May 30, 2011

Defenders of the Realm

I had some friends over the other night and we played our first game of Defenders of the Realm. I had first heard of this game a few months ago, and had been wanting to try it. I picked up a copy at PAX, and couldn't wait to play it.

Defenders of the Realm is a fantasy based co-operative board game, for 1-4 players ages 13 and up. An average game takes about 2 hours. As a co-operative game, the players work together to a common goal - the game has similar mechanics as Arkham Horror, if you are familiar with that game. The art for the game is all done by Larry Elmore, and it is awesome!

Each player takes the role of a Hero (Cleric, Dwarf, Eagle Rider, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, or Wizard) and you must defend the King and save the lands from the Evil Bad Guys (Balazarg, Gorgutt, Sapphire, and Varkolak)

The game comes in a large box with a ton of stuff:
  • Rulebook
  • 24" x 30" Game Board
  • 8 Hero Character Cards
  • 8 Hero Miniatures
  • 4 General Character Cards
  • 4 General Miniatures
  • 100 Minions [25 Black (Varkolak’s Undead) 25 Blue (Sapphire’s Dragonkin) 25 Red (Balazarg’s Demons) 25 Green (Gorgutt’s Orcs)]
  • War Status Board
  • Deck of 56 Darkness Spreads Cards (these are used to spread the Bad Guys around the world)
  • Deck of 96 Hero Cards (these are multipurpose cards that are used with actions
  • Deck of 24 Quest Cards (these are side quests that get that reward the Heros)
  • 12 Tainted Crystals
  • 5 Magic Gate Tokens
  • 12 Dice -3 per color (Black, Blue, Red, Green)
  • 7 Status Tokens (War Status, 4 General Wound Markers, 2 Eagle Rider Status)
  • 42 Life Tokens
The miniatures are plastic, but I think I might paint the Heros and the Generals to make them look even cooler.

Each players turn is comprised of 3 phases:
  • Daytime - player takes a number of actions equal to their number of Life Tokens. Actions are movement, using a special skill, listening for rumours at an inn, building a magic gate, healing the land, healing wounds, engaging enemy minons in combat, or engaging enemy Generals in combat.
  • Evening - player draws 2 Hero cards to their hand
  • Night - badness happens!! This is the time when the Bad Guys advance and Try to Take Over the World.
Players win the game by defeating all 4 generals. Players loose the game if any of the following occur:
  • any of the 4 generals move into Monarch City
  • if a Darkness Spreads Card identifies minions to be placed on the board and you do not have enough minions to meet the requirements of the card
  • the last of the 12 Tainted Crystals is added to the board
  • if 5 enemy minions are in Monarch City at any time
My friends and I had a fun time playing this game. I think the first run through is a bit slower as you are refering back to the rulebook a lot, but as you become familiar with the rules it will go faster.

Yes, we won our game, but it was close. We were so focused on defeating the minions and Generals, we sort of forgot about the Taint spreading across the world. I think we were at 11 Taint crystals (12 looses the game) when we defeated the last General!

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer

May 26, 2011


Thunderstone is a fantasy-themed deck building card game from Alderac Entertainment Group. It is for 1 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, and the average game takes about an hour. That's right - this game has solo rules.

The base game comes with over 500 cards and the goal is to build your deck with stronger and stronger heroes and better weapons and gear to defeat the monsters until you finally claim the Thunderstone. There are three expansion sets for the game as well (Doomgate Legion, Dragonspire, and Wrath of the Elements).

The setup for the game can take a while at first, until you get used to it. Learn from my error - the cards come in groupings so don't mix them up. :-) Once you get a handle on the setup and sort the cards properly, setup becomes much quicker.

You don't use all the cards in every game. To determine what will be in the game, you use the special randomizer cards - there are randomizer cards for each type of Hero cards, Village cards, and Monster cards. To start, find the monster cards that match what you picked from the randomizer - shuffle these together to form the Dungeon Deck. Count off 10 of these, shuffle in the special Thunderstone Card, and put them on the bottom of the pile. Leave space beside the Dungeon Deck for the 3 ranks of Monsters to defeat.

Next you set up the Village. There are the four types of Basic cards that are used in every game of Thunderstone - Militia, Torch, Iron Rations, and Dagger. Additionally there are the Village cards chosen by the randomizer cards. Do NOT shuffle the Village cards - each type is put on the table in its own pile.

Last thing to set up are the Heroes - for each class of Hero there are 3 levels, and each is piled with the level 3 cards on the bottom and the level 1 cards on top.

To start, each player draws 6 Militia cards, 2 Dagger cards, 2 Iron Ration cards, and 2 Torch cards. Shuffle these together and draw 6 cards to form your hand. The remaining 6 cards stay face down as your Party Deck. As you play the game you discard cards into your discard pile and work through your Party Deck. Only once the Party Deck is gone do you shuffle the discard pile and place it face down to form your Party Deck. Each time you purchase cards or defeat monsters the cards go into your discard pile, so the deck gets bigger all the time. In some circumstances cards are destroyed - so they go into a separate pile and are not shuffled back into your Party Deck.

On your turn you have 3 options - you can Visit the Village, Enter the Dungeon, or Rest:

1) If you Visit the Village you reveal you hand, count up the amount of gold you have (indicated on the cards in your hand) and can purchase one card with a value up to the amount of gold you have. You can buy items, weapons, spells, or heroes. Anything you buy goes into your discard pile. If you have enough experience points, you can also choose to level up any or all of the Hero cards in your hand. At the end of your turn you discard all cards in your hand (whether you used them or not) and draw 6 new cards from your Party deck.

2) If you Enter the Dungeon you reveal your hand, declare what monster you are attacking, and resolve the combat. If you defeat the monster you put that card in your discard pile. Shift the monster cards on the table to fill empty ranks from the Dungeon Deck (ie if you defeated the monster in Rank 2, move the monster from Rank 3 to Rank 2, and draw a new monster card and place it in Rank 3). At the end of your turn you discard all cards in your hand (whether you used them or not) and draw 6 new cards from your Party deck.

3) If you choose to Rest you may Destroy one card from your hand (remove it from the game, it does not go in your discard pile). At the end of your turn you discard all cards in your hand (whether you used them or not) and draw 6 new cards from your Party deck.

The game continues until a player has collected the Thunderstone or the Thunderstone moves to Rank 1 of the Dungeon because a monster was not defeated. Each player then counts the amount of Victory Points they have (not all cards have Victory Point values) and the player with the highest total wins.

Overall the game is a ton of fun. There are a few suggestions I would make - I think the pictures on the Hero cards should be different for each level so you can easily see what level it is (eg perhaps older, or better equipment). I think the biggest challenge of this game is keeping the cards in order :-)

I would highly recommend this game to anyone who has played Dominion or Ascension, or anyone looking to get into a non-collectible card game.

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer

May 23, 2011

Cthulhu Dice

Cthulhu Dice is a quick dice and token game from Steve Jackson Games – makers of some of my favourite games! The game is for 2-6 players and most games last 5-10 minutes. The game comes with a big custom 12 side die, 18 glass tokens, and the rule sheet. At this point there are 6 colour variants on the cool Cthulhu die:

Black Green Glow in the dark die
Yellow Purple Glow in the dark ink

Like most games of this sort, the mechanics themselves are quite simple and straight forward. Each player starts with 3 sanity tokens. The attacking player (the Caster) chooses who to attack (the Victim) and rolls the die. Deal with the result (see below) and then the Victim gets to respond by rolling the die and dealing with the result. The die is then passed to the next player and the sequence repeats. The game ends when only 1 player has any sanity left at the end of a turn. If no one has any sanity left, then Cthulhu wins!

The die has 5 different symbols on it, each with a different effect:
Yellow Sign – your target loses 1 Sanity to Cthulhu (put Sanity token in the middle of the table)
Tentacle – Caster takes 1 Sanity from the Victim (no matter who rolled it)
Elder Sign – you gain 1 Sanity from Cthulhu
Cthulhu – everyone loses 1 Sanity to Cthulhu
Eye – Choose any result above

This game (similar to Zombie Dice) is a great game to play when you have a few minutes to kill.

Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!!

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer

May 21, 2011

ElfQuest free online!

Wow, the complete ElfQuest comic is now available online!

If you have never read ElfQuest, or if it has been years, run (don't walk) and go read this! ElfQuest is a classic...

May 20, 2011

Death Star PR: FLOWCHART: How to Deal With Your Impending Doom

Death Star PR: FLOWCHART: How to Deal With Your Impending Doom: "FORM 2B/N07-2B: NOTIFICATION OF IMPENDING DOOM Dear Citizen of Planet ________________________, It has come to our attention that you..."

Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice is a great dice game from Steve Jackson Games. According to the dice cup, the game is for 2 or more players, will take 10-20 minutes, and is recommended for ages 10 and up. Caution: it's not for children under 3. So what about the 4-9 year olds, eh? Should they be cheated of the glamour and honour of being a zombie?! I guess that's up to their parents to decide.

The game comes in a cool dice cup, and has 13 dice (6 green, 4 yellow, and 3 red) that represent your human victims. The goal is to eat 13 brains without getting shotgunned 3 times.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward:

- shake the dice in the attractive and functional dice cup
- choose 3 dice without looking (no cheating now, I'm watching you!)
- roll the aforementioned 3 dice
- move any dice that came up brains to your left (mmm...brains...) Brains are good.
- move any dice that come up shotguns to your right (BANG! owie...) Shotguns are bad.
- any footprints? Those are the ones that got away. That means you don't get to eat them this time. Leave these dice in front of you.

So, unless you rolled 3 shotguns you get to make a decision - stop and score, or play on. I recommend playing on, what are the chances you will roll shotgun? Besides, you are already undead, what do you have to lose!?

If you choose to stop and score, you get 1 point for each brain you rolled (write this down somewhere - I recommend using your opponent's forehead). Remember the goal is to consume 13 delicious squishy brains (say it with me: mmm...brains...) Put all the dice in the attractive and functional dice cup and pass to the next player.

If you decide to play on, well then you are pretty damn cool in my books! Did you roll any footprints last time? If so, you get to re-roll those dice and add additional dice from the cup to total 3 dice. So if you rolled 3 foot prints last time, then just re-roll those 3. If you rolled 2 footprints last time, pick another die from the cup so you are rolling 3 dice. Got it? Need me to explain further?

Lather, rinse, repeat as above - moving brains to the left, shotguns to the right, and footprints in the middle. But beware - if you are up to 3 shotguns then your turn is over and you score NO POINTS! That is bad - it means the humans won, and we can't let the damn humans win!

But wait, there's more! Remember the dice colours I mentioned above? Did you think those were just for aesthetic pleasantness?! Well, guess again bucko, it's way more nefarious than that! You see, there are a different number of each type of symbol on the different colour dice:

Green: 3 brains, 2 footprints, 1 shotgun
Yellow: 2 brains, 2 footprints, 2 shotguns
Red: 1 brain, 2 footprints, 3 shotguns

Pretty damn clever of you, Steve Jackson Games...

I recommend you pick yourself up a set of Zombie Dice, it's a fast and easy game you can play pretty much anywhere. Waiting for your dinner to arrive? Play some Zombie Dice! Waiting for your evening gaming session to start? Play some Zombie Dice! Waiting in a lineup at PAX? Play some Zombie Dice!

Originally published at Pretty Gamer.

It LIVES!!!!

I am bringing this blog back to life. I took a break and was writing for Pretty Gamer, but that has sadly petered out. I will be re-posting a number of my articles from Pretty Gamer here, as well as new things that catch my interest.