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

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Ring Side Report- Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules

Product– Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules

System-Savage Worlds

Producer– Pinnacle Entertainment

Price– $9.99 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/92743/Savage-Worlds-Deluxe?term=savage+worlds+delu&test_epoch=0?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Super Swingy, but super fun! 97%

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Basics-Wanna do…. Anything?  Savage Worlds is a generic RPG that isn’t tethered to any one world or system.  It’s so untethered to any setting that the first few pages of the book are all the different worlds the Pinnacle Entertainment and others offer.  Let’s dive into this game and see what’s there.

Base Mechanics- Here is where the fun begins.  Savage Worlds uses a dice chain.  When you want to do a thing that needs a roll, you roll your skill die and aim for a 4 after modifier.  That’s pretty much it. Hit 4 and the thing happens. Every 4 above 4 is a raise and does something awesome.  Sometimes damage, sometimes extra effects, but it’s always something good.  If you hit the max number on a die, then got an ace, and you roll the dice again adding to the total.  Ace again? Keep going! Like I said above, this system is super swingy, but fun.

Stats-Your skills and attribute dice are decided at character generation.  Your attribute are Agility, Smarts, Strength, Spirit, Vigor. These are dice ranging from a d4 to a d12.  Most humans have a d6 in every attribute. When you build a character you get dice for a skill, but the skill advancement is tied to each attribute and advancing past an attribute dice cost a lot more than normal.  If you ever don’t have the skill that you want to use, you roll a d4-2 still trying to hit the 4, so hope for the ace!

Wild cards and Extras-Extras are random background people from the mook attacking the bar to the faceless ninjas that you mow down in wave after wave.  Wild cards are special character ranging from your player character to the big bad evil guy. Wild cards get an extra die to all rolls called the wild die that is a d6.  You roll this for attacks and skills, even if you are untrained!

Edges and Hindrances-Something I miss from light systems are feats.  Savage Worlds has edges and hindrances. At character generation you get hindrances that flesh out your character as well as bonuses called edges that give you extra little abilities from being able to hit harder bare handed or bonuses on some skill rolls.

Combat and Initiative-Savage Worlds has roots in some crazy RPGs and none comes out more that initiative.  Players don’t roll, but get cards from a deck of playing cards with the Jokers left in.  High card and suit (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and finally Clubs). Jokers do crazy things to the person who draws them and then after the round the initiative deck is reshuffled.  Each round you get to move a bit and do one action. Actions range from shooting people to doing a skill. Melee attacks means you have to hit the opponents parry value. Ranged attacks have to hit a 4.  In either case rases add an additional 1d6 of damage to the target. If you hit you then roll damage equal to your weapon value. If the damage value equals an enemies toughness (2 + half the opponents vigor die), then the opponent is shaken.  Shaken means your do nothing next turn except try to shake off the hit via a Spirit roll (4 to shake it off, 8 to act normally). If you get a raise on the toughness, than the enemy takes a wound. Wild Cards have three wounds before a fourth kills them, but extras only have one before they are down!

Bennies-Oh story candy!  I love you! Bennies are chips you get to reroll dice, immediately shake of being shaken, and whatever you convince your GM that you can do.  The GM gets a pile as well! Act like your character would? Story Candy. Do something cool? Story Candy. Buy the GM a coke? STORY CANDY!

Character Generation-  A big theme in savage worlds is rules light, and Savage Worlds is really light when it comes to character generation.  Characters are made by doing a number of small steps. When you build a character you start by choosing a race, which may give you additional starting abilities with humans getting one extra edge, then you get point to buy new attribute dice, going up one level on the dice chain for each point, points to get and advance skills , one for one as before, move to selecting edges, then you can select to get extra hiderence to get more points for skills and edges, and finally you get gear based on the campaign you’re playing.  DONE. The hardest part is selecting what gear and edges you will chose.

Leveling up or Advancement-Every good game needs XP, and this one give xp at the end of each session. For every five xp, a character can get a new edge, advance attribute dice, raise one skill above an attribute, raise two skills with values under a linked attribute, or get a d4 in a new skill.  For every 20 XP a character enters a new rank that give access to new edges.

Magic, machines, and maham- Savage Words is system agnostic, so magic and powers a built in but not essential.  Characters can get powers via different routes from the gods, reading books, or simply building a crazy lightning boxes from technology.  All power work the same as they start with getting an edge. The powers have a rank you can get them at, a cost in power point (think magic points from Final Fantasy), and some skills you have to roll to make them happen, if needed for things like attacks.  It feels like old schoo video game!

Ok, enough background, what are my thoughts.

Theme or Fluff-No fluff for this one.  Each world needs its own fruff.  There is awesome stuff here from the Rippers universe where people fight monsters in a Victorian setting with magic, monstrous power of their own, and machines to Solomon Kain fighting monsters across the world.  It’s all fun, but Savage Worlds is anything you want it to be. You give the biggest thing in the world to d12+2 for his or her thing, and then you set the smallest or weakest thing at d4-2 for their thing, and scale accordingly.  You can do Savage Hacks for literally anything from Shadowrun to DnD. If you like the math above, see if your favorite system or setting has a Savage Hack out there, or go make one! -/5

Mechanics or Crunch– Holy cow is this thing swingy!  That’s not a bad thing, but it is a thing.  If you need careful balance where expected results always happen, WALK AWAY NOW!  But if you love you some pulp craziness, then get into this game. Its light and fast.  I play with no miniatures, but many people love miniatures. I just love the math here. It goes fast and plays quick.  The one thing I don’t like is how little the attributes matter. They are important for some things like Spirit rolls and determining toughness, but overall they feel slightly left aside.  As this is mostly a skills game, its ok, but I always hate when games have attributes, but don’t really use them as much as say Dungeons and Dragons. It’s not bad, but it’s something that sticks in my craw.  If you can ignore that one complaint I have, then Savage Worlds is a swingy, amazing system! 4.9/5

Execution– Is this available in PDF since its past 2015?  Check. Hyperlinked to make my life easy? Check.  Overall, I love how the book looks. I’d like a bit more walkthrough on a few things, but once you work through the rules it’s easy enough.  Also, I’d like a bit more tables to break up some of the text for things like spells. It’s a well done book that you can skim through in an afternoon without an advanced degree or major eye strain.  4.8/5

Summary-I am a convert!  I love lots of different systems, but Savage Worlds is one that always seemed off in the corner where the weird kids hang out.  It’s a smaller system, but its got a big cult following, almost like The Evil Dead. And I think that that’s a good way to look at this system.  If you want your standard fantasy where predictable thing happen at predictable time scales, then this isn’t for you. It’s not bad, but it’s not for you.  If you want a faster pace with some crazy stuff happening like a player who is the town poopscooper getting five aces in a row and triple critting the big bad evil guy on the first turn, then this is the game for you.  The system is slick, fast, and low crunch. The book is well put together and reads quickly and enjoyably. That’s everything I want in an RPG, and a system I can’t wait to get back into. 97%

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%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Alien Evolution: Cosmic Race Guide

 

Product– Alien Evolution: Cosmic Race Guide

System-Starfinder

Producer– Fat Goblin Games

Price– $3.95 here  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/223749/Alien-Evolution-Cosmic-Race-Guidebook?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Jack Kirby does Starfinder! 96%

Basics-Tired of just the core races already?  Need some more classic 70’s ancient aliens artwork?  Then I’ve got a book for you!  The Cosmic Race Guide has an impressive amount of new species to plop into any Starfinder game.

Mechanics or Crunch-Starfinder, when it launched, didn’t have a lot of races.  None of what was there was bad, but it was a limited picking.  This book opens up the floodgates.  Nothing here is all that crazy.  The races do follow a pretty predictable formula, but its not a bad formula as everything is balanced.  I would have liked a few racial feats for each race.  But, there are over 10 new races here, so It’s a great place to look for an impressive assortment of new races for any space game.  4.75/5

Theme or Fluff– Here is where the book shines.  Every page of this book feels like Jack Kirby wrote it as the art is completely New Gods or crazy space Thor 3 on every page.  Everything feels right.  You get a full color art picture of each race and its homeworld.  The art mixed with the flavor of the races just belongs.  Starfinder is already a mix of magic, machine, and the future, so adding the proper amount of crazy Kirby makes me extremely happy.  5/5

Execution– I am really pleased with this book.  First and foremost, it’s a hyperlinked PDF.  Next, the art is great.  I would have liked more, but it’s enough to break up any monotony.  The layout isn’t cluttered.  My one grip is the price.  It’s a tad high, but if you want a ton of new races, this is the book you need.  It’s a well put together book that’s fun to thumb through till you find your favorite race and dig in. 4.5/5

Summary-I really like this product.  I read this book the week after seeing Thor 3 in theaters, and it feels like an honest extension of the movie.  You get Kirby, you get aliens, and you get your magic.  Starfinder feels like the 70’s comic vibe will fit better than any serious game play as you have the elements of more space opera than space drama built right in, and this book takes that banner and runs hard with that idea.  I wouldn’t consider this the most serious book.  This isn’t Lord of the Rings, but it is an amazing romp in the galaxy showing you all the crazy kids at the cantina while giving you the rules to play each of them in turn.  Get this book, crank your Flash Gordon soundtrack, and find your next favorite character to play in the galaxy.  96%

Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Mansions of Madness, 2nd ed.

Product-Mansions of Madness, 2nd ed.

Producer– Fantasy Flight Games

Price– $100 here https://www.amazon.com/Mansions-Madness-2nd-Board-Game/dp/B01J4NB6CO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477872904&sr=8-1&keywords=mansions+of+madness

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 60-360 minutes (1-5 players)

Type- American

Depth-Medium

TL; DR-Great, but the price is a bit too steep! 89%

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Basics-  Can you survive the Mansions of Madness?  Step into this fully co-op board game as different investigators trying to uncover secrets best forgotten and lore never found!  The game is very easy to learn and basically teaches you how to play as you go. First, the players choose a scenario that they want to play from a computer, iPad, or android device.  That is the first thing to note here- you MUST have a device to play this game.  These scenarios range in difficulty from one to five with the intro scenario being a two.  After scenario selection, players then choose different character to be with different powers.  With that done, the game will then give the players different starting items and the players divide these up as they see fit.  Then the computer will layout the story and world telling the players where to put icons on the map, what map to build, and what other actions they can take.

Turns are fast and easy to do.  Each investigator takes their turn in whatever order they choose.  On a player’s turn, they do two actions.  These action range from moving two spaces, interaction with different icons on the map/computer, interacting with puzzles, casting spells, and attacking creatures.  Interaction with some icons expands the map and story.  Sometimes when you interact with an icon on the map, you have to roll a number of dice equal to one of your skills to discover something.  The dice are eight sided with blanks, clue icons (magnifying glasses), and elder signs.  Elder signs are always successes, but clue icons indicate you could succeed if you spend a clue token.  You only get clue tokens when you explore or uncover something which makes the clue economy extremely important!  Also, some skill checks will require multiple successes to to succeed.

Attacking is interesting as when you attack a creature, you must tell the game how you attack.  Then the computer randomly assigns you an attack method that depends on a skill roll.  Sometimes the skill is obvious like strength for a punch, but other times you might end up doing agility when you swing a hammer.  Again, sometimes you only need one success and other times you might need multiple.  If you succeed, the computer tells you how much damage you do to the target.

Spells vary from attacks and player buffs.  Each spell is a deck of cards where you draw one card and keep it face up in front of you.  When you cast the spell, the computer or the spell will tell you how to cast it, what skills to roll, and then it tells you to check the reverse side.  Some spells cause you to have to make another skill check to avoid damage or insanity and some just go off without a hitch.  After you cast your spell, you then shuffle the spell back into its deck and draw a new, random version of the spell.

Puzzles are one of the most intriguing additions to this game.  Unlike other games where players have to just roll a die to uncover the family mystery, in this game, the players have to do sliding tile puzzles, math puzzles, and even picture puzzles to uncover secrets.  All are done on the computer, so there’s no fuss or muss on setup and clean up.  

After all players have taken their turns, you tell the app or computer you are done, and the computer takes control, possibly spawning monsters, doing horrible events against some of the players, and advancing the story.  Monsters are the biggest threat as they move around the map directed by the app.  The app will tell you to move monsters and then attack players in their spaces.  Monsters’ attacks are resolved like player attacks.  The target of the attack rolls a skill.  Unlike player attacks, each success on this roll only removes one damage, not ALL damage.  After attacks are done, the app directs the players to make horror checks against the monster with the highest horror stat within three spaces.  This is another skill roll that only removes one insanity for each success the player achieves.

Damage is interesting in this game.  This game builds on Fantasy Flight’s other games with damage cards being both normal damage and special damage.  When you take damage or insanity, you get a card face down of the type.  Some cards and events will direct you to randomly flip one or more cards face up.  Now, you get special effects like being lame or agoraphobic.  When your damage equals your health, you discard all face down cards and gain a wounded condition card.  You can’t do the move action twice in a turn, and if you gain the wounded condition again, you are dead and out of the game!  If you gain insanity equal to your mental stat, you go crazy and gain a secret goal.  Now, you might not win by helping the other players but might only win if you start enough fires!  It’s a fun, fresh twist on the game.  

Once all the monsters are done, then the players take over again the the cycle continues until the players win or horror descends across the land!

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Mechanics-Overall, I like what I see here, but the computer part is a bit of a pain sometimes.  The hardest part is that the app is slow and there’s limited options on it.  If I attack with a 2×4, odds are I will see the same attack roll five times in a game.  That wasn’t bad in the first edition when I as the bag guy shuffled four cards for an attack, but now with the computer app, I’d like more options and descriptions.  The computer tends to slow down game play a bit.  However, I do like the general speed of human play.  A turn is quick as a human, and it is not overly complicated.  All the fun different things I want to do are easy to do, and I enjoy that immensely. 4.5/5

Theme-My wife and I can’t stop playing this.  It’s fun, and I feel like I’m in a Lovecraft story.  It’s even got a modified version of my favorite short story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”!  Things feel right, the toys are nice, and the look is great.  5/5

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Instructions-Fantasy Flight Games has been doing this new version of game instructions where the simple instructions get a short book with pictures and the nitty gritty get their own book with an index.  That’s ok, but I end up needing to cross reference things, and it feels clunky.  Also, I feel some things were not explained as well as they could be, like how horror and monster attacks are not blocked with one success, but they need multiple.  Those details are pretty important, and I think it wasn’t emphasized enough.  I got the feeling of missing key instructions until later a few times playing this game.  4.25/5

Execution-Ok, here is the bitter pill to swallow-this game is not worth $100.  I like what’s here, but I feel I got more from the first edition than the second.  Sure the app is nice, but I got more cards in the first edition, more books, and just more stuff.  Now, I get more generic cardboard, monsters, and the app.  What makes me give this a “4” is the backwards compatibility of the starter box.  Fantasy Flight was a class act by giving me a conversion kit to get my old stuff into the new.  I think what I get here is fair for $80, but for the $100 it went for, maybe that’s a bit much.  Everything is great, but maybe not that good.  If you want to to make that choice for yourselves, check out our unboxing here https://youtu.be/HK3Mb369xoA  4/5

Summary-I like this game, but it’s a game that you have to invest in.  What’s here is good, but too expensive.  If you NEED your Cthulhu fix, then this is a great continuation of the Arkham Horror games from Fantasy Flight Games.  It’s a solid set with nice monsters, good cardboard, great stories, and easy mechanics.  But, if you can’t drop the equivalent of a small car payment on this box, you might want to wait till this thing goes on sale.  It’s a great game, but at this price, I’d like a bit more in the app, the box, and the game overall.  That said, I’m still glad bought it, and I plan to buy the expansions.  So, it’s gotta be good. 89%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Torment: Tides of Numenera-The Explorer’s Guide

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ProductTorment: Tides of Numenera-The Explorer’s Guide

System-Numenera

Producer-Monte Cook Games

Price– $40.00 here https://www.amazon.com/Torment-Tides-Numenera-Explorer/dp/193997951X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473811918&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Torment%3A+Tides+of+Numenera+-+The+Explorer%27s+Guide

TL; DR-What I want in a video game tie in book. 97%

Basics– Are you excited about Torment, the computer game?  Do you want to run your Torment Numenera tabletop game?  Torment:Tides of Numenera-The Explorer’s Guide would best be described as the “companion” book based on the video game for the Numenera tabletop RPG.  It’s  DEFINITELY NOT a strategy guide, but it does have new mechanics and world building so you can play the compute game at your table.

Mechanics or Crunch-This might be the weakest part of the book, but that’s like finding a single spelling error in a classic book.  What’s here is good.  It’s new, it’s fun, and it’s well done.  There are the expected things to help build out the blanking blank who blanks as well as cyphers and artifacts, but there is also a whole new social interaction system built on how the characters act.  It’s a small thing as it doesn’t need to be added, but it’s something GMs can make as big or as small as they like.  My one complaint is there isn’t more blanking blank who blanks options.  It’s minor though. The system doesn’t need a book of feats as much as it needs flavor. 4.5/5

 

Theme or Fluff-There might be more in this book about one small section of the world than there was in the core book.  I am absolutely serious.  I love the depth put in this book.  The small piece of the world that the game covers get’s a massive world building.  Here is the rub-as a GM for the game, you will have all the information you need.  As a players, there might be almost too much as it could spoil the game or even the video game.  That…is the proper amount of information for me to run an RPG.  I kickstarted the video game, but my wife and I are more excited to get this to the table with our Cypher group.  5/5

Execution-Cypher system has the best use of space of any RPG I’ve read.  You describe a fearsome adversary in the text, and the stats are less than a tweet in a sidebar.  Describe the use of a little used rule in the text, and a sidebar lists where the rule is in the core book.  MORE COMPANIES NEED TO DO THIS!  As for the layout, its great.  Few pages have too much text, but there is enough art, either hand drawn or game images, to balance out the reading.  I loved reading this book. 5/5

Summary– I was asked to review this book, but give the direct warning that “this is not a strategy guide.”  that is absolutely true, but what this book is amazing.  It’s full of crunch, fluff, and is well made.  I get new mechanics to play in a new part of the world.  I love everything about this book.  My one problem is I want more.  If there were a bit more character options, I’d be in heaven.  If you’re getting the video game, if you love the cypher system, or if you just want a well done splat book for Numenera, don’t pass this up.   97%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of The Served Brandolyn Red

Product-They Served Brandolyn Red

System– DCC

Producer– Goodman Games

Price– $7  here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/159410/Dungeon-Crawl-Classics-2015-Halloween-Module-They-Served-Brandolyn-Red&affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– An awesome starter adventure! 95%

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Basics-It’s a good day for a white wedding!  Until the groom’s head is chopped off and the bride is poisoned.  Then, players and the guests of the wedding have to find out all the twists and turns in this adventure and recover the groom’s head to properly bury the man.  Why did this happen?  Only you can find out!

Mechanics or Crunch-Ah, the DCC RPG funnel!  Hit the players hard and see what falls down.  It’s a time honored tradition.  This adventure has all the great pieces of one, and the mechanics match enough to challenge first and zero level players as well as bringing enough weird to the party.  5/5

Theme or Fluff-This adventure is one that you as a GM have to bring to life.  There is a lot going on here, and it kind of goes in two directions.  Only one direction gets the PC’s paid, so they won’t care about family struggles as longs gold happens.  If you can bring that part to life, it’s a fun side of the adventure.  But, most parties and games won’t even care about some below the surface details that the adventure has due to the second part being a bit off base.  It’s fun, but a bit too unwieldy with the second story not bringing as much to the party as the first. 4.25/5

Execution– This is a DCC RPG book put out by Goodman Games themselves, so it’s going to be good!  The art is great, the pictures are phenomenal, and the layout is simple enough to help every GM run a fun adventure.  The book even has detailed family trees that you can use to enhance  the substory that I complained about in the theme section.  Even the hex crawl simple map is a great addition to the game!  This simple adventure has the tools and talent needed to really help you make a great time for the players.  Also, it’s out in time for Halloween, so get this now! 5/5

Summary-I love this one so much it might become my new favorite funnel.  My players get a place to explore.  I get some story to build off with a subplot that is fun, if a bit of a strange addition.  The mechanics of the adventure are built well enough that it’s got enough challenge to keep things interesting, but not a killer curve to destroy a party.  From the art to the layout, this is a phenomenal adventure and an excellent introduction to DCCRPG, and if a group was looking for a  place to start, this is probably the best adventure to throw your friends and yourself as the GM into. 95%