Dragons Conquer America – Kickstarter Canceled

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Back in 2015 a company by the name of Burning Games took Kickstarter by storm with a brand new Role Playing Game, FAITH: The SciFi RPG. The concepts put forth by the Kickstarter were well received by fans of RPGs and critics alike. Set in a SciFi setting the game utilized a poker deck in a unique fashion to set forth a gameplay that was less based on luck and more so some resource management for players. I was certainly on board.

When the Kickstarter had run its course FAITH had been successfully funded and Burning Games had a success on their hands. It wouldn’t be their last either. Since then they’ve gone on to great success getting three other Kickstarters funded. So when they launched the Kickstarter for Dragons Conquer America, there was likely a lot of optimism, they’d been here before. A unique product, not much like what people have seen before (even in a gorgeous time of a veritable treasure trove of RPG concepts), with a touch of resemblance to FAITH by utilizing the same poker deck based system backbone, known as the “RPC Engine”. However, not far into its run backers started to stall and ultimately the creators decided to go back to the drawing board. What happened?

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It is evident by their offered Starter Set, The Coatli Stone (free to download by the way), that this game has been worked on, in depth, prior to the Kickstarter. So while you may shrug and say “at least they aren’t out much, good thing they had Kickstarter!” You’d be partially correct of course but I imagine plenty has already gone into this product already. It wasn’t just a concept like some companies are fortunate enough to be able to utilize. Blood, sweat, tears, and capital likely went into what they have now, and if you check out the download mentioned above they have a cool idea.

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In Dragons Conquer America you are transported to a fictionalized history of the 16th century invasion of the Americas. In this version all the trappings of fantasy are also prevalent. You have magic, from both the indigenous peoples of the Americas and a religious based magic from the European invaders, there are fantasy creatures to contend with as well, especially…well Dragons.  That’s not all though. The creators decided to try something a little different with the lore this time around. They want the community that plays this game to help guide that lore. A living game if you will. It’s been done before but this would be the chance to essentially be a part of establishing a game world from the get go. Even using the outcomes of the Starter Set adventure.

So as you can see, Burning Games has a pretty cool concept at play here. Obviously it didn’t grab the same level of attention as their previous games did though. I have a few personal thoughts.

One area I noticed was the high dollar figure they aimed for. With FAITH they went for €30k (roughly $35k). That’s no slacker of a ticket price but they ended up with €41k at the end of the day. Perhaps that’s what played into their decision to set the goal this time to €42k (nearly $50k). To me getting into numbers that high for a brand new game setting can be a tough sell to some, even if you are a company like Burning Games who has a proven track record of delivering very quality merchandise.

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Another potential issue at play might be the recent release of the revamped 7th Sea game by John Wick and company. It gives players a chance to run around a similar time period in an already established setting. Granted the loose system present in 7th Sea isn’t nearly as crunchy as the RPC Engine, so they are very different games, but it does provide another avenue to play explorer in an age of flintlock and boats. In this same vein, perhaps the core fans of Burning Games’ stuff just prefer Science Fiction.

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I think what might be affecting it the most though is how the game lands in our current world climate. In DCA you can play as either the invading Europeans or the Indigenous peoples, this is true, but considering how we are currently looking back on those times, how would you ever want to be a conquistador? There is even a sub system within the rules that takes into account a character’s personal prejudices. That is some loaded shit right now, no matter how you view “political correctness”. To me I would have concerns running one of these games at a con, expecting everyone at the table to treat their character’s in game prejudices in an adult fashion. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous that I would be concerned about something like that, but it’s an inherent truth that many in our hobby have trouble with this. Granted, this is your game and you can be as good a guy in game as you want or as bad. It just seems like adding in a system that expects you to roleplay a prejudice might be uncomfortable for many (as a caveat you are expected to build you “tolerances” over time and are rewarded for it).

Maybe I touched upon some problems, perhaps not. In my last paragraph I might have even gone too deep into the system and found something personal when it might just be some surface stuff they need to tweak. In the end I truly hope they work out the kinks and bring this back to the table, I do actually love the conceptual time period as an area to play around in. I also know that Burning Games knows how to produce very quality work with interesting lore and solid mechanics. I’m positive this is merely a setback and not a barricade to future work. I wish them nothing but success!

-Melvs

If you wish to weigh in and voice why you think things went belly up for the time being feel free to comment below! Also let me know if you think I’m completely off base!

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XANATHAR’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING: A DEEPER DELVE

My initial “review” on Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was merely a “hot take” on the book, I wanted to ensure you all got some information right up front about the bare bones essentials of this important new product for 5e. I had always intended to present a more in depth review but then something even better came along. A good friend of mine wanted to try their hand at contributing to the site and this gave me the opportunity to share the wealth a bit by letting him borrow one of my copies for a time. I always love involving my friends’ voices to this site, gives people a chance to hear things from a different point of view than my own. So without further delay here is a deeper delve into Xanathar’s guide by none other than my friend Conzo! -Melvs

When I read through Volo’s Guide to Monsters, its contents primarily spoke to my DMing side. While it presented a variety of new PC races, the creature-specific lore made me want to introduce my players to entire societies I’d never considered before, and the stat blocks helped me spice up combat encounters. In order to restore the cosmic balance Wizards of the Coast is releasing Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, a 5th Edition supplement that’s much ado about the players.

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Like Volo’s, Xanathar’s Guide is justified with a little in-world setup: the infamous beholder crime lord Xanathar (featured on the cover) has documented all sorts of fantastical things in his life, and for some reason he’s sharing some of his records with the reader. This flavor manifests as goofy little jokes interjected by the many-eyed menace, which I could’ve done without. Luckily they’re restricted to the margins of the book. We’re here for rules text, after all.

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If you’ve already bought some of the supplements for 5E and you’ve been following the Unearthed Arcana site, most of the material in Xanathar’s Guide will be familiar to you. A few of the subclasses from Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and the spells added in Princes of the Apocalypse are reprinted here, just for any players who didn’t catch them the first time. However, the meat of this book comes from Unearthed Arcana, where Wizards of the Coast has been posting 5E test material for free since 2015 (side note: that’s a super-cool way to crowdsource your playtesting). In theory, a miserly player could forgo this book by searching through pages of complimentary pdfs, but Wizards has considered player feedback and made some significant changes to the classes. The most striking change in this regard was transforming the peace-loving Way of Tranquility monastic tradition into the paladin’s Oath of Redemption. When you buy Xanathar’s, you’re buying polish, balance, and some flavorful art.

The guide immediately jumps into the new subclasses, and even if you disregard the reprints it presents a cornucopia of options. While there is only one new arcane tradition for wizards, there are two to three brand-new subclasses for everyone else that expand on what it might mean to be a cleric or a fighter or whatever. For example, warlocks have been making pacts with dark and disturbing entities for ages, but what if you wish to deal with a force of good? Ask your doctor if the Celestial is right for you. What if your rogue prefers solving mysteries over stabbing people in the back? Check out the Inquisitive. Every class gets a boost of characterization, as well as mechanical diversity: players are getting all kinds of new ways to heal and defend, find a tactical upper-hand, or straight-up blast the bad guys (and that’s to say nothing of the new multiclassing opportunities). Personally I wasn’t ever interested in playing a ranger before, but the portal-finding, teleporting Horizon Walker and the invisible-to-darkvision Gloom Stalker have piqued my interest.

 

 

Of course, all the mages out there get some extra attention by way of an expanded spell list. Xanathar’s Guide includes 22 pages of spells, from cantrip to 9th level, bard to wizard. As previously mentioned, the elemental evocations and manipulations from Princes of the Apocalypse make an appearance, but Xanathar’s list includes necromantic attacks and beams of radiance, arcane transmutations and enchantments, and summoning rituals for hordes of demons and magic fortresses. A lot of this section was withheld from Unearthed Arcana testing, so its novelty is definitely one of the highlights of the book. I don’t want to spoil the specifics of any given spell, but I’ll tease you with a sentence of rules text that I found more entertaining than any of Xanathar’s quips: “If a target is killed by this damage, its head explodes, assuming it has one.”

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While players are getting a lot of rules to study and abuse, Xanathar’s Guide also has some optional characterization resources to support the storytelling side of D&D. As someone who’s played a “fighter who just likes to fight” before, I can say these tables of ideas are a great way to break past a writer’s block or start investing yourself in a character. Some of these tables are class-specific, like a barbarian’s superstition or that one awful performance a bard wishes she could forget. Some are background-specific explanations of why the character became a sailor or an acolyte. The table I found most interesting was a set of randomized life events, Adventures and Tragedies and Weird Stuff to be rolled more frequently depending on how old your character is. Maybe that Horizon Walker I was thinking about is an elderly man that’s been around the world before the campaign even begins.

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While most of the book is devoted to player materials, there are a handful of DM resources that are presented somewhat randomly. There’s clarifications on sleeping and flying, lists of simple magic items, the contents of each tool kit and sample DCs for using them, tips for designing rival NPCs and complicated traps, and an appendix about running a game with multiple DMs. There are also some very expansive tables for rolling random encounters, divided by environment and party level, that seem really useful. Whether it was the scattered presentation or the fact that I was still thinking about character creation, this information didn’t excite me, but it’s a resource I might take a second look at in the future.

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As I wrap up, I should mention that while I tried to note everything in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, I almost certainly did not. The supplement abounds with eclectic information worthy of a beholder’s library, and there are a few pages of information that didn’t make it into this review. That said, even if I never see those pages again, Xanathar’s Guide is a great supplement to the core rules of Fifth Edition D&D. If you’re a player, or you have a group of players, looking for ways to give your next adventuring party a zesty new flavor, this book should keep you entertained for many campaigns to come. Your current characters might even start taking foolhardy risks, just so they can be replaced by newer ones. Unless Melvin lets me keep one of his copies, I’ll be picking up my own after November 21.

-Conzo

Aggressive Ovens and Aggravating Cattle Pens: Hoyuk

Hey everyone! Today I have the pleasure of introducing a new contributor to the site. Shane is a fellow teacher at my wife’s school who runs the gifted program. He has built a fair portion of his program around board gaming, with no small amount of help from my wife Sarah. So when the MAGE Company sent me a couple of board games to review I knew I should send at least one of them his way to have for his kids. In return he offered to write the review, and after reading it I feel like I’d probably do a disservice if I had attempted to do the same. Shane wrote a strong review below.  If anyone else feels they would like their games reviewed by Shane let me know and we can work something out in order to put more copies in his classroom! -Melvs

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Synopsis

In Hoyuk, players compete to develop blocks of families within a grid-based map. To do this, they lay down tile houses and wooden meeples representing resources. Each turn progresses from building (twice) to executing catastrophic scenario cards, awarding aspect cards for holding more resources than opponents, and then aspect card replenishment.

Dwellings are arranged by players in families (groups of one tribe) that are grouped together in blocks (groups of different families). While building, based on cards drawn twice per turn, each player attempts to have more of each resource (cattle, villagers, shrines, ovens, and pens) than his neighbors in each individual block. Controlling a resource in a block earns you aspect cards which can then be used to purchase more resources to place or victory points. Victory points are tracked on the outer border of the game board and determine the winner after all houses have been placed. A block doesn’t qualify for awarding aspect cards until it contains more than one family, which is an interesting and necessary mechanic.

Catastrophes are random events selected by cards and occur once a turn to work against the players, separating blocks and families and removing houses from the game. The shaman piece, however, can protect a block from these penalties and is placed using a construction card.

The intricacies of the block/ family dynamic are important and should be read  and discussed carefully before the game starts. This may seem like a given but there are some intricacies that are subtle and less obvious, like the splitting of families due to ruined houses, placement of houses in existing blocks, or the inability to connect blocks.

There are three levels of play ranging from 3 aspects judged per block (shrines, ovens, and pens) to 7 aspects judged (shrines, ovens, pens, stories, houses, cattle, and villagers) and there is an option to play with fewer than 25 houses speed up the game. It was nice to have these options outlined, but the full game is so much richer in strategy and not so long that the shorter versions seem necessary. A 60 minute play time, as suggested by the box, is pretty accurate from our trials. Honestly, even in a full game with all aspects and houses, I found myself wishing we could continue.

Classroom Application

As a gifted education teacher, I ask 3 things when I try a new game with my students;

  1. Do you need to be adaptive in coming up with a strategy?
  2. Is communication necessary, or at least helpful, to succeed?
  3. Will we be able to play this again with different results?

When my students and I journeyed back “some 10,000 years ago” with Hoyuk by Mage Company, we were able to answer a resounding “yes” to all these questions.

Some potential strategies to attempt were obvious after reading through the rules and the clear choices proved to be effective, but those who adapted to the placement of their opponents’ structures, negotiated with neighbors, and attempted multiple approaches benefited far more than those who chose an approach and dogmatically stuck to it.

I loved the communication aspect of this game, despite its lack of necessity during some playthroughs. Whereas communication can be brief and cold in some games that require or encourage trading, the negotiation in Hoyuk enhances the game and requires players to be tactful and clever. It is legitimately possible to be sneaky, supportive, underhanded, generous, or ambivalent in your diplomacy with neighbors and all these approaches have a place in seeking the most victory points.

Comparatively speaking, most games of this type seem restrictive in how far you can bend your conversation. That said, we finished a couple playthroughs with barely a word of discussion. It is hard to say communication is a necessary component, but imagine a game of Settlers of Catan with no trading. It would be possible, but far less engaging and entertaining.

After playing the game with 4 different groups of students of varying grade levels, I saw different results each time. Approaches worked for one group and were less effective for others based on opponents, catastrophes and chance. I personally tried different, and rather polarized, ideas from the start each time and saw relative success with each.

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Suggestions
The individual clan powers were a disappointment. The Der’s house stealing ability and the Oleyli’s element theft are both helpful and powerful enough to base a strategy around, but the other 3 clans’ powers (extra resources and control of the shaman) feel like throwaways by comparison. I found it to be a disappointing implementation of a potentially exciting and game-changing element.

The requirement for 2 families to be in a block before it is scored works beautifully for forcing opponents to deal with one another instead of an independent free-for-all. It was satisfying to see players attempt to coax others over to their massive stronghold after turtling resources in a corner for a few turns only to see their efforts rot pointlessly when their negotiations failed. Give-and-take (or trickery cleverly woven into deals) won the day over brute, strength and lucky card draws.

I would also recommend more thorough catastrophe explanations on cards. The system adds an appropriate and welcome amount of recalculation and chaos to the game, but a more informative  graphic, much like the element “suits” on the aspect cards, would reduce dependency on the game manual during play. The current graphic explanations are clever, but not very clear.

Conclusion

Hoyuk delivered an experience that fired on all educational cylinders, ended before strategies grew stale, and used tile, resource, and trade mechanics in an interesting way. It is simple enough so anyone can come up with a strategy to try and have fun, but also complex and interpersonal enough to generate multiple playthroughs with different results. It’s greatest strengths in my experience were the need for adaptability and genuine communication. The only real weakness we noticed was imbalance in individual clan abilities, and even those are far from detrimental.

My students look forward to trying the Anatolia and Obstacles expansions, as do I. Even without expansions, I would deem this game worth the price tag of $50 on Amazon based on the replay value provided by the aforementioned strategic diversity and communication. I look forward to the next time I can take over a block with the thieving Oleyli, protect a large stronghold block with the Lebu and their shaman, or cause havoc with the angry Ders.

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Market Price: $49.90

-Shane

Fresh To War: Uboxing the Warmachine New Releases for May 2017

Privateer Press has a new batch of fightin’ bastards to liven up the ranks of numerous factions! This month’s offerings hail from not one, not two, but four warring coalitions from the Warmachine line. All solos too. As always I’ve linked each new selection to their corresponding page on the Miniture Market webpage, my personal favorite shopping spot for all things Warmachine & Hordes. So pull up a stool, because your old pal Uncle Grumps is going to bend your ear for a moment or two and give you his thoughts on these combatants. – Melvs

What’s up, Jerks?  Your friendly neighborhood Uncle Grumps is back with another quick look at some new releases from Privateer Press.  We have a varied selection of solos to scope out so let’s get started!

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First up, we have the Deliverer Arms Master:  

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From Privateer Press’s website:

“Few deliverers survive long enough to gain true mastery of the weapons they wield, but those who do can earn the distinguished title of arms master, directing their charges in combat from the back lines. Tasked with the upkeep and repair of Skyhammer rockets and Sunburst artillery, they also train the faithful in the use of these devastating weapons.”

The Deliverer Arms Master has a similar stat line to the Deliverer Skyhammer unit.  His MAT, RAT, DEF, and ARM are 1 point higher and his CMD is 2 higher.  He also has the Tough ability.  The Master is armed with a short range, POW 12 fire bomb that causes the Fire continuous effect on a crit.  He also has a POW 7 sword, but if you’re using this something has most likely gone terribly wrong.  The Arms Master has two special ability actions.  The first is Combat Coordination [Deliverer] which allows a Deliverer model in the Master’s command range to re-roll one attack or damage roll.  The other is High-Angle Fire which gives a friendly Faction model’s ranged, AoE weapons Arcing Fire.  (Arcing Fire allows a model to ignore intervening models further than an inch away when attacking.)  The Arms Master also has the Veteran Leader [Deliverer] ability which grants +1 to attack for other Deliverer models in this command range.  

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The Deliverer Arms Master greatly increases the effectiveness of several of the Protectorate of Menoth’s ranged options.  The most obvious is the Deliverer Skyhammer unit.  Combat Coordination allows the primary attacker in a Combined Ranged Attack to re-roll his attack or damage as necessary.  Additionally, the +1 to attack rolls helps offset the -4 penalty from Inaccurate.  Keep in mind that these abilities can also be applied to the Deliverer Suburst Crew unit.  Veteran High-Angle Fire can help your models with AoE ranged attacks reach vulnerable parts of your opponent’s army.  Keep in mind that High Angle Fire will work on any friendly Faction model.  The Judicator, Revelator, and Vanquisher could all greatly benefit from Arcing Fire.  The Deliverer Arms Master is a solid support solo and an auto-include for anyone who wants to get the most out of Deliverers.  

Next up is the Winter Guard Artillery Kapitan:

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From Privateer Press’ website:

“The artillery kapitans of the Winter Guard understand the true strength of Khadoran artillery. Under their command, crews lay down fearsome barrages just ahead of their advancing troops, decimating enemy lines while creating a chaotic environment that Khadoran forces can turn to their advantage. Often friendly troops are caught in these blasts, but a kapitan knows such losses are a necessary price of victory.”

The Winter Guard Artillery Kapitan has the same stat line at the members of the Winter Guard Infantry with the exception of 1 additional point of STR, MAT, RAT, and CMD.  He is armed with the traditional Winter Guard Blunderbuss and Axe.  He also has the tough ability.  The Artillery Kapitan has access to three special action abilities.  The first is Artillerist which gives a friendly Faction model in his command range +2 RAT on its next ranged AoE attack.  The model affected is also able re-roll the direction or distance if the attack doesn’t directly hit and deviates.  The Close Fire action gives a friendly Faction weapon crew unit the Clear! Ability.  Clear! causes ranged attacks from the affected model to automatically miss friendly models.  (And before you ask, yes the exclamation point is absolutely necessary when discussing Clear!)  Finally we have Fire & Displace which gives a friendly Faction weapon crew Reposition [2″].  

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The Winter Guard Artillery Kapitan brings an interesting mix of abilities to the table.  Fire & Displace greatly increases the mobility of both the Winter Guard Mortar Crew and the Winter Guard Field Gun.  Reposition [2”] can help these units line up a shot for next turn or keep some distance between them and the enemy.  Artillerist is an extremely powerful ability that can help any of Khador’s ranged options.  Putting Artillerist on a Victor will partially eliminate the Inaccurate penalty of the Siege Mortar, and if you do miss, the re-roll on the deviation will help ensure that the 5” AoE lands where you need it.  The Conquest, Destroyer, and Mortar Crew all benefit from Artillerist in similar ways.  The Winter Guard Artillery Kapitan is a powerful support solo that will give you plenty of bang for your buck.  (I couldn’t resist)

The next solo that we’ll be looking at is the Venator Dakar:

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From Privateer Press’ website:

“With exaltation a remote hope at best, the ruthless warriors of the Venator caste take to the field for survival and victory instead. Relentless and cunning, Venator dakars are stern leaders with exacting standards. Under the watchful eye of a dakar, other Venators march quickly and take precise aim, proving they are every bit as skilled in dealing death as the more respected warriors of the skorne.”

The Venator Dakar has a similar stat block as a Venator Reiver with the only differences being his higher RAT and CMD.  The Dakar is armed with the standard Reiver and Sword but the Weapon Master ability on his Reiver means he can dish out more damage than a standard Venator.  The Dakar has two special action abilities.  The first is Combat Coordination [Venator].  The ability works just like the Deliverer Arms Master’s Combat Coordination but it affects Venators instead of Deliverers.  The second special action is Desperate Pace [Faction Weapon Crew].  This ability grants +2” of movement to a friendly Faction weapon crew in the Dakar’s command range.  The Venator Dakar also has the Veteran Leader [Venator] ability which gives friendly Venator models in the Dakar’s command range +1 to attack rolls.  

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Just like our previous two entries, the Venator Dakar is a ranged support solo.  Combat Coordination can help you Venator Reivers land an important combined ranged attack.  It’s also handy for increasing the accuracy or damage of the Venator Catapult Crew and the Venator Flayer Cannon Crew.  The Venator weapon crews also greatly benefit from Desperate Pace.  An extra 2” of movement may not seem like much but the added threat range can take your opponent by surprise.  Veteran Leader provides a +1 to hit for every Venator within nine inches of the Dakar.  This includes the two weapon crews, the Reivers, and the Venator Slingers.  I highly recommend bringing a Venator Dakar if you want to get the most out of the Skorne’s Venator units.  

Last, but not least, we have the Hellslinger Phantom

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From Privateer Press’ website:

“A malevolent specter born of Cryxian magic, the Hellslinger Phantom bears a striking resemblance to the Cygnaran warcaster Allister Caine, and rumors suggest it was made from a sliver of his very soul. The Hellslinger Phantom mimics Caine’s style on the battlefield, firing runeshots akin to the ones employed by gun mages. First spotted in a remote town in northern Cygnar, the phantom slaughtered a large number of innocent civilians, and now every day it roams free, the body count grows.”

It looks like Caine has been moonlighting as a pistol wraith.  Speaking of pistol wraiths, the Hellsinger Phantom has the same stat line as a standard wraith but with +1 RAT, DEF, and ARM.  The Phantom also shares the pistol wraiths’ Undead, Incorporeal, and Gunfighter abilities in addition to Soul Taker: Body Count which allows the Hellsinger to claim enemy souls and Strength of Death which allows it to spend soul tokens to boast attack and damage rolls.  The Hellsinger Phantom also has the ability Swift Hunter which lets it move 2” after destroying an enemy model with a ranged attack.  The Phantom is armed with two Wraithstorm Pistols.  These mid-ranged, POW 12 guns have three different attack types to choose from when making an attack: Critical Grievous Wounds which causes models that are hit to lose tough and the ability to be healed on a crit, Ghost Shot which ignores line of sight, concealment & cover, and Incendiary which changes the damage type to fire sets models hit ablaze.  On top of all this, the Pistols also have Reload [1].  This allows the Phantom to make 1 additional ranged with each pistol per soul token spent.  

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The Hellsinger Phantom excels at hunting down enemy infantry.  The Phantom’s first order of business should be to gather souls to make the most of Reload and Strength of Death.   Just be careful after attacking.  The Phantom loses Incorporeal after making an attack leaving it open to retaliation.  Swift Hunter can help keep you safe by allowing you to re-position after destroying an enemy.  This combination of powerful abilities makes the Hellsinger Phantom one mean combat solo.  

Well folks, Old Man Melvin is tapping his foot and glaring at his pocket-watch* which means it’s time for me to wrap things up.  ‘Til next time!

– Uncle Grumps

*Melvin does not own a Pocket Watch but now wants one.

Pathfinder: Bestiary 6

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Ask anyone, I’m not a Pathfinder guy. I played decades of Dungeons & Dragons 3.X and walked away satisfied, but also with no real desire to play the system again. Even the enhanced version of the rules put out by the wonderful folks over at Paizo didn’t really give me an urge to dive back in. I don’t want to cause any confusion though, I have watch Paizo succeed, and give them nothing but praise for their, practically doting, attention to their fan base and quality product line. In my hands now is their 6th Bestiary. I think it’s high time I delve back in and check out some of these new monsters!

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Pathfinder has always been a game of excesses. They are great about providing a plethora of anything a player or GM might want to get their hands on. The Bestiary 6 sports over 200 new monsters & playable races for the table. Growing up I always had a thing for wolves, this has survived into adulthood so of the many new playable races I really love the look of the wolf-headed humanoid known as the Rougarou. I love the lore surrounding them, they are often mistaken as werewolves but actually detest lycanthropes and hunt them mercilessly. I think I’d really enjoy playing around with these guys. They can even shift to wolf form!

The biggest draw to this book, for Game Masters that is, are the inclusion of some really excellent new archdevils and a really cool Horsemen of the Apocalypse angle. I really like that the Horsemens’ steeds each have their own special stats and abilities. The Horsemen themselves are nasty creatures to go up against, the lowest CR being a 27. These are some truly epic level foes to throw at a party. Their lore is extensive too.

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Even Krampus makes an appearance.

The book is laid out very well. I’ve always enjoyed Pathfinder’s commitment to maintaining an artwork style that flows smoothly over all of its products. Keeping a similar look. This bestiary also sports a huge variety of appendixes to make searching for that perfect foe for your table very easy. The layout and variety of appendixes is something for other tabletop games to emulate.

While I may not find myself playing Pathfinder any time soon, I can eassily say that if you do this book will make for an excellent addition to your library. I have to say, with Starfinder on its way, I am very happy to be starting to dig a little deeper into Paizo’s line of work. They produce really quality items and I know their next line will be the same. Let me know if you have any further questions about Pathfinder’s 6th Bestiary below!

-Melvs

Decades of Tales from the Yawning Portal

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Tales from the Yawning Portal features seven iconic adventures and dungeons collected from the 40+ year history of Dungeons and Dragons. Updated for the fifth edition of the game we are treated with some of the most famous titles out there, not only from the early days but with many picked from the pages of years recently past as well. Another nice little touch is adding in details of the Yawning Portal itself in the introduction for GMs to use in their campaigns.

I love the idea of this book, it holds so much use for just about any Game Master out there. If you are a beginner, the wealth of resources provided to you by having all of these adventures close at hand is simply fantastic. It provides you something to run for your group if you find you aren’t up to crafting one on your own. If, rather, you feel like taking your first crack at adventure design, how could you do worse than some of the most famous quests ever built? Experienced GMs will likely use this book to run some of these iconic games for fun or pull ideas from the pages. Either way, this book has some serious use!

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The book itself is as gorgeous and well crafted as always. Binding seems solid and the artwork excellent. I especially like that though the book maintains a cohesive look there are dozens of little touches to each adventure to mark their uniqueness. It’ll look really nice on the shelf next to my other 5e products, and will certainly shine behind the screen.

Let’s dive into what adventures have been chosen shall we? The book prints the adventures in the ideal order you’d want, by character level. You’ll soon see that if you were to play these adventures from one end to the other you’d have a nice character progression!

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Chapter 1 – The Sunless Citadel – by Bruce Cordell, published in 2000. Original Edition, 3rd.

A buried citadel brings the dangers of blighted nature and your more typical monsters in this dungeon run for players of 1st level in anticipation of advancing to 3rd. Looking through this one I can see that this would be a great starter adventure for new GMs and new players alike. As cool as everything leading up to it is, I think the best part of this adventure lands on the climactic battle. I don’t want to reveal much, but the final challenge is really where it’s at.

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Chapter 2 – The Forge of Fury – by Richard Baker, published in 2000. Original Edition, 3rd.

The Forge of Fury was originally designed to be a direct sequel to The Sunless Citadel so it’s no surprise that it works best for characters starting at 3rd level, it should take them to the 5th level. You could easily slide this adventure into any campaign though. Once more the players will find themselves in some ruins, this time an old Dwarven Stronghold. As you’d imagine, it’s brimming with dangerous monsters just waiting to get a piece of the PCs. That’s not where the adventure ends though, they’ll find themselves deeper and deeper into the goings on and the earth itself. The last fight is about as iconic as it gets!

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Chapter 3 – The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan – by Harold Johnson & Jeff R. Leason, published in 1980. Original Edition, 1st.

Let’s do the Time Warp folks! Hailing from before I was born we have an adventure that gets off to a thunderous start, quickly pitting the PCs against its foes. One of the coolest aspects of this adventure comes from its homage to Mayan and Aztec imagery & design. From all accounts the authors went to great lengths to study the cultures before producing the story-line. The result is really immersive and feels very different from your traditional crawl. I really love this one and plan to run it for my group first chance I get! Oh, and this one is geared toward PCs of 5th level and will take them to, or near, 8th level.

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Chapter 4 – White Plume Mountain – by Lawrence Schick, published 1979. Original Edition, 1st.

White Plume Mountain is one of the better known adventures from the early days. The concept is pretty excellent, there’s a village near a volcano and superstitious chatter abounds! People near the volcano tend to disappear as well. Now some highly valued magical weapons have disappeared and White Plume Mountain seems to be mixed up in the whole ordeal. Hosting some great baddies to fight, plenty of magic items to grab, and intriguing rooms inside a volcano, this adventure is a great place to delve into! As expected this adventure runs best for characters of 8th level and will likely end up around 9th-10th level.

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Chapter 5 – Dead in Thay – by Scott Fitzgerald, published 2014. Original Edition 5th.

Technically Dead in Thay was crafted during the playtest period leading into 5th Edition, but now its been fully developed. This adventure is a sprawling dungeon that pits the adventurers against some truly renown evildoers in the Forgotten Realms, the Red Wizards of Thay. The Red Wizards have obtained ownership of a dungeon, known as The Doomvault, that frankly grants them access to too much power. It has tipped the scales too much in their favor and they need to be stopped. This is an all out dungeon crawl of epic proportions for PCs beginning at 9th level and should end with them at 11th. It’ll take time though, this place is huge, easily the largest dungeon in the book!

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Chapter 6 – Against the Giants – by Gary Gygax, published 1981. Original Edition AD&D

Written by Gygax himself, Against the Giants was originally a compilation of adventures written that pre-date the official release of Dungeons and Dragons. The concept begins simple enough, giants roam the civilized lands antagonizing the populace. The PCs are tasked with removing the threat. As high level adventurers now, 11th level or higher, they are to be considered some of the “go to” folks for handling such a menace. I really like the fact that this adventure hold so many named enemies who can harry the adventurers later if not dealt with in full when first encountered. You get a taste of a lot of giants and their strongholds here, truly a feat to take them all out! This adventure would fit nicely into Storm King’s Thunder if you can find a place for it.

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Chapter 7 – Tomb of Horrors – by Gary Gygax, published 1978. Original Edition OD&D

We knew it would make the cut. Even some who have never played a game of D&D in their lives know a thing or two about this one. It’s even iconic enough to have earned a place in the book Ready Player One as one of the first big pop culture references. To hear Gary Gygax say it, Tomb of Horrors is an adventure for players who crave a mental challenge. It doesn’t feature a ton of baddies but it makes up for that with trap after trap, and puzzle after puzzle. Personally, I’ve never seen the appeal, but you can bet I’m going to read over the 5th edition version to see if I can suss out what makes this dungeon tick. This is the penultimate adventure of the book though and were your players to play them all back to back (and a decent GM would easily find a way to connect them all) your PCs will likely enter this dungeon at around level 15 or higher and end at level… well they probably won’t survive it to be honest.

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The book rounds itself off with some pretty good appendixes. There are certain magic items and monsters found within the pages of this book that can’t be found elsewhere, so it’s obviously nice to have some extra space to store those. If I’m being honest I would love to have every magic item and every monster referenced in each adventure located at the end of each chapter they are found in, but I get the idea of not creating extra bulk for the printers. The new items and monsters are some really cool treats too.

As I said before this book is really useful and would make an excellent addition to an aspiring GM, or even an old hat’s bookshelf. Each adventure is really well laid out and the updates help it fit really finely into this new age of Dungeons and Dragons. I hope to see more inventive additions to this line of books!

-Melvs

 

Fresh To War: Uboxing the Warmachine & Hordes New Releases for April 2017

*It’s a new month so it’s time for some new miniatures from Privateer Press! This time the faction of note is none other than Khador. Now, Nick is already our most learned member of the group when it comes to Warmachine\Hordes, so it is no surprise I tap him so often for these reviews. This time though, we are talking about his main faction. This leaves no other choice than to once again welcome Uncle Grumps to the page. Take it away bud!

What’s up, Jerks? Uncle Grumps here with another quick look at some new releases from Privateer Press. Today we’ll be focusing on the glorious Empire of Khador.

First up: Assault Kommander Strakhov & Kommandos

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Available as of 04/12/2017

MP $24.99

From Privateer Press’ website:

“Assault Kommander Oleg Strakhov has spent decades carving a bloody trail through the kingdoms of western Immoren, eliminating high-profile targets and destabilizing opposing forces with well-orchestrated strikes. Strakhov stands as a Khadoran legend. Those who tell of his deeds speak of him as more specter than man, an unseen force capable of accomplishing impossible tasks under cover of night and leaving no evidence of his passage.”

Strakhov 2 is Khador’s newest warcaster unit. Strakhov’s stats are similar to those of his previous incarnation. He’s gained a point of MAT and DEF but lost a point of ARM. Strakhov has also kept his Pathfinder ability, which allows him to ignore rough terrain, his immunity to fire and corrosion damage, and his ability to ignore gas/cloud effects thanks to his Alchemical Mask. The Assault Kommander has also picked up a few new tricks. He’s gained an ability called Tactical Flexibility which allows him to give his unit Reposition [5”], Stealth, or Overtake for one round. On top of all that, he can also Assault, letting him make a ranged attack as part of a charge. Strakhov is armed with two Trench Swords. These are magical, POW 11 melee weapons that come with Grievous Wounds and the Combo Strike ability. Combo Strike is a special attack that allows Strakhov to add the POW of his weapon twice to the damage roll. Strakhov’s ranged weapon is the Death Whisper Carbine, a range 8” POW 6 gun that halves the ARM of models hit thanks to Armor-Piercing.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the two Kommandos that make up Strakhov’s unit. Their stats are similar to their Kommander’s. The Kommandos have one point less in MAT and ARM, and 3 points less in DEF. They share the following abilities with Strakhov: Alchemical Mask, Immunity: Corrosion, Immunity: Fire, Assault, and Pathfinder. They also have the ability to create a 3” AoE smoke bomb as a special action. The Kommandos are armed with the same Death Whisper Carbines as the Kommander and Trench Swords. These melee weapons are POW 11 and have Brutal Charge which gives them + 2 to charge attack damage rolls. The fun continues on Strakov’s spell card. His first spell is Inviolable Resolve, a low cost upkeep that gives a friendly Faction model/unit +2 ARM and prevents affected models from being moved by pushes or slams. Next is an interesting little spell called Last Stand. This a low cost upkeep that gives a friendly Faction model/unit and additional die on its melee attack and melee damage rolls. The catch is that after the model makes a melee attack, it’s destroyed at the end of your turn. Next up is Lock the Target, a low cost, POW 10 offensive spell that prevents the targeted model from running, charging, slamming, or trampling. He also has Quicken, a moderately priced upkeep that give a friendly Faction model/unit +2 SPD and +2 DEF against ranged and magic attacks. Last but not least, we have Return Fire, a dirt-cheap spell that allows the affected friendly Faction model to make a basic melee or ranged attack after it is targeted by an enemy ranged attack. Strakov’s feat is called Mission Critical. It gives friendly Faction warrior models in Strakov’s control range +3 ARM, Tough, and Feign Death.

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I haven’t had a chance to get a game in with Strakov yet (Between the release of Persona 5 and the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, my free time is currently occupied.), so be advised that this article is going to be more Theory Machine-y than usual. Inviolable Resolve will work well with Iron Fang Pikemen, Man-o-War Shocktroopers, or any of Khador’s other stellar units. Last Stand gives you some interesting options. Keep in mind that the spell doesn’t have to be cast on warrior models. A Berserker with three focus and Last Stand sounds pretty nasty. Quicken will help you deliver your troops to the front line swiftly and, hopefully, in one piece. Return Fire seems like it will work best on a ‘jack or another hardy target. The free attack triggers after the attack on your model is resolved, so you need to survive if you want to tag the enemy back. Strakov looks like a lot of fun to play. He has to tools to ably support your army and his unit is capable of causing plenty of mayhem themselves. I can’t wait to get him on the table.

Next up: Greylord Forge Seer

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Available as of 04/12/2017

MP $24.99

From Privateer Press’ website:

“More than just craftsmen, Forge Seers also take to the battlefield alongside the warjacks they help create. These Greylords apply their knowledge of magic and mechanika to imbue the weapons of warjacks with the power needed to cut down unnatural foes who are more than flesh and steel. Clad in Man-O-War armor, Greylord Forge Seers charge into battle with the hiss of steam in their ears and the chill of winter at their fingertips.”

The Greylord Forge Seer is a monster of a model. In my opinion, it’s one of the better sculpts that Privateer has recently released. The Seer’s statline is what you would expect from a Man-o-War Greylord. He’s low SPD and DEF, high ARM, middling MAT, and eight damage boxes. The Seer brings a slew of useful abilities to the battlefield. He’s got Immunity: Cold and Battle Wizard as you’d expect from a high ranking member of the Greylord Convenant and the Repairable rule common to the Man-o-War models. The Seer is also a ‘Jack Marshal with a unique Drive called Dark Sigils. This Drive gives the Warjack under the Seer’s control the Magic and Blessed properties on its melee and ranged weapons. To top it all off, the Greylord Forge Seer has Magic Ability [7] and access to three spells. Empower gives a focus point to a friendly Warjack and gets rid of Disruption. Hoarfrost is low range, high damage AoE spell causes Stationary on a critical hit. Winter’s Wind gives a friendly model that’s immune to cold the Freezer ability. Freezer causes enemy models (without immunity to cold) that end their activation near the affected model to become Stationary. The Forge Seer is armed with a magical POW 14 Rune Weapon that freezes enemy models on critical hits. The Greylord Forge Seer is well worth the 4 points it costs to bring him to the table.

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It’s notable that the Greylord Forge Seer is the only model in the game to have both access to both ‘Jack Marshall and Empower. When you add in his Drive, the Seer is one of the most powerful ‘Jack Marshalls in the game. A ranged ‘jack with the Dark Sigils drive can be useful for taking out annoying incorporeal models like Pistol Wraiths. The Seer has no problems mixing it up in melee if his ‘jack gets totaled. His Battle Wizard ability can help him attack with Hoarfrost from unexpected angles or cover himself with Winter’s Wind to discourage enemies from leaving models to close to him. The Greylord Forge Seer seems like he’ll work great with Khador Warcasters who like to keep all their focus to themselves.

Lastly: The Khador Command Book

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Available as of 04/12/2017

MP – Softcover $34.99

MP – Hardcover $44.99

From Privateer Press’ website:

In the cold north of western Immoren lies the mighty Khadoran Empire, whose massive military epitomizes the national ideals of strength and resilience. This formidable force is led by powerful warcasters as unrelenting in battle as the bitter Khadoran winter and back by the most brutal and heavily armored warjacks ever to stride the battlefields of Immoren. With thundering ranks of bold imperial soldiers, howling madmen armed with ancient relics, and potent arcanists wielding forgotten and forbidden magic, the army of Khador marches with on singular goal: to carve out the greatest and most dominant empire the Iron Kingdoms has ever witnessed.

Forces of WARMACHINE: Khador Command provides the foundation you need to lead the empire’s conquest with:

  • • Complete rules and profiles for the proud warcasters and unstoppable warjacks of Khador, including two new warcasters and a new Man-O-War solo.
  • • Detailed history and background information, including an in-depth look at Khadoran warcasters and warjacks.
  • • A painting guide full of tips and inspiration to help you create an army as individual as you are.
  • • Two new theme forces that allow you to create specialized Khador armies with specific benefits.

FOR THE EMPRESS AND THE MOTHERLAND!

Like the others released before it, the Khador Command Book features the complete rules for the majority of the released models in the faction. It also contains additional info about the Khadoran military and the larger than life characters that wage war on the Empire’s behalf. The Command Book also includes an in-depth painting guide. There are guides for how to reproduce the studio paint scheme and for two fantastic variant schemes. I expected great things from the Khador Command Book and I wasn’t disappointed. I heartily recommend it to any true suns or daughters of the Motherland!

Looks like that’s all the time I’ve got for today. If you’ll excuse me, I have to return to the not too distant future. ‘Til next time, folks!

-Uncle Grumps

I Implore you, Kickstart this Geek: Bedlam Hall

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It twas merely a little over two years past that a small confederacy of role play designers, known under the droll moniker of “Monkeyfun Studios, LLC”, put forth a role playing game entitled Spirit of ’77. This bizarre little game placed an onus on its players of crafting stories one might find from that era of ill repute known colloquially as “the 70’s”. This game premise inevitably succeeded and procured more than enough funding to be a successful enterprise. Thus the myriads began to frolic as odd men and women from popular culture of that time. I even found myself dabbling in a distraction or two, once wearing the mantle of character similar to Colonel Sanders of all people. It twas naught but silliness, though I’d be remiss if I did not make mention that it could be said I rather enjoyed the experience. Let it not be said that I am without a sense of humor.

It appears that Spirit of ’77 will not remain the only production from this company however, as even now a new venture has taken shape. A member of this illustrious group, David Kizzia,  has designed a game entitled Bedlam Hall and placed its creation, once more, into the hands of potential investors via the website Kickstarter. Apparently it has generated some interest as it has reached already the agreed upon amount to which was needed for its funding. Were I one to resort to such base celebratory expressions as “whooping”, or “hollering”, now would be such a time as to exhibit such behavior. I will however simply offer a stoic nod and offer my felicitations.

What is Bedlam Hall you may ask? Well, if one cannot seek the answers themselves I suppose it behooves me to make it my duty to inform. I am but a servant in such regards after all. Bedlam Hall has the purpose of placing its players in the roles of much put upon servants in the great household of the Blackwood Family. They will then have the esteemed pleasure of serving at their masters’ beck and call diligently, and securing for themselves the prestige of being useful members of the staff. It is truly that simple, nothing else to worry one’s head about. What’s that? Rumors of the macabre? Well now, certainly every great family holds its own secrets and machinations. Who are we to question their day to day activities? We are there to serve and if that includes having to survive meager bouts of insanity or a run in with some eldritch horror, that strikes me as part of the job and need not be remarked upon! Honestly, you should be more careful not to besmirch the good Blackwood name!

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There are many ways to invest in this ghoulish enterprise but let me regal you with the price points that most intrigue me.

15

At merely fifteen dollars you can find yourself receiving this property in a digital format. This strikes me as the ideal manner to lay purchase on this product if you are of the same like as myself and fear overextending your meager, servant’s, earnings. It is at this level I found myself investing and I shall wait patiently to receive my earned reward.

40

 

If you’ve a mind to be a mite more spendthrift my suggestion would be to find your way to the transaction value of forty dollars. At this level not only would you receive a physical book and the digital copy, but it allows you access to all of the treacherous stretch goals I will go on to further explain if you’ll permit me to elaborate below. Keep mindful of the fact that this price point is by no means the most costly you can find yourself within. If you’ve the financial means to do so your potential rewards for backing can be quite intense!

 

As I made mention above this funding ask has already been met with success. Therefore if you were to wish to involve yourself with its investment you would find, with certainty, in receipt of a final product. At this point they are even successfully unlocking what many call “stretch goals”, or rather items in excess of the initial product itself. Currently those who have invested at a price point of fifteen dollars or more will also find themselves obtaining an adventure entitled Terrible Tale #1, my my no attempt to bury lede on that title eh? There are more terrible little goals in store in the event funding levels reach such heights. If, God forbid, they reach a level of funding that exceeds twenty thousand dollars we will all be subjected to a truly monstrous horror. There would be actual efforts made to create a roleplaying game surrounding the concept of a “Gruel Truck” in some fanciful setting. Why they would subject us to such a morbidly frivolous, indecent game is beyond me. It is simply out of taste! What improper individuals would want such a thing?! Alas, if things keep going as they are you may just see this come to fruition. Lord help us all.

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If it were put upon me to suggest whether or not to back this project I would be forced to lay bare my honest opine on the subject, and emphatically implore you to do so. It is with no regrets that I personally made purchase myself after all and it would be silly of me not to expect the same of you. Do yourself the justice of acquiring this offering will you? I do not doubt you will find yourself pleased. Now, off with you. You’ve a Kickstarter to explore!

Your humble servant,

Melvin

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I suppose you’ll be wanting a “sneak peak”, if you will. Well, if you must. Here is an example of a potential character one might play.

Kickstart that Geek! Dragon Brew Boardgame

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I’m fortunate enough to be friends with one of the team that worked on the development of Dragon Brew, Toby T. Gee.  You may recognize Toby from his blog, Roll and Groove, an excellent read that delves into his twin loves of board gaming and music. If you already follow his work, you may have noticed he hasn’t been as active of late (a loss to us all) but I choose to believe it’s because he has been diligently working with the team behind Dragon Brew to bring it to fruition. Toby helped them edit the rules and rulebook and has joined the rest of the team in marketing it to the masses prior to and during its Kickstarter run. It’s because of this welcomed relationship that I was able to play one of the prototypes of Dragon brew, back in May of last year, at Geekway to the West 2016.

Dragon brew mixes two of my favorite things, board games and craft brewing. Add in the perfect fantasy setting and you have a recipe for good fun. Apparently in “Brumancia”, the fantasy setting for the game, years of bitter war and conflict have been replaced by a brewing competition. If only our world were so noble. As a worker placement game you choose a fantasy race, each with its own special forms of brewing prowess (perhaps they start with more resources, or more gold, etc.). All the players then proceed through a turn of the game, brewing their special beers that they will eventually put before a panel of judges to win victory points for the place earned at each competition. When I played the game I was informed it was still in development but what I played felt pretty polished, and I had a blast playing. The only thing missing in the equation was a nice cold brew to compliment my gameplay (though, if I recall it was like 8am… I mean, I’ve started earlier… but still).

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This is August Games’ first product on Kickstarter but they’ve long been ingrained in the board gaming industry as lovers, and promoters, of the hobby. The man at the helm is Daniel G. George who was one of the founders of the Board Games and Brew podcast. Together with Kate Blevins, Jeff Cornelius, and Tom Lathos they’ve been podcasting about board games and beer since the fall of 2014. Daniel came up with the concept for Dragon Brew while chilling on the beach with his wife and a few brews on a rare sojourn from their children (I totally understand this). Reading his Designers Blog (an excellent read for those interested in the process of building a board game), things apparently just clicked in his head.

“Why not have a game where you take ingredient cards and lay them to make your own beers with custom names?  I grabbed my note book and sketched out cards lining up to create beers. I always ask myself “WHY” when I think of a new mechanic.  Why would players want to do this? What is the goal of the game?  To win prizes at a beer festival of course!  Judges with personalities and unique preferences!”

The wort was mashed, all that remained was a little fermentation of the core engine behind the game, and now of course we are at the bottling stage…ok, enough brewing puns, it might leave a bitter taste (ok, not sorry).

So let’s get into the pricing for the game, shall we? August Games keeps it simple. There are only three options remaining that get you the game.

49-dollars

At $49.00 this is your best bet to get the game at a reduced price. From what I understand the retail price will likely jump to $65.00 post Kickstarter. So basically it’s a good time to buy.

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As you can see, buying in at the future retail price now will get you some extra goodies. Signed stuff is always cool, plus I dig the art!

190-dollars

Getting four copies for $190.00 is a great way for your FLGS to get a head start on shelving the game for future sale. Let them know about it!

At this point the game is already 94% funded, and could very well fund before I hit the “post” button. Backers will get this game, especially considering they’ve also partnered with Quartermaster Logistics (the sister company to Cool Stuff Inc.) for backer reward fulfillment and warehousing. Let’s take a gander at a few of the stretch goals that, while not inevitable, are certainly the next step once this funds! Here are the first three.

I’m a huge fan of the third Stretch Goal. It’s always a lot of fun when a game can boast it’s own style of Meeple. So like its first two stretches, most of the goals focus on adding a variety of playable races to the game. There are already a lot to choose from but adding more sounds like a ton of fun, and likely something you’ll only be able to get as an expansion to the game later on. Another nod toward the solid move it would be to back during the Kickstarter.

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What’s in the box you ask?

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As you can probably tell, I’m geeking out about this game. Get in there quick folks and get a copy. I’d love to see this game shoot through stretch goals! Take care folks!

-Melvs

P.S. With only a little more than one hundred tickets to Geekway to the West 2017 remaining, you might be able to corner Toby and I and force Toby to demo this lovely game for you!

LINKS:

Kickstart that Geek! Dreamchaser

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Find the Kickstarter HERE!

I had a conversation with Pete Petrusha, creator of Dreamchaser and owner of Imagining Games, on twitter about his game. After getting the chance to play it, with notorious RPG Academy hosts Michael and Caleb, I stated that we had “played pretend with just enough crunch to make it a specific game”. I eventually followed it up with mentioning that “That’s all Tabletop games are right? Playing pretend with varying degrees of crunch”. Now, I’m not even the 100th person to say this, it is no special revelation, but there is something special about the Tabletop RPG Dreamchaser that call to mind the “let’s play pretend” aspect of these games more than anything I’ve played in recent memory.

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Dreamchaser is a Tabletop RPG that eschews a specific setting, concrete character classes, or even character abilities. The game outs the onus on the players and the GM to craft these things solely through their own imaginations. Players are encouraged to dream up simple scenarios they might have always wanted to do in an RPG that, for whatever reason, systems in the past haven’t been conducive to. Keeping things within simple phrases, maybe they’ve always wanted to “Climb the (mountain, world tree, tallest building)”, or defeat the (dragon, BBEG, evil god)” you get the idea…maybe even they simply want to “Make the perfect sandwich”, though that is not nearly as simple as it seems from what we found out! This then becomes how your story ends, and getting there requires some milestones and your own imagination.

Obviously it’s is an open system, and one that puts no small amount of pressure on the players to help with crafting the game the group plays. I have not always been a fan of this personally. Many players love it and you’d think I would as well given my background in Improv Theatre and general love of both playing and running games. Frankly though, when I play I like to react to my environment, and effect change to the narrative in that fashion, more than I like to be the impetus of everything going on around me. If I wanted to control the narrative, I’d simply run the game. For example, when I played G.I. Joe Wushu almost a year ago on the RPG Academy Podcast I had fun but the constant need for me to explain the details around me was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t think I’d like playing another game where the I had to be a driving force for so much of the plot itself, but I was wrong.

 

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Where Dreamchaser succeeds is how it handles these player driven narratives in a more collaborative fashion. Sure there are aspects of the game that only you can come up with (mostly character details), but even from the onset when people are adding their “dreams” to the pile of potential picks they get to play off each other’s choices and come together with the ultimate end game scheme. Throughout the game there are numerous times where everyone works together to drive the story along, but it is almost always collaborative. Every now and then, in a heated situation, a player will have to strike out on their own and relay the scene to everyone else but by then the player has developed skills and abilities that can be easily used to narrate the sequence. Add in a simple rolling system, 2d10’s where you are attempting to roll beneath whatever target number is being dictated by your skill and style of approach to the confrontation, and you have just enough crunch to ground the game into a pretty smooth flow.

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I think Pete has something special here. Granted if you’re a crunch lover who genuinely likes the rigidity of systems requiring tactical moves, group balancing, etc. you’ll not find as much of that here, and that’s ok. However, if you want to play a game that leans toward a player driven story-line with a strong enough mechanic backing it to allow for surprises and interesting challenges, you’ll find it here. Plus, the fact that Imagining Games found a way to incorporate starting from the end to truly make the game about the journey adds a remarkably satisfying gameplay element to it. For a game so new, it feels polished.

In my opinion, this game is a no brainer. Buy it, love it. Adore the amazing artwork! Here are my suggestions for levels to back at.

I personally backed this Kickstarter (something I don’t always do, even if I adore the product). I loved the game and I trust Pete to deliver. However, I don’t have a lot of capital so I backed at my reccomended “poor guy” level “Electric Dreams”.

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As you can see, it gets you everything you need to play the game. It just doesn’t provide that satisfying tangibility of a physical book.

If a physical copy, but don’t want to raise your cost much maybe the softcover version is more your speed at prices in the $24-$30 ranges. In my opinion though, if I had the money I’d hit up the “Pretend Box

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For a level that’s pretty much the “get it all” level, $65 is a pretty great price point.

So head on over to the Kickstarter folks! Let me know your thoughts below and, by all means, if you have any questions about the game you feel I didn’t address ask away. Having had the unique pleasure of playing I can likely give you an answer or I can always punt to Pete who I’m sure will answer quickly. Take care dreamers!

-Melv