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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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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…

Collective Action

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I blame X-Wing for a lot of things. I blame it for making me read more than is decent about the expanding universe of Star Wars. I blame it for the gaping hole in my bank balance. Most of all, though, I blame it for turning me from a player into a collector.

Those of your who’ve been with us for the long haul will remember the amount of words I used to lavish on getting people to play their games. All the dire warnings against acquiring another identikit cube pusher when so many gamers already don’t play the ones they have. Part of me still wants to believe that. In reality, the tottering piles of hardly-touched games and expansions tottering out of shelves and cupboards all over my house say otherwise.

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Cracked LCD- XCOM in Review…at the Review Corner @ Miniaturemarket.com!

 

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Cue the fanfare and raise the curtain, it’s time to unveil The Review Corner @ Miniaturemarket.com! This is a project myself and a crack team of writers have been working on in secret since early February and we’re happy to finally roll it out to the public. It’s an idea that was cooked up by my man Charlie Theel- he pitched the concept of starting a regular reviews feature at Miniature Market’s site and they were totally on board. What’s more, they are committed to developing the feature into a leading source for high quality, authoritative games writing. Continue Reading…

Cracked LCD- Luchador: The Mexican Wrestling Dice Game in Review

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When you open a box of Luchador: The Mexican Wrestling Dice Game, if you don’t crack a smile when  you see that the game comes with a 3D, cardboard wrestling ring with elastic ropes – not to mention lots of custom dice and colorfully illustrated, oversized character stand ups and faux championship belts- then obviously you and I are delighted by very different things. If you also don’t understand right from the get-go that this is a fun-first design geared toward generating as many cheers and jeers as possible rather than one for the pensive brow-furrowing, beard-scratching set, then Luchador might not be one for your collection. But if you are in the market for a rowdy, raucous event game that manages to almost completely encapsulate everything that makes dice games great, then Mark Rivera’s brilliant design is going to put you down for the one-two-three count. Continue Reading…

Cracked LCD- Bullfrogs in Review

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Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, German publishing house Kosmos had a pretty good run with a line of inexpensive, small-box “Games for Two”. Lost Cities is probably the best known of this lot and it is emblematic of these games- easy to learn, easy to play and with a good mixture of skill and luck that accommodates replayabilty. Kevin Matejka’s Bullfrogs is a decade and a half too late to be one of these games, its  box is the wrong size and it is a one to four player design but it very much reminds me of this type of small-scale Eurogame. If it were 1999 or 2000, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the game next to Kahuna or Hellas. But unlike some of those games that are still popular or at least fondly remembered today, Bullfrogs might not be as evergreen. Continue Reading…

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