Tag Archives: Kickstarter

UK Games Expo T-Minus 4 Days…

ExpoExhibitors

With only four days (including today) until the UK Games Expo 2014, I thought I’d post some of the things that I’m looking forward to. Today I’m going to look at the exhibitors!

Last year I spent most of my short amount of time at the expo wandering around the exhibition hall. This year will, no doubt, see me wandering around and perusing many, if not all, of the stands throughout the expo. In preparation for this I took a minute to go through the exhibitor listing on the expo site and noted many stands I can’t wait to visit. Here’s the ten stands I’m most interested in visiting (in alphabetical order.)

Back Spindle Games
Demoing their awesome looking game Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice (2nd Edition) which goes live on Kickstarter tomorrow!

Czech Games Edition
Producers of some of my favourite games including Galaxy Trucker and Space Alert!

Days of Wonder
Creators of Ticket to Ride and Memoir 44, need I say more?

Fantasy Flight Games
It’s FFG, the kings of thematic games.

Game Salute
Very interested to see what representation these guys have, they’re an awesome company who provide support and publishing services for many, many, many Kickstarter games!

GamesQuest
Looking forward to catching up with Nigel and Paul to discuss some future posts for their blog.

Mayfair Games
Last year Mayfair had a lot of floor space, unfortunately I didn’t have chance to check them out. This time I am going to rectify that!

NSKN Games
Creators of one of my favourite thematic games, Exodus Proxima Centauri, I got hold of the revised edition last year and have recently heard that there’s an expansion on the way!

Steve Jackson Games
Two words…. Steve Jackson…

Z-man Games
I really like Z-man, they produce to awesome games, Pandemic, Robinson Crusoe and Tales of the Arabian Nights. I can’t wait to see what they have to show off, and I especially want to see if I can get a look at the new Pandemic: The Cure game.

Dark Darker Darkest – David Ausloos Interview

DDD

Back in 2013 I Kickstarted a game called Dark Darker Darkest (DDD). It sounded like the kind of thing I could really get into. It’s a horror-based game that reminded me a lot of my first play through of the original Resident Evil on the Playstation. I’d originally noticed it on BoardGameGeek where game designer David Ausloos was talking about the progress of his design and providing the community with snippets of information that kept us hooked.

Almost two years after I first heard of it, on June 11th 2013, the Kickstarter campaign for DDD launched. There was a lot of excitement from the fans and within two hours the game had reached its funding target and was working towards the first of the stretch goals. All was going well and everyone was happy.

Unfortunately as the campaign progressed it became apparent that the publisher Queen Games hadn’t really planned for the campaign as well as they should have. Plagued with misunderstanding and confusion for the backers this particular campaign goes down as the worst run campaign I have backed.

The game released with a rulebook that was more than a little confusing and a whole bunch of other publisher problems. Alas, Queen Games seemed to have moved on at this point and were busy with their next campaign. The supporters of Dark Darker Darkest were left asking the same questions over and over with little or no response.

Despite such a difficult start to its life the game still shows a great deal of promise and David Ausloos has been working hard on improving the rules. He’s been personally sending Geek Mails to anyone on BoardGameGeek who owns DDD to let them know when errata and clarifications are released. In fact, late last week I was happy to receive such an update which stated:

“With some excitement on my part I can finally present you the revised rules for Dark Darker Darkest. This was a massive project, doing a complete rewrite of the original rules that failed to offer consistent information and was riddled with errors that affected gameplay.

It was also an opportunity to listen to the feedback from players all over the world and tweak a few mechanics for optimal gameplay.

I am very happy with the end result, which is a big step up from the previous version.”

On reading this news I mailed David back to thank him for his dedication and asked if he would be willing to answer a few questions that I could then post here on the blog. David accepted the invite and here we are. I hope you all enjoy reading our little chat.

Tom Chats with David Ausloos

Tom: Hi David, thanks for agreeing to do this, I really appreciate you taking the time to have a chat with me.

David: Thanks, I’m glad of any opportunity to support the game.

Tom: I was thinking we’d start with something easy and then move on to the Dark Darker Darkest questions. So let’s kick off with – When and how did you get into the board game hobby and when did you realize you wanted to design games?

David: Actually I’ve been working on board game designs since I was a kid. Nothing serious, but my parents still kept some of the little prototypes I made. Funnily enough horror was my favorite genre for board games even back then. I think my first game was actually about a haunted house. Go figure…

Tom: Speaking of haunted houses, when I first heard about Dark Darker Darkest, the premise and feel of the game reminded me of Resident Evil on the Playstation. What were your main inspirations for DDD? Did you borrow ideas from the video game world?

David: There were a number of inspirations, but the main one actually came from playing another zombie game that, for me, failed to deliver the feeling of being fragile as a human being and totally outnumbered by hordes of the undead. I wanted to capture the feeling of this small group of people struggling for survival.

The remake of “Dawn of the dead” certainly inspired me too, but I wanted the universe to be a little more gothic and weird. I hope to expand further into this unsettling house of horrors, more akin to Dario Argento in its surrealist touches than the urban realistic setting of Romero’s work.

Tom: That’s quite an interesting vision and I think you’ve managed to capture that feel quite well in the final game. You must have been pretty confident that the theme would appeal to lots of people, but thinking back to before the Kickstarter campaign, did you ever imagine you would reach the funding goal? and what went through your mind as you hit that goal within two hours?

David: There were definitely signs that the game was on the radar of a lot of gamers.

It was in the top 15 most anticipated games for years on boardgamegeek.com and during playtests I felt it triggered something with gamers. But of course, these things are hard to predict. In any case I was extremely happy with the end result.

Tom: Later in the campaign there were numerous problems as Queen Games confused backers with some very strange and, what felt like, very reactive stretch goal additions and changes. Did any of the stretch goals get added without you signing off on them? I guess what I’m asking is; were you surprised by any of the additions made by the stretch goals and how did this effect you?

David: It was a hectic period. I think the main problem was that Queen had no previous experience with this type of game. This is not a typical Queen product, as it also attracted miniature gamers. In this genre of games a Kickstarter is as much about components as about the actual game. This was something Queen might have underestimated at the beginning of the campaign.

Tom: I think you’re probably right with that and I suspect it’s a lesson that will only help improve their future campaigns. At the time though, there seemed to be a lot of negative comments flying around, some of which were not even remotely constructive. How did you feel about that?

David: The public can be very harsh in their opinions, and leave a company little or no room for error, regardless of the fact that this is their first step into a new genre or product. I understand both sides, but it was sometimes sad to read all the harsh comments that got posted during the campaign. I had to constantly remind myself: this is only a game.

The campaign itself was a learning process for everyone involved. In this type of production there are so many people involved… As the designer you’re only one small cog in a gigantic clockwork machine. This can sometimes be frustrating because it’s hard to get a view of the whole big picture.

That said, I felt it was an interesting month and on a personal note it made me feel that Kickstarter is becoming this giant monster with campaigns being more and more about eye-candy in the form of fancy stretch goals rather than actual content and gameplay. As a designer this can be frustrating, because everyone is talking about the quality of the miniatures, and nobody even mentions the actual gameplay. It feels as if that just doesn’t matter anymore.

Tom: Does this turn in the industry concern you?

David: I can’t deny that this trend for a designer is somewhat of a concern but I think only time will tell if this will increase or decrease.

Tom: Going back to Dark Darker Darkest and thinking about the rulebook that it shipped with. Obviously you wrote the original rules, but how involved with the production or editing of the final product were you? Where there any issues that appeared in the finished rulebook that weren’t in the rules you provided originally?

David: I think the biggest problem is communication. I think the co-operation of an editor and a designer on the rules is crucial, and I feel this aspect was not as tight as it should have been. In general, consistent rulebooks are possibly the most difficult thing to produce. If it was easy to do, we’d see a lot more perfect rulebooks out there.

In practice though, most rulebooks turn out to be anything but waterproof and most games I buy myself in a first print run end up with with a FAQ produced shortly after release, with all the mistakes corrected in the second print run.

The chances of mistakes multiply when the system is more involved like DDD. There are so many variables and I think the editor involved had somewhat underestimated the possible situations the system could render that needed to be covered by the rules. Add to this time pressure and you have a non optimal context.

So again, for me this was a learning experience. It is definitely a focus point for me on future releases, in fact, the rulebook of Rogue Agent that was produced in the same period is I feel, more optimal.

Tom: Over the past few months you’ve been working to improve the rulebook for players. I’ve seen two GeekMails from you to date; the latest of which resulted in this very conversation. I’ve not had chance to try the new rules but I commend you on how much time and effort you are personally putting into supporting the game. With this in mind, if you could go back to before the Kickstarter what’s the number one thing you would you do differently?

David: I would have liked a little less time pressure.

I had to focus on so many things during the production process. It was exhausting. Fascinating but exhausting. I can only hope that gamers remember that each step of a product is usually a step with the aim for perfection, but seldom reaching that.

For me DDD is this living system that I want to further explore with new additions, expansions and ideas. It has a lot of potential for growth in all manner of directions. Now that we have a solid set of rules I feel I have a steady base to work on.

For me the opportunity to rework the original rules and turn it into something consistent and solid feels like a big relief and first time players will be experiencing the game like I intended it to be.

Tom: You said in your GeekMail that you’ve received a lot of feedback and support from players all over the world. How does this make you feel? Are there any people you’d like to give a shout out to?

David: Oh, there are lots. Some of the people I thanked in the revised rules have been wonderfully supportive, offering me feedback on every little detail. Michael Meyers (Scubaroo on BGG) springs to mind. He’s played the game a lot and knows the system through and through, so it was fantastic to be able to communicate with him about some ideas I had for tweaking the system to make it even smoother.

John Bruns was also available to offer me feedback whenever I needed this, and Richard Waszczuk and Richard Keiser did amazing things with the editing. I can’t thank them enough for the amazing job they have done. We had a very intense communication back and forth during the whole editing process. It also helped that they knew the game system well.

Tom: OK, I couldn’t go through this interview without asking. Do you have any idea when the DDD backers will be receiving the rest of their content?

David: If you are referring to some of the new creatures, they are almost ready for production.

They were actually specifically produced upon request by backers, so they could only start work on them after the campaign. I’ve seen first the shots of the sculpts that will be posted on the campaign page soon, and they look great. I’m excited that we can work on new creatures to add extra variety in the encounters. This game is all about creating unique stories with each play, and adding new rooms/encounters/characters helps to ensure that no game ever plays out the same.

Tom: Despite the issues that you’ve had over the past 6 months, I noticed that earlier you mentioned expansions. Do you have plans for any? Or are you working on any other projects at the moment that you’d like to mention?

David: Yes, there are plans for expansions. Not much I can say, but like I said, for me this is like a potentially endless playground to project ideas onto. I see the universe of this game expanding in different directions. Some will focus on the more grotesque gothic side of things, some might even
put things on a larger scale.

At the moment though, I’ve just finished development on a game called Red Moon. I am very happy with the recent playtests I did, which spawned a lot of positive feedback. Some say it’s my most accessible game for a wide audience, and who am I to disagree?

It’s a compact little, hidden information, game set in a small Russian village. You’re a lieutenant sent by the Tzar with a mission to protect the village from an assault by werewolves.
I have tons of other game systems written out on paper that I want to further develop. Enough material for another 10 years of game design! Ahhhh… so many ideas… so little time.

Tom: Red Moon certainly sounds like it’ll be worth a play, when do you think we’ll be seeing this one on the shelves?

David: I’m going to submit it to a publisher soon.

Tom: Going back to DDD, you must have gained a massive amount of experience from working on it, I was wondering if you could give any budding game designers out there a list of the three most important things you’ve learned during this project?

David: Try to focus on one good mechanical idea and build a system around it.

There are so many good dungeon crawlers on the market, so make sure if you want to design one that you can offer a new twist to the genre. A unique mechanical idea that can offer players a new way of playing such a game.

For me with each new design I set out to find that new twist. If I don’t find a way to introduce something fresh and unique to a genre I leave it alone.

Tom: Awesome advice, and something I’ll definitely bear in mind as I work on my prototypes in the future. It’s been really good to chat with you and hear about your DDD experiences. I just want to say a big thanks for joining me here on GeeksThatGame, I wish you all the best with your other projects and I’ll let you know how I get on with the new DDD rules.

David: Thank you for inviting me for this chat. Enjoy the revised rules, and try to stay alive.

So, there you have it folks, a very cool interview with Dark Darker Darkest designer David Ausloos, I hope you found it interesting and I hope those of you who have a copy of the game are going to grab the new rulebook and use it to shed some light on those Darkest of rules.

Interestingly, as I was about to publish this post I got a mail from Kickstarter informing me that there was an update (#44) for the DDD campaign. It looks like the photo David mentioned during the chat is now available to view, it looks very cool, and there’s some positive comments and signs of progress from Queen. Hopefully DDD is now becoming the platform that appealed to me so much at the start of the campaign.

SampleDDD

As always, I hope you enjoyed the post, feel free to add comments and I’d be especially interested to hear how people have got on with the new rules!

Sentinel Tactics – New Add-ons

AddonTitle

It’s been a while since I last posted about Sentinel Tactics and there’s been some great progress with the campaign. I correctly guessed that the $125k and $155k stretch goals would be Ambuscade and Proletariat, but the $230k stretch goal was a set of environment elements, not the Dino mini I predicted.

On April 4th it was announced that a new pledge level, “Super Heroics in Full Color”, was being introduced that provides backers with a set of painted minis (delivered at a later date) as well as the unpainted set that will come with the first delivery. The new pledge level costs $250 plus postage, but for the quality and number of minis you’re getting it doesn’t seem too bad a deal (If you’re a backer in the US or Canada that is, carry on reading for more on this).

Since then we’ve smashed through two more stretch goals for some Citizens of the Sun miniatures at $170k and Unity at $185k. Looking set to hit the $200k stretch goal very shortly (they’re at $193k at the time of writing) the guys at GreaterThanGames have made an early announcement before they head off to PAX East. In the announcement they detailed the future of the campaign, the $200k stretch goal, and the next three stretch goals all the way up to $245k.

So, the $200k stretch goal is a set of six blade battalion miniatures, which is the last of the stretch goals for the initial pack. Anything beyond this will be made part of an additional add-on pack costing $40 for the unpainted version or $100 for the painted. As you can see, first of the add-on stretch goals are bonus maps and some additional miniatures. Unlike the initial game that appears to contain map tiles, these bonus maps are described as a “poster map with included scenario”, not quite as nice as I would have liked but they could be quite cool. Also, based on the silhouette of the minis it looks to me like there might be some Dino minis coming our way but don’t quote me on that!

addons

So with the cool news out of the way I want to return to a gripe that I mentioned in an earlier post… International Shipping.

For Sentinel Tactics, international backers are left with three options.

  1. All at once – Pay $40 postage and wait for July 2015 to receive everything in one parcel.
  2. Unpainted Individual Parcels – Pay $40 postage to receive the game in December 2014 and another $40 postage to get the add-on pack in July 2015.
  3. Painted Individual Parcels – Pay $40 for the game in December 2014, another $40 for Painted minis in March 2015, and yet another $40 postage for the add-ons in July 2015. Yes, you read that! $120 in postage charges if you want to play the game at release and get all the cool Kickstarter stuff.

I love the idea of Sentinel Tactics, and I really want to support GreaterThanGames who do an awesome job, but let’s face it, people don’t want to pay the premium Kickstarter price only to have to wait 6 months after release to get the game (which is the most cost effective approach for backers.)

There must be something that can be done about these crazy postage prices. Companies such as CoolMiniOrNot and GameSalute seem to be able to provide international shipping to Europe at a very reasonable price which even covers their backers for any additional packages that might be needed. I paid $35 postage for my Zombicide Season 2 kickstarter pack, which was an absolutely massive parcel, and there’s even a second parcel yet to come!

I really do wish GreaterThanGames could work out how to achieve this for their backers here in Europe because the steep prices will definitely put people off of supporting the campaign. In fact I’ve even heard a few people talking about cancelling their pledges which makes me feel very sad.

Sentinel Tactics: Uprising Expansion

Expansion

Just a short update today. The Sentinels Tactics campaign reached another stretch goal! I predicted an expansion and that’s what we got, kind of…

In response to reaching the $110k goal, GreaterThanGames announced the Sentinel Tactics: Uprising! Expansion. I’m not sure what I think about this stretch goal… On the one hand there’s a nice box with some new scenarios, tokens and “side-characters”; on the other hand, the box will mostly contain the characters we already unlocked.

I’m going to reserve judgement on what I think of the expansion for now. I’ll probably warm to it more once we see more characters added. The one thing that did please me though; no mention of extra delivery charges! Thank you GreaterThanGames!

Sentinels Tactics – First Stretch Goal Update

Stretch goals

It’s been less than 24 hours since I posted about the Sentinels Tactics Kickstarter campaign and it’s already reached the third of its stretch goals, $95k!!!

It’s awesome news for GreaterThanGames but it’s even better news for us, the backers and fans. That’s three new characters added to the game and a new pledge level added to the campaign.

So, what’s this new pledge level for? It’s for the extra minis for the new characters. The new pledge level is a $20 increase in cost over the previous highest level but as more characters are unlocked their minis will be added to that pledge level making it better value the more we unlock.

Yesterday I had a stab at guessing which characters were coming in the first three stretch goals. I’m happy to say that I managed to guess one of them right. As you can see from the image at the top of this post, the first three goals were:
$65k – Beacon
$80k – The Operative
$95k – The Visionary – One of the predictions I made yesterday

There’s been four new stretch goals added to campaign this evening, so I’m going to take another stab at guessing who or what each one is.

$110k – Some kind of expansion for the base game? Or a second chapter to the story? Will this mean another new pledge level? Or will it mean paying double delivery for those of us who are international backers? It’s how last years Shattered Timelines campaign panned out once Vengeance was added, so I see no reason for it to be any different here. I have to admit that if the delivery charges double to $80 I’m not sure how many international backers will be able to afford the extra cost.
$125k – Ambuscade – a nice shiny new villain?
$140k – As the tiles for Tactics have Megalopolis on one side and Insula Primalis on the other I’m going to take a stab at the Silhouette of a T-Rex actually being a T-Rex to do battle on those hexes of war.
$155k – Proletariat – another villain to balance the ranks perhaps?

OK, so that’s my update for the day, let’s hope more of these stretch goals get unlocked tomorrow!

Sentinels Tactics Live on Kickstarter

Sentinels

A couple of weeks ago I received my Kickstarter copy of Sentinels of the Multiverse: Vengeance the latest and greatest expansion for my favourite super-hero card game. Today I received a Kickstarter update from GreaterThanGames informing me of the launch of their new Kickstarter campaign for Sentinels Tactics: The Flame of Freedom. I instinctively clicked through to the campaign and after viewing the introductory video dived right in and pledged at the Heroic Figures and Combat level.

There’s three pledge levels at the moment, each designed to meet the needs of the fan:

  • HEROIC FIGURES! (Just the miniatures) for $40
  • HEROIC COMBAT! (Just the game without the minis) for $50
  • HEROIC FIGURES AND COMBAT! (The game and the minis) for $80

If you’re a fan of the fiction behind the Sentinels of the Multiverse then this Kickstarter looks like it will be right up your street. The base game includes Legacy, Bunker, Tachyon, The Wraith, Absolute Zero, and Ra, as well as the villains Baron Blade, Omnitron-V, and Citizen Dawn. If that isn’t enough then the various stretch goals laid out already promise more fun characters to join the action.

The Flame of Freedom is set several years after the card game and tells the first story in a series that pans out through the hex-based tactical skirmish gameplay. GreaterThanGames have uploaded a sample of the game rules for us to review, and it looks pretty fun to me.

Taking a better look at the campaign I noticed a few things that made The Flame of Freedom stand out from other campaigns I’ve seen or pledged for in the past:

  1. The base game doesn’t come with any miniatures. These are an additional cost for those who want to splash out. This seems like a good move as it keeps the cost of the base game low for those who aren’t interested in the minis. Although, personally, I loved them the second I saw them and had to have them.
  2. The stretch goal character silhouettes give away a bit of information as to who the special characters might be. At a glance I’m going to guess at Unity and Visionary being two of them, but that’s purely a guess. I imagine it won’t be long before I find out though because when I started writing this post the game hadn’t reached its funding goal but now it has. The thing to note with the stretch goals though is that they only provide the character cards etc. not the minis that represent them, they come at an extra cost.
  3. Minis! They look awesome! I just hope they throw in a custom set of dice as a stretch goal to make the game that little bit more awesome!

Despite the game sounding totally awesome, there’s one thing that might make international backers think twice. For those of us here in the UK there’s a hefty $40 shipping charge. I’m sure it’ll be worth paying for it in the end, but it’s a hard pill to swallow all the same. This charge was the same for the card game Kickstarter, so if you pledged and were happy with that one then this won’t be too big an issue for you. The Kickstarter page has the following apologetic message from GreaterThanGames about the charges:

“Even though we recognize that the international shipping fees are ridiculous, they will by no means cover all of our international shipping + customs charges. However, we hope that they will at least allow us to not lose money on international rewards. We would rather charge a high shipping fee than get rid of international delivery all together - we love our international backers!”

So, that’s about all I have to say about Sentinel Tactics at the moment. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one as the campaign goes on, so check out the Kicktraqing page I’ve just added for regular updates, or better still; head over to the Kickstarter campaign and pledge!

A weekend of gaming!

mice

This weekend has mostly been dedicated to relaxing and playing games, something that I need to do on a more regular basis! Anyway, I thought I’d take a few minutes out from relaxing to drop a quick post on here as a summary of my gaming antics.

Saturday:
I attended the monthly gaming session at Firestorm games over in Cardiff. As always I had a great time playing games with attendees both new and old. I managed to get quite a lot of games played which is always a bonus.

Alhambra – I’ve wanted to play this game for a long time. I’m not sure why I hadn’t bought it already, but for some reason it had stayed on my wishlist longer than most other games. After my single play of the vanilla base game I was surprised at how little there was to the game. I really wanted to like it especially after hearing people saying that they’d enjoyed it, unfortunately though, something just didn’t click for me.

There was no player interaction at all with Alhambra, I just did what I needed to do when it got around to my turn and didn’t really care much about what anyone else did. I suspect that the game may be improved dramatically by the expansions, but I just don’t know because they weren’t included in this playthrough. Perhaps someone out there can point me in the direction of the best additions to try?

All in all, I’m glad that I hadn’t bought this on a whim, I feel it’s just not a game for me.

Château Roquefort/Burg Appenzell – A very fun kids game that will appeal to both adults and children alike. Some amazing production value with this one, a great board and some amazing little mice/player pieces (see the photo at the top of the post for just how much fun these pieces are!)

This game took me back to my childhood, when I played a game called the aMazing Labyrinth. I loved that game and when I got into board games again all these years later I called my parents and asked them to find it. Filled with the joy of nostalgia I set up and played aMazing Labyrinth, only to find that it was nowhere near as good as I remembered. Château Roquefort however, utilises the same tile pushing mechanic as aMazing Labyrinth, a similar item collection concept, but adds a few more layers of complexity to it. As the game progresses, the board evolves, cheese are collected and mice sent plummeting to their death in small shallow pits. This game is really quick to play and I’d recommend it to all families and most gamers!

Guild Hall – I got this at a really low price in a sale earlier in the year. The box makes this game look terrible, the pigs on the front of it don’t even feature in the game, and anyone who sees it turns their nose up at it almost without fail.

So, in an effort to show a few people this little gem, I grabbed a large plastic deck box, transplanted the cards and tokens into their new home and persuaded a few people to join me in a game.

I really like Guildhall, it’s fast and it’s fun. You collect sets of cards, when you have a set you can use it to buy points, and you play until someone scores twenty points. That’s the basics of the game, but there’s so much more to it. There’s a selection of cards that you use to build your sets, each having their own unique ability. I won’t go into detail in this post but there’s a lot of player interaction hidden away in this fun little game and it’s really worth giving it a shot!

Francis Drake – I’ve had this game for a few weeks now and not managed to get it to the table. Jason from the Cardiff group had brought along his copy and set it up for me to have a try. Jason, Paul, Gavin (new to the group) and myself took on the roles of explorers and started hiring crew, purchasing cannons and gaining the odd bonus by “taking” the Queen. Yes I said it!!

From the box, you wouldn’t get that this game is seriously fun. The artwork is your typical Euro style and the box put me off buying it originally! Thankfully I watch the Dice Tower and saw a glowing review of it on there, so I figured I’d grab a copy whilst it was still available! Keeping this short and sweet though, this three round game had me entertained and engaged throughout. I lost by quite a margin, but I still enjoyed it!

The Resistance – A great game that I’ve played hundreds of times. I’m not exaggerating here, I’ve played it so many times over lunch that I stopped counting at about 125 plays. I’ll get round to writing a review of this and its sister game Avalon sometime in the near future.

Coup – Set in the Resistance universe, Coup is a game of lies and deceit. You can claim to be any of the characters in the game, and if no one challenges or blocks you then you get to do as that character does. The trick is, you don’t actually have to have that characters card to claim that you do. After backing this on Kickstarter I’ve played this a few times. It’s not bad but there’s plenty of games that are far more fun to play. Resistance or Bang the dice game with their hidden roles are both more fun and frantic than any game of Coup.

Sunday:
Sunday wasn’t going to be a games day but it turned into a 2 player gaming session whilst a delicious Sunday lunch was cooking in the background.

We managed to get two games played, each hitting the table for the first time. Both games belong to Nikki and I have to admit I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy either. However, after a bit of a rules reading session we started playing what turned out to be a pair of pleasant surprises.

Cyclades – Greek Gods and Mythical beasties make for an interesting and fun game. I’d played this before on the iPad and hadn’t been impressed at all. Bringing the game to the table I was worried that I’d feel the same about the physical version. However, after a very quick glance through the rules we were up and running. It’s fast to learn, easy to play and with more than two players I think this could be a lot of fun! I would definitely play this again, even with only two players, and would be very interested to see how the new conversion pack works that lets you use the monster figures from Kemet in Cyclades and vice versa!

Drum Roll – OK, so I saw this on one of the crowd-funding sites a good while back. I thought it looked interesting, but as time went on I decided it wasn’t a game I would be interested in. When Nikki bought this game I was surprised, and a little apprehensive. It just didn’t appeal to me at all anymore. However, looking for games to play on Sunday, we finally brought it to the table.

All I can say is that I actually really enjoyed this game. Although there’s not a lot of player interaction it’s quite good fun gathering performers, building a circus troupe, and putting on shows. It’s fast paced and you’re never left bored or wishing your time away. The art work is beautiful and drips theme from virtually every component. This is a very nice game and I am happy to say I grossly underestimated how much fun it would be.

And Finally…
So, that was my weekend of gaming, I had a lot of fun playing through most of these games and I can’t wait to play some more. This week I don’t think I’ll have a lot of spare time free for gaming so any time I do get will be completely dedicated to playtesting the last two chapters of the Mice and Mystics Downwood Tales expansion. I can’t wait to get my teeth into these, the story so far has been extremely interesting and I can’t wait to see how it ends!

Dungeon Roll

Galaxy Trucker
It’s been a while since I posted a review so let’s start off with a nice easy one to get back into the flow of things. Today I’m going to be discussing Dungeon Roll a dicey dungeon delve created by Chris Darden and Kickstarted by Tasty Minstrel Games.

I received my copy of this a few weeks back, and anyone who bought this through the Kickstarter campaign received a copy of the game and the expansion in an exclusive mimic box, a treasure chest with teeth! The artwork on the box is quite nice and when I got it I couldn’t wait to open it and see the contents.

In the base game you get seven Party dice. Each side of a single Party die has a symbol representing either a Fighter, Cleric, Mage, Thief, Champion, or Scroll. You use these to form your party as you delve into the dungeon.

Next you have the seven Dungeon Dice. Each side of a single Dungeon die has a symbol representing either a Goblin, Skeleton, Ooze, Dragon, Treasure Chest, or Potion. As you delve into the dungeon the number of Dungeon dice rolled increases with the dungeon level, for example, at level one you roll one dungeon dice, at level two you roll two dungeon dice and so on until you either retire, get defeated, or reach level ten. (There’s a D10 die in the box to show the level of the dungeon!)

One of the more interesting aspects of the game is the fact that you personally represent a character in the game. Before you begin you are randomly dealt one of the character cards. The artwork on these cards is beautiful and they add a lot to the game. You start with your character card on its weaker side and at any point in the game you can trade in five experience points to “level up” which basically means flipping the card over to its more powerful side. The basic game comes with eight of these cards and each has its own unique specialty which is active throughout the game, and an “Ultimate Ability” which is a once per delve ability.

As I mentioned, there’s also a character expansion pack which came with the Kickstarter package, but can be purchased separately for those who got their hands on the game after the campaign. This expansion adds eight more characters to the game for greater variety. It’s certainly not a necessity but there’s some nice characters and powers in the pack.

Out of the box you get a selection of cardboard tokens which represent Treasure and Experience (XP). Treasure tokens are placed back into the game box, shaken up, and drawn at random during certain stages of the game. XP tokens are placed at the side and earned during dragon fights or after a player retires. If I’m honest the XP tokens needed a little more thought, on one side of each token is the Roman numeral I, indicating it is worth 1 XP point. However on the other side of each token there could be a III (3XP), V (5XP), or an X (10XP). Unfortunately if you happen to be someone who likes to hold their winnings or, like me randomly plays with them during play, then the tokens can quite easily be flipped over to add or remove points to or from the total. I personally would have preferred the Tasty Minstrel guys to have provided a single extra sheet of tokens with independent 3, 5, and 10 XP markers on it.

If you backed Dungeon Roll via Kickstarter then you also got some exclusive content. The Guild Leader character who comes with an additional speckled party dice, improving your odds in the dungeon. Two additional dungeon dice and two cards representing the graveyard and the dragon’s lair. I guess the extras are OK, the Guild Leader is a nice addition and I think the extra dungeon dice were a nice touch. However, I really think they should have added three dungeon dice instead of two, that way you’d have one die per dungeon level. It just seemed a little bit cheap to have missed that one die. Finally the graveyard and dragons lair cards add nothing to the game other than a visual aid as to where to place used party dice and dragon dice.
Gameplay is fast, you take part in three delves and then count your XP to see how well you did. To begin a delve you roll your party dice to determine your party. This provides you with a mixture of characters that are going into the dungeon alongside you.

Next you roll a number of dungeon dice equal to the number shown on the dungeon level die. You may then “use” (discard) your party dice to deal with each of the monsters or items that appear in the dungeon. Each character in the party can be used to remove one of each type of dice. However each character type is strong against one different enemy type. for example.

You have three party dice showing a mage, a fighter and a thief. You roll three dungeon dice and get a skeleton and two oozes. You could use your mage to remove the skeleton, the fighter to remove one ooze and the thief to remove the other ooze. However, the mage is strong against oozes and a single mage can remove any number of ooze dice. So you use either your fighter or thief to remove the skeleton and the mage to remove both oozes.

Aside from monsters, dungeon dice may also show a treasure chest or potion. You don’t have to do anything with this type of die and they can be ignored in order to progress to the next level. However each of these types provides its own unique bonuses if you do decide to use it. You can use one party die to open a treasure chest, or one thief to open all of the rolled treasure chests. For each chest opened you get to draw a treasure token from the game box. The tokens benefits range from additional party members to additional points. At the end of your three delves each treasure token you still hold is worth one additional XP. You can also use one party die to quaff any number of potions. A potion enables you to take a dice from the graveyard and place it back into your party, any face up. This can be very powerful if the dungeon happens to contain two or more potions because you can resurrect your party and delve even deeper into the dungeon.

When a dragon dice is rolled as part of the dungeon level, it does not attack but is instead placed in the dragon’s lair, where it remains until activated later. After you clear all of the dungeon dice from a level you may have to fight the dragon. If the number of dragon dice in the lair is equal to or greater than three then you must fight. If it is lower than three, you can continue to the next level or retire, taking XP equal to the current level.

If you had to fight the dragon you must use three dice of differing classes to defeat it. For example two mages and a thief could not defeat the dragon, but a mage, a fighter and a thief could (Treasure tokens can help here). If you can’t defeat the dragon then your delve ends without receiving any XP. However, if you did defeat the dragon you receive 1XP and a treasure from the game box. You then decide to continue to the next level or retire to the tavern.

When you choose to continue, you increase the level die value by 1 and then repeat the above process. If you retire you receive the XP points equal to the level, reset the level die and proceed to the next delve. If you ever get to the point where you have to decide whether to retire or continue and the level dice is already on 10 (Dragon icon) then the delve automatically ends. You are the stuff of legends and you receive your ten XP points.
So, that’s how the game plays, but what did I think of it? On my first play through I have to admit that I was largely disappointed. Gameplay seemed dull, there wasn’t much going on, and I just didn’t get it. I was playing the game on my own and I didn’t think that this would have much of an impact on my enjoyment, however I was wrong.

The game supports up to four people, so I figured I’d give it another try with an extra player. As a two player game, your opponent takes on the role of the dungeon and rolls the level dice against you. The only real difference here is the addition of a person. You take it in turns until each person has completed their three delves and then compare your XP. Playing it like this really improved the experience. There was some banter going on between us, it felt as though you were achieving something when you rolled the dungeon dice because each bad thing you rolled hurt your opponent rather than yourself. It was definitely a lot better than with one person, but what about three or four players? Personally I don’t think the game will work very well with three or four players, I think there’s going to be far too much downtime between your delves and only involvement for two people at a time. As such I think the sweet spot for this game is at the two player mark.

Overall, after my second play through, I liked this game, but only as a two player experience. It’s nothing special, its light, it’s fairly fast and I’d play it again. The tokens and cards make it a little more fiddly than Zombie or Martian dice so it’s not one you’d be able to play in a queue, but it adds just enough extra depth to bring this out as a filler between games if I needed a break.

Nothing Personal – Unboxed

Here’s my first ever video! It’s not a review, I’m building up to those, but it’s an unboxing video of the awesome looking Nothing Personal. Hopefully if people like this video I’ll do a full video review of it once I’ve played it. Hope you enjoy it!