Hall or Nothing Productions Ltd: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lords of Waterdeep Board Game

Lords of Waterdeep Board Game

Some info concealed in this blog here:

Greyhawkery: Gencon: D&D Product Seminar:

'via Blog this'

I'd post the link to the source blog but it's a bit cluttered...

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Lord of the Rings: LCG, Tricks and Taunts in The Dead Marshes

Fantasy Flight Games [News] - Tricks and Taunts in The Dead Marshes:

'via Blog this'

“His Eye is now straining towards us, blind almost to all else that is moving. So we must keep it. Therein lies all our hope. This, then, is my counsel. We have not the Ring. In wisdom or great folly it has been sent away to be destroyed, lest it destroy us. Without it we cannot by force defeat his force. But we must at all costs keep his Eye from his true peril. We cannot achieve victory by arms, but by arms we can give the Ring-bearer his only chance, frail though it be.”
–Gandalf, Return of the King

There aren’t many instances in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings of heroes taunting their foes to distract them or draw their assaults away from weaker allies. More often, the heroes are hard pressed to survive by any means, finding themselves in situations too dark and grim to make jibes. Still, as The Dead Marshes introduces the Song of Mocking(The Dead Marshes, 99) to The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game we find precedent for larger ruses in Tolkien’s works. Most notably, based on Gandalf’s counsel in Minas Tirith, the Lords of Gondor and Rohan led an army of seven thousand to the Black Gates of Mordor, where they were prepared to be defeated by Sauron’s forces, merely to distract his attention long enough to let the Ring slip beneath his gaze on its route to Mount Doom.
Lured into danger
Song of Mocking doesn’t make so historic an impact in the world of Middle-earth, but it can be put to good use in the right deck. Because the flavor quotes The Hobbit and cites Bilbo, players may be led to consider playing it on Bilbo Baggins(The Hunt for Gollum, 1), but Bilbo’s low hit points make him a poor candidate for the attachment. Instead, the attachment’s sphere of influence provides the first suggestion for one of its better targets. You need Tactics resources to play Song of Mocking, and even though heroes can now gain the Tactics icon via Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes, 104) the easiest way to gain Tactics resources is still playing a Tactics hero… such as Gimli (Core Set, 4), who benefits from each point of damage redirected to him.
Players have often tempted fate by choosing to have Gimli defend massive attacks, hoping that he’d survive the enemy’s strike, only to become stronger for his eventual counterattack. Accordingly, Gimli has often fallen in games when the Shadow cards turned against him. Song of Mocking offers an alternate strategy to launch an angry Gimli into battle. Players can defend with Bilbo Baggins or Denethor (Core Set, 10), heroes with reasonably high Defense strength, but low hit points. Instead of placing the wounds on them, they can redirect those wounds to Gimli who, because he didn’t need to defend to survive the attack, can counterattack immediately afterward.
To ensure the damage doesn’t spill over Gimli’s available hit points, players can take advantage of the Lore icon both Bilbo Baggins and Denethor share to play A Burning Brand (Conflict at the Carrock, 33), rendering Shadow effects against them harmless, and guaranteeing that your combat goes according to plan.
Profit from mockery
While the ability to use Song of Mocking to more effectively combine Denethor’s defense and Gimli’s attack may increase the number of Lore / Tactics decks, Song of Mocking can also power the engine formed by Glóin (Core Set, 3) andSelf Preservation (Core Set, 72). Players have long harnessed the synergy between these cards, defending enemies with Glóin to gain resources for each wound he takes, then healing wounds with Self Preservation to repeat the actions again in subsequent turns.
The problem, as it is, with this strategy is that Glóin isn’t particularly suited to defense, with only one Defense strength and four hit points. His two Willpower makes him better for questing, but when he performs a Song of Mocking, Glóin can both quest and profit by drawing damage away from another hero.
While the Tactics sphere isn’t immediately as powerful as the other spheres in truly well-rounded decks, it features some of the most powerful tricks in the game. Along with Feint (Core Set, 34) and Quick Strike (Core Set, 35), Song of Mocking allows Tactics players to further stamp their mastery of combat upon the game.
Look for Song of Mocking, Song of Battle, and a new one-cost Eagle ally to greatly increase deckbuilding options for Tactics players with the upcoming release ofThe Dead Marshes.

DnD Adventure System - AI Tactics Cards

Following the Tactics cards from Gears of War, here's a rough example of how they could be implemented in the D&D Adventure System:

Legend of Drizzt: Hero Levelling cards for campaign play

For use with the D&D Adventures System campaign rules:

Thanks to Malone76 and GeckoTH for the templates!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fantasy Quest - Game Files - The Tavern of the Game

The resolution to freouslc's epic Fantasy Quest adventure, told with story and photos has finally landed and can be found over at the Tavern here:

Fantasy Quest - Game Files - The Tavern of the Game:

'via Blog this'

Epic stuff indeed!

Legend of Drizzt – 2 player session report

Unable to wait for friends to play with I broke open Legend of Drizzt and played about ten solo games after picking it up from my FLGS a couple of days ago.  Winning every game led me to believe that the heroes are a tad stronger in this title than in Castle Ravenloft or Wrath of Ashardalon (and they are).

So when Mmzomba dropped round last night for a gaming session with his brand new copy of Game of Thrones: LCG (boy, are our fingers on the pulse or what?) we contemplated for about 3 seconds which title to play.  Our third player didn’t turn up because he had some kind of ‘date’ with his ‘girlfriend’ - poor lad needs to sort his priorities out.  So we opted for a night of intensive 2-player dungeoneering over political wrangling, intriguing and power token challenging.  Or whatever.  (Still want to try GOT: LCG btw, TV show rocked, made me buy the book, read the prologue, remembered how I never have the time to read books anymore...)

Since Mmzomba plumped for Artemis Entreri we skipped the adventure where Artemis is the baddie and started with the Shimmergloom adventure, i.e.  ‘Find the shadow dragon Shimmergloom, rip his heart out and then show it to him as he dies’ or something along those lines.  If he was going to play the coolest character from the books then I’d obviously have to play the second coolest...

Mmzomba began to grow dubious early on when in my first turn as Drizzt I summoned his pet panther Gwuenwhueevhuarrrarrrer, went into Last Blood Stance drew a monster, jumped forward and chopped said monster into bits and grabbed the treasure spilling from its guts, then had Guen come over and eat the leftovers.

Artemis wandered the caverns, revealing monsters and using his batshit crazy ability to place them on any tile, whilst Drizzt jumped around going “hi-YAH!” and murdering the poor things.  When I finally missed two attack rolls in a row against a measly goblin Mmzomba’s eyes lit up at the prospect of being able to finally attack something.  But Guen jumped over and swallowed the cowering little archer in one gulp.

By the time we reached the Dark Chasm goal tile we’d stocked up on treasures, healed the few injuries we’d taken, Artemis had killed a couple of beasties too (by deliberately placing them away from Drizzt so he could get there first), and we’d both commented on how the new tiles and encounters had great little evocative effects on them.  Volcanic vents igniting lava, narrow tunnels suffocating movement, a hidden tunnel providing short cuts, a secret cave giving reprieve from encounters, a campsite offering temporary safety.  We also learnt to get rid of Lolth’s Curses as soon as possible.  Said Curses only affect you once each time in solo play, but with more than one player they can rapidly start to dish out the damage if you don’t manage them effectively.

Even so, as Drizzt and Mr Entreri sauntered into Shimmergloom’s lair there was only one creature in the Underdark quaking with fear.  The poor dragon put up a meagre defence as we leapt in and tore him a new one.  With two untouched healing surges and maybe 4 HP damage between us it was a relatively unchallenged victory.

After discussing possibly house-ruling Drizzt to one attack per turn we quickly decided to put Mr D’O and Mr E to one side for the time being.  Instead we took Bruenor and Catti-Brie on the quest to save Wulfgar from Errtu the big nasty Balrog who isn’t really a Balrog because his sword is made of lightning not fire, see?

This was a much closer game.  After laughing confidently about our incredible hero powers we ventured forth into the dungeon only to have a Feral Troll appear and start wind-milling its gigantic arms at us.  Catti-Brie ran off and continued exploring whilst Bruenor was beaten to the floor by a rather exciting NINE HP of damage from 3 consecutive Troll attacks.  Spitting a tooth and wiping his mouth, Bruenor got back to his feet and snarled at the troll, “That all you got?”

Then, in a flurry of blows and curses Bruenor brought the troll to its knees before sending its head whirling into the Underdark.  There’s basically no point attacking a troll unless you’re going to take it down fast.  Troll regeneration in LoD is nasty.  And in a two player game they activate every turn, like a villain, so you really have to take it down if one appears.  If two appear together, well, time to go home really.

We ploughed on and when the “Secret Cave: Spa and Hotel Retreat TM” appeared (which stops you from having encounters whilst you’re on it) we made good use of it, Catti-Brie even discovering a Hidden Tunnel that would lead us there and back when we needed it.  As Bruenor finally found the Crystal Shard objective tile Catti was well behind and still discovering tiles but our HP was running low.  Bruenor’s healing Dwarven Ale had long ago been consumed, but a lucky encounter with some moaning spirits had provided him with a Blinding pair of Bracers which allowed him an extra attack each turn.

Errtu the bigass demon appeared, snarled and stalked towards Bruenor swinging its sword and whip.  Catti meanwhile opened up a narrow corridor from which Dinin the Drider emerged.  Quickly realising she was not remotely equipped to tackle the 3HP Drider, Catti ran away and hid in the Secret Cave which meant that the Drider scuttled over at a pace towards the already beleaguered Bruenor.

Realising I was going to be attacked multiple times by two of the toughest enemies I had to decide who to take down first.  Errtu was blocking the path towards Wulfgar, who was trapped in the crystal prison, so I couldn’t free him as an ally and get his help.  But the Drider would keep chipping away at me until I took him and Errtu down.  So I turned my attention to Dinin the Drider.  With a mighty axe swing, a nifty application of one of Bruenor’s Power Strike tokens (+1 damage) and a desperate Headbutt, Dinin the Drider collapsed into a heap of wiggling spider legs.  His treasure was the Girdle/Belt of Storm Giant Strength (+2 damage on adjacent hits).  This is LoD’s ‘Holy Avenger’ or ‘Captain America Shield’.  Awesome.

Sprinting away and strapping on his new belt Bruenor turned to face the demon.  Catti considered exploring because she didn’t want to feel left out, but was also too far away to help battle the demon.  So she revealed a new tile along with a Goblin Archer, took a shot at him with her bow, missed, and got taken down in a hail of goblin arrows.

Errtu stalked after Bruenor and bellowed some curses about Drizzt, who incidentally wasn’t there anyway.  Psyching himself up Bruenor charged the demon and attacked repeatedly.  With a natural 20 level up, using up his remaining power tokens, and by applying the power of the Giant’s Belt and Blinding Bracers, Bruenor started hacking big chunks out of the demon.  The demon struck back repeatedly but Brunoer held.  Catti spent a healing surge to get back up after the goblin’s attacks and shot the little critter through the eyes.

Then Bruenor took his axe in both hands and leapt at Errtu.  With a mighty swing the dwarf’s axe put paid to Errtu’s retirement plans and the demon fell to his knees, looking the dwarf in the eyes.  As a final insult Bruenor stepped forward and head-butted Errtu in the face.  The demon squealed and clutched its broken nose, before falling back over and expiring.

Blowing through all our collected XP to keep encounters at bay we legged it to the crystal shard and smashed it apart setting Wulfgar free and winning the game.

No healing surges left and about 4HP between us this was indeed a much closer session.

And for our final game we played Athrogate and Jarlaxle defending Mithril Hall against the invasion of Matron Baenre and her relentless armies.  This adventure uses the fixed cavern setup and is pretty cool, although you’ll have to fudge some of the encounter events.  For example, I drew a “draw a tile and place it, then put your hero on it” event which would have effectively taken me out of the game straight away.

Basically, running around smashing up fissures to collapse them, and then defending against the monsters coming through the open fissures is the order of the day here.  Whilst I as Jarlaxle was intent that we get the fissures closed as a priority, Athrogate wanted to fight stuff instead.  Which meant monsters kept emerging and keeping us back from our ultimate objective.  And when Lolth’s servant, that nasty Matron Mother arrived we were immediately put under enormous pressure having to deal with her, the encounters she potentially reveals, the monsters pouring through the fissures, and having to destroy the final two open fissures.

Athrogate’s morning star ‘Cracker’ led to an interesting rules situation as it inflicts a -4 AC on baddies.  So can you just keep doing this until you bring a Villain’s AC to zero?  We house-ruled, “no, that would be silly.”  But then I had the Dark Fire ability too, which also brings an enemy’s AC down by 4.  So could I use this in addition to Athrogate’s Cracker and bring the villain’s AC down by 8?  We house-ruled, “no, that would also be silly”.  So I used it on a water elemental instead.  The poor thing died soon after.

After much fighting, running and swearing, eventually Athrogate manged to close the final fissure and Jarlaxle nuked a bunch of underlings with a careful blast of the Lightning Wand.  Then it was just us and the Matron.  She chopped us down a couple of times and poisoned us both, so we spent a healing surge or two before bringing her to her knees and then bashing her skull in.  At that point it was game over, midnight, 3 victories under out belts, and an end to the evening.

Loads of fun and lots to enjoy in this game: cool tile effects, really thematic implementation of hero abilities and monster/villain skills and card and tile effects.  We both felt like there was more to do as the heroes, more options and decisions to make about how to use stances and powers.  Even some strategy about which tiles to move to, and some negating of kiting tactics by monsters who don’t care for kiting heroes (hello teleporting Drow Wizard).  But a huge leap in favour of the heroes in general I feel.  Clearly the designers wanted the Companions of the Hall to be kickarse, and it shows.  I really want to send Drizzt up against Strahd next and see how he fares.  But that adventure belongs to another day...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Legend of Drizzt – Early Solo Impressions


The D&D Adventure System (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, Legend of Drizzt) provides a brilliant and fast dungeoneering ‘hit’ for those of us with no time or inclination to read and write and learn and play D&D anymore.  That it’s coop is just the icing on the cake because no one has to play the Morcar/Zargon/Overlord role and everyone gets to kick monster arse.  Though we’ve modded the hell out of this system and introduced campaign rules, events, new scenarios, heroes and monsters, etc I’m going back to basics for the purpose of this review so it’s just the game as it is.

What is it?

In case you tripped over and landed here without having read another thread before, Legend of Drizzt is a cooperative board game where you and your mates play fantasy heroes who go around bullying monsters, breaking into their homes, and killing all their friends and children before stealing all their stuff.  Ethically dubious, ridiculously fun.

How does it play?

Flip a tile, place a monster, have an encounter, take a hit, move your hero, roll a die, kill the monster, claim its XP, take a treasure, repeat, and either a) complain vociferously and then break out some meeples instead, or b) marvel in the beautiful simplicity of the unfolding story and delight in your hero’s progression through the adventure as the tension escalates into an epic showdown.

What are the bits like?

Ace.  Awesome minis, beautiful tiles (better than CR/WOA), the traps now have art on them too.  Tons of cards and tokens and a massive box to fit it all in.  Plus a massive demon that barely fits in the box too.  Make sure you use the hot/cold water treatment on any bent minis to get them back into shape in a jiffy.

What’s new to the D&D Adventure System?

Not much to be fair.  This is pretty much exactly the same game as Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon.  If you didn’t like either of those games for whatever reason, this is not going to correct any issues you had with them.  It’s more of the same but with different packaging.  If you liked the previous games then you’re in for a treat, because every card, power, mini, tile and token is brimming with fresh new goodness, new encounters, monsters, heroes, treasures, villains, basically everything.

Heroes.  In Legend of Drizzt the focus is on the Heroes and their powers, which make up most of the cards you get with the game.  Because the villains from RA Salvatore’s books are so popular you get to play a couple of them as heroes too.  So having Artemis fight alongside Drizzt is pretty sweet.  But the various adventures will also give you the opportunity to fight against Artemis (and Jarlaxle) as villains, which is also cool.

It’s fair to say that the Heroes in this set are considerably more powerful than the previous two games.  After playing the introductory solo adventure “Exile” with every new Hero once each I haven’t lost a game.  It only came close once with Wulfgar, when I accidentally shuffled the objective tile (the Surface tile) into the rest of the stack and only noticed when there were 13 new tiles in play (there should have been a max of 8), hordes of monsters and encounters going off, and no sign of the exit.  Even then when I corrected the error and placed the Surface exit, I still managed to fight my way out and win.

Drizzt, of course, is a total power house.  Attacking twice per turn instead of the usual one attack is tough enough, but he also has a Stance ability which allows him to move and attack in the villain phase.  Meaning any new 1HP monsters which appear are also likely to disappear in the same instance.  And having his pet panther Guen turn up to eat the bad guys helps too.  I finished the Exile adventure with him having lost only 3HP by the end.

Off the back of this I decided to take Drizzt solo into the first “2-5 Heroes” Adventure.  The goal is to find an item (the Crown) and then kill Artemis Entreri.  Drizzt was able to do this without having to spend one healing surge.  This could be an expected run of luck for the first couple of easier scenarios so we’ll see how it pans out when we’re going up against bosses like Errtu further down the line.

Like the previous games, where adventures say “2-5 Heroes” you can easily take in just 1 Hero for a greater challenge in solo play.  Add in an extra surge or two if you’re really struggling.

How is it better than CR/WOA?

Mini villains.  Trolls, Driders and a truly nasty teleporting Drow Wizard can turn up just from the monster deck.  So just when you’re enjoying a nice run of goblins and spiders, some big bastard will unexpectedly turn up and start pounding you into the floor.

Monster AI.  The monsters have a nice mix of tactics once again, drawing more from WOA than CR, so you have goblin archers who cower when adjacent, and trolls who regenerate, or spirits who lure your heroes in from afar.

Monster deck events.  These aren’t major, but there are a couple of sorely needed cards in the monster deck which mix things up and either give you a break altogether, or double the monster presence in the new tile.

Treasure deck balancing.  Fortunes are back, and they’re welcome!  Whilst mostly items, the LoD treasure deck gives you a number of fortunes too, which will heal heroes, restore powers, remove nasty encounters and similar.  Mix the three games’ treasure decks together now and you have a nice balance of items and fortunes.  So, not necessarily an improvement on the previous games, but I nice balanced mix.

Turbo Heroes!  This again?  Yes.  The Companions of the Hall are bringing mad skills with them.  Criticisms about the game are being answered in unusual ways it seems.  So people who complained about monsters always getting the jump on them can now play Catti-Brie or Drizzt, and start moving and/or acting during the villain phase with their new powers.  Whilst it’s not really changing the rules of the game (which I think some would prefer) the designers are still going out of their way to meet these player demands.  The new heroes play very differently from the previous games, and are more powerful.  Poor Kat the Rogue from CR will be suspicious by her absence, and not because she’s hiding in shadows.  You have loads of options with the cool new Stance powers to go offensive, defensive, healing, moving and generally mucking about with the usual turn order.  They’re pretty thematically integrated from the books’ characters too, considering it’s an otherwise fairly light game.

Tile effects.  This is one of my favourite touches, and something that came up a lot in previous discussions about the game.  Some tiles are narrow passages which reduce the AC of monsters and heroes on that tile, some have volcanic vents on them which can potentially damage heroes with a bad encounter card draw, some tiles have 1 square-wide areas to move through like the chasm and bridge.  Also the tile art is vastly improved too.  I never had a real problem with the previous games’ tile art but LoD has the best by far, the jigsaw sections now fit together ‘properly’ too because of the new design leaving no ‘black jutting into art’ bits.  The special tiles look great, and you get 3 extra big showdown tiles like the start tile.  These function kind of like the Chambers from WOA.

Competitive Adventures.  For those that want them.  It’s an extra dimension to the gameplay, but not the most successful for this ostensibly cooperative game (see below).

How is it worse than CR/WOA?

Easier?  Bear in mind that these are first impressions, but these new Heroes are hard as nails and leave the CR/WOA Heroes wanting.  Looking through the LoD villains and new scenarios there don’t appear to be any highly dangerous challenges for them either.  Even the Balrog - sorry Balor – is only a 5XP villain and doesn’t seem like he’ll put up too much of a fight.

Lack of Campaign play.  Whilst Wrath of Ashardalon offered progression from CR towards campaign play with the excellent Treasure Tokens rules and the linked adventures in the scenario book, LoD has disappointingly done away with this again.  Prices for Treasures are still included on the cards to provide backwards compatibility with WOA but that’s your lot.

Competitive Adventures.  These are a nice touch and I’ve seen variants leaning towards this kind of game play, so it’s a personal preference but these games shine in the cooperative scenarios and I don’t see the competitive adventures receiving as much replay value.  For competitive play you could easily break out plenty of other games in this genre and get the DM role going again instead.

Adventure Design Innovation.  Most of the new coop adventures are ‘find the boss and kill it’, which is fun enough, but it would have been nice to mix things up a bit more. 

If I only get one of the three games, which should it be?

Well, none of them are mutually exclusive and really you should be getting all three, preferably in the order that they were released.  But for me this is mainly a question of theme:

Are you a fan of crypts, undead, vampires and/or Ravenloft?  Castle Ravenloft.
Do you prefer the ‘classic’ D&D adventure archetypes of Heroes fighting orcs and dragons?  Wrath of Ashardalon.
Or are you mental for Drizzt and co and have all of RA Salvatore’s books?  Legend of Drizzt.

In terms of the game itself:

Castle Ravenloft gives you monster tokens, the most interesting quests and is potentially the most difficult of the three games.
Wrath of Ashardalon gives you campaign rules, big chambers for boss battles, doors, allies, more interesting monsters, and is marginally easier than CR.
Legend of Drizzt gives you super heroes, super villain/heroes, treasure chests, competitive adventures and big bloody trolls that can just show up from the monster deck, also seems the easiest of the three at first impression.

What has the Gears Of War board game got to do with anything?

It’s a space man game with space aliens and space guns set in space*.  Another cooperative minis game often compared to the D&D AS.  It allegedly has more devious AI because instead of drawing a card and getting a random monster from a choice of around 10 types you draw a card and get a random monster from a choice of 3 types.  But that monster will randomly attack you in different ways so you’ll need to spend the whole game hiding like a coward under every table or couch that your space man will see.

* Kind of.

Warhammer Quest?

Beautiful, aging game which is very fiddly, and plays much longer than the D&D Adventure System, and takes longer to set up and take down.  Also needs lots of pen and paper management.  WHQ has superb campaign rules which the D&D AS could learn from and simplify though.

Descent/HeroQuest/Advanced HeroQuest/D&D Adventure Game/Supero Dungeono Exploreo/Etc.

These games all require one of you to sit alone as a baddie and watch telly or read a book whilst you get shafted by the rest of your mates for the whole game.  Win and they’ll resent you, lose and they’ll respect you less.  Kidding of course (a bit), but they’re not fully cooperative games so don’t really do what the D&D AS does.

Is it any good?

Hell yeah - quit reading and get buying!  It’s so quick to set up and play through you find yourself hooked into more and more adventures and time just flies.  And the various community content on BGG is incredible, not to mention the support and new adventures from WOTC.

This is one of the best solo games in my collection and rivals LOTR:LCG in that respect.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Legend of Drizzt Design & Development by Peter Lee

Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (The Legend of Drizzt): "The Legend of Drizzt
Design & Development"

'via Blog this'

he Legend of Drizzt™ Board Game is the newest addition to the Adventure System. In this Design & Development article, you'll see what's new in this follow-up to Castle Ravenloft™ and Wrath of Ashardalon™.

Heroes and Villains

One of the first requirements of an Adventure System game is a cast of characters. I wanted The Legend of Drizzt Board Game to be a celebration of the entire line of novels written by R. A. Salvatore, so the Champions of the Hall were obvious choices for the players' Heroes.
Each Hero must be exciting to play, because players interact with the Heroes more than any other aspect of the game. Having Heroes based off characters from the novels requires that the characters feel right. Drizzt is a whirlwind of flashing blades, while Regis skulks around and explores nooks and crannies.
To illustrate the best fighters, three of the heroes have a new mechanic: stances. A stance is a choice you make that allows your abilities to shift throughout the game. Bruenor can hide behind his shield, or forgo defense to hustle into battle. Cattie-Brie can be extremely accurate or extremely deadly.
The villains of the novels are nearly as important as the heroes, so characters such as Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle Baenre needed to appear. Choosing the secondary villains was much harder. I first needed to figure out what monsters the heroes would battle in the game.

Multitude of Monsters

Drizzt has fought a ton of monsters, so I had a lot of choice in selecting the creatures to include in the game. Although drow were an easy addition, it was much tougher to figure out the rest of the foes to include. My first instinct was to add King Obould and his horde of orcs, but we just introduced orcs in Ashardalon. Instead, we went with goblins, which provide a nice counterpoint to the drow and serve the entire Adventure Series well.
After selecting the Monsters, I made changes to the Monster deck. One comment about Castle Ravenloft was that the Monster deck is too predictable: explore a tile, place a monster. In The Legend of Drizzt, we included a few Monsters that don't appear exactly three times in the deck. This change allowed me to include a few large miniatures that aren't villains. It felt right for Drizzt to turn the corner to discover a lumbering troll or drider. Also, for the first time, the Monster deck includes events. Instead of always discovering one monster, you can find a hunting party of monsters or no monsters at all.

The Underdark

Many of the iconic locations in R. A. Salvatore's novels are in the Underdark, so I felt the majority of the game's Adventures should be set there. This setting required a new style of art for the tiles.
In Wrath of Ashardalon, we introduced a few tiles that had game mechanics, such as the Long Hallway. Since one of the core elements of this game is exploration, in The Legend of Drizzt, I added even more mechanics to tiles. The simplest tiles, such as the Long Hallway or Secret Cave, introduce small benefits or disadvantages. Other tiles, such as the Volcanic Vent, don't have explicit rules on the tile, but they have links to the Encounter deck that triggers an effect.

First Time Play

It can be daunting to sit down to play an Adventure System game for the first time. One way we helped the first-time player was to divide the card decks into a starting version and an advanced version. Most of the people reading this article can dive straight into the advanced version, but if you're teaching new players, the starting deck helps.
Alternate Ways to Play
For this third release of the Adventure System, I wanted to provide alternate ways to play the game. The villains in R.A. Salvatore's novels are compelling characters, so I introduced competitive play through Artemis, Jarlaxle, and Athrogate to support the stories and offer new mechanics.
The competitive Adventures feature some exciting events that occur in the novel line. One such adventure features Artemis, Drizzt, and Cattie-brie escaping from the Underdark. Artemis has no obligation to keep the renegade drow alive, but Drizzt offers some protection. In other words, Artemis doesn't have to outrun the Monsters, just Drizzt and Cattie-brie.
In addition, a few adventures don't include an exploration mechanic. Instead, you build a set of caves and try to stop waves of Monsters. In the Adventure featuring the drow's attack on Mithral Hall, the heroes must close off the tunnels that the Monsters are using. In another adventure, the Heroes are simply trying to defeat the most Monsters in a competitive way.

A Final Anecdote

At GenCon this year, I was lucky enough to show this game to R. A. Salvatore. We didn't have a lot of time, so I chose the Heros' powers so we could start playing immediately. Bob played Regis, and he spent much of the second half of the game darting in and out of the Secret Cave, a tile where you draw no Encounter cards. At one point, another Hero was hit with the Fall through the Cracks event, a card that removes your Hero from play until the start of your next turn, at which point you emerge on the start tile. Bob remarked that it was the perfect card for Regis! I then happily pointed out Regis's Hide utility power card, which does something very similar. It was a long road to get the Heroes to feel like the characters from the novels, but I think the effort was well spent.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fantasy Quest, The Tavern of the Game Epic Session Report Part 2

More ingenious FQ commentary from our hero, Sylvain - check it out over at the Tavern:

Fantasy Quest - Game Files - The Tavern of the Game:

Last week, the editorial board of The Tavern of the Game published the first hand report of year EPICtorial session featuring adventurous year dwarven ranger wandering in the land of Fantasy Quest .
The heroin of the story WAS Ordered to Bring Down a Malevolent tyrant.
She Began Her quest alone, purpose Rapidly Received the help of the Inhabitants of the land, That Gave Her the Opportunity to ride a noble mount. The adventuring life is So Much Easier When You Can Rely on a trusty horse to travel faster and further Top! After HAVING Achieved Some subquests absolutely Unrelated to Her main objective, as required by the tradition of roleplaying games, the dwarven ranger started to feel Migthy Enough to Make an Attempt at accomplishing Her SAGA. Let us read together Weth She Will manages to save the land from the evil grip of a tyrant or Malevolent Be slain by His henchmen innumeracy.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feonix's custom scenario #3 - The Culling at the Barrow-downs

Feonix's custom scenario #3 - The Culling at the Barrow-downs 

Here's a print-ready version of Feonix's latest awesome fanmade scenario:

NinjaDorg’s LOTR: LCG The Hills of Emyn Muil Review

SPOILER WARNING - this review contains a whole bunch of spoilers.

My expectations have been somewhat managed (i.e. lowered) by the expansion packs so far, with some middling heroes and player cards of dubious use, but there are some good player cards in this set, and appropriate to the scenario too.  Gildor almost feels like a hero all of his own, there are some other cool allies - horseys! - and the Rohan theme continues to be the clear favourite of the Mirkwood cycle.

But Brand, Son of Bain, is the new Hero in The Hills of Emyn Muil and it has to be said, it’s difficult to want to play the guy.  I mean, bless him but this fella makes predator look like a beauty pageant runner-up.  He’s so ugly he could turn milk.  Literally, his Mum had to tie a steak to his neck so the dog would play with him.  Etc.

Despite being able to make onions cry at a glance, Brand is also a bit limp when it comes to his special ability, which is useless in fact, in solo play.  Given that I always run the scenarios solo before putting mates through them, Brand had to take a back seat (like really far back, with a bag on his head) in last night’s session.

So up stepped Legolas, Prince Imrahil (thought I’d give Arry a rest and see what all the fuss was about – not much as it turns out) and – yawn – Eowyn.  Glanced over the one single card Emyn Muil scenario, given that NOT reading scenario cards beforehand is basically tantamount to suicide in this game.

‘Muil specific SPOILERS:

You need to collect 20 VPs of Locations and Enemies to win, so clearly threat reduction is required to keep you steady whilst you search the encounter deck for VP cards.  This encounter deck is location heavy, but you have Sauron’s Reach and Dol Guldur orcs thrown in for good measure too, which means some nasty combats and mini bosses like the illiterate Chieftan and his Beastmaster cronies, plus a bunch of evil treachery to boot.  And treachery appears particularly nasty in this scenario as it gets Surge if there are no Locations already in the staging area.

Many Locations in this pack have VP values attached so you’ll need to explore them for VPs, so you might actually be glad that treachery will Surge you into the next expanse of land which Gollum is running through.

Collecting VPs also adds a sorely needed sense of achievement to the game because normally the only advantage to gaining Victory is taking that card out of the encounter deck.  And given that we rarely re-shuffle the encounter deck before it’s game over, this was of little consequence.  If you’re one of the crazy people who use FFG’s existing scoring system you might be pleasantly surprised to see your scores sky-rocket off the back of this mission.

Initially I was sceptical of the one card scenario idea – it seemed a little lazy – but to have more stages for this scenario would really drag it out.  The quest is a slog as it is, with your heroes ploughing on through the snow and rockfalls and up and down dangerous hills.  But it actually plays out quite nicely.  In the same way that Hunt For Gollum was simple but gentle fun, Emyn Muil provides a semi-challenging but fun adventure for your heroes with some interesting locations, the occasional (uphill) battle though with only one new enemy, and the occasional event which will kill off a hero or two without warning.

So how did Eowyn, Leggy and Princey fair?  Well, I’d obviously prepared for this scenario by chucking in the Trackers and Guides, and threat control, the required Steward, tactics songs, all the Dunedain attachments, and a whole bunch of low cost allies that I’d be able to churn out quickly, coupled with Faramir and Radagast for the big hitters.

In the first game the Pretty Prince of Parties got himself some Unexpected Courage, but as he was mostly questing and there are fewer enemies this wasn’t absolutely required.  Steward went onto Eowyn mostly because I had a big Spirit draw with my first hand.  My 2 cost Allies started appearing and coming into play quickly.  FWIW I think I don’t play to the Prince’s strengths because I tend to plan my decks/games around NOT losing allies rather than having them leave play to trigger effects.  Cards like Valiant Sacrifice – whilst probably very useful – don’t see much game time because I’m not fond of cards which rely on a bad result (i.e. ally leaving play, even if it’s a Sneak Attack or Ally ability) to work, I’d sooner have another weak-ass Gondorian instead.

Legolas was occasionally useful for helping to clear locations, but mainly for being the one who wasn’t getting injured by treachery because he was hanging back all the time.  Eowyn was her usual invaluable self.

It’s worth noting that because I’d neglected Lore and any kind of healing Eowyn bit the dust in the two games I played, and Prince Charming also fell in the first game due to some vicious treachery draws.  But in both games this was a late occurrence, and with Legolas hanging back with a horde of allies to quest for him I was able to keep going and net all the Locations I needed, and in the second game killing Chieftan Uthak for the win.  Also Faramir bumping up legions of Snowburn Scouts and Gondorian Spearmen to serious questers was a sight to behold.

I don’t claim to be an expert deck builder – “keep the card costs low if you’re using three spheres” is pretty much my main rule – so I wouldn’t deign to post any deck setups I use as there are plenty of cool ones already in the forums.  But all in all, even though I was losing heroes and taking hits, it didn’t feel too challenging.  And even when I was down to just Legolas in the second game I wasn’t panicking or feeling the pressure too much because he had so many mates with him, including Radagast to help pull in some creature allies.

But it was enjoyable nevertheless, and I enjoyed the new Location effects and card interactions.  The game gives you a good head start on that VP count by having a couple of potentially nasty Locations in the starting set up but after that you’ll mainly be parsing the deck for more VPs.  To that end I would probably enlist Denethor in the next attempt.

In summary: a good addition to the set I’d say.  Ease yourself down from Rhosgobel/Osgiliath/Dol Guldur or step up from the cake-walk of Mirkwood/Carrock to enjoy this scenario at the pace it’s meant for.  Thematically it feels cool to be literally scouring the hills for Smeagol’s less friendly alter-ego too.

I’m looking forward to visiting Dead Marshes and Returning to Mirkwood, but does anyone else feel that Khazad Dum is casting a long, long shadow??

Legend of Drizzt - Interview With Peter Lee

Diehard GameFAN | Interview With Peter Lee of Wizards of the Coast About the Legend of Drizzt Board Game: "Interview With Peter Lee of Wizards of the Coast About the Legend of Drizzt "

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Friday, October 07, 2011

Fantasy Quest Promo

Get it before our lawyers do!

Fantasy Quest, Epic Detailed Report - The Tavern of the Game

Our hero, Sylvain over at the Tavern of the Game has delivered this brilliantly detailed report of a game of Fantasy Quest in action:

Fantasy Quest - Game Files - The Tavern of the Game:

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Great stuff!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Snaring Gollum in The Dead Marshes

Original article here:

Gollum was found… What he had been doing he would not say. He only wept and called us cruel, with many a gollum in his throat; and when we pressed him he whined and cringed, and rubbed his long hands, licking his fingers as if they pained him.   –J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Gollum has been found! After racing through The Hills of Emyn Muil to pursue the elusive creature’s most recent signs of movement, the heroes of Middle-earth catch first sight of him in The Dead Marshes, the fifth Adventure Pack for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.
Slippery catch
In The Dead Marshes, players see Gollum (The Dead Marshes, 107) in the staging area for the first time. With a glimpse of the creature, your fellowship has new incentive to push forward, but The Dead Marshes are filled with nasty monsters and lie perilously close to Sauron’s watchful gaze.
Corrupted and devoured by his years in possession of the One Ring, Gollum remains a clever and wicked threat to your fellowship. As he races through The Dead Marshes with your heroes close on his trail, he seeks to lead them to their ruin.
The Dead Marshes introduces a new, scenario-specific mechanic called an escape test. In most scenarios, as the heroes push forward on their quest, they need to split their efforts between the quest and defending themselves against the enemies that assault them. Now, the escape test creates a new problem for which heroes will need their Willpower. Gollum plies every devious trick he can in order to lose them, and at the end of each quest phase, your heroes need to commit Willpower against Gollum’s attempts at escape. Many of the scenario’s encounter cards have an Escape value, and the heroes must commit Willpower to the escape test greater than the Escape value on the cards dealt, or Gollum gets closer to finding a means of eluding them. If he succeeds, he slips free into the marshes.
Your heroes may continue to pursue Gollum even if he manages to shake them off his trail, but that may take time your heroes don’t have as they travel so near the black lands of Mordor.
Tricks of your own
Gollum isn’t the only one with a head full of clever ideas. Your heroes have done and seen much on their travels about Middle-earth. They have slain Orcs and resisted temptations. At different points along their travels, different heroes have taken the lead, depending upon the moment’s needs. Valiant warriors battled the Trolls during the Conflict at the Carrock, and healers tended to Wilyador’s wounds along A Journey to Rhosgobel. Scouts and trackers helped find Gollum’s trail anew amid The Hills of Emyn Muil, and now Hobbits get a chance to shine in The Dead Marshes.
Their legs are short, so they have to use their heads. Rather than relying upon raw speed to snare Gollum, your Hobbits can try to snare the creature with a rope. Fast Hitch (The Dead Marshes, 103) allows a Hobbit character to exhaust for multiple actions each round. This means Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum, 1) and Frodo Baggins (Conflict at the Carrock, 25) can exhaust to quest, then ready themselves for Gollum’s escape test immediately afterward. Their anticipation of the wretched creature’s attempts at escape may prove the difference between successfully capturing him or losing him in the fens and mires.
Because Bilbo belongs to the Lore sphere, Fast Hitch is a natural use of one of his resources. Many players have already made note of how handy the old Hobbit can be. Because he doesn’t need to exhaust to allow the first player to draw a card, he can exhaust to take other actions later in the turn. With Fast Hitch, Bilbo allows the first player to draw a card, and then can participate in the escape test and ready himself to defend. With multiple copies of Fast Hitch attached, Bilbo becomes a very clever and resourceful Hobbit, indeed, able to quest, participate in an escape test, and defend… even attack, though his Attack strength is relatively weak, for now…