The Reaping Stone Deluxe Adventure

The Reaping Stone Deluxe Adventure

From: TPK Games

Reviewed by: Tera Fulbright

The Reaping Stone Deluxe Adventure is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible Adventure from TPK Games.

TPK (Total Party Kill) Games lives up to its name in this Deluxe Adventure. Taking advantage of having a Pathfinder gaming group, I ran the party through the first couple of encounters in this adventure to see how it played out. As a DM, I had to pull my punches to keep from killing the party in the first session. While there are positive aspects to the adventure, the overall TPK (no pun intended) chance seemed extremely high.

From the Website:

“‘The Reaping Stone’ is a deluxe 200-page adventure that will take your characters down a dark path, from 1st level to at least 5th level, as prequel for the upcoming Bleeding Hollow deluxe adventure.

‘The Reaping Stone’ is as brutal as Rappan Athuk and as challenging and engaging as any published Adventure Path, with a good dose of old-school carnage binding the lot together.”

The setup for this game is absolutely inventive, even if it does start in a tavern. Characters are sent to investigate a cult and find themselves infected by a “vile” disease. From the outset, the game sets a high standard for survivability.

At second level, it is challenging for characters to make the save required to avoid the initial impact of the disease. Nearly all of my players became infected immediately. While this did give an immediate reason for the players and their characters to become involved in the campaign, it also immediately handicapped them depending on their CON stat. Indeed, the next encounter again targets CON, which puts already weak characters at further risk.

The adventure then leads the characters into a dungeon of twists and turns where they face challenge after challenge from new creatures like the Effluvium Jelly to a swarm of rats.

I do like that TPK Games include a “scaling the encounter” block in case you are playing with a smaller group. The adventure assumes six PC’s starting at second level. This did come in handy as I realized that the encounters as written were more than the four PC’s could handle.

From the Synopsis:

“Some years ago, Azrenar, a cleric of Maramaga, Scythe-mother and Queen of Rot, petitions the king of Maerh-Varza to build a great temple to the ancient goddess. In great fury, the king seeks to put the offensive cleric and his followers to the sword and nearly succeeds. His followers’ dead bodies line the roads to Maerh-Varza and the cleric Azrenar curses the king, declaring bloody vengeance.

Now channeling the power of the Reaping Stone, Azrenar has created a deadly supernatural disease, one capable of animating those who die of the horrible wasting disease. Will the spurned cleric turn Maerh-Varza into a zombie-infested metropolis or will the players find the cure in time?”

As the adventure continues, the characters are faced with challenges from haunts and ghosts to zombies and vampires.

There were things I liked about the design of the adventure. As I mentioned, I liked the “scaling” options. I also liked the “morale” aspect of the encounters which helps guide the DM in the personality of the enemy NPC’s. In addition, knowing the deadliness of the adventure, the encounter treasures are prepped with cure potions and other healing.

The encounters are described well, with an immense amount of detail. The author, Tom Phillips, is clearly well-versed in horror. He paints a picture of a dark and depressing world with NPC’s and encounters.

From page 107:

“These ancient crumbling ruins are obviously haunted. Softly whispering shadow-shapes dance at the corner of your vision as the empty streets and crumbling buildings seem to almost vibrate with a tangible malign presence.”

But all of the incredibly vivid and descriptive details get lost in the seemingly never-ending dungeon crawl aspect of the adventure.

Many of the challenges seem to be set two to three levels above the PC’s. Where this becomes a problem is when the PC’s are using a lot of resources on lower level encounters, leaving them with limited options when faced with a stronger enemy.

As the adventure continues, the NPC’s gain power significantly faster than the PC’s do. At one point, it appears as though the PC’s will face an NPC three to five levels above theirs, and this is after facing several equal or slightly higher encounters.

In Conclusion…

From page 5:

“It is a dangerous adventure that could mean the death of one or more player characters and will take extra precaution or resourcefulness to navigate it successfully. The word “Reaping” in the title of this adventure is also a serious hint: players should proceed with extreme caution.”

I think TPK Games calls the adventure correctly as dangerous. The adventure as written could easily kill a party of PC’s that are not extremely resourceful and careful. It is written to be challenging and deadly.

That being said, I still think the adventure is a bit overpowered for the expressed level of PC’s. Even with six PC’s, DM’s may find themselves scaling the adventure back if they do not wish to kill the party early on.

For more details on TPK Games and their new deluxe adventure “The Reaping Stone” check them out at their website http://www.tpkgames.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 11

Product Summary

The Reaping Stone Deluxe Adventure

From: TPK Games

Type of Game: Adventure Module

Lead Designer: Tom Phillips

Cover Design: Brian Berg

Additional Art by: Dusan Kostic, Christopher Stoll, and various public domain images

Number of Pages: 204

Game Components Included: Book

Retail Price: $24.99

Number of Players: 6

Website: www.tpkgames.com

Reviewed by: Tera Fulbright

Interview with Jack Reda

Jack Reda is self-publishing Black Forest, a horror-themed worker placement game.

To start off, tell us about yourself and your history in gaming.

I’m 45, and I’ve been gaming since I was about 10. The 4-year middle school I went to had a class in Dungeons & Dragons, which I took every year. Around that time I picked up Cosmic Encounter, which is my favorite game of all time. I have a website called The Warp that has chronicled the different editions of Cosmic Encounter, along with all the many custom variants and expansions fans and players have contributed, many by me. Because of my high octane enthusiasm for Cosmic Encounter, when Fantasy Flight Games republished it, I got to consult on the new edition. I’ve contributed to the base game and first three expansions. I’m also one of the designers who worked on the upcoming fifth expansion, Cosmic Dominion.

When I discovered BoardGameGeek.com (BGG), I found an terrific outlet for my ideas on custom expansions and variants for many of my other favorite games, like Pandemic and Galaxy Trucker. Most of those are available on BGG. I also started using The Game Crafter to make some of my original ideas available through their Print on Demand storefront.

Describe Black Forest for us in the form of an elevator pitch.

Black Forest is a board game where players seem to be working together to develop their village, but one player is secretly a werewolf, bent on the village’s destruction.

Were there any particular works of fiction which helped inspire Black Forest?

As a long time fan of horror literature and movies, the setting for Black Forest was an easy decision. There are many folktales centered around that part of Germany, and it’s rich with the fables from the Brothers Grimm. Just the name, “Black Forest,” conjures up images of dark and foreboding trees and atmosphere. The Schwartzwald (as it’s called in Germany) is really quite charming and beautiful, and having that idyllic locale juxtaposed with menacing werewolves is a very interesting concept to me. Of all the “classic” monsters, I’ve been drawn more to werewolves than any other. I have a terrific anthology of werewolf short stories called The Ultimate Werewolf, that includes tales by Harlan Ellison, Philip José Farmer, and Larry Niven that I read every couple of years. It has been very important for me that the art work for Black Forest help convey a spooky, Gothic atmosphere, and I’m thrilled with how well it’s turned out.

What aspects of Black Forest do you believe cause it to stand out from other worker placement games on the tabletop game market?

One of the things I’m most pleased about with Black Forest, is how the worker placement mechanic unfolds. Typically, players compete with each other when taking turns placing their workers on a board. In Black Forest, they are ostensibly working together for a greater good. However, with one player trying to covertly slow progress or disrupt it altogether, everyone has to pay close attention to the moves each player makes, and try to read intent into their actions. The level of suspicion in the game is high, and the non-werewolf players are looking for any clues as to the identity of the werewolf. And of course, as the game progresses, players begin losing their workers, making progress even more difficult.

If Black Forest proves to be successful, are there any expansions you would like to publish?

While developing and playtesting Black Forest, I had a lot of fun and interesting ideas that I had to start scaling back so that the published game was manageable from the point of cost, weight, etc. Thus, there are quite a few things that are ready for an expansion, and a few more that I’ve been working on in the last several months. The game can be expanded to more then 5 players, but it can also accommodate some new modes of play, including teams (as well as teams where the teammates don’t know each others’ identities). I’m also keen on introducing more aspects to the game that involve difficult decisions for players to make, and the “Village Elders” expansion will focus quite a bit on that.

Interview with Thomas Eliot of Sixpence Games

Thomas Eliot is CEO of Sixpence Games. Their latest game is Cultists of Cthulhu: Miskatonic University.

To start off, tell us about yourself and your history in gaming.

I’ve been gaming since before I can remember. I started out with only the classic American games like Clue, Scrabble, and Risk, but very early discovered better ones, like Catan, Puerto Rico, D&D, and all of the Cheapass Games. I’ve been gaming non-stop ever since. Strangely enough, I play no videogames.

Describe Cultists of Cthulhu for us in the form of an elevator pitch.

Cultists of Cthulhu is a game of mystery and intrigue, investigation, cooperation, and betrayal. Players are students and professors at Miskatonic University, investigating strange phenomena. It’s cooperative, except that one of the players is secretly a Cultist trying to kill the rest.

Which Cthulhu Mythos stories were a particular influence in creating Cultists of Cthulhu?

At the Mountains of Madness, The Fungi from Yuggoth, Call of Cthulhu (of course), and The King in Yellow and Other Stories, to name just a few. Lesser inspirations came from The Dunwich Horror and The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

What aspects of Cultists of Cthulhu do you believe cause it to stand out from other Lovecraft-themed games on the tabletop game market?

A lot of Mythos games go for a comedy angle – that’s not what I’m doing at all. Cultists focuses on secrets and betrayal, creating a genuine feeling of paranoia and distrust. The mechanics are just really good and fun and evocative of the theme. The art and music enhance the mood. Cultists is semi-cooperative, that is, cooperative but with a traitor, and I don’t know of any other Lovecraft themed games that do that.

If Cultists of Cthulhu proves to be successful, are there any expansions you would like to publish?

Yes! In particular I want to do a stand alone game using many of the same rules and set in the same universe, but with a few significant twists, called Cultists of Cthulhu at the Mountains of Madness. It would start with a drafting minigame about the voyage to Antarctica, and then would be about exploring that frozen wasteland and forgotten cities of the Elder Things using mechanics from Miskatonic University. The games would be compatible (you could take a character or item from one and use it in the other) and also standalone, and in addition to the scenarios it would come with, I want to make a mega scenario that starts with a game of Miskatonic University and then afterwards transitions into a game of Mountains of Madness, telling a single, enormous story.

Mansions of Madness

Mansions of Madness

From: Fantasy Flight Games

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

As a horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft was no stranger to the ‘Creepy Old House’ premise. Admittedly, the stories he wrote which featured them usually weren’t among his better works (you’d be hard pressed to find a Lovecraft fanboy willing to couch The Lurking Fear in terms more favorable than a guilty pleasure). Still, many Call of Cthulhu adventures have prominently featured such structures. Mansions of Madness intends to convert such scenarios into board game form.

From the back of the box:
Horrific monsters and spectral presences lurk in manors, crypts, schools, monasteries, and derelict buildings near Arkham, Massachusetts. Some spin dark conspiracies while others wait for hapless victims to devour or drive insane. It’s up to a handful of brave investigators to explore these cursed places and uncover the truth about the living nightmares within.”

As implied in my introduction, Mansions of Madness takes an RPG-like approach. One player takes on the role as keeper, directing the monsters and hindering the investigators controlled by the other players. The base game includes five scenarios from which to choose. Each in turn has three possible objectives which determine victory and defeat conditions, effectively providing fifteen different scenarios. Add in the various ways the keeper can set up the clue trail and there’s quite a bit of replay value provided.

The eight investigators included with the game have similar modularity to them. The base character card lists the starting Stamina and Sanity of the investigator as well as starting skill points. Opportunities to replenish these stats when they’re expended are few and far between, so players should avoid such situations when possible. Each character has two sets of two trait cards to choose from, one for physical attributes and one for mental attributes. The trait cards selected also determine the investigator’s starting item as well as a one-use ability.

Gameplay consists of each investigator taking a turn followed by the keeper’s turn. An investigator’s turn consists of two Movement steps and one Action step, which may be taken in any order. A Movement step allows a player to move the investigator one space. An action step can be used to run (in effect treating it as a Movement step), drop items, use a card with an Action ability, attack a monster, or explore a room. Some actions require an attribute test. This consists of applying any described modifiers to the named attribute and rolling the ten-sided die. Before the roll, a skill point may be spent to apply the investigator’s Luck as a positive modifier. A result that is equal to or less than the modified attribute counts as success, while a result greater than the modified attribute counts as a failure. A one is always a success and a ten is always a failure, so neither result is guaranteed regardless of modifiers. Once all investigators have completed their turns, any sharing the same space may trade items.

The keeper turn starts with drawing threat tokens equal to the number of investigators. These then get spent on keeper actions. The available actions will largely depend on which scenario is being run. If there are any tokens left, they can carry over to the next turn. Should any monsters on the board share a space with an investigator, they can perform an attack. The keeper turn is ended by placing a time token on top of the Event deck.

Even when it’s not the keeper’s turn, he can still cause the investigators grief with mythos and trauma cards. Mythos cards are highly restricted in when they can be used, usually requiring the expenditure of threat tokens and/or that the target investigator be in a certain room. The reason for these strictures is that the effects of most mythos cards are really nasty. Luckily for the investigators, a mythos card gets discarded after being used. Trauma cards come in physical and mental varieties and can be played on an investigator when Stamina or Sanity damage are taken as appropriate. These usually stick an investigator with an attribute penalty that can be either temporary or last through the game.

The Event deck regulates the pace of the game. When there are a number of time tokens equal to the number printed on the back of the top card of the Event deck, the tokens are removed and the card is drawn and resolved. While the effects of an event card can vary, they’re rarely to the benefit of the investigators. When the final event card is drawn, the game is over and usually (but not always) results in the defeat of the investigator players.

Exploring rooms is necessary for advancing the scenario. Each room starts the game with at least one exploration card. Many will provide a useful item, while others will be blanks. The most pivotal cards are those which provide clues as to where to investigate next, with the final clue revealing the scenario objective. Often, all it takes is to spend an Action step to draw the card(s) in the same room as the investigator. But it’s not always that simple. The most critical exploration cards (including the clues) are hidden under obstacle and lock cards. Obstacles require that the investigator pass the requirements described on the card, which usually involves possessing a specific exploration card, passing an attribute test, or solving a puzzle. Once passed, the rest of the exploration cards may be collected. Locks are similar, but the room in question cannot be entered until its requirements are met. This means a Movement step must be held in reserve when resolving a lock card.

As is appropriate for a Cthulhu Mythos adventure, combat is not a tactic of the first resort (at least not if you want to win). However, there are circumstances where violence may be necessary. Cards are drawn from one of three decks (depending on the monster’s sub-type) until you get one that matches the investigator’s attack type (unarmed, melee, or ranged). Along with a bit of flavor text, the card will indicate the attribute test needed for the attack as well as the result of both success and failure on the top half of the card. While certain attributes are used more frequently (for instance, ranged attacks tend to use Marksmanship), just about any of them can be employed depending on the flavor text. Monster attacks are handled in a similar way, except they use the text on the bottom half of the card.

From the rulebook:
Investigators should also be careful to stay fairly close to one another. It is quite easy for the keeper to pick out and overwhelm lone investigators. If you’ve ever seen a horror movie, you know what happens when the characters say, ‘Let’s split up!‘”

An aspect I particularly enjoy are the puzzles. Many of the lock and obstacle cards require that a tile puzzle be solved to resolve them. The tiles are rotated and/or shifted until they form the appropriate pattern based on its sub-type. Now puzzle solving in RPGs tends to suffer from a disconnect between character abilities and player abilities. In a worst case scenario, a lazy smart-aleck will proclaim that his character solves the puzzle thanks to his high Intelligence stat. The GM then counters by telling him to roleplay it. Meanwhile, the puzzle fiend player roleplays his dull-witted brick character by not helping with the puzzle. Harsh words are exchanged, dice are shoved up inappropriate places, and Game Night ends in tears. Mansions of Madness features a compromise where a player gets a number of actions per turn equal to the character’s Intellect. So while it’s ultimately up to the player to solve the puzzle, the character stats matter. The only issue comes from the fact that the tiles are randomly dealt and can potentially result in a puzzle impossible to solve as is. Though tiles can be discarded and replaced, such a move costs two actions. This is presumably to discourage excessive tile discarding by lazy puzzle solvers, but can also be a rather harsh penalty for what might just be an unlucky draw.

Though the game can theoretically be run with only two players, this is less than ideal. Under such circumstances, the keeper is unable to accumulate much in the way of threat tokens. This results in most of the really good keeper actions and mythos cards becoming effectively unusable. On the investigator side, having only one investigator leaves little time for a thorough exploration of the house, forcing him to concentrate solely on following the trail of clues. While many games can become cumbersome when the maximum number of players participate, Mansions of Madness works a lot better by doing that.

In conclusion, despite some awkward aspects, the game does a reasonably competent job of translating RPG scenarios into a board game. The way the mechanics all but guarantee that a charging in guns blazing approach will end in disaster help encourage a proper frame of mind for a Cthulhu Mythos-style investigation.

Rating: 15

Product Summary

Mansions of Madness

From: Fantasy Flight Games

Type of Game: Board Game

Game Design by: Corey Konieczka and Tim Uren

Cover Art by: Anders Finer

Additional Art by: Henning Ludvigsen

Game Components Included: Rulebook, Keeper Guide, 8 Investigator figures, 24 Monster figures, 1 ten-sided die, 83 Exploration cards, 20 Spell cards, 14 Starting Item cards, 32 Trait cards, 12 Lock cards, 7 Obstacle cards, 35 Mythos cards, 21 Trauma cards, 65 Combat cards, 8 Investigator Character cards, 25 Event cards, 13 Keeper Action cards, 15 Objective cards, 15 Map tiles, 72 Damage tokens, 24 Horror tokens, 18 Room Feature markers, 4 Sample tokens, 12 Sealed Door markers, 24 Skill Point tokens, 24 Status Effect tokens, 13 Story Choice markers, 12 Threat tokens, 6 Time tokens, 3 Lock Puzzle Setup tiles, 15 Lock Puzzle pieces, 23 Rune Puzzle pieces, 3 Wiring Puzzle Setup tiles, 15 Wiring Puzzle pieces

Retail Price: $79.99

Number of Players: 2-5

Player Ages: 13+

Play Time: 2-3 hours

Website: http://www.fantasyflightgames.com

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

MACE West 2014 – Asheville, NC Gaming Convention – Gaming Coordinator Report

March 2014 meant not only that I turned 45, but also that MACE West moved to Asheville, NC, home of the Biltmore Estate! It was a new area for us and they seemed very welcoming to us on Facebook, but I wasn’t sure how accepting they would be about how we do things.  We are a little more organized than what they may be used to, which I freely admit is sort of a double-edged sword.  They could love the organization or they could think we are too “nazi” about the way we do things.

MACE West is the first “spin off” convention from our core event, MACE.  Our success at MACE gave us the confidence that we could do this kind of thing other places and for other people.  Hickory, where we started MACE West, dried up for us when the location was sold out from under us.  Several of our regulars mentioned Asheville and it did not take long before word got out and some Asheville folks were all but begging us to come.  Who knew Asheville was a bustling gaming haven waiting to be tapped?

The location was leaps and bounds better than what we had in Hickory, although it has less potential for growth.  So going forward, our growth will have to be managed.  However, we would not know how much management it would take until we knew how well the MACE model would be received there.  Less than a mile from the Biltmore Estates, the Doubletree Asheville is a beautiful location.

Pathfinder Society is hot everywhere and Asheville is no different.  In fact, it has a considerable PFS lodge run but some very fine folks.  Working with them was a delight.  They had their stuff together way before anyone else would have in a similar situation and I was very pleased with their pre-con communication and preparation.  I set out to give them more tables than I have ever given a PFS group, even for MACE.   The amazing thing was I was going from 2 tables of PFS when we were in Hickory to 9 and possibly 12 tables in Asheville.  That’s a lot of gaming.

However, any MACE is more than just organized play, no matter how hot it may be.  MACE prides itself in the variety it can bring, and Asheville opened  up to supply it.  For the first time at a  MACE West, we arranged to host a Warmachine feeder to our own Invitational, as well as a feeder to SCARAB’s championship. On top of that, we discovered fairly early on that there was a strong historical miniature community in Asheville and they were very enthusiastic to support us.  Add to that, a strong board game Meetup group, and early on MACE West was building up to be a great success.

Preregistration numbers were incredibly good, especially in comparison with old MACE West numbers.  Our room night commitment was a big concern going in but as we drew closer, it was less and less of a concern.  The Asheville people really turned out and some of them actually got rooms.  We can not express our appreciation enough to those that helped us in this way.

Arrival was Thursday night before the con, hauling in all my stuff – computers, game registration stuff, my contribution to the board game library, as well as the things I needed for the games I was running.  The hotel was more than amazing.  They were constantly helping out where they could but not in an obnoxious and annoying way.  It’s like they had a sixth sense about when we truly needed help.  I really felt welcome here.  The bonus was that the general manager has had experience with a con like ours when he worked in Charlottesville, Virgina.  That is extremely valuable in our business.  It meant that he understands us.

Friday went incredibly smooth.  Gamers started coming in way earlier than we thought and the rooms were looking busy fairly quickly.  We had 1o tables set up for other RPGs, a room dedicated to board games (scheduled and pick up) and a room dedicated to miniatures.  The PFS room (the largest) started filling up at 7 pm as they chose not to take advantage of the early slot (Friday 3pm), which was perfectly fine by me.  The minis really were not going to get started until Saturday, with only a few things going on in there Friday.  The board games and regular RPGs were the primary focus of attention early Friday.  I was very pleased with the staged start.

Friday night, I set myself up to run the Three Kings adventure of Achtung! Cthulhu.  I decided to run it in Savage Worlds/Realms of Cthulhu instead of Call of Cthulhu and this was the first time I was going to run this at a con.  My table was full with preregistered players, all people I would consider Savage Worlds all-stars – MACE regulars that have a lot of experience themselves in running and playing Savage Worlds.

You can see my second look of this adventure here, but I can safely say that I was not satisfied with the session.  It took too long and we never got to a satisfactory resolution.  I made plans to resolve those issues in my next iteration.

By Friday night, about 75% of our gaming was in full swing.  The Asheville Bored Game Geeks Meetup group (“Bored” intentionally spelled that way) really showed up and helped us out in the game library.  I cannot thank them enough.  The regular RPG room turned out to be somewhat of a noise problem (as it almost always does) so we moved some games out to other smaller rooms and to the lobby.  We gave the board room (typical large tabled room with comfortable chairs) to some special games, which was a nice addition for those guys.

Of course, as expected, the PFS room was busy.  RPGA had one table in there but between 7 and 8 tables of PFS were full.  For some reason, Shadowrun Missions just did not take here in Asheville.

As stated, my game ran way too late and kind of put me in a bad mood.  I stayed up to clean up, put away gaming registration stuff, and finally went to bed after handling a few minor scheduling issues.  There were a lot of people wanting to get on the schedule on site, and I had to accommodate a little more of that than I am used to.  But that’s a good thing.  The Asheville community proved to be a very dynamic one.

Saturday started early because PFS starts a little earlier than most, thanks to their five hour slots.  They filtered in fairly quickly and on average, 8 to 9 tables all day were full and running.  RPGA continued to run their one table and seemed happy despite the massive amount of noise going on.

The big thing that started on Saturday was going to be the Warmachine events and more historical miniatures.   I was curious how that was going to mesh in the same room.  It turned out very well.  We had way more Warmachine players than expected and many other Privateer Press games got demo’ed.  The historical minis all went off without a hitch and I was very pleased with the result.  That room was also very busy throughout Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, I ran a miniatures version of the classic 1987 game Aliens.  I blew up the maps to 1 inch/25mm scale and used re-purposed Horrorclix and Halo-Clix minis to run the reactor scenario.  I had play-tested it before and it seemed to be very balanced, but this time it seemed a little out of balance, perhaps because I introduced one house rule that favored the players.  Perhaps that goes to show you how delicate balance can be in some games.  The players still seemed to have fun.

Saturday is usually the day that something major happens and I was pleasantly surprised that nothing did.  There were some glitches with the food and the hotel, but they were mostly minor.  Most seemed relatively receptive to the food and the prices, but there was enough learned that there will be some changes next year.

We noticed that walk-in traffic slowed to a near halt way early.  Saturday had hardly any walk-in traffic.  Everyone that was going to game with us all came on Friday or preregistered, which told us a lot of things.  By Saturday afternoon, all the rooms were pretty full.  Attendance had nearly doubled past MACE West numbers.  The gamers in this area knew what they wanted and understood what to expect.  There was a certainty that made this MACE West feel way different from the ones in the past.  That was a good thing.

Savage Saturday Night went reasonably well except for the food issue – the hotel did not like outside food brought in for the SSN players, which is something we do every year.  Hopefully we can get those problems resolved for next year as the hotel food for a group that size is way too expensive.

By Saturday night, I had gotten good reports from all departments, and even gotten a few opportunities to play a few quickie dice and card games.  Despite the linear layout of the hotel, there was a sort of natural flow to it that really added to the atmosphere.  I was concerned that there would be a divided feeling with gaming in two separate locations but there was not.

With two-thirds of the con in the books, it was becoming quite apparent MACE West was going to be a resounding success.  The pessimist in me was still waiting for the other shoe drop, but it never did and MACE West was heading down the home-stretch with a lot of good gaming experiences.

Sunday is what most con-goers call zombie day.  In most cases, it’s because the parties the night before kept everyone up late.  In the case of MACE events, it is because everyone stays up late gaming.  Regardless, a lot of gamers are passionate and still make it to the morning slot to game.  With little walk-in traffic, gaming registration was way less necessary than normal, so I could start packing up early.

As I walked around and thanked each individual for their help – the PFS guys, the Warmachine guys, the historical and board game guys – each one wanted more space.  This was what we were worried about.  It’s going to take some management but we are going to try our best to accommodate everyone’s requests.  There is no doubt that MACE West 2015 is going to be even better.

Nothing about MACE West 2014 was a disappointment for us.  The hotel was great.  The attendance was great.  The games were great.  There were a few very minor issues and a few things we will work with the hotel on to do better (namely food) but in general, MACE West 2014 was the best ever.

B-movie Inspirations: Hawk the Slayer (1980)

Rated PG (?)

Many of my gaming friends have mentioned Hawk the Slayer as a movie I should see.  I had heard of it but never sat down to watch it at length.  It is now considered a cult classic.  So I found a copy and decided to see what the big deal was about it.

Before there was a Conan the Barbarian and so many clones after that, Hawk the Slayer hit a relatively stark market of fantasy sword and sorcery movies.  The title character is played by John Terry, and Voltan the evil bad guy is played by the great and venerable Jack Palance.  Wearing a helmet that is somewhat reminiscent of Darth Vader’s helmet, Palance steals every scene he is in. How can you go wrong with a guy like that as the antagonist? However, if that is not enough, they have one those actors that is in everything – William Morgan Sheppard.  Look him up.  And then look up who his son is.  A long line of great sci-fi actors.

The story is of two brothers – one good and one not-so-good.  The setting is a fantasized Earth, with Christian nuns speaking of God and the Devil.  But there are giants, elves and dwarves, as well as black magic and witches.  It is established, however, that the old races of elves, dwarves and giants have all but died out as the members of those races that join the party are “the last of their kind” – a world obviously very influenced by Tolkien.

The story starts with Voltan coming upon his father in a dark castle, demanding the last of the “elven mindstone.”  The father refuses to hand over such power to the servant of the Devil and evil, and so Voltan murders his own father.  Hawk arrives not long after to find his father dying and Voltan gone.  In his dying words, the father hands over the “great sword” and the last mindstone to Hawk, charging him to protect them.  The stone joins with the hilt of the sword and now the sword will always come to Hawk when he calls it.

The movie then switches to some unknown time afterwards.  Voltan is rampaging across the countryside, killing men, women and children in various villages, in service of some dark being in a cave, which you assume is a demon servant of the Devil.  Meanwhile, Hawk helps a witch, saving her from being burned for witchcraft by some villagers.  She becomes the central focus of mysticism in the story and sort of drives the whole plot for Hawk.

A man named Ranulf (Sheppard) stumbles into a convent after Voltan has attacked his village.  Severely wounded, the nuns heal him back to health.  What most gamers remember about Ranulf is his one-handed, auto-fire, clip-fed crossbow.  I wonder how many people stat’ed out that weapon in the early years of D&D.  Voltan arrives and kidnaps the Abbess, demanding a large sum of gold for her return.  Ranulf is dispatched to find Hawk the Slayer, a man known to fight for the side of good.  Hawk, with the help of the witch, joins with Ranulf to help the sisters of the convent.  They work together to form a formidable party to rescue the kidnapped nun.

Dispersed throughout the movie as it develops, told through flashbacks, is a story of the two brothers when they still served their father.  This is perhaps one part I could have done without but obviously someone thought it best to throw a little more romance in the movie.  If patricide or wearing a Darth Vader helmet was not enough to hate the bad guy and if Jack Palance was not enough to hate the bad guy, there is more.  The two brothers fought over the same woman and, of course, she picked our hero over the dark and brooding Voltan.  Not only did the woman die in the conflict but Voltan was badly burned in the face, making him forever even more menacing.

The witch helps form the party, teleporting Hawk to various locations to find old friends of his that has journeyed with before.  These are a giant named Gort, a sullen and gluttonous giant who wields a mighty war hammer, Crow, an elf who speaks like a robot and wields a deadly bow, and Baldin, a wisecracking dwarf skilled in the use of a bull whip.  As said before, these are the last of their kind, at least known to man.  It is implied by the elf at one point that his people went off somewhere else and he hears their call, in much the same way as the Tolkien elves went off.  Interestingly, they simply used a very tall actor for the giant (Bernard Bresslaw at 6’ 7”) and a very short actor (though not a midget) for the dwarf (Peter O’Farrell).  To make them seem taller and shorter respectively, they ended up sharing quite a few scenes together.

The movie progresses in a fairly predictable manner from there on out.  Also dispersed throughout are moments between Voltan and the evil demon that he serves, speaking to “the one,” and the demon using a special crystal to subside the pain of Voltan’s facial scar.  In this, you get the feeling that this whole thing was a set up for Voltan to get at Hawk.  The demon creature has an interest in Hawk, and, although not explained, one can assume it is related to the mindstone.

One notable cool effect in the battle scenes that many of my gamer friends probably appreciate is the elf’s bowmanship.  For a low budget, I’d imagine most believe they nailed it.  Using simple rapid cutaway techniques, the made it appear as if the elf was firing off arrows with amazing speed.  Combine this with the rapid fire cross bow in the hands of Ranulf and you have a lot of sword wielding extras dropping with arrows or bolts sticking out of them.  It was a pretty cool effect for its time.

At one point – and I really hate scenes like this – in their journey to form the party, Hawk and Ranulf go through a Mirkwood-like forest – the Forest of Wyr or however you would spell it – to get to where they are going.  They instill this sense of foreboding about it.  They even built a large stone gate and surrounded it with gruesome skeletons hanging from trees.  Hawk says that the light of the mindstone will protect them as they journey through this scary place.  But what happens is a huge let down.  Probably because of budget, the forest turned out to be nothing more than what you would see at a Halloween haunted forest.  No illustration of the true power of the mindstone; just glimpses of cheesy puppets peaking around trees and fun-house like screams.  All they had to do is ride through it real fast and it did not look like it took them more than 5 minutes to get through.  Not much of a forest.  Total let down, it was one of many points in the movie that the low budget did not allow a full exploration of the concepts in the script.

In the final battle at the convent, several of the “last of their kind” die unceremoniously.  The dwarf (who I found a little annoying) was given more screen time when he died than the coolest of the meta-humans – the elf.  We never even saw what killed the elf.  We just walk into the room and there he is taking his last breath.  I would think we would spend a little more time on the death of the “last of their kind.”

Hawk the Slayer is an example of what has been lost in movies of today – simplicity with the potential of epic.  This is a simple story.  Bad guy harasses the nuns and a hero comes to their rescue – not very epic at all.  The underlying story of the mindstone and the demon master to Voltan has the implication of something epics but it is never explored.  In fact, without giving too much away about the ending, it was quite apparent that they hoped to have at least one sequel.  So the epic story of the mindstone was left untold.  All we know is that it allowed Hawk to call forth his sword at anytime and contains some other vague magical powers that protected them from evil.

Today, fantasy is not fantasy without being big and epic, using lots of CGI and little story.  In this movie, the world was introduced to you by each of the characters, strategicly bringing in elements in each encounter.  It was also a simple world –  a world not too much different from our own but with some fantasy elements.

From a role play gaming perspective, this is what you typically see in a level one or novice fantasy adventure.  Keep it simple and small scope.  Allow for the implication of something epic but do not throw too much at the players right away.  It’s a good model for a balanced fantasy party, although they did not have their cleric.  While the characters were not completely explored, they did have a very diverse group.

The plot elements are also fairly common fantasy plot devices.

  • bad guy rampaging the country side
  • hero with a mystical sword seeking a party to thwart the bad guys plans
  • an evil force influencing his minions with a darker plan
  • a mystical artifact that few know about or understand at the center of all the machinations

There isn’t really a lot of originality to Hawk the Slayer, but the value in the movie is its execution.  For a low budget film, it is well done.  The story has been done many times in many ways, so it’s hard to really pull much more out of it.  It’s inspiring from a setting perspective as well.  There is not a lot given about the world, but it is just enough to keep your interest. It is generally a good movie for the budget they spent on it and it is deserving of a sequel or a remake.  My fear of a remake, however, is that you will lose it’s simplicity and scope in favor of epic CGI-filled menagerie.

Achtung Cthulhu: Three Kings – A second look

Achtung Cthulhu: Three Kings (Zero Point Part 1)

A second look

After reading through the Three Kings adventure the first and second time, I set out with a plan to try and run this single adventure as a convention game.  It is funny how one can read through an adventure more than once and completely under estimate the potential.  It really goes to show you that you don’t truly know an adventure until you run it.  This is especially true in the case of the Three Kings adventure, as I found out.

My goal was a ambitious one but I thought if I trimmed some of the adventure down I could fit it into a four-hour time slot.  I first set out to run it in Call of Cthulhu as I am more comfortable with that rule set.  But I understand that CoC is geared towards the horror and investigative side of a Lovecraftian adventure.  Three Kings has that, of course, but because of its sheer nature in being set in World War II, it also has its tactical aspects too.  CoC is very abstract with the tactical side of things.

The other option was Savage Worlds: Realms of Cthulhu.  I have nothing against Savage Worlds. I thoroughly enjoy it when I play it.  I was just not comfortable with it at the time, from a  game master perspective.  Savage Worlds, by its nature, is a little more tactical and under the Realms of Chthulhu setting, it also had the horror and investigative side as well.  This presented my first dilemma but by far not the most challenging.

I spoke with one of my friends who is an editor in the industry and was familiar with the adventure.  I asked him what he thought about fitting this adventure into a 4-hour session, and he suggested cutting out a large part of the beginning of the adventure and get them to what I thought would be about half way through the adventure.  That sounded like good advice and in fact it helped with my first dilemma – what system to use.  The first half of the adventure is largely the covert intelligence gathering part, and the second half is far more tactical.  I decided to get over my reservations of running Savage Worlds and run it in Realms of Cthulhu.

I ran the first part of the adventure just to see how it can go.  This is where I discovered what it really meant for the adventure to be a “sandbox.”  There are very few defined encounters, in truth.  A few suggestions and a few required events to move the party along the plot line, but when the players are travelling between villages and the castle, it is completely open.  In order to really make it feel like a tense region under Nazi rule, I felt obligated to at least have a few random encounters that gave the party an opportunity to feel that tension.  At the same time, however, I wanted to make sure each encounter had meaning and applied to the overall story-arch.  The first session I ran of this took just over 3 hours and we did not quite get to where I wanted to get to.

After running the second half twice, both times attempting to trim it down to a 4-hour session without losing any of the essence of the adventure, I have to say that there is so much more to this adventure than initially meets the eye.  Do not let the fact that the meat of the adventure is just 19 pages fool you.  Additionally, if you do a little research and web searching, you can learn enough about the locale to add a little more to the adventure.  I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the layout of the castle from the various sources that are out there.  It can be enlightening.

The “sandbox” nature of this adventure can really create havoc when you are trying to manage the run time of the adventure.  Unmanaged, this adventure can easily take three to four sessions, if the game master wishes it.  The final scene, when done in full detail, can take a full session alone.  Managing the run time means managing the encounters while still allowing the players obtain the information and to reach the necessary goals of the adventure, with little to no deviation from the plot line.  Meanwhile, at the same time, the game master must avoid railroading the players in a particular direction.  The nature of a military mission helps with that, in that it keeps the player party focused on the mission goals, but deviations can happen and will if the game is not managed well.

For a home game, none of this management is necessary.  This adventure is perfect for a home game and has a lot of potential for many nights of fun and hilarity.  However, as I said before, I wanted to shoehorn this adventure into a convention game so that people at a gaming con can get a feel for what Achtung! Cthulhu was all about.  I did not want to short change the player from experiencing the heart of the adventure while at the same time I wanted the players to have a sense of closure in a 4-hour session.

My most recent attempt at trimming it down involves summarizing the mission brief (which contains way more information than needed for a convention game), and summarizing what has happened to the players thus far and include whatever intelligence they have gathered up until that point.  Unfortunately, this still adds up to about a 6 to 7 page bulleted document that the players have to read before the game.  We’ll see how that goes.  I am running it at RavenCon in Richmond, Virgina April 25 -27, if all goes according to plan.  I created a Powerpoint presentation as well, with the same information as the material the players have to read.  So hopefully between those two things, getting the gist of the game will be fairly easy for the players.

Condensing it was my most challenging problem, and one that I admit was self-imposed.  I realize that my desire to make a convention game is the path I chose and has thus far ended in longer sessions than my players would prefer.  However, there were some other minor tweaks I would recommend to anyone that wanted to avoid the somewhat clichéd ending the adventure has in store.  Enough can be done to make it somewhat original without completely changing the essence of the adventure.  Without giving away too much, I would recommend the GM read into the Mythos creature mentioned in adventure and relate the entities at the end to that creature, enhancing their look and feel with the characteristics of that Mythos creature.  This way, these entities will not feel so clichéd.  The GM should understand that cryptic recommendation, I think.

I write this to simply illustrate the depth and potential of this adventure.  My goals to condense it into a convention game made me realize this more than my initial review revealed to me.  As I said, you do not truly know an adventure until you have played it at least once.  The fact that I have had trouble compacting it is not a criticism of the overall adventure as all, but a compliment.  This setting is probably one I am going to delve into deeper now that I have played it a few times.  It touches on two of my favorite subjects – Lovecraftian horror and World War 2 – and I look forward to further adventures in it.

B-Movie Inspirations: Barbarian Queen (1985)

Rated R

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Once again, I delve into a movie from the vast library of Roger Corman; another fantasy adventure starring Lana Clarkson (from Deathstalker) and a whole cast other women in various stages of undress. Master of low budget and reuse, Corman as producer reused much of the set from Deathstalker, as well as costumes I recognized from other of his fantasy outings.

This time; however, the director tried to pass all of this as real history – Ancient Rome to be exact.  I had to read the description of the movie in IMDB to get that because there was little mention of that in the movie and if you missed that, you would have simply guessed it was a generic low-fantasy setting.  However, the costumes looked nothing like what I know is Ancient Rome and the weaponry was also not of that time period.  It is a pretty sad attempt at a historical setting.

Moving past that, you run into a lot of the standard problems a movie of this caliber has –bad acting, bad fight choreography and bad plotlines.  And, of course, as with what seems like all of Corman’s fantasy films, it is chock full of bare breasted and scantily clad woman.  This is definitely not a family friendly film.  It has considerable violence, a few rape scenes and a lot of nudity.

Barbarian Queen is of course a Conan the Barbarian-knock off with a female lead, Amethea (Lana Clarkson).  She is apparently the Barbarian Queen, although she is neither a barbarian nor a queen.  Amethea and her faithful band of female warriors go on a quest of revenge and rebellion in this cheesy sexploitation fantasy/historical fiasco of a movie.

The movie opens wasting no time to show the nudity as we meet our heroine prepping for her wedding with her blushing groom, Argan (Frank Zagarino), who is one of the most monotone actors I have ever seen.  Their wedding bliss is interrupted by a raiding parting of bad guys.  The village is all but wiped out, leaving a small handful of women alive.  Women, children, and elderly are killed while many of the strong are captured and taken as prisoner.

You learn later that they are to be used in the gladiatorial games of the local “Roman” leader, Arrakur (Arman Chapman).  Arrakur is a tyrannical leader/king/governor of the region and he holds celebrations that involve gladiatorial games every year.  The women he takes are gathered in a harem for gladiators and I assume, other high profile revelers.  This, of course, is plenty of opportunity for gratuitous boob shots.

Our illustrious hero Amethea sets out to find our captured love, Argan, who is slated to be a gladiator in the games.  She and a her three lady friends travel across a wilderness to Arrakur fortress (which looks somewhat familiar to the fortress in Deathstalker).  Along the way, they meet another group of people that are the remainder of another village, and they have a connection to the resistance or rebellion against Arrakur.  A young girl in the group leads them to the fortress where they meet more resistance fighters and find Argan and other gladiators.

This eventually borrows a page from the story of Spartacus, where it says the worst kind of slave rebellion you can have is one lead by gladiators – warriors bread to fight.  The rebels attempt to team up with the slave gladiators and despite some treachery in the ranks, being captured and recaptured a couple of times and a disturbing bondage scene with a creepy torturer with freaky glasses, are able to overthrow the tyrannical Arrakur.  Sorry if I gave away the ending in this one, it is just not worth your time.

This was a very shallow and poorly written storyline as little more than a simple excuse to show off as many pairs of boobs as they could.  But despite that, as an RPG game master, this movie had a few things that could be used as inspiration.

  • Rebel Alliances:  Under a tyrannical rule, there are always those that wish to resist.  Maybe they are disorganized and just need a leader.  Maybe they lack the resources to resist.  Maybe they are infested with turn coats and spies loyal to the tyrant that need to be purged.  There are always those that wish to resist.  A courageous party just has to seek them out subtly in a tense environment of the tyrant’s rule.
  • Spartacus Syndrome: If a tyrant has slaves and some of those slaves are gladiators, there is a good chance some prefer freedom over the treatment they are getting.  It all depends on how well the gladiators are treated, however.  A party looking to overthrow a tyrant such as this will need to really dig deep to find the disgruntled gladiators in the bunch in order to spark the flame of rebellion.  If the party is able to gain even a few of the gladiators on their side, they could prove to be invaluable as they are warriors trained and bred to fight.

This movie did not have a whole lot else.  It was pretty weak in general.  Perhaps one of the weakest I have seen in the Corman line up.

Think Again!

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

From: IELLO
Reviewed by: Marty Connell

Think Again! is a party game from IELLO games. Originally released in French in 2012, the English version was made available in early 2014.

This is a trivia game where you are almost certain to know the answers to all the questions. That’s good, right? Well, not so fast. The twist in this game is that sometimes you need to give an incorrect answer.

Each card has six questions, and players take turns reading a question of their choice from a card. They take the deck of cards into their hand, flip over the first card and read a question. Then, they show the back of the next card of the deck. The back of the cards contain one of six symbols. Three indicate you need to give the correct answer (green circle, “Right,” or a drawing of a professor); the other three mean you need to give an incorrect answer (red square, “Wrong,” or a drawing of a dunce). The player who answers first will be given a point if they answer as indicated by the image. Otherwise, they are given a negative point.

For example, if the question is “What color are Smurfs?” and the image on the next card is a dunce, any color other than blue would be a correct response and thus a point would be awarded. If a person answers blue or a response that is not a color, they would be given a negative point.

Each player asks 5 questions and once that is done the player with the most points win.

As with any good party game, the rules are very straightforward and players can jump in and play immediately. The fun in this game is trying to be the fastest at giving a response. As said earlier, everyone knows the answers to these simple questions. The trick is how fast can your brain process an answer based on whether you need the right answer or the wrong answer. Blurting out a nonsense word doesn’t help either because the incorrect answer must be a valid answer type.

For example, if the question is “We hear with which body part?” and you needed to give an incorrect answer. Something like ‘waffles’ wouldn’t work. It would have to be an actual body part that’s not the ear.

Personally, when I first read over the rules I did not think the game would go over well with my group. However, I was pleasantly surprised how much fun everyone was having as we played. Trying to blurt out the correct response as fast as you can is tougher than it seems. Once we were done playing a game, everyone immediately wanted to try it again.

As a party game that only takes around 15 minutes to play, it’s a nice filler for game night when you are waiting for others to show or fill in gaps between games. The only downside is that as the number of players increase, many times people will answer at the same time and thus it’s hard to judge who responded first. In those cases, the question-giver threw out that question and gave another.

For more details on IELLO and their new party game Think Again! check them out at their website http://iello.miiduu.com/new/think-again, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 13

Product Summary

Think Again!

From: IELLO
Type of Game: Party Game
Game Design by: Bruno Cathala
Cover Art by:Dominique Ferland
Additional Art by:Tony Rochon
Game Components Included: 50 question cards, 6 rules cards
Retail Price: $14.99
Number of Players: 3 – 10
Player Ages: 10 and up
Play Time: 15 minutes
Item Number: 00031
Email: http://iello.desk.com/customer/portal/emails/new
Website: http://iello.miiduu.com/think-again

Reviewed by: Marty Connell

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Disc Duelers

Disc Duelers

From: Level 99 Games

Reviewed by: Barry Lewis

Have you ever asked yourself, “Do I need more dexterity games in my life?”  If you answered “Yes!” then I have a review for you.  If you answered “No” then you’re lying to yourself.  Now it’s time to enter the world of “flicky” games with my review of Disc Duelers by Level 99 Games.

Disc Duelers is basically an elimination game where you try to eliminate the other players’ discs before they eliminate yours.  The game has two versions-the basic game, or Classic Elimination, and the advanced game.  I’ll talk about the basic game first since the majority of the rules are covered in the basic game.

For the sake of this review I’ll be reviewing this as if it’s a two player game.  Before the game begins you and your opponent will have a chance to place terrain.  Each player gets to place a piece of terrain anywhere on the board, with a few minor rules in placement.  The terrain must be evenly distributed among the players.  So if you have five pieces of terrain then only four will be placed and the fifth will not be used.  Terrain can be small boxes, books or just about anything. I personally like using Legos or Duplo bricks.  Once this is done you’ll then begin to build your team of characters.  Once you’ve done this take the discs that correspond to your character cards.

When you look at your characters’ cards, the characters have two stats: Movement and Attack.  The number of Attacks each character gets is listed on the red disc and each number of Movements is listed on the blue disc.  Also on the character’s card at the bottom is a Special Power.   The Special Powers vary and give the characters their own unique feel.  All characters have 5 life unless noted on their card.    Here’s a quick play tip – use unused character discs to keep track of a character’s wounds by placing them on the character’s card.

At the beginning of a game all character cards are upright or “Ready.”  When you act with a character’s disc the character’s card is then turned sideways or “Unready” and cannot be used again until all other characters have acted.  When all characters have acted then the round ends and all characters return to their “ready” status and can be used again.

You’ll then randomly choose who goes first, but before the first player acts each player will take one of their discs and place it at the edge of the table.  The disc is then moved twice onto the board.  This is repeated with all the players’ discs until all are on the table.

At the beginning of  every player’s turn you must announce  what you are doing with that disc, either moving it or attacking with it. This is very important for the sake of taking or doing damage.  Movement is very simple – just flick where you want to go up to the number listed on the character’s card.  You have to be careful and have good control when moving since if you hit another disc, including your own, the disc you’re moving will take a point of damage.  Although, if you hit a piece of terrain while moving your disc will not take damage.  The rules for attacking are basically the reverse of moving.  To attack just flick your disc into another opponent’s disc.  The opponent’s disc will take a point of damage.  If you attack and hit terrain your disc will take a point of damage as well. Also, if anyone’s disc falls off the table either during movement or attacking that disc takes a point of damage.

One of the fun aspects of the game is doing combo damage to an opponent.  For example you attack an opponents’ disc and hit it for a point of damage, the attacked disc continues to move then hits a piece of terrain for a second point of damage, it’s momentum then causes it to fall off the table for a third point of damage!  The game limits you, though, from taking more than one point of damage from each kind of hit.  For example, you attack an opponent’s disc and hit it for one point, it then hits a piece of terrain for another point of damage and deflects into a second piece of terrain, but since it’s already taken a point of damage from the first piece of terrain the third point of damage from the second piece of terrain is then ignored.

So that’s the basic game.  The “advanced” game just adds in crates and items.  So let’s talk briefly about them.

Set the game up as normal and then place as many crates half to the number of players, up to 3 crates, on the table.  So in a two player game only one crate will be in play.  The crate is then dropped by one of the players about two feet over the table.  Where the crate lands is where it stays.   To open the crate a player, during their turn, just has to hit the crate with one of his or her discs either during its movement or attack.  When a player hits the crate they may draw an item card from the item deck and put it with that character’s card.  Only the character that opened the crate may use the item.  The crate is then re-dropped by the player to the right of the current player’s turn.

Items can increase attacks, modify movement, heal and protect.  There’s also a few that are a detriment to your character if you’re unlucky enough to draw them.  The items can either be used once then discarded, or used once per round depending on the symbol on the card.  Cards that can be re-used are turned sideways when used and can be readied for use again at the beginning of a new round.

The game has, to me at least, a lot of replay ability since there are 50 characters to choose from and 48 different items.  The discs slide nicely on any smooth surface and the game can be played on any sized table.  The game does have other variants such as soccer, volleyball and racing, but honestly I haven’t played them yet since I’m having fun just playing the regular game.  If there is any real “con” to the game it’s that you have to sticker the discs.  The game is easy to learn and fun to play.  It’s a great game for kids and adults, but it’s light theme may not fit those hardcore game nights.

Codex Rating: 14

Disc Duelers

Produced by: Level 99 Games

Designed by: D. Brad Talton Jr.

Illustrated by: Fabio Fontes

# of Players: 2-6

Suggested Age: 10+

Playing Time: 45 minutes

Retail Price: $39.99 (US)

Website: http://www.lvl99games.com/