Also of note the book is five bucks for 40 pages.  The core DnD book (which isn’t hyperlinked or a PDF!) is 293 pages for about 40 bucks originally, so this is below price for the content your are getting! All of this adds together to a well crafted, fun to read book. 5/5

Summary–  I really like this book.  It’s a quick read that’s a fun read while still being a satisfying read.  It’s a barbarian splat book that doesn’t just have barbarian stuff in it. It’s got enough fun pieces that any players may want to pick this up.  Have an hour and want to see a well produced book? Check this one out! 99%

Ring Side Report- Castles & Crusades Players Handbook

Product– Castles & Crusades Players Handbook, 7th ed.

System-Castles & Crusades

ProducerTroll Lord Games

Price– $20 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/105322/Castles–Crusades-Players-Handbook-7th-Printing?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– An interesting mix of old and new. 86 %

Basics-Onwards to adventure!  Castles and Crusades is an Old School game through and through in its seventh edition.  Let’s walk through to see all this game has to offer!

Basic Rolls-Castles and Crusades uses the d20 system at its core.  Attacks are D20 rolls plus an attack bonus and an attribute.  Skills are d20 plus an attribute and possible additional bonuses.  If you’ve played any basic d20 system you can hop right into this game.

Skills, saves, and the Siege System-When you do something in Castles and Crusades, you roll as discussed above, but you sometimes get to add your levels.  If the thing you are doing is something your class could do, you add your level. If you would not be trained because this isn’t something you would know how to do, you don’t add your level.  The gamemaster sets the number you need to roll based on two factors-attribute and challenge level. Here is the crux of the Siege system. During character generation, you get primary attributes from your race and your class.  If the thing you are trying to do or the save you are trying to make is based on a primary attribute, then the number you need to roll starts at 12. If it’s a secondary attribute, then the number starts at an 18. Next the GM adds the challenge level.  This is a number representing how hard the thing you are doing is. Open a one tumbler lock might be a challenge level 1, but the king’s personal bank vault might be an 8. So, different characters have different required rolls based on their primary abilities.

Everything else-From here on, if you have played Pathfinder or DnD 3.5, you’re in solid hands.  AC, rounds, and spells all function pretty much like you expect. If not, then the book gives you a solid introduction to the system

Mechanics or Crunch– Overall, this is a decently put together system, but the Siege system has some significant bumps in the road.  I have lived through 3.5e to 5e DnD and watched wild swings in how much control a GM has at the table regarding the number required to roll for PCs to get things done.  This game is solidly old school as lots left up to the GM, and I feel that hurts this a bit. This game really needs a list of skills and what classes get what skills, if any.  Its OK for the rogue to be the a skill monkey and have tons of skills, but often some things just are left up to the GMs discretion. Saves are even left up to the GM! There is a chart of what attribute you roll for each save with different spell and monster effect requiring different attribute saves.  All of this falls into the basics of the Siege system with a fighter who didn’t choose dexterity in a worse place compared to the rogue when the fireball goes off or he sneaks around in the dark. It’s not bad, but GM and the players have to really work together to run this game as some things are too complex to run on autopilot like simple roll to dodge a blow.  Solid, but some needlessly complex things mar the system. 4/5

Theme or Fluff-.Solid old school fantasy.  The book doesn’t have a world per se, but it does have world building with discussions on the nature of magic and character classes.  Even each class has a bit of fluff to make you understand who they are and if you want to be them. It’s light, but for building a generic fantasy RPG, it’s doing its job well.  5/5

Execution–  PDF?  Check!  Hyperlinked?  CHECK! Tables that lay things out well?  Well here is where things break down. This game is solidly in the OSR crowd.  That’s not bad as the old school has some great advice for the young, but some things just need a new touch!  Things like laying classes out better in tables and saying what I get at each level instead of having me read the complete class entry to see if and when I get different abilities.  Spells suffer from the same issue as challenge levels where much interpretation is needed to determine what kind of spell is being cast instead of just leaving me with what I have to roll.and More often that not, I’m left making a call on what I’m doing or what kind of save I have to make.  And for some things, I just want to add things up some numbers and see if I succeed. It feels a bit like homework. It does read easily, but modern RPG design elements would really help make this book that much more easier to read and run. 4/5

Summary-This game is a solid entry in the Old School Revolution that is embracing the advances of d20 system, at least for the mechanics.  Adding at most two numbers and hoping is easier that thac0 or other previous system, at least for new players. But this book didn’t take enough from modern systems and layout.  Listing skills and just saying what attribute to roll for every spell and most common effect will really help me play and enjoy the game. Now, this game is absolutely playable and fun out of the box day one with the basic mechanics being tried, true, and tested, but more specifically, fun.  It’s old school fantasy RPG with some new additions that build on and preserve the original author’s vision. However, some things could be done much better to really help me play and teach this RPG. 86%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Starfinder Adventure Path #1: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6)

Product– Starfinder Adventure Path #1: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6)

System– Starfinder

Producer-Paizo

Price– $23.00 here https://paizo.com/products/btpy9tmf?Starfinder-Adventure-Path-1-Incident-at-Absalom-Station

TL; DR-Not the brightest star, but a decent start.  83%

Basics– ARE YOU READY FOR ADVENTURE!?  Incident at Absalom Station kicks off the first Starfinder adventure path.  Players step off the ship and into gangland warfare as their contact is gun downed within seconds of seeing him.  Why? What dark secrets are at play? Who is involved? Also, this book contains a gazatier on Absolom station, several new monsters, and a whole new world for your players to play in.

Mechanics or Crunch-Ah the intro adventure!  What can a level 1 nothing do on their first day?  Not much, but LOTS OF SKILL CHECKS! Paizo has a history in their adventure paths of having players do lots of checks to get past those first few levels.  This adventure is no different. It’s not bad, but once you get past the first fight, its checks. And, if your party doesn’t have the right checks, then its a slog.  Past that its balanced and fun. After the checks, there are some simple space fights to get those mechanics out there, an exploration with some progressive fights to get those mechanics out there, and then we’re off to the next adventure book.  Overall it’s balanced, but the standard paint by numbers of a new RPG needs to really get players into the system and teach them the rules can be a bit boring. 4.25/5

Theme or Fluff-Repeat after me-PLAYERS HATE FIGHTS WHERE THE ENEMIES SHOULD RUN AWAY.  I’m not talking big bads, I’m talking regular grunts above the player’s level.  Players want to KILL! This adventure starts with gang war above the players pay grade, and the players want everyone dead.  It’s not supposed to happen, but my players are always EVIL, SPITE-FILLED MONSTERS who must kill EVERYONE! If that describes your players, then as written, they will be mad.  For check section I mentioned above, the players need to talk to people, and if your party decides Charisma is for suckers, then that is a SUPER slog as my Cha 10 fighter attempts to talk to people as the -1 to -2 modifier other players hope for 20s to even get the middle of the ground information.  Past that first fitful start, it’s a fun adventure as players can find the roles they need and better understand what they should do next. This adventure runs like a train-slow, clunky start but then smooth sailing the rest of the way. 4/5

Execution-PDF?  Check! Hyperlinked?  NOPE! Why not hyperlink this book?  It’s 60+ pages! Next, Starfinder isn’t going to get the 64 page world building books that went with the Pathfinder line.  That’s ok, but now my players don’t get as much world building as before as unless I print of sections and hand those out, they players either can read the book or spoil the adventure.  The items are nice, the monsters are interesting and have great pictures, and the layout is well done. But, no new races! Part of the fun of Starfinder is if you want to be an intelligent mist, then we got stats for that baby!  But, I’m not seeing that here. Throw me a new playable race each mod! There are a few other issues as some things just don’t fit well. The water world of Heicoron IV is ok, but there are no mentions of how I can play either of the races that live there.  It feels thrown in. It’s not bad, but reference your other books or give me stats, so I can have a whole adventures with the fish people. This is a good but, but it has some flaws that do knock it down a bit 4.25/5

Summary-I’m ready for more, but I have some notes.  Overall, I like what’s here. It’s done well, readable, and a good introduction to the mechanics of the system.  The story itself has a few issues, but those issues are part of every adventure path’s start. I have more notes on the new execution of the Starfinder line.  I want separate books and changes to how they are produced. New races, new tech in the books, and some focus will help improve this line. Will I get that? Most likely not.  But, as a GM running a game, I think this is a good way to get your players rolling dice and understanding how to play Starfinder 83%