#092 7 Wonders

While at GenCon we played many different games, one of which was 7 Wonders, a board game where each player takes on the role of a city attempting to build an ancient wonder of the world while still building up their science, military religion and public works.  It’s an interesting game with a fun card swapping mechanic.  Listen in as Terry, Matt and Danny play the game for the first time.

We would love to hear your feedback on the podcast at podcast@goblinbeat.com which we will either answer via email or on our podcast.  If you leave us great reviews on iTunes (which we appreciate greatly) we might read those as well.  Thanks for listening.

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App Review – Outwitters – Multiplayer Strategy/Board Game

The Goblin overlords at the Goblin Beat have been on me to write a review of some apps that are worth playing and since this game is about  creating an army and waging war it was right up their alley.  Looking for a challenging app for your phone or iPad that has a high replay value?? Then take a look at Outwitters from Onemanleft.com.  The app is free to try but will cost you a small amount of $ to buy the full version.  You can spend hours playing the game continuously or just pick it up once a day to take your turns with your opponents, so the time commitment is solely up to you.  What’s it all about you ask?  Think Risk meets Final Fantasy tactics…

The game pits you against an opponent on a hex grid map.  You square off against one another using 1 of 4 races (Fishmen, Robots, Veggiemen, Adorables).  Every race has the same 5 basic troop types and one special class that vary by race.  The players take turns producing new troops, moving their troops, and attacking their enemy.  Each soldier creation, movement, or attack costs you Wits.  You start each round with a set amount of Wits plus extra ones for each Witt square you control.  The 5 troop types vary in how far they can travel each turn, how much damage they can withstand, and how much damage they do with an attack. The various troops also have different attack ranges associated with their attacks.  For example a Scout can move up to 5 tiles per round and do 1 damage, but only has an attack range of 1 and total life of 1, meanwhile a sniper moves 1 tile per round has 1 life, but can do 3 damage up to 3 tiles away.  The object of the game is to either destroy your enemy’s base that has 5 total life, or destroy all of their troops and occupy their spawn points.  If a round ends and they have 0 troops and you are occupying their spawn spaces the game is over.  There are plenty of other nuances to the game about earning extra widgets during a turn by destroying enemies, etc. and using the special classes of each race, but the game is pretty straightforward other than that.

outwitters2

When you first get started with the free version you only have access to one race and the ability to have 5 matches at a time.  There are different options for purchasing the additional races, and the ability to have more games going at once (Up to 20).  The bundle is the best way to go b/c you get access to all races, and you can have up to 20 games going at once.  You may be asking yourself, why would I continue to play this game every day…  Well if you are anything like me then you like to win, dominate your opponents, and essentially be the best.  Outwitters will rank you after your first five matches into different Classes/Leagues, and with each win and loss you earn more points towards your rank and you can see yourself moving up the leaderboards within the different ranks, plus its funny totally destroying a guy’s entire army when he had no idea he was going to lose on his next turn.  The creators of the game also hold month long tournaments for its purchasers of the game, as well as put out updates for the game regularly with new maps, and recently the 4th race.  All of these were free to anyone had purchased the full version of the game.  They are actively keeping the game updated and improving upon it, so you can expect to get your moneies worth once you have the full version of the game.  I travel a lot so I use this game to pass the time in airports and the hotel when I am on the road, and it never lets me down.  Unless I don’t count my Wits correctly and fail to destroy a soldier on my turn just to watch him get healed and massacre my guys the next.  You will definitely come back for more once you try this out, and the best part is that it is free to try out.  You will not be disappointed, because the opponents will always play differently so your strategies need to change for every different battle you are in on every map.  Some players are more aggressive, more defensive minded, or even very methodical in their troop creation and will slow play you into a trap.  Bottom line is it doesn’t get redundant or repetitive!

The Good: Easy to learn, Great Gameplay.  Challenging opponents that you are matched against based on both your ranks, so you won’t get matched against someone who has played for a year.  Different races allow for different playing styles.  Different maps call for different strategies.  You can have multiple games going, so you don’t have to wait on everyone to take their turns constantly.  Time needed to play a few rounds is minimal.  No match is ever the same.  Developers are continuing to support and update the app.  High replay value.

The Bad: 2vs2 matches take way too long to play. The Adorables race and maps are too cheesy/pink.  You need an internet connection to send your turns, so if you don’t have Wi-Fi for the ipad or a cellular service on your device for any reason…aka no offline play.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

 

 

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is a cooperative board game for 2-4 players by GameWright where the players take on the role of adventurers trying to retrieve four sacred relics from a mysterious (forbidden!) island before the entire thing sinks into the ocean.  Each adventurer has a special ability that can help out the entire group.  The diver, for instance, can move through one or more adjacent flooded/missing tiles for a single action, making it easier for him to get around in the later stages of the game.  The ‘board’ is created randomly each game by laying out the included tiles.  Each adventurer has a start tile (the tile itself is marked with a pawn the same color as the adventurer) which means that not only is the board random, but your starting location is as well.
Forbidden_Island
Tiles other than the starting tiles and the finish ‘Fool’s Landing’ tile all have a symbol for one of the treasures.  If you land on one of these tiles with four treasure cards of that type (and the tile hasn’t sunk into the abyss) you can claim the associated treasure and once all of the treasure’s are collected everyone heads back to Fool’s Landing to take off in the helicopter and leave the Forbidden Island behind forever!

Of course this is all complicated by the need to trade treasure cards with other players to have someone with enough of a single treasure type  to claim it and by the dreaded rising of the waters.  During each players turn they may take three actions (move, trade, shore up an adjacent section of the island, claim a treasure), draw 2 treasure cards and finally draw Flood cards.  Each Flood card matches one of the island tiles and causes a dry tile to flip over to its flooded side or a flooded tile to sink into the abyss and no longer be reachable.

waters_riseTo make matters worse the treasure pile also contains ‘Waters Rise!’ cards.  These cards cause the water level to rise and more sections of the island to sink each turn, up to a maximum of 5 before the entire island sinks in one fell swoop.

Review

The attractive tin the game comes in claims that this game takes thirty minutes to play, which is about right but the game play is so fast and intense it feels like much less.  Having played this game with multiple groups of players from age 8 and up I have found that it is always fun and exciting.  The pieces are all incredibly well made and the attention to detail on the island tiles is amazing.  I can’t help but imagine a movie version of this game every time I play through it with the main characters using their various strengths to help each other make it through the island only to jump aboard a helicopter at the last second while the last pieces of the island sink around them.

I would recommend this game to pretty much anyone from a hard-core gamer to a casual enthusiast.  The replay value is very high and the cooperative play style does a great job keeping younger kids from getting angry with one another as they do in many other games.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Call of Cthulhu Cards

These Call of Cthulhu playing cards are the product of the KickStarter from Albino Dragon. The cards themselves are produced by Bicycle and are of the same great quality you would expect from any other set of their playing cards.
The design on each card however is unique to this deck and was created from the ground up to have the look and feel you would expect from the name. The backs of the cards available to the public now are all red with stylized images of the Necronomicon, the Elder Sign and various other Mythos inspired tidbits. There was a green backed version as well which unfortunately was limited to those lucky enough to find and back the KickStarter before its conclusion. Hopefully they’ll do another run down the road with green but these cards are still very nice.

The custom box the deck comes in is well crafted in various shades of green, leaving no doubt about the eldritch horrohp_cthulhu_card r inside. Inside there are a couple of bonus cards, one double backed card and one with an image of H.P. Lovecraft being caressed by a motley assortment of Elder Thyngs.

The back of the Lovecraft card also has a list of what creatures are located on what card. Each of the face cards has a creature from the mythos upon it, Hastur, Cthulhu, Dagon etc. are all captured upon their own card. The Aces also have some nice artwork although there are no actual creatures upon them and the Jokers have creatures upon them as well (Nightgaunts?).

Those of you who listen to our podcast will note that we have recently been running Realms of Cthulhu adventures. Realms of Cthulhu uses Savage Worlds as the base rule system for Call of Cthulhu inspired games. The big pay-off with these cards is that Savage Worlds uses playing cards for the initiative system. So you can actually use this deck of cards when playing Cthulhu games, which is the exact reason I purchased a deck of these cards.

Any Cthulhu fan will enjoy these cards but I would go so far as to say that any horror/Cthulhu fans that play Savage Worlds should feel bad about themselves if they don’t have at least one deck of these cards.

Cthulhu fhtagn!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Realms of Cthulhu

Realms of Cthulhu is a Savage Worlds setting book created by Reality Blurs for the express purpose of giving players a way to play games based upon H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos within Savage Worlds games.  The book also goes a long way towards helping players and GMs convert Call of Cthulhu materials into Savage Worlds compatible ones, which opens up hundreds of adventures and supplements for Realms of Cthulhu.  Those of you who have listened to our Midnight Harvest podcasts will probably have noted that we use this book for that adventure.

The hardbound book is well put together with pictures and little extras that really lend to the overall feel of the book.  Setting rules are laid out near the beginning of the book, the most obvious of which is the Sanity rule, which is a Savage Worlds adaptation of Chaosism’s Sanity rules.

What’s Insiderealms_of_cthulhu

The book starts out with information that everyone needs to know including details about creating an investigator, changes to skills, hindrances and edges as well as new ones specifically created for RoC.  This is followed by information about available equipment during the three different time periods covered within the tome: the 1890’s, 1920’s and modern.  This is a great quick reference, especially if you are playing in one of the earlier time periods and need to know what type of weapons actually existed during those times (no machine guns in the 1890’s!).

The aforementioned Sanity rules are included in the Setting rules section along with one of my favorite rules: Fate is Unkind which disallows players from using a benny if he/she rolls a double one.  This rule has a tendency to raise it’s head at the most exciting of times.

After that we get into the murky waters of the Keeper’s section which includes detailed information on the Cthulhu Mythos, how magic works within RoC and a great chapter devoted to helping you craft your own Mythos Tales.  The book also contains a full adventure, detailed information about a slew of Mythos Creatures and a short section specifically dedicated to helping you convert from Call of Cthulhu to RoC.

The Verdict

This book is a wonderful resource for any Savage Worlds player interested in playing a Horror/Suspense style game.  While those looking to create Cthulhu style games may get the most out of RoC any group that enjoys playing in a realistic setting with horror and suspense elements will find a wealth of information and help within the pages.  While it is possible to buy this book (along with most Savage Worlds books and supplements) as a PDF I would encourage anyone truly interested to grab an actual copy of the book.  Being able to flip through the tome while your players look on, with dread Cthulhu staring at them from the cover, can really add some tension and fun to the game.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Savage Worlds Deluxe EE

This past summer I along with several other members of the Goblin Beat went to DragonCon here in Atlanta.  One of the items I came back with was a copy of the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition rule book.  I had heard of Savage Worlds before but none of us had ever played the game so after attending a panel talking about the future of Savage Worlds and where the brand was as a whole I couldn’t resist picking up the book one evening.  A week or two after DragonCon was all over I finally got around to picking up the SW book and reading through it and wow was I impressed!  I’ve been playing pen and paper RPGs for twenty years and I have never found a rule system as simple, intuitive, fun and fast paced as Savage Worlds.

I quickly setup a campaign for our podcast using Savage Worlds rules and the world of Warhammer 40k as the setting, and I think it is safe to say that everyone loved the rule system as much as I do.  Savage Worlds uses regular playing cards for initiative, where the highest value card goes first, the next highest second and so on.  I bought a dark set of playing cards from Bicycle to go with the feel of our game which helped to set the mood as well.  Combat is fast even when using our dry erase grid map, and everyone learned how to use their characters within the first round of combat, which took less than five minutes with four players!

Bennies were another big hit with the group.  In Savage Worlds each player starts every session with three bennies.  You can use anything to represent these but we bought a few packs of the actual Savage Worlds bennies, which are specially made poker chips.  Any time a player’s character fails a roll they can spend a benny (short for benefit) to roll again.  They can also spend a benny when their character is hurt to make a ‘soak’ roll and ignore the damage.  Bennies also work great as mid-session rewards for players; if they do something amazing or do a great job role playing their character you can reward them immediately with a benny.

The mechanics of the game are also simple, every trait and skill that a character has is given a value of d4, d6, d8, d10 or d12.  To use the given trait or skill the player rolls the associated die and on a 4 or higher they succeed.  There are a few cases (such as opposed rolls) where this gets a little more complicated but that is the main mechanic in the game, and it is simple and works great.  It is so simple in fact that I also now run a campaign once per week for my kids, where they are local heroes in a small town in a fantasy setting.  They all picked the game up within the first few minutes as well and are constantly talking about how much fun they have, and the youngest is only four and a half!

Currently I’m preparing another campaign using the Realms of Cthulhu setting for our podcast that we will change out with the Warhammer 40k and our normal D&D podcasts.  If you have read many of the reviews on our site then you know I am a huge fan of the Cthulhu Mythos and I’m extremely excited to get started with those games.  Look for a review of the Realms of Cthulhu setting guide soon.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Dungeon Command

On July 21st Wizards of the Coast released Dungeon Command: Sting of Lloth and Heart of Cormyr on D&D Game Day.  While not only used for playing D&D this new product line is designed to fill the miniatures void left since the last line was cancelled, leaving 4e players everywhere wondering “How am I supposed to play this game with miniatures if I can’t buy any?”

The idea behind this new line of miniatures is to appeal to a wider consumer base by being usable in three different games.

First and foremost Dungeon Command is a table top game in and of itself.  Two or more players can sit down at a table with their own war band (the name given to a matched set of miniatures you get in a box) and fight it out.  Each box comes with four interconnecting board pieces used to construct part of the game board, twelve miniatures to use for your army, game play cards and a rule book.  While it is possible to play a game with only one box we found it much more fun and far less confusing if each person has their own war band.

When playing the game each player takes turns.  On your turn you activate each of your creatures causing them to move, attack, and collect treasure.  Each player has a commander card that lists their leadership and morale.  Leadership is a number that tells you the total number of levels of creatures you can have on the board at one time.  If your leader has a leadership of 8 then you can have 8 levels worth of creatures on the board at once.  If a creature dies then it no longer counts towards your limit and you can put a new creature down at the end of your turn.  Morale is perhaps the most important number in the game.  Each time one of your creatures dies you lose morale equal to its level.  So if your level 4 Drider dies you lose 4 morale.  If your morale gets to 0 then you lose the game.

Combat consists of one creature attacking another either with powers printed on its corresponding creature card or by using an Order card.  Order cards are the special abilities for your army.  They allow you to dodge attacks, do extra damage when you attack and surprise your opponent with abilities you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Those are the basics of Dungeon Command.  Each player takes turns controlling his/her army until one of the commanders drops to or below zero morale.  We had an enjoyable time playing this game and if you are a big tabletop game fan then the box sets are probably worth the money.

But wait!  As I mentioned earlier there are three ways these box sets were meant to be used.  The second use for these is in conjunction with the games from the D&D Adventure system.  Think Legend of Drizzt, Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon.  Each Dungeon Command set comes with creature and ally cards to let you make use of the included miniatures in any of these games as well!

Lastly and perhaps most obviously you can use these miniatures when you play D&D.  They have standard size bases so they fit on 1″ grid squares perfectly.  Let  me also say that these miniatures are very nice.  The copper dragon in the Heart of Cormyr set was worth the entire purchase price to me.  The paint is well done and the sculpts are very detailed.  I also got a big kick out of the Umber Hulk and the Drider in the Sting of Lloth set.

Conclusion

Wizards did a great job creatin a product to appeal to multiple markets.  Even if you only want these minis to play D&D I would say they are worth the price.  You get all the miniatures you need in a single box to create multiple encounters in a themed adventure and several of the pieces in each box are generic enough to use in multiple settings (I’m quite fond of the spiders in the Drow set).  If  you enjoy tabletop strategy games, the Adventure System games or using miniatures in your D&D game then I would suggest considering this product.  If you are like me and enjoy all three then this is a must buy.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

(5 stars if you will use these for more than one purpose.)

#030 DnD Next Playtest Thoughts

 

In this week’s episode we take a break from our campaign to talk about Dnd Next.  The public playtest is now well underway and the CB crew all take a few minutes to sit down and talk about the experience so far, what we like, don’t like, hope to see etc.  Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or sending an email to podcast@crimsonbastards.com and we’ll read it in a future episode.  Thanks for all the support on Facebook, Twitter and iTunes (we love the 5-star reviews!) and don’t forget to look for us at DragonCon this year.  We’ll be running several game tables and would love to see you there.

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Movie Review: The Avengers

I have been looking forward to watching “The Avengers” ever since I found out that was the ultimate plan during Iron Man II. Every trailer that I saw was great and I even liked Joss Whedon for the director (despite Dollhouse – that awful, awful turd of a show). I watched both Ultimate Avengers cartoons in order to brush up on the Chitauri when I found out they were Loki’s army. In case you were wondering, the studio used the Chitauri instead of the Skrull because the intellectual movie rights to the Skrull are tied up with Fantastic Four, which is currently owned by Fox Studios. So, to say that I had high expectation was an understatement, but I was not disappointed. Before I go any further, I am telling you to go see this movie as soon as you can. There is a reason “The Avengers” is breaking box office records wordwide: it is freaking awesome. Continue reading “Movie Review: The Avengers”

Dad Reviews: The Legend of Korra

 The Legend of Korra is a new Nickelodeon animated television series occurring in the same world as Avatar: The Last Airbender, some seventy years after the end of the first show.  This time around the new avatar is Korra, as you would expect from

the title of the show.  Prior knowledge of Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t necessary to understand and enjoy Korra but I would recommend that anyone that hasn’t seen that show yet to go ahead and give it a try.  It is very compelling and I found it not only kept the interest of my whole family, but that I could also feel good about us watching together.

The legend of Korra thus far (three episodes in) lives up to the reputation of Avatar in every way.  The animation style is the same as with the previous show with an anime inspired look and feel that maintains a realistic quality.  The voice cast is excellent and do a wonderful job bringing their characters to life in combination with the animation. Continue reading “Dad Reviews: The Legend of Korra”