Justus Productions


Hegemonic: Explore Build Fight Plot

From:Minion Games

Reviewed by:W. E. Mitchell

Hegemonic is a new Tabletop 4X game from Minion Games.

Do you long for the seared steak of the harsh vacuum of space to fester in your nostrils as you knock the regolith from your boots? Then it’s time to dust off your bejeweled battle shorts and start shoveling space-coal into your turbo engines. Minion Games’ new tabletop game Hegemonic is a twist on the 4X genre. Once the event horizon of a learning curve is over come, this game offers a fairly fast paced version of eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.

From the page 2: “It is a momentous time for the galaxy-spanning Post-Human Assembly. Tens of thousands of years have passed since Humanity’s reach permeated resolutely and without conflict across the Milky Way. This era of stability and calm has continued to withstand the ravages of fate and time. But mankind always grows restless.

The Milky Way is full and the time has come to Human up some more galactic real estate. Players assume control of one of several handwavium future people to fulfill the transhumanist congress’ mission to exploit a neighboring galaxy.

Using tactics that would make Frank Herbert weep salty tears of joy into his stillsuit, players must attempt to bring their chosen faction on top in this endeavor. That is, you will once you figure out how to play the game.

First time out of the box and figuring out how to play can be daunting. Take the 45 minute per player estimated and double it for the first play through. Although the authors have included some simplified rules on page 18 of the manual to make starting out a bit less of an asteroid hurtling toward your home planet.

From the page 3: “The object is to have the most victory points (VPs) at the end of the game. VPs are earned over the course of the game by controlling regions of the galaxy and by advancing technologies.

The game is structured in a series of six rounds: Collection, Expansion, three Action Phases, and finally Arbitration.

Players start by setting up the galaxy with the core sector and a number of additional sectors depending on the number of players. This will be the start where players build bases, research technology, construct inter-galactic doom-fleets, and most importantly make money (CAPs). Players must agree on who should start as Arbitrator. Play starts with the Arbitrator who lays down their home sector and play proceeds clockwise. Once all of the home sectors are laid, the phases begin with each player doing the action of the phase in clockwise order starting with the Arbitrator. There is a handy phase tracker to keep track of play as well as a score tracker for each player’s VPs.

Collection – each player collects CAPs.

Expansion – add sector tiles to the board and draw technology cards.

Action Phases – each player plays an action cards and this repeats three times before moving on to the last phase. This is where most of the maneuvering and crushing of weaklings is accomplished. This bit is a little reminiscent of deck building games where cards are drawn, played and recovered in pursuit of specific strategies. What can be accomplished is almost endless with the variety of cards provided.

Arbitration – a new arbitrator is chosen.

This continues until all of the sectors are explored or there is no more sector tiles to play. Whoever has the most VPs wins. Tossing the loser out of the nearest airlock is optional and may result in loss of reputation with the Galactic Police and hurt feelings.

In conclusion, Hegemonic represents a breath of air fresh off the oxygen generators and should appeal to fans of sci-fi and deck building games. The streamlined card system allows for quicker play than a lot of traditional 4X games like Twilight Imperium. If you’re a big 4X fan and would like to get some friends who liked Settlers of Catan into some more complex games, this might be a good game to pick up. The learning curve is very steep, but if one person is knowledgeable enough with the set up it isn’t too hard for novices to pick up. This can be alleviated by the simplified rules provided. Variation on play is high from the different leaders and dynasties available as well as more advanced rules found on page 18 of the manual.

For more details on Minion Games and their new 4X “Hegemonic: Explore Build Fight Plot” check them out at their website http://www.miniongames.com/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 15

Product Summary

Hegemonic: Explore Build Fight Plot

From: Minion Games

Type of Game: 4X

Game Design by: Oliver Kiley

Graphic Design by: Oliver Kiley and Clay Gardner

Developed by: Eric Jome, Peter Dast, Garrett Dunn, and Kenneth Stuart

Artwork by: Alex Skinner and Honoel A. Ibardolaza

Number of Pages: 20

Game Components Included:1 x Galactic Core Board
9 x Five-Sector Galaxy Boards
90 x Industrial Complexes
18 x Quantum Gate Pairs
54 x Political Embassies
18 x Political Agent Units
72 x Martial Outposts
18 x Fleets Units
1 x Score Track
6 x Score Track Tokens
36 Action Cards
54 Technology Cards
60 Sector Tiles
6 Player Start Sector Tiles
1 Arbiter Token
100 Capacity Tokens
6 Player Boards
Game Components Not Included: Friends and a ravenous appetite for conquest and victory that cannot be slated my Top Ramen and all the tabasco sauce in the galaxy.

Retail Price: $79.99(US)

Retail Price: $124.23 (Can)

Number of Players: 2-6

Player Ages: 13 years old up to so old that stars cannot number your years

Play Time: 45 minutes per player (double that if you’re learning the game)

Item Number: MNI HG100

Email:Contact Page through Company Website

Website: http://www.miniongames.com/

Reviewed by: W. E. Mitchell

AMP: Year One Review

AMP: Year One

From: Third Eye Games

Reviewed by:W. E. Mitchell

AMP: Year One is a new Superhero RPG from Third Eye Games.

Have you ever wanted to tear apart your enemies using twisted powers of unholy science? Does this idea repel your heroic sensibilities? Then Third Eye Games has the RPG setting for you!

From the website:
The year is 2015 and the world is getting its first taste of super-powered individuals making their presence known all around the globe.

In the AMP setting superpowers are the result of genetic modification in an attempt to create a super solider back in the early 20th century. These experiments continued for decades without any positive results. Now in the 21rst century the descendants of those original test subjects begin showing wonderful powers. These individuals are said to have Accelerated Mutant Potential, or AMP’s for short. The players build a character who has this AMP. The arrival of these AMP’s has had a huge impact on the world. The chaos and interplay of various factions makes for a setting rife for adventurous and villainous potential.

From the website:
Powered by the new DGS-Combo system, every roll of the die is packed with excitement. Players can use the easy-to-learn rules to create their own AMP and pick from over 50 unique powers or choose one of more than 20 pregenerated AMPs and jump right into the action.

Superhero RPG systems tend to be very complicated in order to accommodate the vast array of imaginative powers superheros can have. While not as straight forward as World of Darkness or Cosmic Patrol, AMP:Y1 has a more simplified character creation system.

Each AMP’s powers come from a self-explanatory category called a Strain: Elemental, Bulk, Blaster, Shifter, Mindbender, Shaper, Feral, Traveler, and Psyche. Each of these strains has a short list of associated powers which players spend points to obtain. Mixing and matching is possible, but points are limited. While not as exhaustive as other systems, AMP:Y1 allows a decent amount of customization without the risk of lethal papercuts from flipping through tomes of pages.

As for the actual mechanics of game play, AMP:Y1 uses a variation of the Dynamic Gaming System called DGS Combo. This is a straightforward system that combines two different skills scores and a d20 roll. This number needs to be higher than the difficulty for the task set by the Game Master. These rolls can also be affected by selected powers as well as gifts/disadvantages similar to the World of Darkness system. The system works the same for using super powers. The AMP takes a power and a skill value and then adds them to a d20 roll.

In conclusion,
AMP:Y1 has an interesting setting that allows for a lot of imaginative play. However, this reliance of the rules on the setting makes AMP:Y1 rules a little difficult to use in a different setting. Yet the ease of character creation and the straightforward nature of the gameplay mechanic ensures that it won’t get in the way of the story. This game system is a decent system for fans of superhero RPG’s if not quite as customizable as Mutant and Masterminds.

For more details on Third Eye Games and their new Superhero RPG “AMP: Year One” check them out at their website http://http://thirdeyegames.net/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 11

Product Summary

AMP: Year One

From: Third Eye Games

Type of Game: Superhero RPG

Written by: Eloy Lasanta

Edited by: Carol Darnell

Game Design by: Eloy Lasanta

Layout and Typesetting by by: Eloy Lasanta

Cover Art by: Maxim Lardinois

Additional Art by: Maxim Lardinois and Daniel Oshouki

Number of Pages: 254

Game Components Included: Core Rulebook

Game Components Not Included: Printed Character Sheets, dice

Retail Price: $36.99(US)

Retail Price: $46.82 (Can)

Number of Players: As many or as few as the GM is comfortable running

Player Ages: Varies according to GM preference

Play Time: Varies

Item Number: 3EG601

ISBN: 978-0-9848266-9-8

Email: eloy@thirdeyegames.net

Website: http://thirdeyegames.net/

Reviewed by:W. E. Mitchell

Cosmic Patrol

Cosmic Patrol

From: Catalyst Game Labs

Reviewed by:W. E. Mitchell

Cosmic Patrol is a new RPG from Catalyst Games Labs.

Cosmic Patrol is a very simple, story centric RPG system. Players take turns narrating their characters’ actions, shooting up slathering beasts from Planet X and battling through space pirates. The person controlling the action, the Lead Narrator, awards great storytelling and the role is shifted through the players during the session. This unique mechanic leads to a varied and fun experience that harkens back to the days of Flash Gordon and Have Space Suit, Will Travel.

From the back cover:

In Cosmic Patrol, players take the role of patrolmen — the first line of defense for humans in a dangerous galaxy.

The core mechanic of the game is extremely simple. Character sheets, or dossiers, for patrolmen fit on one side of a standard 3×5 index card. There are six base stats that form the basis for making up the three main types of obstacles encountered in the course of play. The six stats are: brawn, brains, charisma, combat, a special ability, and luck. Each stat is assigned a dice type that represents how good a particular patrolmen is in that area D4, D6, D8, D10 or D12. The better they are at the stat, the higher the dice number.

When patrolmen encounter a challenge, a test, or combat, they roll the dice associated with the appropriate stat as determined by the Lead Narrator (LN) and a D12. Then they add any situational modifiers stated by the LN. For instance, it’s raining acid or the gravity generator went out so this task is really difficult. The roll by the patrolmen is then opposed by the LN who rolls a single D20 on behalf of the NPC or cruel galaxy or malfunctioning doo-hicky. If the patrolmen’s roll (stat die + D12 + Modifiers) is greater than the LN’s D20 then the situation is resolved in the patrolmen’s favor.

Each of the different types of encounters are a variation of that system. Health is straightforward – they can take one or two hits before being knocked out, then they die. This is mediated by armor, cover or other equipment. Each challenge, test or combat is a single part of the whole story. How each patrolmen acts in these scenes is determined by cues on the dossier. These cues are an important part of the narrative building aspect of the game system. They let the player know what the patrolman’s personality is and how they should act based on a simple set of pulpy one liners. Cosmic Patrol really comes into its own when it comes to how the story is built and told.

From the back cover:

Cosmic Patrol is a rules-light RPG… that is all about creating a story.”

The unique aspect of Cosmic Patrol is the group aspect of building the narrative and taking turns being the Lead Narrator (LN). A campaign is made up of missions that have cues and guidelines that let the players know what kind of story is going to happen. The also serve as prompts to get the creative goo pumping in how the players will narrate the actions of their patrolmen and how they’ll direct the action when they take their turn as LN. The LN describes the scenes and runs the combat, challenges and tests. They award good narrations from players and judicate disputes. The idea with the setting is to have fun and to build off of each other in what happens. The amount of fun will be determined by the players themselves.

In conclusion, this system is one of the lightest, simplest table top RPG rule systems I have used. It relies heavily on the narrator to set the tone and resolve disputes. The character sheets are small and simple and everything is straight forward. While the golden age pulp sci-fi setting is fun, the system is easily adjusted to a variety of sci-fi settings. Players who prefer rule dense systems like Pathfinder or Torg will find this RPG to be a little lean. A whole lot of fun to burn through an afternoon with friends.

For more details on Catalyst Game Labs and their new RPG “Cosmic Patrol” check them out at their website http://www.catalystgamelabs.com/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 16

Product Summary

Cosmic Patrol

From: Catalyst Game Labs

Type of Game: RPG

Written by: Randall N. Bills

Contributing Authors: Matt Heerdt, Jason Schmetzer, Phillip A. Lee

Game Design by: Randall N. Bills

Developed by: Randall N. Bills

Cover Art by: Leanne Buckley

Additional Art by: Leanne Buckley

Game Components Included: Sourcebook, Stock Characters

Game Components Not Included: Dice, Maps and Minis, Index Cards

Retail Price: $24.99(US)

Retail Price: $30.03 (Can)

Number of Players: 3 – 6

Player Ages: 8-80

Play Time: Varies

Item Number: C-CAT60000

ISBN: 978-1-936876-10-5

Email: randall@catalystgamelabs.com

Website: http://www.cosmicpatrol.com/

Reviewed by: W. E. Mitchell

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

The Red Dragon Inn

The Red Dragon Inn

From: Slugfest Games

Reviewed by:W. E. Mitchell

The Red Dragon Inn is a new fantasy title from Slugfest Games.

The Red Dragon Inn answers the question of what is the party to do once the Dark Lord has been defeated and his many eyed hench-things are weeping floods of salty tears in forgotten dungeons. This game allows two to four players to gamble away their blood money and consume copious amounts of fantasy themed cocktails. Last one able to stagger out the door with some gold still in their scripts is the winner.

From the box:
“The adventure’s over, but the party’s just getting started!”

The Red Dragon Inn is built around the idea of what a party does after their adventure is complete. Players pick one of four characters of standard D&D flavor classes and tries to be the last character to not pass out and not go broke. Each character has its own deck that the player’s hands are built from.

Players can choose from four different characters. Additional character decks can be purchased from SlugFest Games to expand the number of people who can play. The characters included are:

Diedre the Priestess, her goddess keeps her protected from physical harm, but she tends to be a cheap date.

Fiona the Volatile, a hot headed fighter so she can down the drinks and take the licks with the best of them, but isn’t so good at keeping her money.

Zot the Wizard, a wizard of the first order, great at cards and hurting others, but his familiar has a taste for flesh.

Gerki the Sneak, a lovable rogue who has an impressive winning streak at gambling. His deck has seven aces.

Each character has pros and cons and lots of flavor. The different abilities translate as to what action cards are available in the deck. Fiona hates bikini jokes, Gerki has a ton of cheat cards that let him win at gambling, and Zot uses his magic to mess with people. Any action that a player chooses has the possibility to be canceled, altered or redirected by a specific card that their opponent may have in their hand.

From the back of the box:
“Drink, gamble, and roughhouse with your friends. But don’t forget to keep an eye on your gold.”

Play consists of using one of the character specific cards to mess with the other players or initiate a round of gambling, giving another player a drink from the Drink Deck, and then consuming a drink themselves. Drinking involves flipping over a drink card and following the instructions there on, which usually means advancing the alcohol counter. If the alcohol counter meets the fortitude counter, the colors swirl and a dirt nap calls. Once passed out, the player is out of the game and any remaining gold gets split between the hefty bar tab and the rest of the players. This is one of the few things that I dislike about this game. When somebody passes out, or loses all of their money, they are out of the game. If this happens early enough, the player can spend quite a while with nothing to do but watch the other players. The majority of money lost comes when one of the players initiates a round of gambling.

Gambling in The Red Dragon Inn is a special round that each player must pay a gold piece once a player has initiated a round of gambling. The mechanic is straightforward. Each character deck has various amounts of gambling cards that allow you to take control of a hand, raise, cheat, punch cheaters in the face, etcetera. This tends to be where friendships will be strained by the yellow sheen of pretend gold, inflaming the imaginary nostrils of theoretical greed. Whoever played the last card, taking control of the hand, wins the pot, unless somebody plays the card that makes the serving wench take the pot instead. If a player loses all of their gold, then they’re out.

In conclusion,
This game can be a fun diversion for a regular group of RPG players when something different is called for or a critical player fails to show. Despite the flaw of it being an elimination game, it is still a blast to toss back Dwarven Ales and pass out headlocks. But this game transcends any possible flaws when made into a drinking game (21 years of age and up)! When a drink is called for, a shot is downed. Try not to die!

For more details on SlugFest Games and their Fantasy title, “The Red Dragon Inn” check them out at their website http://slugfestgames.com/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 16

Product Summary

The Red Dragon Inn

From: SlugFest Games

Type of Game: Fantasy

Game Design by:
Cliff Bohm
Geoff Bottone
Cold FuZion Studios
Colleen Skadl

Additional Development by:
Jeff Morrow

Art by:
Kennon James
Doug Kovacs
Rhonda Libbey
Beth Trott
Cold FuZion Studios

Game Components Included:

  • 4 unique 40 card player decks
  • 1 30 card Drink deck
  • 4 Player Templates
  • 4 Fortitude markers
  • 4 Alcohol Content markers
  • 50 Gold Coin tokens
  • Rules book for The Red Dragon Inn

Retail Price: $37.99(US)

Retail Price: $42.99 (Can)

Number of Players: 2 – 4

Player Ages: 10-115

Play Time: 45 minutes

Item Number: 9780976914419

ISBN: 0-9769144-1-7

Email: SlugFestGames@gmail.com

Website: http://slugfestgames.com/games/rdi/rdi-1/

Reviewed by: W. E. Mitchell