Three Days Until Retirement

Three Days Until Retirement

From: Dioxin Dump, LLC

Reviewed by: W. E. Mitchell

Three Days Until Retirement is a new RPG from Dioxin Dump, LLC.

If you find yourself unable to sleep unless you’ve kicked a few dirt bags down the precinct steps for peddling dope, then you’re probably in need of some counseling. Or you could save on psychologist fees and play Three Days Until Retirement. A new kick-started RPG from Dioxin Dump where one to four people can use the power of imagination to play out an over the top, tongue in cheek, buddy cop adventure. So comb out those mustachios and wipe that glaze off on your pants, it’s time to solve that one last case.

From the title page:
“A card based tabletop game about cops on the edge.”

This game is an RPG where one to four players follow clues, interrogate witnesses and rough up suspects all in attempt to solve one last case before retiring in three days. The Game Runner strings together a story of villainous mystery for the players to solve, netting a last minute promotion and a serious bump in pension benefits.

Time is a big core part of the game, since players only have three days to solve the case before they retire. Each day is made up of four scenes. Each scene is a narrative block where players must find a clue or take an action. Length and order of play is determined by the Game Runner (GR) who functions much like a traditional Dungeon Master, one part storyteller and one part referee.

There are no dice rolls in this game. Character creation, combat, investigation, and any risky behavior is done by use of regular playing cards, minus jokers. The GR has their own deck while the players share a second deck. Each card is valued at its number and face cards are valued thusly: Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13, Ace = 14. The suit has no effect on the card’s value, and any ties are resolved in the player’s favor. At the beginning of each day, a number of cards are dealt from the player’s deck to each player. These cards are then used to perform actions and resolve combat. At the end of each day, unused cards are turned in. This practice motivates players to use their cards, advancing the plot along and modulating the pacing of the game. The number of cards dealt are reduced each day.

This mechanic is used to resolve any skill attempt or combat and can be modified by luck tokens. These tokens are dispensed by the GR and are turned in at the end of each day. So if the players do not use them up they get lost. On the next day a smaller number of luck tokens are distributed. These tokens can be spent to activate one of the Lucky Break skills generated during character creation.

Resolving pulls, situations in which a player needs to pull a card, function one of two ways, random or chosen. In pulls where the player is trying to do something other than combat, the player chooses a card from their hand and add any relevant bonuses. The GR then either chooses a card from their own hand to play, or randomly pulls a card from their deck. A handy chart detailing which type of pull to do is on page 154. If the card of the player is greater than or equal to the GR’s after any bonuses or penalties, then the player wins the pull and the GR narrates what happens.

Combat is slightly different. The player’s hand is shuffled and the top card from the player’s hand and the top card of the GR’s deck is pulled and compared. Whoever has the higher valued card wins and the damage dealt is the difference in value, times ten if weapons are involved. That number is subtracted from the NPC’s or player’s hit points. Unarmed combat is slightly different. The GR and player continue to draw cards, doing damage to each other until a face card is dealt. The GR then narrates how the fisticuffs end. This stops a single unarmed combat from eating up game time and keeps things moving forward.

The only issue that came up with this mechanic is if any of the players were a member of a magic team in High School (cough, cough). Such skills would allow a player to easily set up a deck by controlling a desired card during false shuffles. However, the rules seem to be silent on any nimble finger rearrangements of the cards. Whereas in the case of the GR, everything is done from a separate deck and done by random pulls. It would be a lot harder for a GR to set the deck against the players.

From page 8:
“Though you had aspirations of making it big as an officer, you like getting your hands dirty and couldn’t stand to sit behind a desk.”

Character creation is completely random and take less then ten minutes to accomplish. This is a huge departure from RPG’s like Dungeon and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu and Pathfinder that require a large time investment in character creation. This game does not require plowing through dusty tomes of arcane knowledge to squeeze every ounce of splat capability out of the character. In Three Days, everyone gets the same department issued weapon, and all of the quirks, backgrounds, lucky breaks and any PTSD.

Players first choose a name and write down 100 hit points. The character sheet on page 153 can be used, but it’s so simple a blank piece of paper will serve just as well.

Each character has backstory quirks, intuition quirks, career quirks, and any possible forms of PTSD. To determine quirks, a player draws four cards, then three, then two and finally one card, for each of the four quirks respectively. Only face cards count toward getting a particular quirk. If none are drawn then the character has no quirks in that corresponding quirk. If a face card is drawn simply match it to the charts starting on page 12. These quirks give bonuses and disadvantages for doing certain activities.

Lucky Breaks are a little different. These are the abilities that can be activated by spending a luck token. Each player draws five cards and matches each card according to its value and suit to the chart on page 16.

This method of character creation quickly generates an interesting and quirky officer fit for hijinks and sweet sweet street justice. The only issue is if a maximum number of players are participating, it’s very possible to get repeated quirks, but it doesn’t impair play too much. Especially when the group is made up of people who like role playing and having a rip-roaring good time.

With characters generated, players can dive right into one of the three pre generated mysteries provided or use the handy adventure charts on page 135 to slap a random mystery together.

In conclusion,

Everything about the construction of this excellent RPG is to facilitate prompt play with light hearted, face paced stories. A lot of the work of remembering stats and rules is eliminated by the clever use of the card system placing more emphasis on storytelling. Given its fast paced nature, its easy to get through an entire mystery in four to six hours of play. The light hearted tone emphasizes the goal of the game creators – for everyone to have fun, and this RPG provided it in spades.

There were a few issues, the combat mechanic was a little confusing and could be worded a little better. However, a handy quirk reference is provided on page 154 that makes things a little bit easier.

While it is entirely possible to cheat the by system by knowing just a few simple card manipulation tricks, it doesn’t impact play very much. The goal is to have fun pretending to be a rogue police officer in some over the top 80’s buddy cop movie and those guys get away with jumping into dumpsters full of dandelion fluff and passed out bums with smoking guns stuffed in their pockets. Those cops probably were palming cards.

For more details on Dioxin Dump, LLC and their new RPG “Three Days Until Retirement” check them out at their website http://dioxindump.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 18

Product Summary

Three Days Until Retirement

From: Dioxin Dump, LLC

Type of Game: RPG

Written by: Stuart P. Keating

Game Design by: Stuart P. Keating

Edited by: Rebecca M. Schranz

Cover Art by: Nikki N. Burch

Additional Art by: Nikki N. Burch

Number of Pages: 155

Game Components Included: Game rules book and supplemental rules booklet

Game Components Not Included: Playing cards

Retail Price: $25.00(US)

Retail Price: $28.00 (Can)

Number of Players: 1-4

Player Ages: 12 – 99

Play Time: 6 – 8 hours

ISBN: 9780991596904

Contact: @DioxinDump (Twitter) 405-249-5145 (Phone)

Website: DioxinDump.com

Reviewed by: W. E. Mitchell

Arcana Revised Edition: Look at all the Shiny!

Arcana Revised Edition
From: Fantasy Flight Games, Dust Games
Reviewed by: Steve Constant

In the City of Cadwallon, only one game can be so pretty but so confusing to play!

Everyone knows the game of Poker, I assume? Players use a standard fifty-two card deck, known as a French deck, to create combinations of cards that are partly or completely hidden for the duration of the game and revealed to determine a winner. The rules can be simple or complex. Bets are placed. Averages-to-win are employed. Fooling your opponent is sometimes required to win.

Now, give each of the players a motif of a Guild, the betting system doesn’t use real money but collects Stake Cards, and drape the cards in the most beautiful modern fantasy artwork. This is Arcana Revised Edition.

Arcana Revised Edition, and its predecessor Arcana, are deck building games that are along the lines of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and Dominion. To be honest, I knew nothing when I picked up Arcana Revised Edition except for the outstanding art that covers every inch of the game. There are individualized art pieces on the game box, the rulebook, and over three hundred cards.

‘But!’ You say, ‘Magic the Gathering cards have unique artwork on each card? Why not play Magic?’

Because I value eating and having a bank account. Also, Arcana Revised Edition’s art keeps it unique styling through each piece even though they used nine artists. It doesn’t look drawn-together from a last minute on-a-shoestring budget. I appreciate that aspect of game design.

When I started playing Arcana Revised Edition I needed all my experience in gaming just to try and figure out what was going on. For starters, I didn’t know the name of the city the game is based in until I started writing this review. It just doesn’t matter. And for a lot of the fluff of the game, it is just that – fluff. Relic cards? No, they are just 1-point victory cards. Personality cards? Nope, they are used to win stakes. The ‘Ducal Jubilee’ Card? Please, just means I need to go all out in this round because the game is over.

In the most basic rules of Arcana Revised Edition the objective of the game is to be the leader of guild, that comes with a unique power and followers, in attempts to win stakes. The number of stakes depends on the number of players at the table. Stakes between opponents are always played blinded and one-on-one, where the opposing players do not know what cards they are playing against each other. There is also a ‘Neutral’ stake between all players at the table that is played with all cards placed face-up. Each round players draw four cards from their deck and assign them as they see fit. At the end of the round all cards are revealed and stakes are rewarded. Stakes are won by playing the most Arcana that is on the stake card – Staff, Sword, Cup, or Ducat. Stakes won are added to the winning players deck and the process is repeated until the Ducal Jubilee card is uncovered from the ‘Neutral’ stake.

The expanded rules allow for customization of the player’s guild, adding of guildmasters, adding of the city militia, adding of objectives, adding of random events, and adding of tactical discards. All or none of these rules can be used during the course of the game.

Conclusion? If you got lost reading my description of how the game is played, you’ll be lost playing the game. It is best to have an experienced player at the table to help new players into this card game. The Game Designers recognized this fact. They created a lettering system to help new players know which cards to use. Though, I would have figured they would realize it was a bit too much when they reached the ‘F’ rules set.

But! When you are familiar with all of the rules this game it is extremely enjoyable and fast to play. Anyone who knows Fantasy Flight Games knows that are infamous for games that last an incredibly long time.

Note: The first major difference between Arcana and Arcana Revised Edition is the expansion of guilds from four to six. The second major difference is the labeling of cards for all of the difference rules sets available. I highly suggest purchasing the revised edition if you are interested in picking up this game, though the packaging is larger.

Codex Rating: 14

Product Summary

Arcana Revised Edition
From: Fantasy Flight Games, Dust Games
Type of Game: Card Game
Game Designer: Damien Desnous
Cover Illustrator: Nicolas Fructus
Graphic Design: Mathicu Harlaut and Franck Achard
Illustrators: Paul Bonner, Gary Chalk, Miaguel Coimbra, Nicolas Fructus, Edouard Guiton, Florent Madoux, Paolo Parente, Goulven Quentel, and Marc Simonetti
Number of Pages: 12 page rulebook
Game Components Included: 6 Guild Crest cards, 120 Guild cards, 116 Stake cards, 1 First Player cards, 1 Ducal Jubilee card, 6 Militia cards, 18 Guild Master cards, 24 Objective cards, 12 Event cards
Retail Price: $34.99(US)
Number of Players: 2-4
Player Ages: 13+
Play Time: 60 min

Website: www.fantasyflightgames.com

MACE West GM call!

Once again, I already have a few people from the local area in Asheville chomping at the bit to get on the schedule, so I might as well put out the call for GMs! If you want to run games at MACE West 2015, make your proposals now on the OGRe site…

http://ogre.justusproductions.com/

MACE West is….

MACE West 2015
Gaming in the Mountains!
March 20 – 22, 2015
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Asheville – Biltmore
Asheville, NC
http://macewest.justusproductions.com

PFS and D&D AL is already underway. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or message me on FB.

Ron

MACE 2014 Gaming Coordinator Report: From the trenches!

It takes a lot for me to sit down and write about MACE after it is over.  I invest so much time, emotion, and work into it that when it is over, I really go through something like postpartum.  But writing about it helps with that in some ways, and the sooner I do it the more I can recall.  This year was tough – probably one of the hardest years – and my fatigue has lasted longer than ever before.  But I am going to make an effort just to get it down before things are less fresh in my mind.

2014-11-08-11-57-04

The months before MACE were a whirlwind of drama, excitement and anticipation.  Stores and groups were coming to us wanting to run large events beyond what we already had scheduled.  The hotel came to us early in the year with a new challenge that we had to wrestle with involving a football team using some of our space (and I feel we managed it successfully).  Drama surrounding the Pathfinder Society coordinator really dragged me down for a few weeks until we finally found someone to run it. We continued throughout the year to find DMs for PFS.  On top of that, I took on a new challenge with D&D Adventurer’s League.  With the release of 5th edition D&D, I had to dive into an area I had never done – organized play – and put together an acceptable D&D Adventurer’s League schedule that would attract folks.  The learning curve was challenging, but I had help from various people including Kris Morris from Heroes Headquarters in Mocksville, NC, Ryan Jackson of Above Board Games in Fort Mill, SC and Michael Long, gaming blogger and all around good guy from Knoxville, TN.

On top of that, we were approached by 3 different people about major tournament events at MACE – Mage Wars, Heroclix, and Legends of the 5 Rings.  All were legitimate proposals and I was encouraged by the people organizing them.  Following these, the fine people at Comic Monstore approached us with a desire to run our Magic tournaments.  All this indicated a lot of faith and passion about MACE, more than I think I have ever seen before.  Thanks to Ben Burton, Adam McLaughlin, Jesse Blanchard, Terry Corbett, Ray Franks, and Lyle Dixon for all their hard work.  Not all the events were successful but more on that later.

Going into this year, after all that had happened prior, I felt that MACE was growing into the next level.  A lot of the same gaming events were coming back and many new ones were either building on the old or sprouting up new.  For me, it was almost turning into real work.  Managing the space we had, a larger list of GMs and volunteers and also recoding OGRe over and over again to meet the needs of our customers – it really is almost a second job now.

I felt the energy coming into October.  Personally, I was getting more and more into 5th edition D&D and apparently so were a lot of other people, as I got a ton of emails asking about the Adventurer’s League.  I was very encouraged by the size of the schedule as it grew week by week.  The emails I was getting from new attendees was unprecedented.  Even after receiving the standard array of cancellations, I still felt pretty upbeat about how things were going to go.  Real life tried its best to drag me down but I kept things separate and contained enough.

Going into the weekend, my biggest concern was how I laid out the space and how well it would be utilized.  The hardest part about this aspect was dealing with the football team Friday night and Saturday morning.  There was talk early in the year about launching a new aspect of the con for cosplayers and somehow tying all that into the gaming, but as I suspected that went nowhere.  No offense to those that were heading it up, I just knew it wasn’t a good mix.  At the same time, I assumed we were still going to have the live auction, just at a different time.  All that changed by the time we got the last couple of weeks, and the space utilization was not what it could have been.

The entire weekend was a massive blur to me.  Once the doors opened and people were playing games, everything else did not matter.  When things get started, there are very few things I can change and the only fixes we can put in place are band-aids.  Everything got started off really well, though, with only a few minor road-bumps.   RPGs, table top games, miniatures, and everything else got started off really well.

Highlights during the weekend include

  • Killer: The Game of Assassination made its return to MACE, after nearly a 10-year hiatus. And I learned why I took a hiatus on it. It takes a lot to run.
  • Organized Play is expanding. For the longest time, Pathfinder Society (PFS) was really the only game in town.  The RPGA was in a slow decline and I wasn’t sure what was going to take its place.  With the release of D&D 5th edition, Wizards has expanded its D&D Encounters program to be more con-friendlier.  Having nearly as many tables of D&D Adventurer’s League as we did Pathfinder Society was an encouraging thing to see.
  • On the PFS side, we had some issues come up that threatened the possibility of having any games of organized play Pathfinder at MACE, but those seemed to resolve themselves and we had a very successful PFS schedule. We even had more than a few GMs cancel last minute, but our coordinator, Nathan Littlefield, pulled it together in the end.  Thanks to him for that.
  • Table top board and cards games are surging at MACE. Honestly, despite my efforts to make MACE a big-tent of gaming, for years MACE has been known as primarily an RPG con.  It’s not my fault that the majority of GMs I can get want to run RPGs, but this seemed to put off a lot of other gamers for a period of time.  With the move to Charlotte, it seemed to act as a reset to that perception.  Thanks to more space, as well as groups like the Queen City Gamers Club and others, board games and card games are on a real upsurge at MACE.  We made room for a board game library a few years back and ever since then, it has expanded more and more.  It is funny how some board gamers are just happy with a room and a stack of games to choose from and others need scheduled events.  I have worked pretty hard to accommodate both.
  • This year brought more unpublished play tests and demos than ever before. With the advent of Kickstarter and crowd funding, more and more game designers are popping up all over the place.  I love seeing some of the new ingenious designs.
  • Some of our featured events were a big success. Warmachine and Hordes played all day and all night, as well as other Privateer Press games.  The Carolina Warbunnies really worked their butts off this year and we do appreciate it.  Mage Wars tournament benefiting the Wounded Warriors was a great success.  We had a much better Magic the Gathering event than we have had in the past and that is going to grow.  Those are the ones I know about.  I am sure there are others.

There were also some disappointments, but honestly they were overshadowed by everything else going on.  The only major disappointment was space utilization.  The ballroom that was vacated by the football team was underutilized, partially because of some events not being as successful as we wanted and partially because we did not hold a live auction this year.

That is another disappointment that was out of anyone’s control – no live auction.  I know people enjoy that but because of many factors, we had to change it last minute.  Primary of those factors was lack of donations.  Neither me nor Jeff really understand it, but Jeff’s efforts produced a much smaller amount of stuff.  Thus the auction was changed to a silent auction.

On top of running gaming registration and Con Killer, I also ran four games during the weekend and all went really well.  I had a blast with all of them – Aliens, the board game, two D&D 5th edition sessions and one Achtung! Cthulhu session.  They were all very fun and I want to thank all my players for enjoying the games despite my fatigue and the distractions from gaming registration.

Overall, I was very pleased with the results of MACE 2014.  By the early numbers, it was the best year for us yet.  MACE continues to grow, despite facing considerable adversity each year.  I am very proud at what we have built here in the Carolinas and thank everyone for their participation, dedication and loyalty through our 18 years.