Hall or Nothing Productions Ltd: April 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fortune and Glory New Dangers Batch 2!

First card:

Losing video games – not nearly as heartbreaking as losing board games...

Losing video games – not nearly as heartbreaking as losing board games...

After nearly shedding tears over letting some old classic board games go, I don’t have anywhere near the same emotion about letting played PS3 games go. There are very few movies which I revisit after watching and almost no video games that I replay after completing. Even if it’s an RPG with multiple paths to victory or a narrative game with a raft of alternate endings, once I finish a game, I tend to also be finished with that game. So I rarely benefit from additional Downloadable Content, and usually have moved on from games by the time any DLC gets released.

There are exceptions of course. Years ago on the PS1 I was utterly hooked on the originalSilent Hill. I didn’t have a wife, child or job I cared about back then, but I did have a lot of time on my hands. And I played that sucker through and through, terrified, elated and excited to see everything it had to offer. I even unlocked the alternative, hilarious alien abduction ending, which required some serious commitment iirc. And the Resident Evil series are irresistibly replayable, bashing back through the game on veteran level is a joy.

But on the whole, when I’m done I’m done and the story is finished. With board games (the kind that I enjoy at least) you tend to be able to recreate the story over and over anew each time rather than stomping through the same old plots and cut scenes. But as transient as they are, video games can have an enormous impact, and they’re so much quicker and easier to set up too!

So as I hit up eBay and fire off this lot into the ether I thought I’d reflect back on some of these cooler titles from the last few years...

God of War III

The very best of the God of War series! The violence is utterly gratuitous and utterly enjoyable. Ripping the heads from your enemies’ shoulders, slaying titans and destroying Gods is bonkers, and the gameplay is even bonkerser. When the button-pushing minion-bashing starts to get tiresome God of War switches things up and throws a crazy, seemingly unbeatable boss at you, or a devious puzzle which requires the kind of lateral thinking which is so difficult to access through the muggy haze of two or three San Miguels. The gore and action are what make the game, but I always had a close affiliation with Greek mythology growing up, so seeing the heroes and characters and myths and gods of the Odyssey and the Iliad realised in such a destructible manner is kind of a dream come true. And of course, the Warry God series also pisses all over the new Clash of the Titans movies...


Cool action shooter with a sexy heroine, tons of fun blasting enemies and powering up. There’s not much more to say about this title, which is kind of a shameless clone of action games like God of War, but has its own fairly unique spin, and eminently watchable cut scenes. You do wonder when Uwe Boll will get the movie rights though...

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

The original AC had the best settings and locations, the explorable world, the horse riding, the least annoying hero in Altair, and a lot of the cooler elements of the series. But it also had the sucky modern day game play and the boring, boring, BORING Desmond story which only seemed like a needlessly elaborate excuse to cover the occasional flickering frame of the ‘main’ game. Luckily the later titles abandoned more and more the dismal Desmond arc and you got the Assassin action you wanted. Revelations takes this the furthest and with the exception of Desmond’s Animus dream world AC:R provides the sleekest, prettiest gameplay yet, and the side games are way more enjoyable. All in all, an amazing game that combines all the best parts of the series into one, with added meta games to boot. A fitting end to the series.

Red Dead Redemption

Brilliant game, just finished it - amazing ending. Moving onto Red Dead Undead Nightmare next and I’ll eBay that when it's done too. John Marston is a really engaging protagonist and someone you can properly get behind and root for, with his roguish but heart of gold morality and wry sense of humour. I always found that playing any of the Grand Theft Auto series you were generally playing a total bastard completely out for himself and extremely difficult to empathise with. I know there’s a massive zeitgeisty penchant for this new generation of gamers to play baddies, the Dark Side, the criminals, renegades and generally evil scumbag villains of any mythology these days, but me I always prefer to play the good guys. The backdrops, music, atmosphere, animations and effects are beautiful and you really feel immersed in the world. A great escape from modern life and with great challenging gameplay too.

Final Fantasy XIII

One of the best Final Fantasy games yet, eye watering graphics, elegant gameplay - I can't wait for the sequel now! It’s fair to say that this title doesn’t have the emotional resonance or impact of FFs 7, 9 or 10, but Square Enix rarely put a foot wrong in the Final Fantasy series and XIII is no exception. Need to get hold of XIII-2 now to finish the tale, but there’s great gaming to be had in here and I was one of the minority who appreciated the story driven linearity of the early chapters, it felt far more impactful - particularly when they do blow out into the more open world structure of the later game. I might as well have a direct debit set up to Square for all of their Final Fantasy releases though so I’m clearly biased...

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Excellent game - just finished it, great online play too - just don't have time to pursue that aspect of it. The Uncharted series has been nothing short of brilliant, putting 99% of Hollywood movies to shame. The easy feel of the gameplay, the fact that every action you perform looks and feels cool, the emotional and humorous beats of the script and narrative, the cocky, charismatic appeal of Nathan Drake – and all the voice cast in fact, the great stories and the pure adventuring thrill of the game, they all add up to make Uncharted a king title amongst modern video games. There’s nothing not to like and the action and set pieces in Uncharted 3 really up the ante even further: hanging on the cargo net from the back of a plane whilst fighting baddies, discovering the Atlantis of the desert, the epic battle on board the pirates’ ocean liner, climbing tower blocks in London, and exploring the beautiful jungles of.... France! There are moments where you just stop and stare at the scenery the game is literally that beautiful. I will buy the PS4 in a heartbeat just to get my hands on Uncharted 4!

So there you have it. Some rambling thoughts on some great titles. Thanks for reading, and FYI they’re all up for 99p each - if you’re remotely interested you can have a nosey over here:


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our very final adventures in Dragonfire Castle.

Our very final adventures in Dragonfire Castle.

Before my great 2012 clearout I dusted off DungeonQuest for some final adventures into Dragonfire Castle before calling it a day on this old classic.  Even as a kid, back in the day I always felt there was something missing from DungeonQuest.  It was fun for a quick blast of mostly comedy gaming but meatier dungeon crawl games soon took over and DQ began to gather a thick layer of dust.

I was lucky enough to pick up the Heroes expansion but never managed to track down Catacombs, which looked like the most interesting expansion to be fair.  So we had a host of fodder – sorry, ‘Heroes’ - to choose from for this retro nostalgia adventure, but we decided to stick with the base game Heroes instead.  It had been nearly two decades since I last played and I couldn’t be bothered to read all the individual character rules...

We played a series of two player games and to start off with I chose Volrik, who was always my old favourite.  He just seemed a bit more amiable, and maybe less pretentious somehow.  KG chose the far more pretentious El Adoran.  The game lasted about 20 minutes as I nipped through rooms and chambers making my way steadily towards the treasure chamber and lucking out by bagging a series of corridor tiles.  Eventually my progress was altered and I was sent off course, the tiles forbidding me from ever reaching the dragon’s hoard.  My strange journey took me to the other side of the castle and out of one of the other corner towers.  I killed a goblin and an orc and managed to escape the dungeon with a paltry 230gp and just a few scratches to show for my troubles.  KG took a wrong turn, fired all of his arrows at enemies as quickly as he could, had his HP whittled away, and ended up getting horribly lost.  The doors of Dragonfire Castle slammed shut as night fell and Mr Adoran was forever trapped in the dungeon’s depths.  All hail to Volrik, the King amongst peasants!

Next up I took Sir Rohan of Rohanland whilst KG decided upon the barbaric warrior Ulv, whose name was onomatopoeiac for sick-making sounds.  Which was fairly ironic because he died of throwing up after a centipede poisoned him to bits in an early room.  Were one to ransack his bloated, poisoned corpse - as one is often wont to do in DungeonQuest - it would reveal a meagre 40gp.  Barely even worth the deadly infection you’d invariably contract in the act.  Sir Rohan meanwhile laughed at the distant, weakening screams of his adventuring competitor and as Ulv called for his mummy (Ulva) and painfully expired, Rohan gleefully counted up the 290gp in his pouch, strolled into a room and looked up to stare into the face of a Death Warrior.  Aptly named it were, as it impaled him upon its mighty, spiky sword.  None were to leave Dragonfire Castle that day.

Next into the grinder, and undeterred by the continual murdering of previous adventurers, Vikas and Rohan (Jr presumably) stepped up to the plate.  KG’s Rohan followed in the footsteps of his father and found only death and doom in the dimness of the dungeons.  The 120gp in his pockets was little consolation as Dragonfire’s doors slammed shut and trapped him in the darkness.  Vikas – yours truly btw - meanwhile played total chickenshit and just hung around the entrance way, jumping at noises and staying within eye sight of the exit door.  After finding a gem worth 50gp in an old boot Vikas darted back out the doorway stammering the words, “Screw this!”  It could hardly be called a victory as Vikas was exiled by the local peasants shortly afterwards for being a totally cowardly custard.

Our final two player game saw a penniless Siegfried (myself) step into the dark and get instantly stabbed in the back by a Sneaky Orc.  As he gasped his last, Vikas the coward (played by KG this time) was thrown into another entrance by the angry villagers.  With no recourse but to face his demons he wandered the depths of the horrible, horrible castle and desperately waved his sword around him as goblins and trolls reached for his tasty, tasty flesh.  Screaming like a girl he raced down corridors towards another tower exit.  Finally stumbling upon an abandoned crypt, he ransacked the tombs of the dead and took 370gp’ worth of necklaces and rings from the poor corpses.  Stuffing it all into his jerkin he raced for the exit and escaped, not even considering heading towards the Treasure Chamber and sleeping dragon.  With his haul he’d finally be able to buy a ticket out of this town and away from the abusive accusations of cowardice from the locals...

Thus ended our final adventures in Dragonfire Castle.  Measly victories and gruesome deaths, the universally recognisable hallmarks of any DQ adventure!

Over the next few days, before wrapping it all up for eBay I played a bunch of solo games to see how I’d fare in my super final adventures, and had a series of notable victories, but mostly defeats:

Volrik 3,650gp – 1LP – DIED on last turn at sundown after trying to haul off bags of treasure from the Dragon’s chamber, also forgot to take a Magic Ring along!
Volrik 10gp – 2LP – WON with just 2 turns left after beating both a Death Warrior and a Spider
Volrik 490gp – 2LP – WON with just 3 turns left
Sir Rohan 0gp - 7LP – Turn 10, DIED fell into a bottomless pit to his doom
Ulv 10gp – 2LP – Turn 19, DIED stepped into a Rotating Room which rotated into a wall
El Adoran 4,130gp + rope – 6LP, 0 arrows remaining, Turn 19, DIED used his Transform ring to turn a corridor into a Rotating Room which rotated into a wall
Siegfried 0gp – 0LP – Turn 11, DIED found some Rope, then got killed by a Death Warrior
Vikas 2,910gp + rope – 12LP – DIED Turn 16, Room Rotated into a Bottomless Pit, fell to his doom
Roland 420gp – 0LP – DIED Turn 14, killed by a Sneaky Troll
Farendil 4,000gp – 0LP – DIED Turn 15, killed by a Sneaky Death Warrior
Ironhand 0gp – 14LP – DIED Turn 9, Death by Bottomless Pit
Rildo 2,760gp – 5LP – WON Turn 23, escaped with 1 dagger remaining!
Helena 30gp – 0LP – DIED Turn 11, killed by an Orc
Helena 2,260gp – 1LP – WON Turn 14, made it to the treasure chamber and ran for the win!

And that was the end of that!  I have mixed feelings about letting it go but game space is at a premium in our house now.  And were it not for these final efforts at beasting the heck out of the game DQ might not have seen the light of day for another 20 years.  A great, simple, little game, but very much of its time, and now massively over-shadowed by games like the far superior D&D Adventure System board games.  Plus if I ever feel the need to revisit Dragonfire Castle I can always pick up the updated FFG version of the game (and ignore their awful looking, overly complex combat system).

So long, DungeonQuest – and thanks for the memories!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.

At the risk of being my nerdiest, most boring post ever (and there are some real contenders) I thought I’d share this with you all. I found this stat log of earlier games of Castle Ravenloft over the past couple of years - about 90 games’ worth (or approximately 4 days of solid gaming blush)! These are mostly before introducing our Complete Campaign Rules with event cards, etc and use 2 surges unless stated otherwise. Whilst some of you might be bored until you’re sick in the mouth I figured some of you might find it interesting so here goes – please excuse the disparate, scatty layout...

WARNING: You may snore


1. Ranger: LOST – killed by zombie on 10th tile (careful, hunter, bounding, unbalancing)
2. Fighter: WON – 3hp + 1 surge, Sword +1, Crystal Ball & Wand +17xp (start skills)
3. Rogue: WON – faced Strahd on last tile, 1hp + 2 surges + lvl 2, Boots, Amulet + 5xp
(start skills)
4. Cleric: WON – faced Strahd, 1hp + 2 surges, Wand, Avenger, Tools, Amulet, Holy Water +13xp (start skills)
5. Wizard: WON – 1hp + 0 surges, Ring, Tools, Sword, Amulet +12xp (start skills)
6. Ranger: WON – 2hp + 1 surge, Tools, Amulet +8xp (Careful, Hunter, Split Tree, Parry)
7. Ranger: WON – 3hp + 0 surges, 3 Items, lvl 2 + 3 xp 
8. Fighter: LOST – killed by Strahd on penultimate tile, Sword, lvl 2, 0xp
9. Rogue: WON – 1 surge, Wand, 2 Rings, Charm, lvl 2 + 7xp


10. Samurai: LOST – found stairway, all monsters in play, Alarm Trap
11. Samurai: WON – lvl 2, 0 surges, 8hp + 3xp, Sword, Amulet
12. Ninja: WON – 0 surges, 1hp + 9xp, Boots
13. Bard: LOST – 4 tiles away from finding the stairs!
14. Avenger: WON – 0 surges, 5hp + 1xp, Charm

15. * Ranger WON – lvl 2, 1hp, 0 surges, 8xp, Tools, Sword CAMPAIGN * A2 ICON NEXT


1. Ranger: WON – 0 surges +21xp
2. Wizard: WON – 1 surge, lvl 2, Accuracy Ring, Protection Amulet, 8hp + 11xp
3. Cleric: WON – 2 surges, Necklace, Tools, 6hp + 3xp
4. Rogue: WON – 0 surges, 8hp + 10xp, Ring, Boots, Charm, Ward, Avenger
5. Fighter: LOST – 4xp, Boots, Crystal Ball, Holy Water
6. Fighter: WON – 1 surge, 10hp + 4xp, Glyph


7. Barbarian: WON – 2 surges, lvl 2, Sword, Glyph, 12hp + 2xp
8. Paladin: WON – 1 surge, lvl 2 Sword, Amulet, Glyph, Ring, Wand, 8hp + 13xp
9. Warlock: LOST – 3xp, Tools, Holy Water, killed by Fire Trap
10. Assassin: LOST – 0xp, lvl 2, Amulet, killed by Strahd’s Hunger
11. Assassin: LOST – 2xp, killed by Wraith
12. Assassin: LOST – 3xp, Amulet, Avenger, killed by Blazing Skeleton
13. Assassin WON – 0 surges, 7hp + 4xp, lvl 2, Sword, Necklace, came back from 1hp!
14. Warlock: WON – 12xp, Boots, Crystal Ball, Ring, lvl 2, 1 surge + 8hp

15. * Ranger WON – lvl 2, 10hp, 0 surges, 15xp, Tools, Sword, Avenger, Used ICON CAMPAIGN * A3 KLAK NEXT


1. Fighter: LOST – Avenger, Amulet + 22xp, Klak on 5hp (of 6)
2. Ranger: WON – 0 surges, 1hp (!) + 0xp, no treasure left (lost Regeneration Ring)
3. Cleric: WON – 2 surges, 2hp + 4xp, lvl 2, Striding Boots, Regeneration Ring
4. Rogue: LOST – Accuracy Ring, Avenger + 4xp, 1 turn from certain victory!
5. Wizard: WON – 0 surges, 2hp + 6xp, lvl 2
6. Fighter: LOST – Regeneration Ring, beat Klak but not machine, killed by Blazing Skeleton
7. Rogue: LOST – Sword + 2xp, beat Klak, 1 turn from destroying machine, killed by Spear Trap
8. Fighter: WON – 0 surges, 1hp (!) + 5xp, 1 turn from certain failure!
9. Rogue: LOST – Protection Amulet + 3xp, Killed by Patrina before even finding lab!
10. Rogue: LOST – Avenger, Protection Amulet + 2xp, beat Klak but not machine,
killed by Cackling Skull
11. Rogue: LOST – 10xp, Amulet, Boots, Klak on 1hp
12. Rogue: LOST – 4xp, Regeneration Ring – used 3 surges!
13. Rogue: LOST – 0xp, beat Klak, machine on 1hp – used 4 surges!
14. Rogue: WON (finally) – 1hp + 0xp, Protection Amulet, used 3 surges

15. * Ranger WON – lvl 2, 4hp, 1 surge, 21xp, Tools, Sword, Avenger, Amulet, Boots CAMPAIGN *


1. Cleric: WON – 0 surges, 4hp + 6xp, lvl 2, Avenger, Boots, Tools, Charm, Amulet
2. Fighter: LOST – 7xp, Kavan on 3hp
3. Fighter: WON – 0 surges, 4hp + 3xp, Sword, 2 Charms
4. Ranger: LOST –6xp, Sword, died 6 tiles in!
5. Ranger: WON – 2 surges, 2hp + 17xp, lvl 2, Avenger, Sword
6. Rogue: LOST – 10xp, lvl 2, Sword, Ring, Kavan on 2hp
7. Rogue: WON – 0 surges, 4hp + 5xp, Sword, Boots, Amulet
8. Wizard: WON – 1 surge, 3hp + 3xp, lvl 2, Regeneration Ring


1. Wizard: LOST – 0xp, Sword, Boots, Gravestorm on 20hp!
2. Ranger: LOST – 8xp, 7 Items, Gravestorm on 4hp!
3. Cleric: LOST – 6xp, Necklace, Gravestorm on 12hp
4. Fighter: LOST – 1xp, Wand, Gravestorm on 14hp
5. Cleric: LOST – 2xp, Regeneration Ring, Gravestorm on 4hp
6. Ranger: LOST – 1xp, Gravestorm on 1hp! Accuracy Ring, Protection Amulet, Necklace
7. Ranger: LOST – 2xp, Wand, Gravestorm on 1hp!
8. Ranger: LOST – 8xp, Scroll, Gravestorm on 20hp and not even found yet!
9. Ranger: LOST – 2xp, Gravestorm on 20hp and not even found yet!
10. Ranger: LOST – 25xp, Wand, Boots, Crystal Ball, Holy Water, Gravestorm on 20hp

11. **Cleric: WON – 2 surges, 4hp, 11xp, lvl 2, Protection Amulet, Holy Water CAMPAIGN ** A8 HAG Next


1. LOST – beat Golem and Vampire but killed by Werewolf (is he invincible against solo?)
2. WON – Fighter and Cleric killed against Hag and Vampire, Rogue went on to finish Werewolf (not invincible then!)


1. Fighter: LOST – 9xp, Hag on 1hp, 5 Time Tokens
2. Ranger: WON – 1 surge, 1hp, 2xp, lvl 2, Regeneration Ring (unused)
3. Fighter: LOST – 2xp, Hag on 3hp, 0 Time Tokens
4. Fighter: WON – 0 surges, 4xp, lvl 2, 5hp, Holy Water x2

5. ** Cleric lvl 2: WON – 7hp, 6xp, 0 surges, 1 power, continued from A6 Dracolich, Amulet Protection CAMPAIGN **


1. WON: Cleric (Sam): WON 0 Surges, 4hp Accuracy Ring, Wand, Boots +10XP (start skills)
Fighter lvl 2 (ND): Brute Strike, Regeneration Ring, Sword, Amulet
2. Rogue (Bob) + Ranger (ND): LOST – reached Chapel
3. Wizard (Bob) + Ranger lvl 2 (ND): WON – 10xp, Sword, Avenger, Icon
4. Fighter (Kris) + Wizard (ND): LOST – 0xp, died at the Chapel


1. Rogue (Sam) + Ranger (ND): WON
2. Wizard (Bob) + Ranger (ND): LOST – 4xp, Avenger, Ring, Wand, Klak dead, Machine: 2hp
3. Cleric lvl 2 (Bob)+ Ranger (ND): LOST – 2xp, Boots, Tools
4. Fighter (Ant) + Wizard (ND): LOST – 6xp, Necklace, Sword, Crystal Ball
5. Ranger (Wife) 3hp + Cleric (ND) 3hp: WON – 10xp, 2 surges


1. Cleric (Sam) + Fighter lvl 2 (ND): LOST 10 Items, 0xp


1. Fighter (Sam) 2hp + Ranger (ND) died: LOST 4xp, 0 time tokens, Hag on 3hp
2. Cleric (Sam) died + Wizard (ND) died: LOST 0xp, 0 time tokens, Hag on 2hp
3. Cleric (Sam) 1hp + Ranger (ND) 4hp: WON 1 surge, 2xp, Accuracy Ring, Tools, H Potion


1. Ranger 7hp (Sam) + Ranger 9hp lvl 2 (Dan) + Wizard 3hp (ND): WON - 7 xp + 2 surges#
2. Rogue (Ant) + Ranger (Wife) + Cleric (ND): WON – 0 surges, 2 XP
3. Ranger (ND) 2hp + Cleric lvl 2 (Ant) 5hp + Wizard (Bob) 3hp: WON – 0 surges, 4 XP


1. Ranger 6hp (Sam) + Ranger 5hp lvl 2 (Dan) + Wizard 5hp (ND): WON - 14xp + 2 surges
2. Fighter lvl 2 (ND) + Ranger (Ant) + Cleric lvl 2 (Bob): LOST – 0 surges, 5 XP, Kavan on 3hp
3. Assassin (Ant) 0hp + Fighter (Dan) 3hp + Ranger (ND) 0hp: LOST – 0 surges, 1 XP
4. Assassin (Ant) 6hp + Fighter (Dan) 1hp + Ranger (ND) 3hp: WON– 1 surge, 5 XP


1. Ranger 2hp (Sam) + Ranger 6hp (Dan) + Wizard 1hp (ND): WON - 3 xp + 0 surges
2. Ranger (ND) 0hp + Cleric lvl 2 (Ant) 3hp + Wizard (Bob) 3hp: LOST – 0 surges, 2 XP
3. Fighter (ND) 1hp + Ranger (Ant) 0hp + Cleric lvl 2 (Bob) 0hp: WON – 0 surges, 2 XP, Holy Water, Regeneration Ring, Sword

Quick Observations:

For solo single hero play the first 8 Adventures are pretty well balanced, except for the huge drop off with Adventure 6 - the Dracolich Adventure. My only victory against it was using the Cleric, who levelled up and then went on to play a successful two adventure ‘campaign’.

The Werewolf can really screw a solo Hero over if you don’t have boosted damage powers, potentially becoming invincible.

Castle Ravenloft does seem easier with more players, but it probably balances out on the whole, depending which characters you pick. Which brings us to...

The Rogue is still awfully weak. The worst Hero in the series. Luckily the Rogues from Drizzt and Ashardalon are much cooler.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition New Preview

Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition, the updated version of our classic dungeon-delving board game, is coming this summer! This all-new presentation of a beloved title maintains the core experience fans enjoy – an epic semi-cooperative adventure in which brave heroes venture into dangerous caves, ancient ruins, dark dungeons, and cursed forests to battle monsters, earn riches, and attempt to stop the evil overlord from carrying out his vile plot.
Last time, we saw an overview of what’s included in Second Edition’s Quest Guide, and we heard from its designer, Adam Sadler. Today, we’re pleased to present an in-depth preview of the anatomy of Second Edition’s all-new Hero sheets, leading into a discussion of some of its exciting new gameplay elements.
A hero of the wilds
A master of the bow and fearless defender of nature, Jain Fairwood stands ready to oppose the vile machinations of the overlord alongside her fellow heroes. Her speed and stamina give her the commanding ability to traverse nearly any terrain with ease, while her preternatural, almost animal-like awareness helps her detect hidden threats.

Jain Fairwood’s Hero sheet. Click to enlarge.
Take a look at Jain’s Hero sheet, above. Since her archetype is Scout, Jain will be able to choose from one of two classes: Thief or Wildlander (we’ll learn more about classes in future previews).
Aside from her name and portrait, you’ll likely notice three main sections: her characteristics in a column down the center, her attributes in the lower left corner, and her text effects on the right. While her Hero Ability (upper right) can be used any time its triggering condition allows, her Heroic Feat (lower right) is a special once-per-game ability that is "spent" by flipping her Hero sheet over. We'll explore Abilities and Feats in more detail throughout future previews; for now, let's focus on those numbers.
Fans of the first edition of Descent: Journeys in the Dark are already familiar with the purpose of a hero’s characteristics. Speed determines how many spaces a hero may move, Health is the amount of damage she may suffer before she is defeated, and Stamina represents the number of fatigue points she may “spend” on various benefits. It’s the fourth characteristic, Defense, that signifies the first major difference between Second Edition and its predecessor.
The gray cube in that fourth circle represents Jain’s Defense characteristic, and it indicates that she rolls one gray die (a medium-level defense die) when attacked. As in the first edition of Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Defense is a means of deflecting incoming damage. However, Second Edition’s custom Defense Dice ensure that an attack can never be “mathed out” in advance, better reflecting the uncertain nature of personal combat.
The true test of heroism
This brings us to another major change introduced by Second Edition: attributes. In the lower left corner of Jain’s Hero sheet, you’ll notice four more statistics that serve a different purpose entirely. Unlike characteristics, attributes aren’t spent and don’t tend to change over the course of the game. Instead, they represent the core strengths of a character, and are “tested” to perform difficult maneuvers, resist special monster attacks, or avoid traps played by the overlord.
From left to right, Jain’s attributes are WillpowerMightKnowledge, and Awareness. These versatile stats underscoreSecond Edition’s focus on compelling narratives; a scenario might call for a test of Might to move a boulder blocking a path, or a test of Awareness to avoid an ambush by sinister goblins. Even new versions of classic Overlord cards likeCurse of the Monkey God depend on a character’s attributes. This underhanded spell can only be resisted by a display of superior intellect, represented in-game by a Knowledge test.
With a Knowledge attribute of only three, Jain may be in a bit of trouble if the overlord targets her with Curse of the Monkey God. To test an attribute, a player simply rolls one gray defense die and one black defense die. If he rolls a number of shield icons equal to or less than his hero’s applicable attribute, he passes. Can Jain roll low enough, or will she spend her next turn swinging from the rafters by her tail?
Acting heroic
Now that we’ve examined a hero, let’s take a look at what heroes do each turn. As we’ve mentioned previously, one of the goals in developing Second Edition was to make the game more accessible. This shows not only in how information is presented on the game’s components, but in the intuitiveness of its mechanics. For example, rather than having to consult the rules to determine movement point costs, players can keep this simple rule in mind: On each turn, your hero can perform two actions.
What are these possible actions? As a constant reminder, they’re printed on your Activation card, which is situated in front of you during the game (it’s this card that you flip to indicate your hero has acted in a given round, and the other side lists the Overlord’s Turn Summary). On each turn, your hero will perform some combination of two of the following (or may even perform the same action twice):
  • Move a number of spaces equal to his Speed.
  • Attack a monster.
  • Use a skill that’s marked as an action.
  • Rest, recovering all fatigue at the end of his turn.
  • Search an adjacent space containing a search token.
  • Stand up if he’s been knocked out. This is the one and only action that a knocked out hero may perform.
  • Revive an adjacent hero who has been knocked out.
  • Open or close an adjacent door
  • Perform a special action, as defined by the scenario
Now that we’ve seen a broad overview of how heroes function in Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition, we’ve set the groundwork for a series of more in-depth previews in the coming weeks. Check back often as we go into detail on some of the actions listed above, the different classes of heroes and their unique skills, the powers of the vile overlord, and much more.
And remember, the Descent: Journeys in the Dark Conversion Kit offers forty-eight Hero sheets, three Familiar cards, and fifty Monster cards that allow you to use your first edition plastic in Second Edition! Curious about how your favorite classic hero will be portrayed? Follow us on Facebook, where beginning tomorrow, we’ll reveal a converted classic Hero sheet from the Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition Conversion Kit each week. You can even vote on which classic character we’ll spoil next!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mage Knight card errata

The first printing of the Mage Knight board game had some issues.  One of these was the incorrectly printed cards pointed out in the rulebook.  Luckily BGG user Paul Grogan has uploaded scans of the corrected cards, so for those of us hardcore fans who bought the game early but were abandoned by Wizkids for replacements you can now download them here:

Or this should work if you're printing to A4, just download the full size image:

Something Tookish Woke Up

“The hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains… and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”
    –The Hobbit

We recently had the privilege to announce the upcoming release of The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. The response has been fantastic, and today we'll take a look at how this first Saga Expansion fits into the rest of the game.
As a Saga Expansion, The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill introduces three scenarios drawn directly from the classic story by J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as a host of new heroes and player cards. Players can use any of their other The Lord of the Rings cards while playing through the scenarios fromThe Hobbit, and most of the expansion's cards can be used in any other deck, for any scenario, but The Hobbit also introduces five unique cards specifically designed for the expansion’s scenarios. These include Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill, 1), an event with the Baggins sphere of influence, and the new treasure cards. These cards are only intended for use in The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill and a second Saga Expansion, slated to arrive in late 2012, that will relate the second and final half of Bilbo’s adventures.
For more information about how these expansion-specific cards make The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill a unique and engaging experience within Middle-earth, we turn to the expansion’s lead developer, Caleb Grace.
Caleb Grace on Bilbo, the Baggins sphere, and elven blades:
While we were working on The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill Saga Expansion, one of the design team's top goals was to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s story to life with the same unique mix of charm and peril found in The Hobbit. In his classic novel, Tolkien draws his reader into his fantastic world by exploring it through the eyes of Bilbo Baggins. We felt that the play experience of our Saga Expansion should follow suit. While Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum, 1) already entered The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game as a playable hero, we wanted Bilbo to be more central to the events of The Hobbit. It wasn’t enough for Bilbo to pass around his card draw; we wanted each player to be able to take turns controlling the story’s central character, so we decided to create a new Bilbo Baggins hero that would be playable only in The Hobbit.
Adding another hero to the starting mix created some resource complications. How do you balance the game for a player who generates a base of four resources? And if Bilbo is just another hero, granting another resource, how is he special? Ultimately, we decided the best way to make Bilbo special was to add a new sphere of influence to the game: the Baggins sphere. By giving the Hobbit his own sphere of influence and giving players opportunities to gain benefits from using his resources within each scenario, we hoped players would feel like they’re reliving Bilbo’s adventures right alongside him.
Just like in the book, the unlikely burglar can either help or hinder his companions. As a free fourth hero, he boosts his controller’s strength, but because the players will lose the game if he leaves play, Bilbo can force players to play more cautiously. Meanwhile, his Baggins sphere resources allowed us to recapture some of the ways Bilbo influenced the company’s adventures, and they really make him stand out. His resources can be used to help the heroes on their journey at different times throughout the scenarios in The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill. Because these resources are so pivotal, we didn’t want players to use cards like Steward of Gondor (Core Set, 26) to gain more, or some of the most unique elements of the quests could be rendered insignificant. Thus, we added the line, “Bilbo Baggins cannot gain resources from player card effects.” This makes sure that deciding when and where to spend his Baggins sphere resources will remain an interesting part of the game.
Meanwhile, the design team had long been eager to explore the idea of treasures in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, and The Hobbit seemed like the perfect place to introduce this new card type. Part of the appeal of the game’s scenarios is that they string together to tell a larger story. Each individual scenario your heroes undertake is but a part of the overall narrative. Still, it can be difficult to build continuity between the different chapters of that story when you can change cards, even heroes, along the way. We wanted to present players with incentive to change their approach to deck-building and game-play, and treasure cards gave us an answer; in order to include these powerful artifacts in their deck, players must first discover them in a specific scenario. After that, so long as players use the same heroes who found them, they can use those treasures in subsequent, related scenarios. These treasure cards represent some of the most famous artifacts in Middle-earth, like the elven swords that Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin found in the troll’s cave. Accordingly, they have strong abilities in that make them well worth the effort to discover and play in later scenarios.
Thanks, Caleb!
The whole design team has put a tremendous amount of time, energy, and love into The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill to bring it as close to Bilbo’s adventures as possible.