Tyranny of Dragons and Princes of the Apocalypse Review

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Fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons might be the best ever, but the release schedule is molasses slow. That’s on purpose: fans have said they want it that way to give them time to develop their own campaigns.

What’s out so far, though is epic in scope. There’s the two-volume Tyranny of Dragons comprised of Hoard of the Dragon Queen followed by Rise of Tiamat. Now we’ve got Princes of the Apocalypse. Both are full campaigns, starting at level one and going up to fifteen.

The similarities end there, however. In fact, these two adventures are fine examples of the two main, contrasting, approaches to adventure building.

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Cracked LCD- Fallen in Review

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Fallen-LogoFallen, a new title from Watchtower Games designed by Tom W. Green III and Stephen C. Smith is a very, very interesting piece of work. I don’t think it quite gets to where it needs to be going, but it is definitely headed in the right direction. And that destination is something that has really kind of eluded game designers for decades- using the contained structure of board or card games to tell an RPG-style story. But usually, what happens is that you wind up with either something that is too mechanical (Magic Realm), too simplified (Talisman), more of a tactical miniatures game (Descent) or are quite far removed from the concept of telling a story and rolling dice against some statistics to see what happens (Mage Knight). More specifically, they tend to miss that having a sort of referee that also engages in crafting a collusive, living narrative with you is kind of the point of an RPG.

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Trains and Trains: Rising Sun Review

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The deckbuilding mechanic of Dominion was the most revolutionary thing in the last decade of tabletop gaming. Many other games have build on that creativity. Yet after all that time and all those titles, deckbuilding still feels like a mechanic struggling to find its place in the world.

It’s an inherently insular thing. Demanding significant setup time and forcing players to obsess over their own constructions while ignoring everyone else. Nightfall and Star Realms added more interaction, but it wasn’t enough. A Few Acres of Snow briefly looked like a miraculous saviour but got crushed under the Halifax Hammer.

Enter Trains.

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Cracked LCD- Imperial Assault Villain/Ally Packs in Review

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Well, I didn’t like Imperial Assault that much but here I am still playing it. Thanks, friends! Since I’m forced into servitude, running this game for them, I thought I’d take a look at the villain and ally packs. I think they’re a pretty crap way to expand the game, basically just serving like day one DLC to complete your purchase of an already expensive base set. The value is negligible, but at least some new options for skirmish are available now. The review this week is at the Review Corner over on Miniaturemarket.com.

Cracked LCD- Hearthstone in Review (again)

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OK, so for most folks this is a way, way late review since Hearthstone has been out now for over a year, not including time in Beta. It’s also a review that might stir up an obnoxious debate as to whether the digital CCG should be regarded as a video game instead of a tabletop game. And almost certainly, lamentations about it being free-to-play and supported by IAPs – let alone that it is a collectible card game that requires that you actually pay for it if you want to be competitive- will certainly follow. And this is also the second time I’ve reviewed Hearthstone. Last time was just over a year ago here on No High Scores.

But here’s the deal. Hearthstone recently released its long-awaited iPhone-friendly update and I’ve been playing it almost non-stop since. I had played the IOS edition briefly when it first came out as an iPad-only release, but because that device is almost always covered in the sticky remnants of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and clogged up with countless Lego, Disney and Angry Birds apps for the kids I didn’t really dig in for the long haul. Now that it’s in my pocket, I can play it all day long. So now it’s time for me to issue forth (again) on what I think is one of the most significant games to date that has married the strands of tabletop and video game design.

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #231

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week Holly is back and the gang is all geared up to talk about Steam’s abbreviated attempt to implement a compensation system for mod creators. Also, Holly’s E3 prep, Brandon goes for a jaunt down Sunset Overdrive, and Todd’s sitting around waiting for The Witcher 3.

Thanks for listening! (You can contact Brandon at Brandon@NoHighScores.com/@misterbinky, Todd at Todd@NoHighScores.com/@ubrakto and Holly at @winnersusedrugs.)

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Jumping the Shark Podcast #230

No High Scores Podcast Logo

Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For episode #230 it’s the Todd and Brandon show one more time as Todd continues to gush over Pillars of Eternity, Brandon explains why he stopped playing it to start playing Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and then they take a little detour into the town of Salem for Murdered: Soul Suspect. Wrapping up there’s a bit of an argument over going home with Chewie in the the new Star Wars trailer. Good times.

Thanks for listening! (You can contact Brandon at Brandon@NoHighScores.com/@misterbinky, Todd at Todd@NoHighScores.com/@ubrakto and Holly at @winnersusedrugs.)

(Posted this to NHS a bit late. The full gang will be in the house for episode #231, posting on Monday 5/4.)

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Star Wars: Armada Review

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It takes about a New York minute between seeing a copy of the X-Wing base game and wondering what a Star Destroyer model might look like at that scale. In that minuscule time frame, Star Wars: Armada became an inevitability.

In truth, the Star Destroyer in any scale is almost bound to ruin the look of the game. Even here it looks enormous, and dwarfs the spindly Rebel ships that oppose it. The quality of the paint jobs seems to have gone down a notch, too. Armada just doesn’t have the same visual appeal as its illustrious predecessor.

So it’s a good job that it’s a much better game.

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Cracked LCD- Super Fantasy: Ugly Snouts Assault in Review @ Review Corner

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This week’s review is over at Miniature Market’s Review Corner, and it’s a good one.

“Five years ago, there were barely any dungeon crawl games on the market. Kevin Wilson’s Doom board game from 2004 eventually led to Descent, which sort of put the genre back on the map. Just a half decade and a couple of Space Hulk reprints later, there are tons of these kinds of games out there largely thanks to Kickstarter campaigns for mediocre attempts at recapturing the feeling of playing Heroquest or Warhammer Quest in the 1990s. But there have been a couple of great hall-crawling, hack-and-slash titles to come out of this boom, and Marco Valtriani’s Super Fantasy: Ugly Snouts Assault is most definitely one of them.”

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Cracked LCD- Assault on Doomrock in Review

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My first impressions of Assault on Doomrock, a new co-op adventure game all the way from Poland courtesy designer Tom Stasiak, were “wow, this game is a mess” and after getting completely mauled by the Beasts of Doom in the first battle, “wow, this game is really freakin’ hard.” It took a couple of tentative games worth of head-scratching and rules-checking before the two halves of this stunningly original design coalesced and my reaction shifted to “wow, this game is really interesting.” And then back to “wow, this game is really freakin’ hard”. Continue Reading…

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