RPG Hub Reviews: Call of Cthulhu Living Card Game

This Christmas I had a pretty awesome gift given to me by my wife in the form of the Call of Cthulhu: The Living Card Games. I was looking at exploring other card games after playing Magic: The Gathering. Maybe find something with a little more substance or game dynamic to be truly unique. I think I may have found that.

Contents: Call of Cthulhu: The LCG uses a special format. You buy the initial set which is typically found with boardgames for some reason and contains cards for 3 factions, has a board piece, cardboard stock tokens as well as crafted Cthulhu statuettes which are also used as specific tokens.

Design: The tokens are much akin to the Arkham Horror boardgame material. It’s thick, durable and will stand the test of time. The Cthulhu statues are awesome and are used in the game to mark that you have used a resource. They sit on your resources in all their dark elder glory and is quite the attraction. The cards themselves feel more plastic then say Magic: The Gathering cards or even World of Warcraft. I don’t feel like I will ruin a card if I don’t have protectors. They are durable and quite flexible. Definitely a change that I like. The cards are very pretty in their Lovecraftian theme. It’s dead on as to the theme being appropriate. The art mimics and is in some cases a copy of art found within Arkham Horror. I am in love with the mature style of the art.  It oozes theme and is top notch. I did not find any particular art that I did not like yet.

Gameplay: Having singularly played Magic: The Gathering to this date when I opened the box and looked at the cards I found it a bit daunting. There was numbers, various icons and your board center piece. But after delving into the instructions it cleared up quickly.

To start you each select a deck which is pre constructed. Decks have a minimum of 50 cards. You have various factions but 3 are included in the box. Government, Mythos and Hastur. Once you have selected a faction (they can be mixed btw much like the domains in Magic: TG) you set your centerpiece up with tokens on one side. They will designate wounds or successes. On the other side is a stack of 10 story cards. The objective of the game is to win three story cards. You place three story cards in the middle and select who will go first.

For this initial game I played with Neil. I was the Mythos while he played the Government. You select your initial 8 card hand and decided which 3 cards you will use as your domains. You have three domains that you will use for your resources. Each turn you can sacrifice a card and put it under a domain. You can arranging them in whichever three domain you have but whenever you want to play a specific card you must not only pay it’s cost (number of cards in the domain) but one of the icons must match the card your playing.

Once your domains are setup up play begins. Your turn is divided into phases. Upkeep, Operations and Story. During your upkeep phase you can refresh cards, operations you can tap domains (put a Cthulhu statue on top of the domain) and play characters, abilities, events or other such card. If you put a character out you can then assign him to a story. Normally if the story is uncontested you win and score a success token. However as an opponent if you have a creature and want to prevent the active player from scoring that success you tap and put in front of the story. From there you enter the story icon resolution phase.

You count up all the respective icons from you characters and compare them to your opponent. If your opponent has more he wins that icon struggle. You have Mythos, Combat, Arcane and Investigation icons. Each one can be beneficial depending on the outcome. If your win a Mythos icon struggle the other character becomes insane. Win combat and your opponent selects a character on his side to take a wound. It add’s an extra dynamic to the game play which is very much welcomed.

While there is the main LCG box set for Call of Cthulhu you can also purchase fixed packs which contain more cards to expand your decks. Also for those interested you can purchase cards from the Call of Cthulhu Collectable Card Game and add them to your deck. It’s mostly compatible with the FAQ / Rules being found on the Fantasy Flight Games website. I originally thought they were not compatible and was quite frustrated at that prospect however I had not informed myself enough apparently. But that in itself add’s a lot of flexibility to your game.

My only thing I can see that I wish was better was their community information. Take for instance opposing companies websites. Wizards has a card database for Magic, a list of cards for each set, building various decks and tournament information and hype. Upper Deck has a whole huge site dedicated to World of Warcraft with much the same. They promote being a community and getting together. Fantasy Flights card game is on the typical page layout and is has the feel of getting your buddy to play every now and then. It almost seem’s like a half hearted attempt to make a niche and stay there.

Liked

More Meat: I love the gameplay. While Magic and WoW seem to be quicker games that almost make things seem not fun, Cthulhu drags events out and there is no way around it. There is no making the ultimate power deck to eliminate your friend in three turns. You have to battle back and forth and earn those story cards. The story cards, the success tokens and balanced factions give Cthulhu a lot of traction.

Art: The art is top notch and oozing with theme. Lovecraft would be proud were he alive and not suing you for infringement on his copyright.

Replay Value: Cthulhu has a lot of replay value. While the games are overall longer, you tend to use more skill and thought towards the decisions you take when deciding resources and what to play. Every game is a new experience and a challenge.

Disliked

Community: I would have preferred more then a forum community. I would have like maybe not as intensive as the World of Warcraft: TCG site but something maybe more subdued like Wizards where it has a lot of punch in a small package. I would have liked to see more promotion of organized tournaments as I am sure the game could be more popular then I am perceiving it but needs a helping hand from home base.

Overall the game is great and worth your time looking into it. It’s something different and not a clone of the Magic: The Gathering concept. While both are great games there is no denying that there something a bit more to the world of Lovecraft. While some card games seem to game niche status I think Cthulhu has the tentacles to grow and makes it’s way to another level.

RPG Hub Reviews: Magic: The Gathering Premium Alara Foil Pack

As of last week, Magic The Gathering fans may have noticed something new on the shelves drawing their attention. A new premium booster pack set is now available in the form of a 15 card booster pack featuring the Alara block (Shards of Alara, Con-Flux, Alara Reborn). I will be honest here, this is not so much a review as a look at. These are older products but with a new shiny coating.

Design: One of our card shops that we go to had a pack already open just for us to check it out which was pretty nice of them. Going through them I was not surprised that like other Magic cards that these were your typical foil cards. It was nice to have an all foil pack but it got me thinking of the following.

Contents: Like any booster pack, the Alara premium foil pack is no exception. It’s 15 randomized cards from all the parts of the Alara block. This means you will have commons, uncommon, rare and mystical rare cards. In reality now you have even less chance of getting something special. In fact 90% of the deck was common cards with only one rare.

Cost: The pack went for $12 Canadian which is quite a bit for a 15 card booster. This all begs into question if this was even needed as a product. I say this as a week ago I bought a tournament pack for Shards of Alara. I not only got 60 cards in this pack but two – three cards were foil and I had a mythic rare card. Foil is great for those hardcore collectors however the price does not make this pack worth it at all.

So let’s break this down

Liked

Design: I love the art, it’s no secret and I like foil cards as they add a little flare to the already awesome art.

Disliked

Cost VS Profitability: It’s hard to justify $12 for a 15 card booster where most cards are common across three sets. While they are trying to keep interest flowing through the Alara block before the rest of the Zendikar block is completed it is not needed. Buy individual packs and you will be rewarded more with the cards your more looking for.

In all I was rather disappointed. It does appeal to a niche group of fans but for the rest I highly suggest skipping it. As mentioned above you can simply buy into more individual boosters for a cheaper price, tournament decks or if missing that certain something just buy the individual card your missing. I really hope that Wizards of the Coast can make things a bit more appealing with future releases.

RPGHub Reviews: Runebound

Design

Runebound is a boardgame of 2 – 6 players where you take on the persona of one of many heroes who are out to find the evil Margath and bring him to justice. The game itself comes in rather compact sized box much like Arkham Asylum and contains the board, tokens for stamina and health, cards for adventures and items plus hero miniatures.

The quality cannot be disputed as much like anything Fantasy Flight seems to put out it has a high production value to it. The tokens are nice thick cardboard stock and the cards are quite durable. The board itself is well sized when unfolded. For those like myself who have played Descent you can see the influences which lead to it. It’s like visiting an ancestor and finding out what worked and what didn’t work. The art is also top notch from the hero cards right down to the token and the board itself.

Gameplay

Unlike Descent there is no overlord who manages the game so everyone is involved. The introduction quest which is the only one you have included with this game is to destroy the High Lord Margath or to collect three dragon runes.

The heroes are quite numerous and definitely no lack of options. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Some have higher health, some stamina, some are quite durable across the board yet do not do much damage to their opponents. Your hero card contains all these statistics for your character so it’s a nice little reference cards which is straight to the point. For some very odd reason though a shield icon is used to represent Range. We dare not ask why…

So once all your players have selected their characters they all start in the same city. From there players go clockwise and take their appropriate actions. Each players round is split up into refreshing, moving, adventuring, market and experience. So with that being said you refresh your cards which are those properly indicated with an hourglass.

I saved this one to set apart because this bothered me the most. Once you hit movement phase you roll five movement dice which on each side contain various land symbols. Each symbol represents a land type. Based on these symbols you can use one icon per dice and select your trajectory. However sometimes your wanting to go somewhere specific and the rolls are just not right. At that point you can sacrifice your movement turn to move one space in the direction you want. This breaks the game at a certain point as it leads to people missing out turns where they want to be more productive. Also the dice unlike Descent were not very fantastic quality. By that I mean very plain, no icon indents.

Finally we adventure by landing on a jewel token. On the board there are various encounter locations that are colored and of course match a corresponding token that goes over it. When you land on the token you trigger a card which you draw from one of the colored decks. Some of these can be events which can last till another is drawn or some other random quest. Some are encounters which need to be resolved.

Events are another element we found rather game breaking. When you pull an event it has a number on the bottom right hand corner ranging from 1 to 3. It stays into effect until another event card comes along that is equal or greater. So in our game John decided to take on a red quest to see how tough they are. We ended up getting an event instead. So with a number 3 event we were pretty much limited to only have the game develop by taking on the hardest quests.

To make things worse, quest can spawn when events are pulled so it keeps the game going so you could imagine that no new events means no new quest markers. This meant that we not only had no new events but once we completed the minor quest areas that the game was on stand still.

The encounters themselves ranged from extremely easy to ridiculously hard. When it came to the red encounters we knew they were to be challenging as they are the main bad creatures of the game. But still we found that at times they were too hard. Essentially when you die, you gain health and stamina back but lose an item of greater value. So all that gold you spent on items to kill these monsters you will lose and in the case of our encounters being limited because of the higher event number, no new quests were being refreshed. It was pretty much a no win situation unless we got the luck of the dice.

Combat

Combat was resolved by rolling two D10 dice and adding the results with the appropriate skill. If you equal or exceed the target value you add a wound counter to the opponent or you take damage. When either accumulate enough wounds the enemy is vanquished or you die. You also have certain innate abilities that may aid you on your journey. Generally most creatures had that ability to reduce your stamina if you did not pass a certain roll. It only became really frustrating as before the fight itself you had to make this roll which was very difficult and if you missed sometimes it would eat right into your wound points nearing you that much closer to death if the combat was not hard enough at times.

Overall the game runs smooth. We did seem to run into the exception to the rule by trying to jump through the natural flow of progression however that’s when you discover the kinks. I can’t say I was disappointed at all. Runebound holds it’s own as being a very good board game. You can see why Descent took the transformation it did. It became what it should have been. This doesn’t devalue Runebound though so don’t mistake that. With it’s price point around the $45 – $50 range and abundance of expansion via $10 card packs you cannot go wrong on something that has a lot of replayability.

Liked

Replay Value: Runebound offers a lot of options if you pay into the expansions. You can either go the card route or by one of the mid priced range board game expansions to add a little more. We would have preferred having another overall goal to spice things up but for what was there we liked.

Fast Paced: Despite our issues with movement the game itself is fast. Combat is resolved quite easily, the quests are spaced evenly so your always bumping into something.

Quality: Like all of Fantasy Flight Games that I have played to date the quality is top notch. Tokens are thick cardboard, cards are resistant to abuse and the miniatures are well detailed.

Disliked

Movement: Figuring out all the symbols for first timers can be annoying and take away from the action of the game. While the rest of the game is fast flowing, movement always seems to bog things down. A simple move score for each person and a deduction value for various land types probably would have made things a big less annoying and keep the pass just as fast.

Movement Dice: The dice could have been indented with the respective land emblems rather then on sticker sides. I have a feeling that it could wear itself out or become dirty thus ruining the sticker.

Events: For our first play through we found a hole in the system. We attribute that to the event numbering. A bit more variety would have been great. For instance a few lower leveled red events. Perhaps have 3 levels per each colored difficulty.

I highly recommend this game to those interested in a nicely paced game that has a bit of a twist to it. It’s not perfect mind you but it’s worth looking past the faults as you will find a game that not only has a solid base but has amazing growth potential.

RPGHub Reviews: Zombies!!!

I like Zombies. I like Zombie movies. I like raising the dead. Obviously I would play a game called Zombies!!! right? I mean just the exclamation marks compel me to play. So Zombies!!! is a board game by Twilight Creations. It comes in a rather small unimposing box. It’s obvious from the cover that it’s an homage to the horror zombie genre such as Evil Dead.

Upon opening the box you have heart tokens, brain tokens, bullet tokens, a stack of tiles, cards, player miniatures and of course…ZOMBIES!!! It’s actually kind of surprising upon first inspection to see all they crammed into the box. The game board itself consists of various tiles which will get placed down on the table. The overall goal of the game is of course to survive the zombie invasion and make it to the helicopter taking you to safety or another place which is also most likely filled with zombies. But let’s stay positive here.

So with that being said, you start the game in the center tile which is the town square and from there each players takes his turn. Every player has 3 event cards. These cards can be beneficial to you or can play tricks on your opponent. The idea is that your all in it for yourself though I have played house ruled games where we do co-op. You roll a simple six sided dice to move and you place a new tile to fit the street path to however you want. Eventually when you run out of tiles the helipad will be available.

Combat within the Zombies!!! universe is also resolved via a six sided dice. A roll of 4, 5 or 6 will kill your foe while lower will result in a loss of a heart token or alternatively you can spend a bullet o increase your result. Often enough the is not enough bullets to help you and that’s great. If you get eaten alive you start back in town square, you lose your weapons and you lose half you zombie trophy’s. The goal of the game is two fold. You either as mentioned make it to the helipad or you can also collect 25 zombie trophy so it’s very difficult to achieve either.

Event cards can consist of handy weapons to give you a dice bonus or it can be to spawn other zombies. There are other type of cards and some will be sure to have you rolling on the floor. I finished the last game by spawning 15 zombies which totally shut the game down due to lack of time.

The game is that simple really. It’s incredibly accessible to anyone including the non zombie fan as it’s ridiculously fun . We recently at our Halloween part had a random person jump in the game with us and he was trying to put the kibosh on all of us within an hour.

Liked

Accessibility: Anyone can play this game and get enjoyment from it. It’s just plain fun.

Flexibility: Zombies!!! is a game that can easily be house ruled if you find the pace too slow or too fast. You can also come up with your own wacky tiles, invest in expansions and be as imaginative as you want to be.

Packaging: It’s small and compact. I can easily transport it to a friends place without it being cumbersome. Heck if someone complains it’s cumbersome then give them the hand. It also have the look of a b-movie horror flick which just add’s to the theme.

Disliked

Lack of larger interiors: In the Zombies game you will be able to enter building however the building are small in size so a more spacey interior would have been better. This get’s resolved by further expansions so this is a rather small negligible issue.

I highly recommend everyone to buy Zombies!!! the board game. It\s fast paced, not too expensive at $29.99 CDN and will have you all laughing throughout the game and that’s what’s truly a test of a good game.

RPGHub Reviews: Garruk Vs Liliana

I was out with Mrs S on the weekend. We had both had a rough day with mini Carl and all the joys that parenting can bring. So I looked at Mrs S and said “Let’s go get some magic cards”. And that was pretty much it that led us all the way to the store. Once there we browsed their assortment of Magic: The Gathering stock. I originally had in mind to go and buy some Shadowmoor cards as it had a lot of red and black. I thought it would beef up that particular deck if not build up my individual black and red decks.

Then there it was..On the shelf…was it a Planeswalker…a Black Planeswalker. Damn did I need one of those. And not only was it one Planeswalker but two. One was Liliana for the black and the other Garruk which was green. So what brought these two together in one package and what was the price of this mystical artifact.

Have beckoned our man servant at the store we had him bring the box over. Low and behold this was a new duel package released only two ago. It was two tournament sized decks that contained a Planeswalker for both the black and green colors. It was apparently put together to show how powerful a Planeswalker and their cards can be.

Being on the Magic scene I knew that these two Planeswalker cards on their own would fetch between $10 – $15 each easily not to mention whatever else was in the deck. Speaking of which there was also eight rare cards for each color as well which is awesome all depending on what you get. Six cards have new artwork to tempt your eyes. Suffice it to say we wanted to know the catch..the price. The catch was the pack was $34CDN. I was floored as just the two Planeswalker cards alone sold individually could pay for the pack.

Obviously we picked the pack up. For me alone the Planeswalker and additional black cards was an easy sell. Once home we ripped open the box and enjoyed our goods. The deck itself was well constructed. I had a very good level of creatures, lands, sorcery and even a black artifact. Mrs S had roughly the same mix of cards on her side with the green deck. I found the black deck to be particularly powerful with my ability to resurrect the dead from graveyards, instant death cards and other sorcery.

We decided to play a game with these pre constructed decks rather then carefully plan out and alter our main decks. They both did a very good job in use. I was hit more with special land cards and sorcery while I attacked with more instant kills and eventually resurrecting from her graveyard. I ended up winning this particular battle but the test was done. This deck was a great package.

Liked

Price: For $34CDN  you cannot go wrong in buying the Garruk Vs Liliana package. Two Planeswalkers and six rare cards alone and the price of admission.

Great Start: If your wanting a tournament sized deck to battle a friend then this is a great way to start. You have literally all you need and then some.

Art: I think this is a staple of all M:TG cards is the incredible art. Also of a side note is that both the Liliana and Garruk cards have alternate art.

Disliked

Nothing: I couldn’t find anything about this package that was wrong. It was so well balanced and put together it’s impossible to really break down one thing that stands out as bad. If I had to nit pick at anything it would be more at Wizards of the Coast for not advertising this more.

After this one package and after altering my main deck for black I actually feel confident that I could compete in a tournament and do halfway decent. I am very pleased with this package and what it has to offer and I recommend anyone to jump into this. Visit your store, grab this item as it’s sure to sell out fast enough. I am even tempted to pick up another package.

RPGHub Reviews: MTG: Zendikar Intro Pack

After spending some time with Magic 2010, Mrs S and me have been looking to broaden our horizons. Magic: The Gathering has had a multitude of expansions over it’s introduction.  Each setting or plane of existence (if you want to be technical) has it’s own cards to add with it’s own little flavor. Zendikar is one of those settings. It’s a plane which is quite hostile however there are riches to be won and mana that all planeswalkers wish to acquire. If you want more of a background information on Zendikar you can go here.

The introduction packs come in a box with pre constructed deck based on themes in Zendikar. For instance the introduction pack I purchased was for Mrs S as she plays blue as her primary deck and sometimes a mixture of green. So in Zendikar the paired up colors under a name. So for my intro pack it was called Unstable Terrain while others are Kor Armory, Rise of the Vampires, etc.

The box boasted a nice 41 card deck and a special foil card entitled the Sphinx of Jwar Isle and a 15 card booster pack. It’s a great way to get into the game and with the latest series especially if you are into the idea of dual decks. However unlike other series like Alara Reborn, Ravnica, etc you have singular colored cards. For those who are not familiar totally with Magic yet a card can be one of the five colors (Blue, Green, Red, Black, White) or sometimes the card can be a combination color like (Black, Red). It’s good to have a series that takes things back to singular colors.

The Zendikar series itself is a 249 card set which will introduce some new concepts like landfall, quests, ally’s and traps. While these are new features we haven’t run into their use yet so the jury is out on how well they balance out. However from what Mrs S used, she finds that it’s very good extension to her deck that she is building. I can say it’s working as cards like Mind Control are pissing me off. I might go get the Rise of the Vampires as it seem’s to have what I am more focused on. For more details on the products and cards involved check this out.

Liked

Art: As always the art is fantastic, I think this can be true of any Magic card out there. I have yet to find one I find even remotely unattractive.

Singular Colored Cards: When you buy the intro pack which contains a deck with two colors, the cards themselves are singular colored.

Price: For what you get the price I paid was actually pretty good. I even found it $3 cheaper elsewhere. That’s a lot of bang for your cash

Disliked

All you need is the intro pack: If I made cards and did an intro pack I would arrange things so you had to buy boosters of this new set to flesh things out. After we got the intro pack we realized we were just missing one card from the list for blue / green. And we may have just misplaced that card. We managed to get one in a booster we got for the heck of it but we realized why even bother getting the boosters.

So you want into Magic and the latest thing. I point you no further then a Zendikar introduction pack. Do your homework in advance. Check out the related products, what you feel would be your interest. At $12.99 even if your feeling your way around is a great way to get involved. You will not be wasting any money.

RPGHub Reviews: Descent – Game of a Thousand Deaths

“You enter the dark, dank dungeon. A heavy scent of must and mildew bombards your senses. Off in the darkness you hear the scurrying footfalls of vermin retreating from the glow of your torch. Also in this darkness you hear something else, something much larger than a rat. As you step forward, braving this dark world of unknown dangers, a loud battle cry sounds forth. From the darkness now emerges three beastmen. Their jowls drip froth and their knuckles drag as they beat down upon you. Behind them swoop down giant bats while skeletal archers unleash a volley of arrows towards you… and if that was not enough spiders crawl out from the walls, poison dripping from their fangs… oh, and of course a giant now lumbers into sight… what will your small band of puny adventurers do in light of this danger? You will decide! This is the world of Descent!”

Hi everybody! “Hi Dr. Nick!”

Anyways.

I hope that little intro to my review was bone chilling and has gotten everyone reading this in the mood for a good ol’ dungeon crawl. Now, before I begin let me just get this out of the way first. Veterans of the board gaming field may have looked upon this game and exclaimed with a bewildered cry of dismay “WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO HERO QUEST!?” Now, don’t get me wrong, Hero Quest is a fantastic game in it’s own right but this is a whole other beast. Yes they share a lot of similarities, but in the end I believe that players will walk away from both games with different experiences.

Now for the fun!

Design

From the moment I set eyes on this board game laid out before me I was hooked. From the smooth glossy modular tiles that make up the dungeon floor to the enormous pile of fairly well detailed molded plastic figures, I was in love.

The dungeon tiles come in a few different sizes and are broken up into squares that will determine player and monster movement. These tiles themselves are cut up into jigsaw-puzzle-like pieces and fit together to form one fluid dungeon map. The artwork detailing these tiles is nothing mind blowing. It seems to be a generic stamping of the one design on each. Although it is possible slight differences from tile to tile could be found, but on the whole it all blurs into the same pattern. It does succeed in setting the atmosphere and mood however, while providing boundaries to your game world. The fact that the tiles are modular is a huge bonus in that when you finish the nine pre-made adventures provided you can simply create your own. No need to replay the same dungeons if you do not desire to.

The character design of the game is well conceived and detailed. Twenty hero characters are provided each with a decently defined plastic model and a character card that bears a matching artistic image to the model with hero statistics. The artwork itself I found to be well done and compelling. You can almost instantly get a sense of what each character is by simply looking over the image of the hero character. The heroes themselves each have strengths and weaknesses. Some are magic-users, others are warriors, then you have a few thief-like and ranger-like characters. The only thing I feel was really missing from them was an actual backstory for each hero, like they had done for Arkham Horror.

The monster figures are, in my opinion, well done. Even the smallest monster seems to tower over even the largest hero. They all strike an imposing figure and it can safely be said that nobody would want to run into any of them alone in the dark. My only complaint is the lack of variety of monster at the disposal of the Overlord. But maybe my expectations were a little high in that regard. To be fair, the eight or so creature types available is a nice assortment. However, you really seem to only encounter Beastmen and Giant Spiders on a regular basis. Again though, this is only from one play through of the first dungeon. I can only imagine it will be drastically different the further you progress. Even then I am sure expansions will contain new monsters to either devour or be slain by the heroes. In a nice twist though, each monster has two types. The regular monsters and master monsters. The masters are coloured red instead of the usual beige. This makes them slightly more dangerous then the average beast.

To spice up the game board counters are provided. These counters make up doors, fallen pillars, and other debris. Chests can also be found, these will contain treasures and items. The REAL reasons to be a Hero. We all say we are in it to save the world or a beautiful princess, yet in the end if we don’t gold and toys, then the world be damned! Sorry toots! 😉 The art work for these counters is also nothing completely amazing, but it is good enough to maintain the mood of the game and interpret the counter as whatever role it is playing.

Also included is a variety of cards. These cards are mostly used by the Overlord player to thwart, maim, or even kill the players. Although some  cards will be gained by the heroes as treasure, skills, and spells.

Gameplay

I took my first steps into this dungeon expecting a nice slow adventure game filled with exploration and adventure. What I got was a vastly different result. Within moments we were swarmed by Beastmen and Skeleton Archers. The action was fast. While monsters are dangerous, for the most part they can’t take much damage. Exceptions are the master monsters and “named” monsters — the bosses of a given dungeon — they can take slightly more damage. (They also hit harder too, much harder). What also makes this game slightly more unique, and by that I obviously mean more deadly, is that the Overlord is not simply using the monsters he is given to defeat the heroes. The Overlord himself can directly influence what is going on by the use of his personal card deck and threat.

Even when the Overlord has no monsters in play he is capable of laying traps or summoning in new beasts. He acquires threat every turn, the threat he gains is equal to how many heroes enter his dungeon. He then has cards that will have a threat cost, which he must spend in order to activate the card and unleash it’s abilities. So as I had begun, the Beastmen and Skeleton Archers had jumped forth to do battle. As the tide of battle turned in our favour, suddenly as if from nowhere Giant bats swooped down from the darkness to join the fray (Having been summoned by our dastardly Overlord of the evening, Carl). Dealing with them was no problem, but it set the tone for further battles within that would not unfold so easily.

After this first battle we were rewarded with a few treasures and we continued merrily on our way. Proceeding through the next door led us into another brawl. This brawl was more dangerous as we were subsequently bombarded with fire while having venomous spiders inject us with their… well… venom. Also (once again thank you to Carl) we had to avoid weakened floors and pit traps. Even opening the next door was not safe as the Overlord had fixed a trap to it causing it to explode and shower us with splinters. A huge bonus for the heroes is that during the adventure a return to town is possible when finding certain runes and activating them. Here you can spend found gold for new items and healing. Although the more time you spend in town, the more time the evil Overlord has to plot and summon new beasts… be warned.

Eventually we encountered the final named creature of the dungeon. He was a giant. His sheer size alone would ensure no adventurer leaves with unsoiled breeches. We knew it would be no easy feat to topple the behemoth before us (especially since Overlord Carl kept summoning new beasts during the battle…) but we gave it our all, and so we died. thankfully we had acquired plenty of conquest points and made a swift return to the dungeon where we finally slaughtered the savage creatures and won the day! Hooray!

The goals of these encounters is outlined before the first die is rolled. A brief “mission” outline is read by the Overlord to the players. Another goal, which in turn doubles as a point keeping system, are conquest points. These are counters gained by meeting certain objectives within the dungeon (ie: activating a rune back to town). The heroes start with a couple of these already and it is the Overlords goal to acquire these from the heroes by killing them. When a hero dies she has a conquest point value which the Overlord gains. As long as the heroes can pay this value, they will then resurrect back in town and be able to continue the adventure.

Final Thoughts

The game has what I can only describe as a flow, or even a slowly building momentum. This momentum will go from the players to the Overlord, everyone will have their moment to shine and do some good. Even though it is simply a board game it can at times play like a fast paced arcade game where you must survive wave after wave of nasty beasts, only to face the nastiest of them all at the end. I entered the dark halls of this dungeon with high hopes, and I was not disappointed by what I found within.

I highly encourage anyone that has even the slightest interest in this game to give it a try. If you’re lucky maybe your local hobby store will have a demo version to try. I know the cost can seem steep, approximately $90 – $100 for the basic game and then another $50 – $60 per expansion, it will bust the bank of many a gamer. Especially those with a tight budget. However, the fun that will be had while triumphing over monsters and heroes alike with friends and family is, in this gamers mind, well worth the investment.

RPGHub Reviews: Darkmoon Faire

It’s review time again folks and this time we will take a look at World of Wacraft: TCG expansion Darkmoon Faire

I recently swung by our local card store and noticed the Darkmoon Faire Collectors Set just sitting there on the shelf. At first I was not sure what it was having not much experience with the trading card game. I never really explored much of what was out there. Well I did some research that night and then decided to go grab this.

The Darkmoon Faire Collectors set includes 5 cards specific only to this set. You can’t get these anywhere else and they are quite powerful cards. Actually that’s a bit of an understatement. For instance, one of the Allies, Silas Darkmoon, can attack with the score of all you’re Allies’ attack values combined and his health is determined as such too. So this can be very scary, however most of these cards have very high resources so you will want to be wary in using them. They are very powerful if you can get them out but you need to work hard to do it.

Also on the inside of this box are two Dark Portal booster packs which, of course, are random. I was lucky and managed to get a few rares in there.

Liked

Price: The price was $14.99 CDN which is pretty good for an intro pack that contains five exclusive cards, two boosters and a special card, which if you buy another Darkmoon Faire Collectors Set would have allowed you to enter the beginners Darkmoon Faire Tournament circa pre September 2009.

Art: The art is fantastic as always and captures the feel for the setting. The art for the Darkmoon Faire unique cards capture the flavor of the humor and freakishness of the Faire.

Disliked

Only Five Unique Cards: I would have preferred if there were a few more unique cards as five cards seem a tad on the cheap side. While they are powerful cards mind you, they could have easily added some lower resource cost cards which in turn could have just caused the opponent some quirky harm.

In all, I am very pleased with the package. It represents what the Darkmoon Faire is about while providing some handy boosters introducing you to the Dark Portal line of products which is a nice lead in. I highly recommend getting it while you can.

A Night of Magic

Today we have our first review here on the site since our new incarnation. And that review is for Magic: The Gathering 2010 from a newbs perspective.

The lights are darkened and we let ourselves be guided to our candlelit table. We stare at each other longingly. Anticipations rise, our hearts beating and finally breaking the silence I utter the seductive phrase “It’s time for a night of magic”.

Here at the RPG Hub we always had a stigma where we played pen & paper games while card based games were foreign if not totally alien to us. It seemed wrong to play card games and dare I say childish. That was us being ignorant back in the day. But after all these years we still ignored them. Not out of some ignorance, simply our of not being diverse. Finally though I decided I would venture into that unknown land. The land of Magic and who better I try it with then a total non gamer, my wife.

So Mrs S and myself looked at how best to jump into a card game. There was so many various games out there. Call of Cthulhu, World of Warcraft, Spycraft and many others. But what to try first…Since my wife was not big into gaming both card or pen & paper we decided to go with Magic since it was fantasy themed and my wife being an avid fantasy novel reader would most likely relate to that.

With out decision made we searched for products. As of that period Magic 2010 was released. You essentially had a starter set for one of five colors (Red, Blue, White, Black, Green). Each color represented a play stay. White focused on protection, boosting creature abilities, etc. Red was more an all out destroy the other player style deck. We were not sure what style suited us as they all sound cool when you read into them so we bought a starter set for each one. I also took the liberty of buying the Magic 2010 core fat pack. This was essentially a box of boosters in a carry case and a D20 to keep track of health. Rather tacky but for the price but why not.

After two weeks of waiting for our order, it came in. And with glorious pleasure we unwrapped that foil and sorted all our cards by color. By the time we were done unwrapping the starter set with it’s accompanying booster as well as the core fat pack, we had a tournament sized 60 card deck for each color. For the purpose of trial I took the black deck and my wife the blue. She likes to control and she loves blue (as of this writing I am still alive for saying this).

The rules come on a fold out colored glossy paper. The rules basics for how to play are well presented with a glossary of terms. It might be daunting on first looks to see all those charts and being new but it’s ok. We selected our initial 60 cards which is a tournament standard sized deck. For those who have not played you take the role of a mages doing battle against one another. You have creatures, spells, enchantments and lands to select and use on the battle field. You might but wondering about lands? Like what the hell? Well land lets you summon creatures, cast spells, etc. It’s basically the potatoes underlying your meet. Your mage taps into these lands to perform these magical feats so it’s good to have quite a few of them in your deck as some creatures, spells and enchantments take a lot of tapped lands to bring them to the table and use against your opponent.

So the Mrs and myself played 4 games. The first being rather sloppy as we kept referring to the giant fold out to figure out the turns and get down to business but eventually we managed to get to a point where we referred less to it. I ended up taking 3 of the 4 games however we alternated decks to see what the colors were like. The balance is truly amazing. One deck is really not more over powered then the next. They each has their own strong points. Blue can control your monsters and smack you down with what you thought would obliterate your opponent. White can heal you while damaging making your opponent who just lost look at your nice 20 health.

Ah yes, health, how could I forget you. The goal of the game obviously is to defeat your opponent. But to do so you need to eliminate 20 of your opponents health. This is standard as well and why that tacky D20 was put in the game. We just used our noggins but if you don’t trust your friends or very forgetful then using the D20 is actually a good idea. So by using your land resources you draw power to perform spells, enchantments, instants or creatures summoning. When a creature comes into play you can’t immediate use it to attack as it’s still adjusting from the teleportation to your plane of existence however the following round it’s free to do whatever it pleases. Creates at times have sub abilities that can be activated of course by your resources. Each creature has it’s own health and defense. They essentially act as your wall to block any upcoming attacks. However sometimes depending on the creature they are unable to block as it’s not their function. All this is described on the creature cards and allows for some interesting plays during the game.

So after the games were done we looked at each other and came away with the feeling that this was an awesome game. It can be as complex as you want it to be by mixing colored decks which is perfectly legal or it can be as simple as you want it by keeping to just a standard starter. To say the least when we walked into it we had no preconceptions that this would be as fun as we thought.

Liked

Art: The art is simply fantastic and helps to draw you into your particular color selection. It feeds off the concepts and you can’t help but wanting to buy more cards to see what the others are like.

Pick up and Play: You can go out and buy two simple $10 CDN starter packs which will kick start you and a friend. He play can be quick or as complex. Flexibility to various play styles is always a plus.

Variety: There are many expansions out there for Magic over the years. If you’re a dabbler and want simple boosters, that’s ok but if you want to get unique cards from a certain event then they have those in boosters or fat packs as well. Everything has a story and that helps enriches the setting your dueling in.

Disliked

Card Clarity: Now it could be our initial newbness in playing, however we found some cards not very clear at all and not totally explained via the quick start for the game. For further information you can go to the magic site and download a larger FAQ / Manual which is quite huge and intimidating for people figuring things out,

Cheap Foldout: This ties to the issue above. We would have liked to have had a printed guide with all your detailed information for various instances and maybe a demo of play from start to finish. The fold out instructions can easily be lost / torn / dog eaten so something of more substance would have been much preferred. If competitors can do it so can Wizards.

I highly recommend trying this out with a friend. It opens up a different but quite rewarding experience. I know in the case of Mrs S and myself, our geeky fires were stoked and our romance blossomed. Happily ever after.