Hall or Nothing Productions Ltd: July 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fantasy Quest - ND's First Session Report

I’ve been hesitant to put down a session report for Fantasy Quest so far, because I’ve been tweaking and tinkering and concentrating on the mechanics a lot as we go, which may have read as quite dry and unfocussed.  And the last thing I want is for people to find the game uninteresting!  But there has been quite some demand for more info and development time scales and such, so I hope the following is of interest to a few of you.  We played another two player competitive game of Fantasy Quest last night.  With a few interruptions it took about two hours, which is perhaps going a little long - but we were playing the full length game with Sagas and an Ancient adversary.

I randomly drew a Werewolf Male Hero, Assassin class.  Assassins are great at Sneaking and Hiding and get an extra bonus die whenever you make a Surprise Attack.  For my starting Skill I took Foraging, which allows you to heal 1 Wound if you end your turn in a Forest.  Initially this Skill would prove not very useful, but towards the endgame where every location becomes dangerous and falls into Gloom, it became nothing less than essential to counteract the effects of the Gloom.  The purpose of my Hero’s Saga was to ‘Take the Fortress’!  If I was able to infiltrate and overcome this Fortress I would be able to claim the powerful ‘Stronghold’ Totem as my own.  The Stronghold contains three Items which you can immediately put into play, and like all Totems it boosts your Hero’s Hit Points by 4, giving you double the number of Actions you can use in a turn.  And you will really need these extra Actions and Hit Points by the end game, believe me.

Mmzomba drew an Orc Female Hero (which he nicknamed Princess Fiona due to the uncanny resemblance), Knight class.  Knights are honourable folk who foster their reputation based on the number of demons and undead they vanquish, gaining an extra Gold for each of these Enemies that they destroy.  His starting Skill was Swift, giving him an extra Move Action every turn, which meant his courageous Knight was nipping around the Map more nimbly than my sneaky Assassin.  His Saga was to Steal the ancient artefact: The Sceptre of Power, which is, well, a powerful sceptre really. 

For my starting Reward I drew a Minstrel, who likes to sing and dance around the Verdant Fields, which gave me my first direction to head towards to go and enlist her.  Meanwhile the Orcish Knight went out hunting for a cult who might lend her mastery of the Dark Arts.  Not a very noble or Knightly endeavour, but one that would net Mmzmoba a vital keyword for his Saga.  As we explored the map numerous Strangers revealed themselves and the Night deck threw out Enemies here and there, with Orcs and Demons arising from the darkest corners of the world.  The Weather changed frequently, with Storms (Strangers closing shop) turning into Rain (limited Movement), turning into Warm Sunshine (bonus Actions for Heroes).

Each Hero’s Saga requires eight Keywords to complete, and (currently) two of these are always more difficult, more specific Keywords to find.  For example, a line from my ‘Take Fortress’ Saga reads: “To DESTROY the outpost you must determine the nature of the ENEMY concealed within...”  Now, ENEMIES are fairly plentiful, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble tracking down one that you can take on.  But to learn how to DESTROY something you must successfully complete a Quest with the same keyword.  Luckily for me the DESTROY DONJON quest showed up very early on.  Unluckily for me, it is a Quest which requires intensive STUDY to complete.  My Werewolf was a Sneaky blighter, but not the brainiest Hero alive.  This meant that whilst my Knightly opponent was wandering the world slaying and plundering I spent my time on working out my Quest, and even had to throw down a few precious FATE points (which you can never replenish) to positively influence the outcome of my efforts.

Ultimately this tactic paid off - I destroyed the nasty Donjon and claimed my prized keyword.  My next tricky keyword was STEED.  But I was quietly confident about this one because as soon as I had amassed some wealth I could simply purchase either the Horse or the Camel Steed cards from the Market back at Sprawl City.

GAME NOTE – Amend Fantasy Quest rulebook to include suggestion of using ‘pen and paper’!  It’s much easier to write down your Keywords and tick them off as you go to keep track of where you’re up to.  This may be considered ‘hidden information’ in future games but for the time being we shared the same pen and treated it as bragging rights whenever we got a keyword we needed.

The Orcish Knight meanwhile had claimed a formidable Spell (the dreaded Battle Elemental) during his Questing and had stockpiled a respectable hoard of Gold too.  This was partly due to Mmzomba’s worthy desire to see if Gold was really all it was cracked up to be.  Feeling confident, and with a Battle Elemental in tow, the Knight raided the Dark Mire where Demons were feasting upon the land and its residents.  A hectic battle ensued and with a blurted incantation the Knight summoned his Battle Elemental into being.  Boosting his Fight with a whopping eight extra bonus dice Mmzomba took seemingly all the dice we had into hand and rolled.  It was awful!  We picked out maybe two hits from the carnage and then the Demons fought back.  Wounded and downbeat with her elemental vanishing from this plane of existence, the Orcish Knight finally managed to win and claim her reward...  Only to realise that Gloom had taken the Mire, and she was no longer strong enough to leave.  With just one Hit Point left the Gloom took its toll and the Orc Knight was defeated.  Discarding a card was bad enough but Mmzomba was gutted when he realised he’d have to discard twelve Gold (a record amount so far for both of us) before heading back to Sprawl to recover!

This gave me the opportunity I needed to catch up and I began to make good use of the Werewolf’s ‘Wolf Form’ ability.  This allows you to get about the Map more quickly but prevents you from shopping, chatting to Strangers or going shopping.  Before long I had accumulated a modest amount of Gold and turned home towards the Sprawl to go and collect my Steed.  Then disaster struck!  The Night brought us a Tribal Tithe: the good people of Sprawl City had to make a donation to the Barbarian tribes in order to keep the peace so two market items were drawn randomly to be discarded from the game.  I kid you not, Mmzomba gleefully drew the Camel and – you guessed it – the Horse.  Through my tears I could see him laughing at me as I watched them go.

My only hope now was to explore Places every turn to try and earn a Title.  Steeds are a form of Title and Places (which reward you with Titles) can most commonly be found in Forests.  This meant I finally began to explore the Forests I had shied away from for most of the game.  Though most of the Forests were now deadly and Gloomy, I foraged for Herbs to keep myself alive in the growing darkness.  As my Assassin hunted for a fabled Steed, the Knight ransacked the Plains looking for a Villain (a type of Stranger - Strangers being most common to the Plains locations) essential to beating her own Saga.

All the while the Days turned into Nights and time ticked on.  The Orc garnered more wealth again and this time was clever enough to spend it on a Gilded Sword and also to enlist a Corsair from the Sprawl.  I despaired as Mmzomba cheerfully ticked off another two keywords and passed me the first player token.

At this point the city of Sprawl was now besieged by the forces of evil.  We both continued to explore and collected a number of allies and spells and keywords and some extra cards to boot.

GAME NOTE – We’ve learned that it’s always worth keeping back a ’spare’ card in hand which you don’t necessarily need for your Saga, so if you get knocked out you don’t have to discard an essential keyword card.  Though it’s not always easy to decide which card can be considered ‘spare’...

Eventually, after exploring the Blessed Shrine I chanced upon a fine Horse and with joy proclaimed it as my own.  On the same turn I discovered a Villainous Gypsy, which I would have liked to Influence or Fight, just to prevent Mmzomba from obtaining his final keyword.  But with just three days to go before game’s end I didn’t have the time or resources to deal with her.

On my newfound Steed I raced to the towering peaks of Spire Tor and finally Took the Fortress which was my destiny, claiming the Stronghold and its treasures as I did so.

As word of this legend spread through the land, the Ancient finally revealed itself to be the Doom Lord, arising from the Badlands, coincidentally near Spire Tor.  Transforming into Wolfen shape and utilising the extra Hit Points from my Totem I rushed to engage the Doom Lord in combat.

The Orcish Knight deployed her newfound Boots of Speed and raced through the land – which was by now almost completely beset by Gloom - over to the Gypsy to try and defeat her and Steal the Sceptre of Power.

The Doom Lord was understandably unhappy about my assault on his keep.  My initial Surprise Attack paid off, but after recovering he smote my assassin and knocked him all the way back to Sprawl City.

The Orc reach the Gypsy Villain and tried to persuade her to part with the Sceptre of Power.

The Final Day dawned.  With the game finishing at the end of this turn, I raced forth from the Sprawl once again and again Surprise Attacked the wounded Doom Lord.

As the Orcish Knight brought negotiations with the Villainous Gypsy to an end by drawing her sword, the Werewolf Assassin - in wolf form - bared his teeth and leapt onto the throat of the Doom Lord, ripping his head from his shoulders.  The land was freed the Ancient’s tyranny and the game was mine!

GAME NOTE – Totems are worth 20 Victory Points, which means successfully completing one will almost certainly net you the win if playing just for VPs/Sagas.  Since we were also playing to defeat the Ancient, this was another factor to take into consideration.  Excluding my Totem however, and going on VPs alone, it’s worth noting that Mmzomba actually beat me by two points.  It has to be said, in terms of closeness and balance in Fantasy Quest, I found this game to be extremely encouraging.  Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quest Card Template - 300dpi PSD - The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Quest Card Template - 300dpi PSD | The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game | BoardGameGeek

Thanks to BGG User GeckoTH you can now download it here:

Descent: JitD - The Black Orc Plague Part 1

This quest is designed to be relatively quick and easy as an introductory adventure, or part 1 of a progressively harder Campaign.

Foul Black Orcs are the heroes' main enemy in this quest, if Orc figures are unavilable simply use Beastmen figures as suggested by the Map - for this purpose they have exactly the same stats!

Thanks to C. R. Kirby for inspiration - "The Rescue" proved to be an excellent short quest and the main idea has been re-produced here with a view to setting up a little campaign of two or three quests.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

FFG News - Return to Mirkwood for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Fantasy Flight Games [News] - There and Back Again

Gandalf the Grey suspects the wretched creature known as Gollum holds the key to thwarting the Dark Lord of Mordor. In Return to Mirkwood, the heroes of Middle-earth have captured Gollum and must escort him back to Mirkwood for interrogation in King Thranduil's palace. With the information he might gain from the interrogation, Gandalf hopes to piece together the truth of the One Ring's fate in order to keep it out of the Dark Lord's clutches...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fantasy Quest Initial Play-testing - some thoughts

Fantasy Quest Play-testing

Okay, some of this is pretty stream of consciousness, but I need to get it down asap!  Any questions, please ask…

Tuesday 12th July – 3 players

Note to self – create a cheat sheet for Fantasy Quest!  Played a 3 player game and it was tough going explaining all the rules and various options available each turn – moreso than any other game I’ve taught my friends.  I think the pressure was on because this time it was my own game.

We settled on the “quick-start” game variant with no Sagas, no Ancients, and with a simple competitive race theme – the first to 30 Victory Points wins.  VPs = all the Gold you have plus the Gold value of all the cards you have in play (not in your hand).

One or two rather ambitious options I’d made available to players quickly emerged as overly complex: Reconnoitring (Studying a Place before you enter it) and Rallying the Locals (Influencing the outcome of a Quest by getting help from the locals).  I think options like these need to be shelved or put aside for an ‘Advanced Fantasy Quest’ maybe.

Consolidated numerous ‘Questing’ Actions (Exploring a Place, Influencing a Stranger and Studying a Quest) down into one universal “Quest” Action for ease of reference.
The argument between Consecutive successes adding up on an ongoing Action over the course of your turn - versus having to succeed at a Questing Action all in one go – ended in ‘Consecutive successes’ winning the day.  So you now get multiple attempts at the same Questing Action in one turn (by spending your Actions on it) and add up all your successes over the turn to try and beat that encounter (Quest/Stranger/Place).  Makes things a lot easier for the players, but these guys are supposed to be heroes after all.  Also, it seems fair that if you keep throwing resources at something you should succeed eventually, rather than possibly spending your entire heroic life searching for that Giant Statue which is stood right in front of you!

Lots of stopping and starting and questioning and explaining rules meant things moved slowly.  I openly invited feedback on everything, although a bit of fluff-related banter slowed things even further.

‘Gloom’ mechanic seems not prevalent enough.  Gloom spreads through the land in Fantasy Quest and will eventually engulf the world the heroes are exploring, thus ending the game.  This is represented by an ever-depleting Night card deck.  But the slow going made it seem like the Night card deck would never end.  Furthermore, Gloom locations need to be more obvious and impacting.

Great suggestion: quick routes between connected locations so heroes can ‘jump’ across the Map at certain points.

Minor spelling mistakes, card layout issues, and clarity of mechanics here and there.
Game resulted in a tie after a couple of hours as time ran out.  Concerns about game length and rules complexity.

Worrying suggestion: Sagas (which we didn’t use, but we discussed at length) might need to be much simpler if Heroes are ever to achieve them.

Wanted to avoid Magic Realm levels of madness and deliver easy, quick-playing pseudo RPG Fantasy fix.

After all this time, have I failed?

Wednesday 13th July – solo play

No one to teach the rules to, so things just clipped along nicely and at a pace tonight.

Human Male Warrior enters the Kingdom looking for the Sceptre of Power.  Decided to include all the rules I’d intended, so needed to complete my Saga, find the Sceptre and face down the Ancient all within one month (25 Night cards).

Started off okay with a nice Martial skill that doubles my hits if I throw sixes.  (Too powerful?)

Gloom began to descend as I explored, meeting some interesting strangers and some places that were far too complex for my fairly simple warrior to overcome.  In the mountains I found a number of enemies to test my mettle and metal against.  A Beastman was the first to fall.  His demise brought with it tales of the Necklace of Wealth, which I chased down in due course.

Running around the Map, resting to heal at safe locations when I could, I steadily amassed wealth and a number of items including a certain awesome Sword and a nice and friendly ally, the Illusionist.  Checking off my list of keywords on my Saga I realised that my goal was achievable.  An ‘Item’, a ‘Place’, a ‘Stranger’, etc.  All stuff that was readily available on the board, when Night card events weren’t chewing them up (e.g. storms sending Strangers running indoors or freezing hail causing Places to become uninhabitable).

Each Saga has two specific Keywords that are harder to chase than the rest.  These are subcategories of other Keywords.  Mine were ‘Shadow’ and ‘Demon’.  For Shadow I could just amass enough wealth to train up in a Shadow skill - I’d need 10 Gold instead of the usual 5 Gold to train up in a Skill that didn’t match my own Martial class.  Luckily the Necklace of Wealth provided me with this much needed coin and shortly I developed some Shadowy skills to call upon.

Then there was the ‘Demon’ (keyword) to catch.  I explored the Mountains, which are more likely to contain enemies, searching for potential demon enemies as the clock ticked on and days turned into nights turned into days.  By the time I’d collected all my other keywords I was starting to despair about the evasive Demonic encounter.  Are Sagas too tricky/complex to beat?

But then the current weather card (a Fierce Storm) abated and the Strangers came back out of their hiding holes.  One of them was a Lycanthrope.

Lycanthrope Keywords: “Stranger, Badlands, Demon”.

I raced over to the Misty Fens where this poor creature was rumoured to dwell, and sought him out.  When my Influence failed and he revealed himself to be no other than my very own Ally, the Illusionist, battle ensued.

Through Skills, Items and a little luck I brought the were-creature down and claimed the card into my hand.  Travelling to the Verdant Fields I played a Reward action and declared my Saga complete, revealing my eight cards with keywords matching my epic Saga.  Flipping my Saga over I claimed its Totem – the Sceptre of Power (which doubles your hit points, like all Totems) and the Ancient revealed itself to be:

The Black Orc Legion.

The Legion swarmed out of the Wretch Bog and I set out to meet them head on.  The battle was swift and bloody, and I quickly lost 4 Hit Points (the maximum that Heroes start out with), which would have felled any mortal man.  But the Sceptre (with its extra Hit Points) allowed me to fight on and with my skills, allies and trusty sword I was able to overcome the Ancient Orcish Legion and free the land from its tyranny.

Checking the remaining Night card deck, I had three turns to go before certain defeat - so it was a pretty darned close run affair as you can see in this photo, taken after the final turn:

So was my Warrior lucky?  Would a Wizard, for example, fair much worse?  Are the classes unbalanced?  Is the game only fit for solo play?  Do my rules-explaining skills just suck??  Only more play-testing will tell.  Hopefully up for a two/three player game tomorrow…

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fantasy Quest - First Images!

It's late, I'm tired, and we only just finished sleeving the damned thing - but here are the photos as promised...

Fantasy Quest - the 'board' setup:

Alternate angle, closer:

Detail - two heroes set forth from Sprawl City, and already those pesky Doom Guard are up to no good amongst the peaks of Spire Tor:

A Half Elf Ranger - Hero's play area:

I hope that's enough to be going on with for now because I'm bushed!

Good night all,


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fantasy Quest has landed!

I've just printed and cut out 352 cards and their backs too.  My hands and eyes are killing me, my scissors are blunt, and I need to pick up about 400 card sleeves tomorrow!  Couple of minor errors here and there, rules need going over with a fine toothed comb/paint roller, but it's looking sweeeeet.  Hopefully post some photos once it's set up for the first game ever...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

FFG's Elder Sign News - What Lurks Beyond the Gate

Fantasy Flight Games [News] - What Lurks Beyond the Gate

The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults...

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - NinjaDorg's first six scenarios in hi res

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - LA GUARIDA DE UNGOLIANT - Spanish Version

Spanish Version of Ungoliant's Lair using GeckoTH's new hi res LOTR scenario template:

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Gears of War, FFG News - The Horde Emerges

The Locusts, so named by human scientists for their immense numbers, are a race of humanoids from deep within the subterranean tunnels of Sera. These relentless killers seem bent on destruction, and all attempts at negotiation with them have ended in violence. As mankind approaches its final stand, what new horrors does their mysterious enemy hold in store?

Fantasy Quest Token Sheets

Gold denominations:
 1st Player Token, Hidden Tokens, Fate Tokens, Wolf Form Tokens, Wound/Action Tokens

Friday, July 01, 2011

NinjaDorg's Scenario 6: Branching Paths - Hunt for Gollum alternative quest

I dispensed with the sepia flavour text card sides this time.  I developed this extra long quest a while back, but held off on finishing it until the new Gollum cards arrived, and the Clue mechanic ties into it nicely.
I think that this 'branching paths' idea is probably something FFG have already considered as there are hints of it in the Mirkwood quest, but I'm not sure how cost effective it would be for them to pursue - people might complain that they're not getting as many hero/encounter cards instead.  In any case, hopefully the difficulty of this quest is a little higher than my other scenarios, you'll get a few more decisions about how it progresses too.

I have to confess I'm quite excited about play-testing this one.  And if you don't have Hunt for Gollum yet you can replace the Gollum cards deck with the Spiders of Mirkwood deck (or your equivalent choice) and ignore any reference to clue cards instead.

Hope you enjoy it!


Courtesy of BGG user GeckoTH all of my scenarios are now available in hi res format and ready for download here:

Fantasy Quest - The Latest (mega spoilers)

As of today:

Location Tiles COMPLETE
Strangers COMPLETE

Still need finalising/tweaking:

Events                                     25% COMPLETE
Market Items                25% COMPLETE
Sagas/Totems             25% COMPLETE
Token sheet                
Rulebook (boring looking word doc) 75% COMPLETE

Pictures speak louder than words so here are some mega spoilers for you with 1 sheet from most of the decks:











Some sample Deck Backs