Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Custom Heroes

Product-Custom Heroes

Producer– AEG

Price– $25.00 here https://www.amazon.com/Alderac-Entertainment-Group-Custom-Heroes/dp/B07117V56Q

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30 to 45 minutes (3-6 players)

Type- Euro

Depth-Light

TL; DR-Build a hero!  89%

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Basics- Cards!  Assemble!  Custom heroes is another in the card crafting games lineup from AEG.  This game is a trick taking game where one player will play any number of cards of one number, and every player after them will play cards of the same number or higher numbers until no one can play any more cards, and the last player wins the round.  Then, the player who went last starts again. An example would be starting with three 4s, and then play continues to 3 10s. You can also skip other players by playing the exact same cards as the previous player, so even if that player has an awesome play, they might not get a chance get it out there!  Players continue until they have no more cards in hand earning various rewards. The first player out in a round then earns victor points, power chips, and inserts, while the last player left in a round loses a point, but gains many more chips and inserts.

And here is where the game really takes off!  Each insert will give you a new base number, add, subtract, or provide a new power.  When the round comes to you, you can insert as many inserts as you want into a card, as long as they don’t cover ones already there, and then play these new custom heroes.  The game starts with base cards numbering 1 to 10, but I have seen three 18s played on a turn! Powers have to be activated with power chips, but if you don’t use the power, you gain back a chip.  While you modified that heroe, they are part of a common deck, so you might watch as the hero you made one turn is played by a different player a turn later

The game continues until a player has 10 victory points and wins.  So you might be over the 10 victory point top, but unless you are the first one out with that many, play keeps going.  Three way battles between players with 14 or more victory points make for some tense games!

Mechanics-I have a lot of trick taking games, but the custom nature of this one is really fun.  You get a bit more choice in the game. Lots of games like this just screw you on the flop, but now you get the ability to build your own numbers should the ones you are dealt suck.  But, what’s really fun is how much this little game will make you think. You really do send your time thinking about the different math combinations you can pull to make your next play.  This is a simple game that hides a much deeper one! 5/5

Theme- Here is where this game gets screwed by my love of theme.  Hearts is a fun game, but it has absolutely no theme. This game has some good art and the nature of how the inserts customize what the heroes are doing is fun, but there really isn’t a story.  It feels like some anime world, but beyond that, there isn’t much here. This game has a fun, but not deep, theme. It tries! There are descriptions of things in the book, but again, this is like asking for a custom, story based, version of poker that doesn’t change the cards in any fundamental way.  3/5

Instructions–  Did you see the instructions up above?  That’s the rules! The book says it nicer, shows pictures, and reads quick.  This game isn’t hard to get into, and the rules make that transition quick. 5/5

Execution-Overall, i really like this game!  The art is cool with a nice anime vibe.  The inserts are great quality, as they build awesome heroes.  The one things I don’t like are the card sleeves. AEG has to walk a hard line here.  The card sleeves are the game, so they have to be rough and tumble enough to be used over and over.  BUT, they are a bit too tough. They stick to each other way too much! Often when I’m about to hand out the 10th card for the round, I have everybody count to see if I have given them 10 already because the cards are stuck together.  It’s not game ending, but it’s a slight annoyance that will drive you a bit mad. You can see our unboxing of the games here: https://youtu.be/3TAXTdlFGWA   4.75/5

Summary-Custom Heroes is just fun.  It’s a small box game that teaches quick, plays fast, and isn’t bogged down in being too much.  The art is great, the rules read easy, and the inserts are a fun addition to a simple game concept.  I’d like to see more of this. I wish there was a story that we could build upon here to make more theme, but this is a simple game that any card player knows what to do next.  Overall, it’s a blast that you will want to replay as soon as you finish your last game. 89%

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Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Pathfinder 2.0 Playtest

Product– Pathfinder Playtest

System– Pathfinder 2nd Edition

Producer– Paizo

Price– Free! here http://www.paizo.com

TL; DR– Great Crunch, Decent Fluff, Horrible Layout. 89%

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Basics-Is this the 4th edition players wanted years ago?  Pathfinder Playtest is the newest playtest from Paizo.  It is an update to the 3.5 rules Pathfinder that is based on modern design design, Starfinder, 4e DnD, and other systems to make something new the players might want and the old vanguard will love.  Let’s check out a few of the key differences.

Basics of the D20 System-Pathfinder Playtest isn’t honestly that far removed from 3.5 DnD.  It’s still just d20 + ability modifier + ranks/proficiency/attack bonus + bonuses + penalties.  Thats 90+% of the game, and that hasn’t changed. What the big differences are in how the ranks/proficiency/attack bonus is calculated.  Level is now used to determine what your bonus/ranks are. During character generation your class, race, and background will tell you what skills you are trained in.  That uses your full level for a bonus. As you advance, you can become further trained gaining up to a +3 to your ranks/proficiency. This goes for attacks as you will be trained in some weapons and not others.  You take a -2 penalty to anything you are not trained in, be it weapons or skills. Modifiers are also cleaned up with most modifiers being called “conditional modifiers”. Just like the heart of the D20 system, you apply the biggest penalty and the biggest bonus.  That’s it! Attacks, spells, and skills all fit nicely in one package to the point that when you attempt an action that requires a skill, the attempt will be against a certain level, and the GM will decide if the activity is hard or easy to check a simple DC chart. VERY SLICK!  Defences is also figured out the same way as you can be proficient to various degrees in defending yourself.

Action Economy–  The second biggest change in my opinion is the action economy.  Characters get three actions per turn. One attack is free, but you can make two more attacks at a -5 and a -10 penalty, so a level one character can swing for the fences by attacking three times!  There are no longer any full round actions. Some spells require three actions, while raising a shield uses an action instead of a swift action. Every action has a nice stat block laying out what it does.  This feels very 4e DnD, but it feels like it’s more using the better parts of layout and design and avoiding oversimplification of 4e DnD system. Again, this is a great way to get all the over complicated pieces of that grew in Pathfinder into a much more simple system.

Feats or options-Starfinder provided lots of options for characters, so no two characters, even at level one, might be quite the same.  The Pathfinder Playtest goes further with that idea. When you build your character you choose a background and then several feats.  These feats are for your race and your class. As you advance you choose more feats for race and class, so you custom build your characters as a member of the race and as a member of the class.  So, while 3.5 grognards might think of feats as a sometimes thing that provides a bit of differentiation to your character, this modern design really focuses on options. Feat really just replaces the word option in this edition.

Mixed Shenanigans-There as also several other small changes to the game.  ITEMS STILL HAVE LEVELS! That always makes me happy as I know exactly when I should give each toy to the players, and quite honestly the best thing brought over from Starfinder.  Hero Points are a fun way characters get to control the world by providing rerolls, death saves, and extra actions in combat much like edge or luck in other systems. And, the list goes on, but most of these are smaller changes that you can dig deeper into.  These are not major ways Pathfinder changes, but do reward careful digging into the rules to see new options like throwing damage into a shield instead of your face or limiting magic item usage by a new statistic. It won’t keep you from enjoying the game, but all these small things don’t really break the game you might know and love.

Alright, let’s get to my thoughts on the system and book.

Theme or Fluff-Huh, this is a playtest book for a system, why is there fluff to this book?  I’m not complaining. Honestly, I’m impressed! It uses the base Golarian world, but does include fluff on the world and its people.  It’s not a ton, but it’s enough to get a game going. I like what’s here! What does and will always piss me right off is WHY DOES EVERY NEW EDITION OF A GAME HAVE TO CHANGE NAMES FOR BASIC SPELLS!?!  The basic healing spell in Pathfinder was cure BLANK wounds. Now, it’s heal. That’s just confuses players coming from previous editions as heal was a ultra-powerful spell. Nows is level 1 necessity for a cleric.  DnD 5e called their basic spell cure wounds, just do the same. Nobody owns those words! Good fluff, but some unnecessary changes. 4.9/5

Mechanics or Crunch– This really isn’t an edition change as it is a rules clean up toward a more modern game design.  People called the previous edition of the game Mathfinder, and now I am seeing the term Featfinder thrown around. Those are fair criticisms of the game, but I don’t think those are bad by any stretch.  Paizo uses the world feat here to mean option. This game gives you a lot more options! OSR games have one path for each character. More modern design likes options, so Pathfinder 2.0 uses Starfinder ideas to really give you more options per level so you don’t have a bunch of human fighters who are basically carbon copies.   The new skill system is good as we lost the overspecialized characters being the only ones who can play in any situation. Characters can still specialize, but if I didn’t spend 10 levels working on diplomacy, I can still talk to people without sounds completely stupid or being absolutely useless when we talk to anybody. I’m just slightly worse having at most an increased 25% chance of failure compared to most other characters by skill alone.  This involves more of the party and that is always a good thing! Action economy threw me for a loop. When I first skimmed the rules I missed that you get three actions a round, so actions like readying a shield really caught me off guard. Seeing that you get three actions a turn really makes that a much better option as well as being able to multiattack at first level with increasing penalties reminiscent of full attack in Starfinder. You can see lots of lessons learned from Starfinder in this game.  Magic is still magic, but the addition of spells taking more or less actions and all spells being able to be cast at higher levels for better effects really brings in some 5e and other RPG design ideas to Pathfinder. These are great additions to the system as now players can choose to just whip a small spell quickly or to really burn a whole turn gathering eldritch might to destroy their enemies. 4.75/5

Execution-Overall, this is a well laid out book.  First, Paizo PLEASE HYPERLINK! Heck, if you send me the PDF a day early and a coupon for a 10 piece of McNuggets, I’ll hyperlink your PDF for you!  This book is hundreds of pages full of new contect, so it’s a monster PDF. A hyperlink makes that not a pain to read and move through. Second, why did you change the layout to match the DnD Essential line for character development?  Do people fondly remember those books as a giant mush table that was hard to read but kind of looked like a broken comma delimited file? DON’T DO THAT! Aside from those major issues, the book isn’t bad. It reads well, and the new layouts for spells and actions look great.  It feels like 4e design layout principles, and if you didn’t love the mechanics of 4e, you have to agree the basic layout was well done. The book could use more art, but then again, it’s free and a playtest, so the fact it’s not 400 pages of word docs means this is way above what can be expected.  I would not buy the leather bound edition of PLAYTEST RULES(!!!) with recycled art, but for a basic softcover or PDF, this works well. 3.75/5

Summary-The kids are alright!  Honestly, if this is the new system as written, I’d be happy.  I like options! If you are an OSR guy/gal, then the number of options here will be a killer.  There will be quick builds, but the point of this version is if you want to do the thing, there is a way to build the thing!  Classes, races, and backgrounds all add to the crunch and fluff mix, and the options you have will help you customize your character to your heart’s content.  The basic math feels good. I like systems where I know how hard a skill will be at each level. It’s much less hand wave-y! The mix of attack, skill, saves, and defense do make life that much easier.  And that is where the rubber will meet the road for you. That is a clear carry over from 4e DnD. I LOVED 4e DnD. It wasn’t the d20 we knew and loved, but it tried. Low level characters could not do high level things.  Your growth as a character mattered much more than your starting abilities. If you think a level 1 dude should be able to hit the Demogorgon in the eye with only slight more difficulty than a level 20 guy, then this won’t be your version of DnD/Pathfinder.  I’m honestly down for the changes! The fluff here is good. It’s WAY more than you should expect for a playtest, but it’s a fun thing that they spent some time on. What NEEDS to change is the layout of classes and abilities. Please take that from 3.5. Give me columns that say what I gain each levels, what level I gain each different feat type at, and how many spells, if any, I can cast per day.  What you have here hurts me. Its text-file vomit that is hard to read. I can do it, but it makes life hard and reading not fun. If Paizo tightens up a few things, retools the class layouts, and builds a bit more theme in to the next book, I’d be down for the leather edition of the real rules! 89%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Duhr: the Lesser Houses

Product-Duhr: the Lesser Houses

Producer– Devious Weasel Games

Price– $25.00 here https://www.miniaturemarket.com/dwe4000.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&adpos=1o1&scid=scplpDWE4000&sc_intid=DWE4000&gclid=CjwKCAjwkYDbBRB6EiwAR0T_-hBpzyMP4YvWog65j9suM5TGfDH83ZBpJP8u00fsGxLE0pZEMCN1UBoCfUoQAvD_BwE

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (3-6 players)

Type- American

Depth-Medium

TL; DR-I don’t have to win for you to lose!  91%

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Basics- Why waste knives when words will do.  In Duhr: the Lesser houses, each player plays a minor, lesser house vying for power as the king will advance one, and only one, house to a major house, so it’s time to get dirty!  During set-up each player is dealt a secret goal that targets one or two players. Then, players take turns doing one or two actions. Houses that are favored (their house card upright) can take up to two actions, and disfavored or vilified houses can take only one.  The actions favored and disfavored houses can do are to put a card matching a house’s color onto the house face down, play a scandal face down on any house, discard a card of your color to use your house ability, play an event card, or discard two matching cards to do a masterstroke.  Masterstrokes are how you win the game. These reveal a card on any house, remove a scandal from any house, put scandals from the center on a favored house, or negate ANYTHING! This leads into house standing. When a house gets cards in front of it, it begins to lose reputation as unsavory things about the house come to light.  If a house has five cards in front of it it becomes disfavored. And when a disfavored house has three of the five card in front of it turned face up, it becomes vilified. Disfavored houses can only do one action per turn, have to shuffle their hands, draw two for the turn, and hope those cards let them do something good! After a disfavored house takes its one action, it draws cards, shuffles them with its other cards, draws two of that pile, and plays its next turn with two cards.  You now have less options but some effects can not target you. Vilified houses are hated by all, but they gain some awesome powers. A vilified house flips its house card over to a black and white side so everyone sees your status. Vilified houses no longer have a hand of cards. Villivied houses can just change a card in front of a house to a scandal, flip face up a card on a house, or play a scandal card face down on any favored house.

House powers radically change the game.  These powers range from moving cards between players, flipping cards face down, or even removing cards from in front of players.  This leads to people making friends quickly or you die even faster! Each player has an agent in another house. This person is a secret.  On your turn, you can flip this over, gain a card in front of you and can now play cards of that house’s color to use their power. But, if you ever become disfavored, you instantly reveal your agent, and that house gains a card in front of it.  That feels like it should as webs of secrets come to life and hit EVERYBODY!

Play continues like this until only one house or fewer remains favored, and then players add up points.  Favored houses start with 10, then lose one point for each face up card of their color and two for each face up scandal.  Disfavored houses start at nine and lose points like favored houses. Vilified houses start at 2 points and gain two points for each other vilified house!  Finally, players add points for their secret objective. Player with the most points wins!

Mechanics-I really like the mechanics of this one, but you need to know exactly what you are doing!  This game isn’t very forgiving, as social combat usually is. If you pick the wrong fight and do something stupid, you will lose quick!  The advice most people will give you is you need to play maybe three times to have the rules down. I don’t agree. I honestly think you can learn the rules in about five minutes, but that’s kind of like saying you can learn chess in about five minutes.  Now, you have to develop strategy. That takes time. But, I think that is time you will enjoy putting in. 4.75/5

Theme- This game does feel like noble houses knifing each other in the back.  You get agents in another player’s house, and sometimes getting that hated appointment causes him to flip his agent and screw you in the process.   That is a blast when it happens! I do feel like I am a Lord of a house fighting it out in the dark and in the streets to show that my house has its crap together and keeps our secrets safe.  Half the players in my games walk away exhausted because this game isn’t your standard DnD knife fight, but social combat. The other half want to reshuffle the cards and start up as soon as the winner is declared.  I’m in the reshuffle up and play again group! 5/5

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Instructions–  The instructions work, but you will need a few passes at it.  One major issue is you really need to pay attention to how cards are played.  Cards are played face down. That took me a few too many passes reading to get.  But, once you get the flow of the rules, you can easily play the game. 4/5

Execution-First things first, I HATE SMALL ¼ CARDS!  This game only has small cards, and I only have fat fingers!  That said, my only other complaint is the action guide cards. They are awesome!  They tell you what you can do what you can do on your turn, explain all the symbols, and are really well put together!  The bad part is they are rare. You get about ½ the player count. It’s not bad, but you often have to share. And, I don’t want to share with people I want want to die!  The other parts are great. I like nice chunky cardboard for the houses and secret agent cards. Even the dreaded ¼ cards are nice. I also like the symbols. There is no confusion on what each symbol is on the cards.  You can see our unboxing of the games here: https://youtu.be/3B7ECFtGU8I  4.5/5

Summary-I don’t own too many games where you play noble houses and knife each other in the back.  But, this game scratches an itch. It’s fun, it’s mean, and it’s quick. But it’s also not too mean.  I don’t have too many feel-bads. If several people vilify your house in a turn, then you just start wrecking other people with abandon!  Most games I’ve played, it’s not the favored house that wins! This game teaches you some fun lessons about politics. It’s not without its faults.  I’d like bigger cards, more pages to the rule book, and some extra explanation cards. But, overall, this is a blast to play, and one that when you finish, you’ll want to start up right away.  And, at its playtime, you can get this one back to the table easily. 91%

 

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron

Product– Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron

System-DnD 5e

Producer– Wizards of the Coast

Price– $20 here http://www.dmsguild.com/product/247882/Wayfinders-Guide-to-Eberron-5e?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– A much needed update on nearly everyone’s favorite modern crazy setting.  88%

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Basics-Whose ready for some Dragonpunk?  Wayfinder’s guide to Eberron is a 5e update to Eberron from Keith Baker.  Eberron debuted in 3.5 DnD, received a 4e update, and this is the updated 5e version.  What Eberron is is hard to describe. It’s a post-magic war, Noir, fantasy, semi-modern sci-fi non-standard epic with sprinkles of Cthulhu mythos added in, with massive changes to the standard DnD world as magic is extremely common and every race doesn’t follow any of the normal conventions set before.  The book itself has one chapter setting the tone and feel of the world. After that is a chapter on the geography of the main continent followed by a chapter on the different races of Eberron. From there the book shifts to magic, focusing one chapter on Dragonmark houses (think magic family guilds with tattoos that appear under stress providing magic powers), and then new magic creation rules as well as items for the world.  The book wraps up by focusing on a major city of the world called Sharn, and finally providing additional resources like extra reading, a glossary, and pictures you can use for your game.

Theme or Fluff-I like the stuff in this book.  It is travel guide to the world of Eberron providing a much needed update for the most recent system of DnD.  Players get to learn about the world, and GMs get enough story seeds that they can set a story anywhere. The races feel fresh since that is a major point of Eberron, and the world is deep.  My major complaint is this book feels short. Under 3.5, whole books were written about each of the different countries, and here each place gets about a page. For a book published by Wizards of the Coast itself, I expect a bit more for a $20 PDF.  Nothing here is bad, but I expect a bit more from the main publisher. 4.5/5

Mechanics or Crunch-Wizards of the Coast put out a book, so they know their own system.  I love the new races and am glad to see the races specific to Eberron get a 5e DnD coat of paint.  I also can’t give enough praise and love to how Dragonmarks and magic item creation is handled. Dragonmarks are one of the core elements of the Eberron setting as these magic family businesses run large chunks of the world, at least by proxy.  Previous editions handled this by feats, but this one sets them up as races. You are born a Dragonmark, which feels thematically true, but I also like the crunch of how each Dragonmark is handled. Magic items are extremely common with an almost cellphone like network existing in Eberron, so magic item rules needed an update.  This book provides new item creation rules and providing costs for items. This is an update the system needed long ago as some DnD Adventurers’ League players are swimming in gold but have no real use for it. In Eberron, that gold has a place to go! 5/5

Execution– HOOOOLLLLYYYY COW!  Wizards of the Cost put out a PDF and its hyperlinked!? Overall, I like the flow in this book.  I don’t hate reading the book as it doesn’t hurt my eyes to scan or dive deeply into each topic.  The text is laid out well, font is good, and I like the art. Now, the art is very recycled, but the DMs Guild lets authors use art from previous editions, so I don’t hate it.  I would like a bit more from the mothership, but its is not bad. The book does feel short, and that short nature hurts it a bit. I could easily see expanding each country to two pages and adding in more art assets from other books.  This also kinds of makes me angry as your charging roughly full price compared to Chaosium and Paizo for a book that the fluff is already written for and your art is already written for. The art is already made, and you have the graphics sitting on a hard drive, so why not use them?  The maps are ok, but they are the most general ones from the setting, so you don’t even see the capital cities on them. This would also break up the text a bit more as multiple pages are two columns in a row. There is enough white space to not make reading boring, but I’d like more. 3.75/5

Summary-Eberron is an amazing setting that everyone should experience.  From how it flips the script of traditional RPG elements to its Noir setting of morally gray characters, it should be on every RPG player’s bucket list.  This book provides a great new update to the world, providing both DMs and players with a wealth of information. My main complaint is that I would like more.  For a $20 PDF, I would like a bit more, and some of the more I want are things that Wizards of the Coast already has like maps and art assets. Some are included in the back of the book, but putting them where they are mentioned in the book might help a bit more.  That said, you can’t really go wrong with this book. If you are tired of the same Tolkien inspired fantasy, then check out Eberron. This book will give you the 5e shot in the arm you’ve been looking for to start your own game. 88%

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

Depth-Light

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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%

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