Our new review comes from Merwin, who has explored the recent addition to the Avalon Hill boardgame line, Sword & Skull by Wizards of the Coast. He’s weighed anchor (as well as the rest of the game), and tells us if it’s worth hauling around, or if we’re better off saving our gold for other adventures.
Archive for April, 2005
Everything old has become new again with the advent of D&D 3.5, including many of the first adventures. Matthew gives us his take on the recently-updated retro module Dungeon Crawl Classics: Idylls of the Rat King by Goodman Games. Did Matthew think the adventure was worth updating? Have a look and find out.
I’m embarrassed to say I like the pun. Yes, Ninja Burger 2: Sumo-Size Me! continues the honorable tradition of ninja fast food delivery, adding 72 cards to the original game (not that one. The card game, silly). The expansion promises new missions (“I’m delivering it where?“), Fortune cards, Menu Items, and other ninja goodness. For your $16.95, you’ll also get a side order of ninja money tokens, though it’s unclear whether they’ll double as shuriken. Steve Jackson Games shipped the expansion on Saturday, so the unseen delivery warriors should be in place at your local store soon.
The designer of Doom, WarCraft and the developer on the new Arkham Horror edition is interviewed, and gives what I think are heretofore-unreleased gameplay details about the latter. And it’s just generally a fun read for design heads such as myself.
A while back, our friends over at Yog-Sothoth.com scored a copy of the unpublished supplement to the rare and elusive Arkham Horror boardgame, and posted it for all to download and enjoy. Unfortunately, the site had to take the file down shortly thereafter until a day when the game’s ownership issues (mentioned here) could be sorted out. That day has come, and once more the fine cultists of Yog-Sothoth offer the sacred ritual text that is Return to Arkham Horror. The stars must be aligned or something.
Fun for the whole family that’s strategic, challenging, and delicious!
Seriously. Mean, ugly, nasty, and, er, tall. I’d rather face a bunch of Genestealers than a pack of these. So: recall that this is the Andy Chambers-designed brand new Starship Troopers minis game. After a long time of talk and no action, distributors have it and it should be in US shops this week. That starter box looks to set up a situation with plenty of drama, but it isn’t clear how broadly this game can develop with essentially just two factions. There’s a promo animation, which does not quite top our old Battle Cattle video at Gamers, but comes close.
Another free game of the month has arrived from Invisible City. Tumblewords is sort of like a hybrid of Connect Four and those word search puzzles often found in special large-print editions for the elderly. If you’ve got some spare Scrabble tiles lying around, this isn’t a bad way to get some new use out of them!
Apparently mega-chain retailer WalMart is moving deeper into collectible miniatures territory, a trend that’s making some game store retailers nervous. As a guest retailer reports at ICV2, WalMart is selling the Star Wars Miniatures Game at well below MSRP (and though the story claims WalMart did not carry the first two sets of the game, both are listed on WalMart’s website at similarly discounted prices). Does this actually surprise anyone? Of course the biggest selling products of the gaming industry will attract the attention of the biggest retailers. Independant retailers shouldn’t get too bent out of shape over WalMart wanting a piece of the collectible minis pie, and the discounted price lets the company elbow its way in for the largest piece possible. If this was indeed a recent change for WalMart, independant retailers should have seen it coming. (Amusingly, WalMart claims to have the hardcover version of the miniatures. WalMart: undoubtedly gaming specialists.)
Green Ronin fans have a chance to fill in some holes in their collections during GR’s Fifth Anniversary celebration. Each week for the next five weeks, visitors to the Green Ronin Online Store will find two products on sale for just $5 each, and another product will be in the “Award-Winner Showcase” at 50% off. The sale has already begun, with Tales of Freeport and Denizens of Freeport selling for $5 apiece, and Freeport: City of Adventure in the Winner’s Circle for half price. A new selection will be available each week, so keep your eyes open for those titles you’re still missing.
Today’s batch of reviews adds some humorous titles to our library. Justin gives us his take on Solid! from Wingnut Games, which he wasn’t impressed with for several reasons. Then Matthew describes Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island from Z-Man Games, and quotes some of his favorite cards in the process.
We’ve heard through the grapevine that Amazon has just acquired a print-on-demand company called Booksurge. Yes, the giant online store can now offer to print and bind a book for you that only exists in electronic form until you buy it. Depending on what Booksurge charges, Amazon could be in a position to lower the barrier of entry into the game industry and the book trade in general. It has long been debated in certain circles that print-on-demand could eliminate the need for physical game stores, or at least complement their shelf stock. And yes, print-on-demand has been around for a while, and several companies make use of it to stock their shelves, but now a huge entity has the ball and might decide to run with it.
So there’s some interesting stuff to read there now. Including this “first small hit of game information”: “When you attack with your abominations and your opponent is foolish (or devilish) enough not to block them, the abominations reap souls from that player. Be the first to reap 20 souls, and you win!” Er… yeah. While I’m aware that there is more to Hecatomb’s design than running a search and replace on the Magic quick start rules, the latter concept does amuse me. What if Star Sisterz had gone this way? “Be the first to make 20 poorly-dressed, non-Limited-Too-wearing younger girls cry…”
As this fine Tuesday draws to a close, I’m finally able to get back online and get some reviews up. Matthew gives us his analysis of Cthulhu Dark Ages by Chaosium, and he pulls no punches. Then Demian tells us about One False Step for Mankind by Cheapass Games, and how he got to color a bunch of poker chips. Pull up a chair and have a look.
This interview with Sword & Skull designer Mike Elliott leads off with a note on one of those missing Wizards CCGs – a Xiaolin Showdown license – and goes on to explain some of the numerous ways in which S&S is like Monopoly but less sucky. I mean, how many times have you glided your top hat past Park Place and thought, “this is okay, but I wish I got to fight pirates”? Your wish was not in vain, sir.
I won’t repeat Elliott’s specific claims – my 3-player test on Friday night basically confirmed them all. We did have one player who seemed to want the game to be over sooner than it was, although she ended up winning (maybe because she was the only one goal-oriented enough to want the game to end). S&S can suffer from a bit of Talisman Syndrome – wander around the board trying to build some stat up, have random things happen to you that knock you down, lather, rinse, repeat. But you do get some ways to ameliorate the grip of luck, and frankly, just staggering around trying to get your friend back for stealing your gold last time is pretty fun. Our game ran a little under two hours.
So: light and frothy by contemporary AH standards, not the grind Monopoly can be, all the “advanced” stuff that Elliott goes on about doesn’t drag it down (but doesn’t end up being all that salient either), and we liked it. We recommend that you rechristen your Pirate and Officer figures as Giant Dwarf and Nancy-Boy, respectively.