Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Final Fantasy 14: an MMO so bad they had to blow it up

Yes, that is right. They actually BLEW UP Final Fantasy's lame world and are re-releasing this dung heap of an MMO later this year.

They are calling it a "Realm Reborn" but what it actually is is a kick in the nuts for all the suckers that spent the 40-50 bucks on this ridiculously stupid MMO.
If this version goes south then you can wave goodbye to any and all credibility Final Fantasy XI might have bought them, and their future in the North American MMO market probably goes out the window as well.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Hey look a dragon that destroys everything! Where have we seen that before?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Champions Online now a real game and no longer crap

When it launched back in 2009? Champions Online was a bit of a let down. With the failure of many Cryptic titles and their buy out by Chinese MMO pay to win conglomerate Perfect World I figured that the game was about to enter the trash bin of MMO history.

I decided to check it out recently and was quite surprised to discover that not only had the game been totally overhauled it was actually BETTER than the fail launch it had suffered.

The latest update adds "vehicles" although you do not actually get IN them. Many transform you but they have added new PVE Q's that let you take on vehicle missions with up to 10 people.

There has been more as well. Of course with the closing of City of Heroes and the console garbage that is DC Universe Online this game has probably had a boost in overall play population. The server is crowded also (it uses 1 instanced server but breaks them into areas you can port to much like GW2 servers).

It is a pretty deep game now with a revamped starting system, instant Q's, talent trees, overhauled Character UI,  vehicles and more. The new alert system is pretty neat also (well new for me at least). All players go to the city after the tutorial so no more picking one of the two start zones we all got sick of. Stats are clearly highlighted and gear has gotten a major fix.

Below are some key updates:

Systems Update - We've updated the way most Statistics, Roles, and Super Stats work to improve the way statistics work together and provide for better game balance in the future. Additionally, we've re-itemized the entire game, improving the rewards available from levels 1-40, providing not only increased power, but also more meaningful rewards from both world drops and quests. 
Specializations - These new specializations allow for even greater customization for your Champions Online character - players can become even stronger than before! Unlocked at level 10, Specializations give you all you need to make an even more unique hero 
Modifications & Fusion - Our new Modifications and Fusion Systems further enhance the customizability of Champions Online. Through this new system, players will be able to modify their gear, customizing it with new modifications to provide more of the statistics they want, as well as fuse modifications together to create even more powerful mods.
Roles - We’ve renamed the roles to more accurately describe what they are intended for, as several of the previous names were similar enough in meaning that it was difficult for new players to tell which role was for tanking, for example – Sentinel, Protector, or Guardian?
The real major change for Roles, though, is that they will now affect what your Super Stats do for you. Previously, even if you were in a Support or Tanking Role, Super Stats always provided you with more damage. While more damage is nice, it isn’t really what you want out of those roles. Now, being in a DPS role will provide you with the maximum damage bonus, while Tank and Support Roles provide bonuses targeted at those Roles. The Hybrid Role provides a mix of benefits, aimed at allowing players to fulfill more than one Role, just not quite as well as someone that picks a specific Role.
In addition to the way that Roles interact with Super Stats, we made some additional tweaks to the Roles. Several of the penalties have been removed, and several of the benefits have been increased. Here are some highlights: (of course, these are all still being tweaked, so they may change) 

The War Z is a terrible game and NOT an MMO

Tried out the War Z  beta tonight WHAT A MESS of a game and a waste of time. 

This game is nothing but CounterStrike with Zombie NPC's running around. And yes I said NPC's because at no point in the game are Zombies even a threat more than some other player that just shoots you because its "funny". AVOID this title at all costs. At this point DEAD ISLAND is more of the experience the public is looking for.

Think WW2 Online meets player killers. Wander around for 20 minutes and get shot, with a 58 minute revive time. Gee thats fun. No one even focuses on Zombies or what is going on, they just hide behind trees and kill you when you wander around. If I wanted that I would play Counterstrike,

Its not an "MMO" either. Its a shooter on a survival server that is only capable of holding 40 people at a time with an in game server browser. It's not persistent and its full of team killers wandering around looting you for bags of potato chips. 

I started off having fun until I realized that other people can shoot you dead. I explored, went to a town and then while running from zombies was shot dead by another player. What the fuck? So when I died that character was locked out for 1 hour. And I had to make a new one. Rinse repeat with all 5 of your character slots and guess what? Your done for the night. 

What a waste of a concept. It is really too bad because the engine and the in game theories looked fun. However I refuse to play a game where people grief others in lieu of the setting or the real aspect of the title. Especially one that sells itself as something else when in fact it is a simple shooter little focus on the overlying theme.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I got some free to play coins for SWTOR

In a desperate attempt to woo me back to the joke that is Star Wars the Old Republic MMO (free to play version) I got spammed that I have gotten a bunch of stupid "tokens" for spending real money and getting burned on the game months ago. Wow awesome! Maybe I can buy another hotbar or perhaps a mini map to place on my screen. What a bargain!

The most hilarious thing? I have to subscribe to take advantage of them. Ok....?

You have earned Complimentary Cartel Coins for your prior paid subscription months! Cartel Coins are a new virtual currency coming with the launch of the Free-to-Play option this November.
Visit the Cartel Coins Ledger page to see how many Complimentary Cartel Coins you have already earned! This new web page is located in the "My Account" section of the website.
Get ready to visit the Cartel Market loaded with coins to spend this November - and turn these golden coins into valuable items such as pets, vehicles, XP boosts, and more! Remember, you must return as a Subscriber to take advantage of this golden opportunity!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Diablo 3 with Monster Power selection

I returned to Diablo 3 last night to check out patch 1.0.5 and the new Monster Power Selection system that was greatly missing when the game launched. Basically this recreates the ability you had in Diablo 2 to raise the power of the creatures higher than normal so that you get more XP per kill and thusly level faster.

I entered the game striving to kill Azmodan and only level 29 and decided to be timid and use Monster Power 2. The XP gain was greater and after I killed Azmodan I had hit level 31 and was well on my way toward the final act. My Barbarian uses a build where REND gives him health back as he fights. So far it is quite interesting but many times I was close to death. One day I will get the nerve to make a HARDCORE character but what class I am not sure.

I racked up 5 more achievements as well and now I want to play more than I used to. I felt the game on Normal was a tad too easy but now I want to jack the Monster Power up to about 5 or so with my wizard and see how fast I can level him.

It does bring some fun back into a game I was seriously disappointed in. Despite how good some claim Torchlight 2 to be I just don't have the gusto to play it at the moment. With RIFT taking a lot of time Diablo 3 is one thing I want to finish on Normal then move on. I am really not in the mood to grind gear in that game.

"Monster Power gives Diablo III players the option to increase the health and damage of monsters according to different "power levels" -- and in return, they'll receive scaling bonuses to their adventure stats (including experience, Magic Find, and Gold Find) as well as more drops.
The option to adjust Monster Power will be available to all players starting at level 1 through the Quest Selection window, and can be adjusted separately for Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno difficulties." 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Minecraft 1.4.2 Update

The hits keep coming for Mojang in this patch. I have only found carrots so far but I started a whole new world (called Prometheus) to see all the spoooky Halloween changes. Listed below is the new patch for the game that never quits giving:

Minecraft 1.4.2

The Pretty Scary Update!
+ Added a beacon
+ Added flower pots
+ Added item frames
+ Added anvils
+ Added cobblestone walls
+ Added pumpkin pies
+ Added carrots and potatoes
+ Carrots can be put on a stick to control pigs while riding
+ Added a boss mob
+ Added a new skeleton type
+ Added witches
+ Added bats
+ Added mob heads that can be placed
+ Zombies now infect villagers, but can also be cured
+ Added wooden button
+ Items can be cloned with the “pick block” action in Creative Mode
+ Items can be quickly moved to the hotbar by pressing 1 through 9 while hovering an item
+ Added /difficulty, /spawnpoint, /weather, /gamerule and /clear commands
+ Added “target selectors” for commands
+ Added option to hide capes
+ Added option to toggle vertical synch
+ Added customization to superflat worlds
+ Minor additions to the world generator
+ New potion recipes
+ Leather armor can be dyed
* Maps now start more zoomed in, and can be extended
* Redstone repeaters can now be set into a “locked” position
* New sound effects
* Portals to the Nether can now transport items and mobs
* Adventure mode now allows placing and removing blocks, but only when using the correct tools
* Changed method of placing sideways wood logs
* Improved server list
* Improved debug (F3) options
* Spawn protection is now automatically disabled if there are no defined admins
- Removed Herobrine

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

RIFT: server consolidations, raiding and more

Not in a bad way, in a good way. Trion made our current home a new trial server and offered everyone a chance to move to a new server this week. A trial server is reserved for new players and people taking advantage of the free trial. This is in preparation for the upcoming Storm Legion expansion rush when a flood of new people may be coming back to Rift.

We picked up our guild and did a transfer to Threesprings which is a brand new server Trion just opened. Combine this with Defiant and Guardians now loving each other as well as cross server LFG Q's and you have the makings of a good robust community.

Now that I have reached 50 I have attended a couple of raids in Hammerknell and run all sorts of Expert Dungeons (aka Heroics as you WoW pleebs might know them). I have since switched from a two dagger assassination spec to a Saboteur spec and am doing quite a bit of damage. I use the dagger stealth spec when questing for the most part but I also want to look into Rogue tanking.

I also took advantage of the new wardrobe/costume slots to not look like a peasant. I used a combo of plate, chain and cloth to make myself look more evil and suitable to the level 50 crowd:

The server announcement was as follows:

Hail Ascended, 
The servers of Storm Legion have arrived early! Since the beginning of the year we’ve been making constant advancements in our server technology as we worked to bring all of the shards closer together. Starting with European servers in July, we began our plans to have everyone in each region play on a single wargroup. Now we’re able to start the next leap forward – further focusing on removing the barriers between shards.  
The advancements we’ve made this year have effectively doubled the capacity of the individual servers allowing more of you to play together than ever before while reducing the total number of shards we need to support RIFT’s active population. 
What this means for you – we can now support all of our North American players on a single wargroup, further reducing queue times for dungeons and PvP while bringing the community even closer together.
This change is currently scheduled to occur this Wednesday, October 24. Here’s what the new mega-wargroup for North America will look like:
Faeblight (RP)
Laethys (Oceanic)
Seastone (PvP)
Briarcliff, Byriel, Deepstrike, Gnarlwood, Greenscale, Keenblade, Millrush, and Silkweb will be converted to trial-only shards – everyone currently on these shards will be able to take advantage of the Free Character Transfers to find yourself a new home or meet up with guild mates.  
With this massive increase in server capacity it will be easier than ever to enjoy RIFT to the fullest. We’ll be ready for anything as you and your friends storm our shores with the release of our first expansion – we can’t wait!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RIFT's incredibly huge 1.11 patch notes

The calm before the Storm Legion so to speak. A major huge update is going live right now and the notes are so GINORMOUS that they had to split them up as separate posts in the forums.

So here we go:

General Notes:

All other 1.11 patch notes:

One interesting tidbit about Planar Attunement Points now:

* Planar Attunement is now shared between all characters on your account! Planar Attunement experience earned is applied to all of your characters.

* You'll need to log in to each existing character to add their PA experience to your account-wide total. There's no advantage in logging in characters in a certain order or leaving some characters to be logged in later.

* The account-wide Planar Attunement change is going hand-in-hand with a change to how Planar Attunement experience applies to PA levels. The combined total of PA from your characters is converted before adding to the account-wide amount.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Secret Worlds odd "no level" scheme may hurt the game

This from another blog I shall not mention:

"I was one of the players that gave it a 9/10 on Metacritic. It is a very good MMO. It is awfully niche though and extremely carebear unfriendly. It has an endgame grind that locks out most casual players and reduces the content available behind dungeon unlocks and gear grinds. The 500+ skills are mostly obtuse and do not always work as expected. Many of our guild members could not develop viable skill builds and the preset builds are mostly useless. Last but not least the community was reduced to mostly a bunch of elitists with QL 10.2 gear standing in Agartha and spamming for groups yet refusing to take less experienced players. Yelling “LFM No Idiots” won’t endear you to other players. The game and community became its own worst enemy"

"Pretty soon the fun runs out and players are slapped with grinds. When you ship with only a handful of playable zones (and, really, only three or four thematically different zones when you consider it), when you design the game to be a constant switching of skills and gears and then the community has to step in to mod it because your gear and skills manager has serious issues for weeks and weeks, when your chat is broken for weeks and weeks, when your cash shop is arguably the most expensive… and on top of all this you have the temerity to charge an AAA-like sub for what’s arguably F2P-territory content, well… no wonder people are being “divisive”"

I gave up on The Secret World a while back. I saw where it was going and bailed early on. Much the same way sadly I will bail on Guild Wars 2. Breaking from the norm is not always the best thing to do. If The Secret World had featured many of the same features and components of a decent modern MMO but kept the same mystique and setting it may have been a hit.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

This is some scary stuff: Free to play lovers...this is your future

Hat tip to Syncaine at Hardcore Casual. Just watch the Pay to Win is Acceptable section. Tell me that some of these methods are not being moved into Western MMO's. I see it in Guild Wars 2 everyday. Also click the events section and notice how they keep us distracted despite no end game content being installed yet.

All of you people clamoring for Free to Play games...this is your future...enjoy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fixing SWTOR

^^ This guy is looking for advice about his Star Wars the Old Republic raiding issues.

Here is a simple solution:

1) Identify that you are STILL playing SWTOR
2) Quit playing least until it is free to play. Even then QUIT playing SWTOR.

Don't say I never helped anyone.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cracks in the armor of Guild Wars 2

During my time with Guild Wars 2 I have noticed some cracks in the armor of what otherwise is a good game...but still these issues keep it from being GREAT.

These cracks are, for a dungeon running 5 man aficionado such as myself, enough to make me take a step back and wonder what, if anything, the game has for me at level cap.

Sure, level capping is not hard. I could tradeskill my way to 80 if I wanted or even use XP potion boosters. It is what is at the end game that had me worried all along.

Guild Wars 2 is by nature not a "raiders" game. It is a PVP game and I knew that going in. I knew that it would possibly turn me off the end game no matter how solid the leveling experience may be. However even the leveling experience is starting to grow on me a bit.

While I do commend the game on its features that old evil MMO tyrant World of Warcraft has reared its head again and still proven that it has the best end game content. I am a dungeon runner by heart. My experience in the first Guild Wars 2 dungeon was so horrendous that I may never go back. It was, as Keen and Graev have stated here...a total clusterfuck.

I miss the ‘holy trinity’ of class archetypes in dungeons.  I don’t miss them in big awesome events like the dragons, when questing/eventing, or in PvP, but I hate the lack of structure in the dungeons.  To some of you that’s heresy, but I find dungeons entirely too spammy and the whole experience feels like everyone is playing a DPS class and just zerging the fight until it’s done.

To me that is not a dungeon. That is a tacked on experience that is neither balanced nor fun. You can read their summary of the dungeons I do not need to go into here. Needless to say what is the point of action/evade combat if you are going to design a dungeon that takes place in narrow hallways, rooms with furniture that block rolls, and small confined spaces teeming with terrible dungeon AI.

If a game does not have some decent core things to precipate cooperation and dungeon running I am usually out within 4-6 weeks. Sadly I find that happening with Guild Wars 2.

The devs have stated that there will be no LFG Finder. Why not? This is a common component that every MMO should, in this day and age come with. What makes the great older games fun? I will tell you. The ability to spawn your own content. The ability to work as a team to run dungeons. Whether it be LOTRO's skirmishes, RIFT's two man content runs, or even World of Warcrafts new 3 man scenarios you need to have something there. I am sorry but logging in night to night to go from heart to heart on a map is just not doing it for me right now. Not when other games have so much more depth and other things to do. Housing, small group content, larger dungeons, organized well structured 5 mans where people know their roles...these are things I look for.

As time goes on I find myself drifting from just logging in night after night to run around and fill heart quests on a map to wanting something more. I also do not like total solo play. Never have, never will.

The dungeon experience in Guild Wars 2 was so bad, so unpolished and so bland that I doubt I will try another one for a long period of time. I was not the only one either. Most members of our party were really disappointed at the thing and toward the end it got downright funny. On the flip side I had more fun in RIFT for the short time I went back Saturday then trying that GW2 dungeon dreck. This needs to be looked at by the Arena Net crew or many many players will simply go back to you know where. There needs to be that hook and this game just does not have at from what I can tell.

I am still not convinced that there is an MMO that can be created without using the Holy Trinity.

Other sources to take a look at:

The Dungeons are Bad:

Reward system fubar'd

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lord of the Rings Online: The rise of Cothbert Defender of the Shire

Still trying to narrow down my choice of characters in Lord of the Rings Online I have take to rolling various classes I think I would like and taking them to 20 or so.

I had played the Guardian class before (the game's token tanking class) and had indeed had many races as well. Dwarf, Hobbit, Man and even Elf.

I had never gotten a Guardian too far so this time around, with a deeper more researched knowledge of the game, I wanted to level a Guardian and see if there was any of the ole "tanking flame" left in me. My stint as a tank in World of Warcraft had worn me thin and I had pretty much burned out on even trying one in any other game.

I knew that I needed at least one Hobbit on my roster so Guardian it was and Cothbert was born. With all my five year old account goodies and Riders of Rohan pre order stuff I knew I could make him look pretty cool. I have not been that enamored with the Burglar thus far so decided to put more time in on the tanking role.

I also wanted to do ALL quests in the Shire and not skip any and this was simply the best way. With my other characters I was bouncing around all over the place as there is a LOT to do in this game.

With my Captain and Warden now at level 17 I had some catching up to do but what is another 3-4 hours anyway? I had time to kill.

Cothbert at creation. So new and inexperienced:

The horrors of what happened at Archet and in the Shire to start his adventures made him quite battle hardened. He even lost an eye in the process. As such he is one of the less merry Hobbits you may see come out of the Shire.

His first foray into the wild unknown was not unlike any other Hobbit out there. He had to prove himself to the Bounders and to the citizens who of course didn't want to see any trouble. But Cothbert had it in him to be greater than Bilbo and so he went into the chest of his great grandfather, pulled out the armor handed down through generations and took it upon himself to seek out adventure. The inhabitants of the Shire had many duties to be done and were generally too lazy to do them.

No Hobbit can start an adventure without looking good and Cothbert certainly fit that bill.

The first thing he had to do was gain contacts. Insider information about where he could get into trouble and prove how heroic he was. The first stop was Michel Delving. He asked around but could only find work with the local Postmaster. So it was that Cothbert, the great Defender of the Shire, started out on his career doing the dangerous task of....delivering mail.

It was going to be a long year.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Middle Earth frenzy

It is that time again when I am once more struck by a serious addiction to all things Middle Earth. Short of playing the Games Workshop miniatures game again (I refuse to give them money) I have been spending time inside Lord of the Rings Online as I duo that game with my Guild Wars 2 time. I never had a huge grudge against LOTRO (as it is known among cool geeks) I just never really had the time to give it a serious chance. I was always either in there between a major MMO release or just to waste time. Kind of the way I treat Star Trek Online.

I like STO and LOTRO about the same but I find LOTRO is a good escape for someone wanting to play an MMO and actually feel like they are involved in the world. While Guild Wars 2 is awesome it is VERY action oriented. Sometimes I need to sit back and relax in game and just take in the "digital life" so to speak. Only 2 MMO's evoke that kind of response from me and those are Everquest 2 and Lord of the Rings Online. Since I love LOTR more of course I am back in there.

The fact that it is free to play helps, but I also find the LOTRO store easier to use and the game more fulfilling than EQ2 at this point. I had a good stint of LOTRO back in the day. I was in a good guild, I had good companions and things were fun. But slowly and surely other games siphoned off what was left of our great Kinship and we all faded out. I don't even have that account anymore, forgetting the email and the login and not knowing how to retrieve it I simply opened my second old account and upgraded it a few months ago.

 When you use the 5 year gifts like I have (even my second unplayed account was this old) you can level quite fast. I was greeted with 5 year presents and gift boxes and a nice free horse. So I have been spending a lot of time online in MMO's and I haven't even purchased Torchlight 2 OR Borderlands 2 yet. This is seriously demolishing my want to play any boardgames since all these games are top notch products I figure I will be busy until Christmas at least. Then of course the Hobbit will be out and well...I will probably be 100% in Lord of the Rings Online. Although Guild Wars 2 is full of action and casual play sometimes I miss tanks, healers and dps'ers. I refuse to go back to World of Warcraft since I feel I have simply out grown it. I hate the new talent trees and the latest expansion coming out does nothing for me really at this point. That is not to say sometime I may be there again since I have a year long sub until February but right now it is not my pace or style.

I want to explore all LOTRO offers and finally get a character up there to see if some of the faults of the game can be ignored.

I still find the same things wrong with LOTRO that I always have since the game launched:

- rubberbanding
- poor mob AI
- horrible interface
- classes that still are a little...bland

By the way speaking of add ons and the like check out this neat LOTRO Stat Checker site if you are a player:

I can get around that for the most part with plugins. I just hope that as I progress and want to run dungeons and the like that those same old clunky interface quirks do not ultimately do in my love of the game. For now I am having fun on the Brandywine server and just relaxing as I level a Captain of Gondor and a Warden. This is a tough call as I also find The Secret World a very good MMO as well. There are only so many hours a day however and right now the fee associated with Secret World stacked on top of my WoW year long lock in just will not allow me to spend that much a month.

I went from hating almost every MMO to really finding that GW2 and The Secret World have given me hope that some titles will not always be hideous. So that is my update. A lot of Tolkien lately and some GW2 mixed in with a boardgame when I have the chance. I will be joining a casual family Kinship on Brandywine I will update people on the status of this later.

I am also pretty pumped about the Riders of Rohan expansion. While Lord of the Rings Online has potential it has for the past 5 years stayed in a rather small focus compared to the sweeping drama of the books. I wanted to immediately visit Minas Tirith and all those places but for the years the online game has plodded along about as fast as a sloth when it comes to opening new content. Not anymore. With the upcoming Rohan expansion I am actually pretty excited. The Rohan trailer shows a nice dedication by Turbine to stay true to the lore and pump up the fans:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lord of the Rings LCG replay: Passage to Mirkwood Part 2

Ok back to the game I started earlier this week. As you can recall that play by play is located here:

Things were looking nice and quiet as our party progressed toward Mirkwood enroute to deliver a message to Galadriel. They had seen a Veteran Axehand perish at the fangs of a King Spider but most of the giant insects had been dispatched by Gimli and Legolass.


All the guys are up and moving on. I add my resource tokens and draw a card which is Silverlode Archer. That is the second one in my hand now and at 3 resources can be costly. I don't really have anything I want to play and Gloin cannot afford to play any allies this turn so I pass on my planning phase and head to the questing phase.

Again, as last turn I send Gloin and this time I send Gimli instead of Legolass. I know it is a risk but I need to get this progress moving and I want at least 4 questing points out there this turn. As it stands before the Encounter draw I am 4 up and I am hoping for a treachery card.

Well I do not get so lucky. I hate this card I get and it is the Black Forest Bats. When revealed I have to remove a character from questing as he is driven back. The worst part is that character does not ready as he is busy fighting swarms of bats. So I lost 2 questing points. The Bats have a threat of 1 so I do get a progress  token. I choose to remove Gimli from the questing.

The good news is that ONE progress token is enough to clear the Great Forest Web location and our Heroes are back on the main trail and onward toward the quest!

Here is our situation:

There is no where to travel to so it is on to the Combat Phases. The bats will engage and down they come to the staging area. I choose the Snowbourn Scout to defend and draw a Shadow Card. It is a treachery card and a nasty one that has no effect since this was a combat draw. If I had drawn it as a treachery card I would have had to discard ALL events from my hand. The Bats attack and the Rohan scout easily beats it aside (1 damage to 1 defense = a tie).

Now to attack and this is an easy choice. Legolass will attack and kill the bats, allowing me to place 2 progress tokens on the main quest. Halfway there now!

I refresh all characters and add one to my threat which is now 36. On to the next turn!


Ok things are really looking good. If you can clear the first stage of Passage to Mirkwood and have this few casualties chances are you may have this in the bag but we will see. I add my resources and draw my card which is a Steward of Gondor! HURRAY my luck could not get any better. Gloin will be playing this card and for the rest of the quest he is an honorary member of the Gondor Guard. This card allows Gloin to make a lot of money.... err sorry resources.  The best thing is you exhaust the ATTACHMENT not the character using the attachment. Big key thing to note there. So basically Gloin now makes 3 resources a turn. That is the card I needed to really kick this deck into high gear.

Legolass and Gimli save their money for a possible Gandalf play and we move to the questing phase. I send Gloin and Gimli off questing to scout the area and draw my encounter card. A band of Orcs! When revealed they deal 2 damage to a character! Stumbling into an ambush Gloin takes 2 damage and thus gains two resources due to his special ability. The threat on the orcs is 2 so I win questing by 2 and add two progress to the quest. 6 out of 8 but my dwarves are starting to get beat up. If all goes well however I will CLEAR that first stage of the quest this turn with a Legolass attack on the orcs that have 0 defense. That will be a kill and that is two more progress tokens.

The orcs will be engaging since their threat encounter level is 10 so down they come, charging at our party. I skip the travel phase as there are no locations out. For defense I put the Snowbourn Scout out there knowing he will die, but thanks to the Horn of Gondor Legolass will get a resource for it. I draw a Shadow Card and AGAIN no effect!

The orcs cut down the Snowbourn Scout in a spray of blood and Legolass prepares his twin blades. Legolass does three to the Orcs who have 3 Hit Points and no defense. DOWN THEY GO and I place 2 progress tokens closing out the first stage of the quest. The end is in site!

We come to a fork in the road and pick a direction. Only 2 quest points to pass this one and move on to stage 3. On to the next turn now. I refresh all cards and add one to my threat level.


The card I draw is FEINT which is a good card it stops the enemy from engaging for one turn. I decide to tuck that one away for safe keeping. With a lot of money and Gandalf in my hand I may decide to really push  this game toward the end. Gloin plays the Silverlode Archer, a good card because it has a questing point.

I save the rest of my resources and on we go to the quest phase. Lets push our luck. I send the Silverlode Archer, Gloin and Gimli on the questing for a total of 5 points. I will use Feint if I have to to cancel a nasty combat this turn.  The encounter card is Mountains of Mirkwood and I cannot believe my luck. With a threat level of and my questing of 5 I have gotten 3 progress tokens and CLEARED STAGE 2! There is no combat and no travel so I refresh and increase my threat by one.



In this scenario there are two possible endings and you must randomly choose one so I use the in game coin flip tool to determine where I will go. Heads will be Beorn's Path and tails will be Dont Leave the Path!

The answer is heads. It is Beorn's Path which is one that I have never gotten before. Interesting. This is a 10 step quest so it is not over yet folks. I now have 10 steps to clear and a high amount of threat going into phase 3.

I draw my card and it is Blade Mastery and add my resources. I tap Steward of Gondor to get 3 more resources on Gloin. I may have to play Gandalf just to lower my threat soon. Gloin spends 3 and plays another Silverlode Archer.

In the questing phase I send Gimli, 2 Silverlode Archers and Gloin. That is a total of 6 questing points and 2 threat is already on the stage so I am at 4 right now. Lets hope for a treachery card. No such luck but I do draw ANOTHER Mountains of Mirkwood. The threat is now 4 on the table to my 6 questing so I gain two progress tokens. Again no combat this turn.

All characters refresh and my threat climbs to 39.


I draw Sneak Attack. Now this is interesting because for ONE resource I can play a 5 resource card Gandalf. This is because Sneak Attack allows me to play one Ally from my hand but that Ally goes away at the end of the phase. However Gandalf always leaves anyway after he makes an appearance so this is a win win. I have a lot of resources as you can see below (the round black counters):

I play nothing this turn waiting for the evil creatures in the encounter deck so I move to the questing phase. On and on our party marches and I send two more Silverlode Archers, Gimli and Gloin again to scout ahead. The threat is mounting and now it is 4 on the table to my 6. More Orcs appear with a threat of 2 so this time my questing is evened out. Problem is these Orcs will deal two damage to someone. If I put this on the Archers one will die and reduce my quest total, thus raising my threat. I decide to keep it even and put the damage on Gimli. At 3 wounds Gimli is bleeding badly. I decide not to travel and we go to the encounter phase. The Shadow Card draw is a treachery card AGAIN I am lucky and the Orcs attack the Rohan Horse Archer doing a point of damage to him. Legolass strikes again, dealing 3 damage to the orcs in a scene all too famliar killing them and adding two more progress tokens to the quest. 4 of 10 now.

Combat ends, no enemies are left but threat looms ever near in the staging area. I refresh and increase my overall threat to 40. It is crunch time now.


I draw and give resources. Unfortunately I get Thicket of Spears and again I cannot use that card in this deck. Ah well lets move on to the questing phase. It is getting harder and harder to get the questing points to beat that threat of 4 but I know I have Gandalf and a Feint card still. I send everyone questing for a total of 7 and that includes Legolass. With Sneak Attack I can get Gandalf out if I need to. I draw yet ANOTHER Mountains of Mirkwood card. What a crap shuffle!. 7 to 6 gets me a progress token however and there is no combat. I will be forced to travel this turn I have to get that threat off the board.

I travel to the Mountains of Mirkwood during the travel phase and draw a card like it says and get the Hummerhorns, a giant Bee card that is one of the deadliest in the game. Their threat level is 40 and my threat is 40. When they attack they deal 5 damage to a hero and that means someone will die.

I cannot risk this so here we go. I use Sneak Attack at the end of the travel phase. I play Gandalf for one resource. I use Gandalf's ability to deal 4 damage to an enemy in play. He kills the Hummerhorns before they can engage.

According to sneak attack Gandalf must go back into my hand if still in play at the end of that Phase so back he goes. The good news is I get to keep him so I can still lower my threat. There is no combat so we go to the refresh phase and my threat climbs to 41.


I draw a Son of Arnor card. I play him with Gloin's resources. Gandalf makes another appearance and I play him for 5 resources and lower my threat by 5. Now at the end of this turn Gandalf will ride off, with more pressing things to do for a wizard of this stature. My threat is 36 now and I plan on sending Gandalf questing. This could easily clear the Mountains of Mirkwood and my extras will carry over.

During the questing phase I send both Silverlod Archers, Gandalf and ALL my heroes for a whopping total of 11. 4 threat is on the table already. I draw a card from the encounter deck.....

ANOTHER location, Forest Gate. 2 threat. That is a total of 11-6 = 5. This clears the Mountains of Mirkwood, allowing me to look at the top 5 cards in my deck and pick one, and the extra 2 go toward the quest. 7 out of 10 now.

I pick the Snowbourn Scout to put into my hand mainly for the reason that when I play him I get a progress token. Had to be done.

There is no combat, I refresh and with a hearty "Farewell!" Gandalf rides off. My threat goes up to 37. These locations are really pounding my ability to quest.


Phew this is a long one. My score will already be terrible with the new Fantasy Flight scoring system of adding 10 points per turn you take. That is 120 right there. Ok resource phase. I then draw Swift Strike so as far as combat goes I am set. I just need three more points to win this game. I play Snowbourn Scout. I add one progress token to a LOCATION (not quest) and I am at 7 out 10 still but I could travel to a location with a progress token on it to help close that out soon. I pick the Forest Gate to place this on as I may travel there hoping for a Gandalf draw (I have three in my deck).

During the questing phase I send out everyone. That is a total of 7 and the threat is already at 6. I draw a card. It is indeed the worst possible result: The UNGOLIANT SPAWN. Not only is this a deadly enemy but he MUST be killed now for this quest to succeed. He also increases the threat by 3 and subtracts one questing point from each quester. This hurts badly. My threat goes up 7. OUCH. And this ladies and gentleman is how easy it is to suddenly almost lose this game.

Current Threat: 44. At 50 I lose automatically. Now I have a choice to make. Do I go for a card draw and travel or simply try to kill the spawn with Legolass. Well Legolass went questing this turn and my heroes are off exploring so the allies will have to fight. In a risky move that will prolong the game (knowing my heroes must fight next turn and cannot quest) I travel to the Forest Gate and draw two cards. I get sneak attack and feint. This is good I can hold the spider off if I want next turn.

That is possibly the worst card I could get but now I know it is there and if I kill it I may be clear of it. I will engage the Spawn using Feint. I engage the Ungoliant Spawn and he comes down. I play Feint and the Spawn cannot attack. His shadow card however makes me exhaust a character. I choose to exhaust the Snowbourn Scout. During my Combat phase I strike back at him with Son of Arnor and a Rohan Archer doing 2 points of damage to him. I refresh all my cards and increase my threat to 45. The Heroes teeter on the brink of failure. This is about as close a game as you can get!


I draw Steward of Gondor and attach this to Legolass, giving him the Gondor Trait and letting him make more money. It costs Gloin 2 to play this but I have more than enough Resources.

I need Legolass to participate in the attack to get the kill and progress tokens. So he cannot quest. I send the  two Silverlode Archers and Gloin and Gimli questing. That is only a total of 6. I know you are wondering why do that when Gimli must fight! I decide to use Swift Strike later that will deal 2 automatic damage to the spawn giving him 4 wounds. This will let Legolass kill him alone. But we are getting ahead of oursleves. This could be close. I draw my Encounter Card. I draw Chieftain Uthak, perhaps the second worse card in the encounter deck. Things are not looking good. This is a 6 hit point killing machine Orc that will engage this turn. His threat is two so the questing is 6 to 6.

Somehow I knew this was going to happen. All the nasty cards near the end of the game. Now I am in deep trouble. I cant travel anywhere because a location is active. So it is on to combat. The Chieftain will engage and he comes down. We are now facing the two hardest enemies in the Encounter Deck. Luckily the two encounter cards I draw for the Shadow part are treachery and are discarded. I decide to feint Chief Uthak and make it so he cannot attack. I then defend with Snowbourn Scout against the Ungoliant Spawn and play Swift Strike, dealing 2 damage to the Spawn who then eats the valiant Scout for breakfast (Legolass gains a resource from Horn of Gondor).

It is time now to attack. Legolass, Son of Arnor and the Rohan Archer declare a strike on Ungoliant Spawn and do 3 damage. Ungoliant Spawn has a defense of 2 so that is 5 damage. The Spawn is DEAD! I place two progress tokens on Forest Gate.

My threat goes up one to 46 and we refresh for what will be a make or break turn I am afraid. With no way to really lower my threat unless I pull a Gandalf I am afraid this Orc Chieftain will sap my Questing ability unless I sacrifice an ally.


Still following me? Here we go. resource tokens galore on my heroes and I draw a card.

I get citadel plate which is perfect for Gimli, giving him 4 more hit points. I play that right away. Now I must be very careful and think about striking that Orc this turn with Blade Mastery (x2) and see if I can kill him without eating up my questing points.

I send Gloin and Gimli questing to at least get 4 points. Just hear me out I know I have a Chieftain there but lets see what happens. With two blade mastery cards I could get 9 total attack and that is enough to kill him. Lets see what I draw on the quest phase.

Dol Guldur Orcs. Great. 2 more threat. And Gimli takes the 2 damage they deal out in the ambush. Normally Gimli would be dead but his armor has given him 4 more hit points for a total of 9. I lose the questing phase and my threat goes up to 48. This is make or break.

The Chieftain attacks and gets a fury token, raising his combat skill to 5. He smashes the defending Rohan Archer who for so long had accompanied us. Legolass gets a resource point. I let the Dol Guldur Orcs attack and that goes undefended, I dump the damage on poor Gimli. He now has SEVEN wounds.

Now the brass tacks:

During my combat phase I attack with Legolass, both Silverlode Archers and Son of Arnor. I play both blade masteries on both the archers. This gives me a total of 11 attack. The Chieftains armor is 3. 8 get through and he is dead! I place two progress tokens and the Forest Gate is cleared with 1 so 1 carries over. I leave the Dol Guldur orcs alone.

We have now killed BOTH the nastiest cards in the deck. The main quest is at 8/10 steps. I am TWO STINKING POINTS FROM A WIN but now at 49 threat!


With weary minds and wounded comrades the quest draws near to a close. I get my resources and draw a card. I get Gondorian Spearman. Not much help to be honest. I play the spearman for 2 resources. It is questing time and time to see if I lose or win this game. I send EVERYONE questing in the hope I dont lose this phase.

I draw.....Necromancer's Pass...YET ANOTHER LOCATION that has 3 threat. My questing total is: 7 and the threat total is 7. THIS IS NOT OVER YET. I decide to travel to Necromancer's Pass and this makes me discard two cards. With pleasure I toss both Thicket of Spears cards.

With questing resolved the Dol Guldur orcs attack. The shadow card I draw gives them +1 combat this round. I assign the Gondorian Spearman to defend and he instantly deals 1 damage to the Orcs, but the Orcs slaughter him in a wave of steel. And yes Legolass gains a resource.

Time to attack now. With the Heroes out questing the allies step up. Son of Arnor attacks killing the weakened orcs.

With combat over we move to the refresh phase, and with no way to lower my threat it ticks over to 50 and I lose the game after 15 brutal turns where victory seemed certain. It was snatched from the clutches of my hands.

Looking back, the lack of threat reduction really hurt but I cant help but to think that if I did not have 2 Thickets of Spears in my hand I may have had two better cards. I will tweak this deck right away. I had some bad luck with the choice of the quest ending needing 10 more progress tokens. As it was I was two points away from winning but time just ran out. That Ungoliant Spawn pull killed me when it raised my threat by 7 also.

The irony of it all: GANDALF WAS THE NEXT CARD DRAW.

Now you see how evil fortunes can come and go in this game and as they come they will destroy you. As the quest moved on it got more and more perilous. I just lost to time itself!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

And then there was one...Guild Wars 2 update

Many of my readers may not know this but I have an issue with alts in MMO games. I want to have enough alts so that I can cross tradeskill and never have to worry about not having good weapons or gear. I also like to enchant my own items and mail them to other characters etc etc. In Everquest 1 I liked to 3 box (playing 3 accounts at once) for maximum XP grindage. In World of Warcraft I also two boxed so that I could AOE dungeons with my high level and low level alt. I also had an enchanter to send other characters pimp enchants.

Well with Guild Wars 2 the buck has pretty much stopped there. You see in GW2 it is possible to drop a tradeskill and then pick up another....then go BACK to your other tradeskill and not lose that previous progress. I know it sounds insane AMIRIGHT? I havent seen any other AAA title do that (at least ones that don't suck). Alas it is true and so with this game my alt festival comes to a screeching halt. That is not to say I don't have alts because I do. In fact I paid the cash to expand my character slots. I wanted to test EVERY class and make sure I liked what I wanted going forward. This means getting to at least level 11 and affording a couple of trait books which can set you back a good chunk of cash.

Now that the Trading Post is up I can easily make about 40-50 silver a day if I sell my stock of dye colors and garbage like that I could care less about. So it was I made alts and got them to a certain level of competency. A 13 rogue, a 15 warrior (two handed hammer spec), a 12 mesmer, a 12 ranger and a 22 engineer. Sprinkled in there somewhere is a 7 guardian I was unimpressed with.

All in all a whopping 84 hours of gameplay since launch and no signs of slowing down. You may notice that the 22nd level Engineer stands out. He is now my main. I cannot stop playing him as every level he gets neat new toys to incinerate and demolish enemies with like rocket turrets, flamethrowers land mines and even a rams head tool belt ejector thingy. He is also getting up there in leather armor crafting as well as his huntsman tradeskilling. I cleared 18-19 in fact simply by tradeskilling. At this point I figure if I am going to do all this tradeskilling and I can switch jobs why not have ONE pimped out character that can do everything.

I usually know I have a main when I log him in each night and play him for hours. Problem is in this game I can do that with every's just that much fun. My least liked, and this is odd for me, turned out to be the rogue. Stealth in Guild Wars 2 is a tricky thing and does not function like World of Warcraft. In short it takes all the fun out of a stealther. Unless it is permanent at higher levels losing the ability to sneak around and bushwack my enemies takes the fun out of it. I also don't like much of the dagger fighting mechanics. I will go back to him later and try again but for now explosions and guns do it for me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lord of the Rings Card Game and OCTGN online play

I have had several attempts at getting the online collectible card game client OCTGN up and running properly so since my latest addiction is the Fantasy Flight Lord of the Rings LCG (Living Card Game) I have been using this software extensively to play online and solitaire.

You can now read this article at my new blog here:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Touch of Evil: Shadowbrook succumbs to the Scarecrow

This was my third game of Touch of Evil by Flying Frog Productions.

The villain this time terrorizing the quaint town of Shadowbrook was the Scarecrow. We were playing the BASIC version of the game so he only used the green power listed on his card. Unfortunately for us going in we didn't know how demoralizing this would be later on.

Basically the Scarecrow gains power and health as the game goes on. As the Darkness Track counts down he gets more and more powerful. Since we play the co-op version of the game he already has his hit points multiplied by however many heroes there are. In this case 2 so he started at 10 hp's.

As the game went on he managed to sway one town elder to his side and that buffed him even further. In the co-op game as the Darkness Track goes down he gets bonuses anyway and that coupled with his power had him at almost 20 hit points and 12 attack dice by the end of the game. Very very nasty.

The heroes we were playing were the Scarlet Shadow and Isabella Von Took. We used the wrong miniature for Isabella. One thing I hate is it is hard to tell what miniature is what unlike Wrath of Ashardalon which labels them on the bottom.

We used one board this time around, the base board that comes with the game. However we had mixed in Event, Town and Mystery cards from Something Wicked, both Hero Packs and some promo cards we got at Gen Con 2012.

The best part of this game is the randomness of the Town Elders. These are people that are well respected in the community of Shadowbrook but each has a hidden dark secret revealed as you play the game. These are random each time too. You spend investigation points to learn these secrets and you do so because at the end of the game, when you track the villain to his lair, you can bring two Town Elders to join you. Only problem is some of them may switch to the darkside and you need to know this before you select them because they may end up buffing the Villain.

During this game we found out the following:

Doctor Manning was a bumbling fool. Though wary of the Scarecrow terrorizing the town, he was not careful and was killed in a most "horrible way."

Lady Hanbrook was a Revolutionary War criminal but could be trusted to help us.

Magistrate Kroft was a peeping Tom pervert but he also could be trusted. 

Sadly on turn one, Lord Hanbrook turned out to be working secretly with the Scarecrow and turned evil, running off to his secret lair and joining him in rampaging about the countryside murdering people.

Our problems just multiplied as the game went on. Due to some bad card draws the Darkness Track kept creeping down and down and down. This buffed the Scarecrow to near super villain status and we knew that we had to make our move QUICK and attack him before he was too strong. Several events like Harvest Wind and many many attacks by Crows had us reeling late into the game and before we knew it the track was one away from buffing the Scarecrow to +4 in both his stats (combat and wounds).

We got as strong as we could by visiting the Blacksmith and buying some weapons and armor, I then paid the investigation and low and behold we tracked the Scarecrow to the Fields. That seemed almost too fitting to be true.

Isabella joined me and we took our two Town Elders, one apiece, and charged into the Scarecrows lair.

We managed to put about 11 wounds on him until a Town Elder was killed during the final showdown. This caused the Darkness Track to flip to the next stage and further buffed the Scarecrow with 4 more combat dice. As we played our last bag of tricks as far as event cards and the like he slowly started to pummel us. At this point we sent Sophie the Town Elder back to town before she died and Isabella was knocked unconscious. The rule in co-op is that if BOTH heroes are ever in a KO'd state you lose immediately. I knew I had to escape the combat so I got out of the lair barely living.

Next turn the Scarecrow healed 5 wounds and we knew that he was out of reach of destroying. Although we killed his evil minion Lord Hanbrook we knew that there was no hope in defeating him. During the middle of the night we left Shadowbrook to its own demise. We felt like cowards sure but we knew we would be back to fight another day.

For our next game the expansion Something Wicked will be used and we will add another board. Rumor has it there is a Necromancer in town raising the dead and causing havoc. This must be investigated!

Gen Con 2012 tips and tricks

I will spare most of you the typical Gen Con wrap up article and just talk about all the gaming I crammed into 2 days. Typically I go more prepared than I did this year. The usual goal is to pre register, buy event tickets and be ready way beforehand by getting all that done sometime in February or even January.

This year's Gen Con trip was spur of the moment but even with a last minute decision to go we still had a blast. We booked a room about 12 miles outside the city that was very cheap. That is where the Con gets ya is the hotel fees. We then simply got a Two Day badge (or in this case to save money one Saturday badge and then a Sunday "family" badge). After that we simply drove in and parked in the Circle Mall garage for 20 bucks a day and saved a ton of money. A usual 3 day stay would cost well over 500 bucks. We came out smelling like roses at a 157 or so. However...not being connected to the Con via walkway or nearby downtown hotel can really limit gaming time.

One thing is most garages close at 2am. If you are any sort of serious Gen Con attendee you know damn well you will not be in bed at 2am or wanting to leave. Especially with all the open gaming going on. So that forces you to be out before the garage shuts down.

 Secondly you have to remember to bring a lot of stuff with you each day and there is no going back once you do. Plus if you buy a lot of things you need to either truck em back to your car or deal with carrying them around. The key is to visit the Exhibit hall one day one, get your things and then get out then proceed on to the demo ballrooms or get your events lined up and game the rest of the weekend. We got 8 generic tickets with our badge purchase and we put them to good use.

Here is a hint: on Sundays a lot of people just do not feel like showing up for games they signed up for. Get some generic tickets and simply walk around the board game hall and look for lonely game company employees that had no one show up for the game they were supposed to play. Case in point Runewars for us on Sunday. Not one person showed so we used a generic ticket sat down, met a FFG employee and played some Runewars. In general I usually spend most of my time in the Pathfinder Hall or the Boardgame Hall meeting people and playing full games I signed up for.

 Now on to the Exhibition Hall DEMOS I tried. Yes DEMOS. These are the times when you sit down and learn a new game or, if curious about a game, see how it works before deciding to buy. I managed to play a slew of excellent games that I had been dying to try and that includes Relic from FFG, Mice and Mystics from Plaid Hat Games, Conquest of the Planet Earth expansion from Flying Frog as well as Touch of Evil. Touch of Evil had me very curious and I spent well over an hour playing the game with ALL 3 expansions laid out in front of me. The consensus at that point was that I liked it so much I needed to have ALL of it. And that is what I did:

I wont go into a review here but consider it a game that evokes Horror, Supernatural tales, and oozes theme.  After all if you went and you were curious why the hell didn't you sit and play it? I don't need to go into details. If you want to know more check out the game here:

Secondly I played Relic and Mice and Mystics. Again I won't go into details you either played em or don't care. Relic is FFG's Warhammer 40k offering using a Talisman like system. Many changes have been made including Character development and new combat methods like exploding 6's to make this a must have purchase for any 40k Universe fan. Also you are not giving money to the garbage that is Games Workshop so feel free to purchase and enjoy. 

Mice and Mystics was game number 2 I was dying to try and it did not disappoint. The chaps over at Plaid Hat have hit a home run with this title and you can pre order it now for 25 dollars off if you get it from their website. 

The game's story telling, flavor and random scenarios really set the mood and the mechanics are great. 

I also played Zombicide and came away totally UNIMPRESSED. Talk about a game that has been over hyped. Stick with Last Night on Earth instead and the new expansion for that one Timber Lake (which adds character experience and more).

Other than that I wandered the Hall day one, played things, scoffed at other things and generally had a blast. The Con never disappoints but I missed those 2 extra days of gaming and movie watching I could have had. Next year its back and doing it right. Attached Hotel, loads of gaming and scant few hours of sleep. By the way Sunday was FAIL this year: it was double crowded due to the Family package badges. So next year I will probably just leave early Sunday and skip that day altogether.

To see ALL my 100+ photos take a look at my FLICKR page here:

A sneak peek for you:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zombies and Pandas

Couple things worth noting before I head off to Gencon 2012.

Zombicide has iPad application support now.

The World of Warcraft trailer for Mists of Pandaria is out. While the game is not as exciting as the trailers anymore at least the CGI kicks major ass!

Check out this Tweet Pic from D6 Generation:

Now on to the World of Warcraft Trailer:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rare sports break: Olympic pouting

I know I know. About half of you fellow gaming nerds out there just clicked off my page but I felt that in this time of the Olympic spirit one had to see the website below.

Founded off the rather cold reception silver medalist McKayla Maroney gave her fellow competitors on the medal stand after she screwed up her vault this website has her smug pose inserted in common everyday scenes. And apparently she is rather unimpressed.

So ends this sports break. Click the link below for hilarity.

Crabby Old Gamer knows that she, along with a lot of disgruntled ex employees, is unimpressed with Games Workshop

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Talisman Tuesday

Lately all my gaming titles and days of the week have been rhyming or alliterative so I might as well continue the trend.

After recent addictions to Arkham Horror and Wrath of Ashardalon/Legend of Drizzt I took a break Tuesday to head to the Wandering Dragon and get some casual gameplay of Talisman in. I was off Wednesday and figured Tuesday night would be the best time. Forgot however that the local town the store is in hosts a Cruise Nights there but luckily parking was ample. Every suburban town across the country now some sort of old car theme night downtown and it just so happens that Plainfield's falls on a Tuesday. In Lemont it is on a Wednesday.

I haven't played Talisman in well over 8 years so I had to read the rulebook and get familiar with everything again. A lot of people criticize it for being too random. I do have a lot of expansions for the game (The Highlands, Frost March and Dungeon) but this was to be a straight out regular base game.

I picked the Elf for his ability to move around the board quickly (woods to woods etc etc) and my friend picked the Thief.

They say Talisman is more fun with at least 3 people but I really didn't mind it too much. I can see however that with one person getting behind it can be tough to catch up thus forcing you to really hope for bad luck on the opponent. Unfortunately in this game the bad luck came my way for the most part which is no surprise.

Right off the bat  in about turn three the Thief landed on my space and took the only item I had managed to loot which was a +1STR/+1Craft ring. Basically in Talisman Strength is for hand to hand combat and Craft is for magic and mental combat. In Talisman you MUST move each turn so I was unable to attack him that turn.

We managed to get a few nasty monsters out on the board (TWO Ogres at one point) and a Witch that caused me all sorts of problems.

The Thief jumped out to a really big head start in terms of gear, money and getting to the middle region of the board. Even when drawing a Strength 10 Demon in the middle area, he had an invisibility potion to easily evade the combat.

As for myself, I landed on the Witch and rolled a 1, which of course turned me into a Toad putting me turns behind the Thief. When a Toad you move 1 and drop all your things in the square where you were turned into a toad.

After three turns I turned back into my Elf self and moved to get my things. I landed on the Witch and again ROLLED A ONE. After being the Toad again for another 3 turns I was way behind. If this had been with more players I am sure someone would have landed on my spot and taken my things. The Thief had a Talisman and was working his way toward the Crown of Command, in the center, the object of victory.

The next turn I simply decided to use the Destruction Spell I was saving and I blasted that damn Witch off the board.

Even though the Wandering Dragon stayed open late for us, we just did not have enough time to finish the game. The very random nature of the movement and the fact that you can be set back to the outer region makes a game of Talisman very long unless you have characters that can move around the board in a non die rolling manner.

The Thief was well ahead and so we simply declared him the winner. This is an early photo but later on he had a Strength well up over 6 and was working toward the inner area:

Next up will be Talisman with the Dungeon Expansion added onto the gameboard:

Players can enter the Dungeon through the Ruins on the board, and then specific Dungeon encounter cards are used while they are in there. There is a Dungeon boss that can award a Talisman as well as many other cool things in there.

Overall this is a very relaxing game and good for players when they want to take a break from the strategies and brain melting concentration of the deeper games. With all the expansions comes a wealth of characters as well so the options are going to last for months.

Now if only my luck would change.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wrath of Ashardalon/Legend of Drizzt blitz

Lots of playtime on the Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System boardgames this past week. Wednesday night at Wandering Dragon with a couple of friends netted a victory for us in a party featuring a Dwarf Warrior, an Elf Paladin and a Human Cleric.

This game came down to the wire. The scenario was a standard hunt 12 monsters game featuring all the tiles and cards from Ravenloft and Ashardalon mixed into a giant stack.

This game came down to the very last sword swing. Literally. We had only two healing surges, all of them used, and we had a man down and out who had the next turn which would have meant a loss. Luckily we were one monster away and on the last swing of the axe the Dwarf Warrior cut the beast down and we won. A true nailbiter for sure. No one leveled and I had yet to see anyone do it UNTIL...

Bring on the weekend. Had another buddy come over and we once again had a 3 way game session. We fit in two games over the span of 4 hours or so this time a custom homebrew scenario that I designed. Basically it involved exploring the Underdark caverns. The goal: kill 15 monsters to help clear the caves. There was a Drow presence and they were allying with goblins. I custom tailored the game as follows:

One stack of Drizzt cavern tiles and in that mix the Broken Door tile. If that was pulled we flipped over to a stack of Dungeon Tiles from Ashardalon and Ravenloft.

Each encounter deck was custom tailored as well. One deck was for the caverns only. The other deck was for the dungeon only. The monster deck was culled of all Kobolds and the like and left with no Orcs, a lot of Goblins and some Drow as well as creatures and Undead. On hindsight I would probably have taken the Undead out as we did not draw enough Drow cards to make it feel "Underdarky". We pulled a lot of Goblins and odd creatures but not enough Drow.

All character classes were allowed, we had 3 healing surges and we mixed all Class skills together.

The tiles looked as follows:

We started in the Caverns on the Drizzt starting tile. There were no special chambers except the secret cave tile and some bridges and the like. I also cut back on the number of Volcanic Vent tiles.

In game 1 we took the barbarian Wulfgar, Bruenor and the rogue Kat. This game was rough and traps really played a number on us. We were out healing surges with 13 of 15 monsters killed and just could not keep up the healing. We lost and this was my first loss in the Adventure System games I had suffered.

We reshuffled, redrew and started over for game two and this time dropped Wulfgar and took a dwarf cleric played by Crabby Old Gamer.

I played the rogue again and things started off the worst possible way they could have. Immediately two tiles in I was assaulted by web traps, spiders and drawn into immobilization and poison right off the bat. I was killed and down in a matter of 15 minutes. One healing surge down and I was back up. We were down to two and started to explore the dungeon. A few acidic traps and volcanic vents plus a wraith and a flaming skeleton eventually killed the cleric.Two healing surges gone very early but we were up to around 10 monsters out of the 15 we needed.

My rogue's layout:

Our last death came around the 12 monster mark and we were out of healing surges and pretty beat  up when we managed to draw a Secret Cave tile. This proved to be the thing that helped us the most. Since you do not draw encounters here you can literally rest and regroup. However if you have the right cleric, one that can do one point heal each turn if he does not attack, you can fully heal your group by basically standing there. This tactic would not have worked if not for the cleric we had picked so there is no use complaining that its a cheat or instant win gimmick.

Once healed we needed 2 more monsters so we had to set out and explore some more to spawn some creatures. I actually also leveled up my rogue for the SECOND time in two games and was now level 2 and killing things quite nicely with thrown daggers.

We venture out and by now our map had become quite big:

The game was still down to the wire. Fully healed we drew a Goblin Archer, a ghoul and another Wraith. The cleric took down the Wraith but I was stuck south with the Warrior and we were in intense combat to kill the last creatures. We were rolling 1's, 5's, 10's and 3's and missing each turn. Then we got poison arrowed and started to lose health. Luckily with a strike of his hammer the Cleric killed the wraith and we were at 15/15 and we had won what was one of the toughest dungeon crawls I had been in.

For me this series of games captures many things I wanted the Descent series to be. I love the cop op and the random generation and the fact that with all 3 boardgames you have what amounts to a Dungeon Creation Kit right in your living room. We have not even tackled any of the scenarios yet as every game has been a monster hunt done with random tiles.

We never found the Dungeon entrance so in hindsight I would definitely cut back on the number of cavern tiles so that we could find the dungeon proper a lot quicker. I may make this into a campaign that focuses on stopping a Goblin/Drow alliance in the underground. 

Overall some of the best boardgaming I have had in a while and cannot wait to dig into the scenarios and use some of the player created content and campaigns.

The details on the models are awesome. And they wont break or break your wallet like Games Workshop's "FineShitCast":