Assault on Doomrock

Assault on Doomrock is a co-op fantasy adventure game greatly inspired by computer roleplaying games like World of Warcraft or League of Legends. We were hoping it would be the spiritual successor to Talisman or Runebound and hopefuly fix the flaws of those older games. It kind of does! There’s some neat improvements and a very cool combat system.

Stinky witch!

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First off, you get your character which is a mix and match of a trait card and a class card. I was a Stinky Witch with a garlic breath ability! Jan was a frustrated ranger. Yes, the game is a bit silly. It has a light-hearted fantasy feel to it that puts you in a mood of sitting around with your friends, eating chips and thinking of funny reasons why your ranger is so frustrated.

Adventure phase

As a party we have to face two waves of monsters and zip through the world deck so we can have the boss fight at Doom Rock. The game is divided into adventure phases and combat phases. The adventure phase gives you time to level up, go shopping, find new gear and try to get an advantage. Here you pay for actions with time tokens and when your chips are gone it’s fighting time!

Adventuring

The adventure phase is a bit weird. Every card gives you few options: There might be an abandoned temple you dig into and search for treasure, a shop you can go haggle at or rob, etc. You want to take advantages of the opportunities here, but you also have to rush through the cards to make sure you get to Doom Rock in time. In our game we ended up skipping many options here because getting to Doom Rock was more important. And we didn’t really feel like we had to make hard decisions. The cards all seemed kind of, well, skippable. That wasn’t very exciting.

It’s supposed to have a bit of a puzzle feel to it where you weigh off the benefits of getting more gear and levels to the risks of exposing yourself and getting a few debuffs that will hurt you in the combat phase with the added pressure of having to move through the deck. But this phase doesn’t feel weighty enough to have much impact. We’ve only played it once so far, so perhaps it far more vital and tense than I realise now… but it didn’t feel like it.

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Combat phase

Now, combat! Combat is really kind of cool! All of the heroes and the baddies are represented by discs and you put all of those discs on the table. It doesn’t really matter where you put who, because there’s only two states these guys can be in: Adjacent or not. Is your disc touching another disc? Then the two of you are adjacent and you can use all the abilities that gives you. If you aren’t touching, you are free and one movement will get you adjacent to any disc you’d like. It’s very neat and elegant. No movement tables, speed modifiers or graph paper!

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Then there’s your moves. Each of them has a number on it. At the start of each round you roll dice and get to reroll them twice. If you don’t have the number you need for your move, you can’t use it! I quite like this too, it keeps you from spamming your best move all the time. Or at least makes you pay a cost for it if that’s how you want to play. The moves themselves are also quite cool and often offer lots of combo options with other people’s moves. Man, I love figuring out combo’s!

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After everyone’s done their thing, it’s the enemies time to act. They are programmed with cards especially for their type. Every monster gets his own card move. This really makes them feel like CPRG (computer roleplaying) enemies. We fought guys that would armor up every round, charge you, disarmor you and hit you – they had a focused tactic that we had to deal with. It makes battles very exciting. You get the idea that if the bad guys are strategising so you had better be too. Well done!

Wot I think

All of this gives combat a very heavy CRPG feel. We were playing with some CRPG junkies so we easily slipped into the lingo. “I will go tank these guys”, “Oh, you procced that debuff”, “Okay, so basically these guys have Divine Shield”. It was very interesting to see the games we all know and love so well in a cardboard version.

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But… one of the nice things about computer games is that they’re fast. This game turns out to be pretty slow! Everyone had to do their moves, and then there’s quite a long phase where you pull monster move after monster move and have to implement them all. It’s not neccessarily boring, because you are continuously moving around markers, adding chits and managing the board. But it does take a lot of time. It took us maybe three hours to play two rounds? I’m sure that’ll go faster when we are more accustomed to the game, but I don’t think it’ll get up to a speed that I will find enjoyable for frequent play.

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag. This is the best fantasy combat RPG I’ve played and it’s filled with exciting innovative ideas, especially in the combat phase. But the adventure phase doesn’t measure up at all, and the end result is still a slow game. I like it, but I’m afraid it might just not be my genre.

I’m sorry, you guys, I have a really short attention span!

 

Kingsburg: To forge a realm

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I made sure people had roleplay games to play, but stayed more of the board game side of things myself this weekend. So while people in the living room played a Hogwarts version of Fiasco, we played Kingsburg and its expansion in the kitchen.

Kingsburg is a nice worker placement game, only the workers are dice that you roll every turn. The number on your dice determine where you can put them. While you build up your town you have to make sure to keep your defenses up. Goblins, Barbarians or Demons can show up outside your door and raid your settlement!

There’s a definite luck factor, but I have never been able to win a game of Kingburgs – so it can’t just be random chance! I got dice screwed again this time, and lost a fair few resources to a horde of demons at the gates.

The expansion adds a lot more variability. We only played with one of the expansion modules, the one that adds strips of buildings to your town. “Why can’t we play with all the new things?” the men, cultists of the new, complained. Because of the replay value! Anyway, the module was nice, because it means not everyone is tapping from the same buildings. My building strategy went nowhere (as usual, I just can’t get a good overview).  The guys raced to the end neck-a-neck.

Despite my bad luck and low skill at this game (or maybe because of it?) I really love this game. I look forward to trying out all the new modules!

 

Castles of Burgundy

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We played Castles of Burgundy with Geert and his coworker Wim. I’d heard a lot of good things about it. It’s a feld game that uses the dice-as-workers mechanic we know from Kingsburg. You can use those workers to buy and place a bunch of tiles that all have different bonusses. Chaining those bonuses up for great effect is one of the fun things of the game.

As usual when playing a new game, I just picked a strategy that looked good and ran with it. I focused on mines and sheep, and let the men worry about shipping and castles. It worked well and I eeked out a nice win.

There was a bit of comic relief with Wim’s insistence that the key to the game was ‘consistency’, something which he would always forgo on his turn, only to loudly regret it later again.