Random Encounters

Ezine and Gamer Resource for Springfield, Mo Area Gamers

Game Reviews, Old & New

Here on this page of the website, I will be reviewing games, both old and new to help give people an idea of what to expect when they buy a game to play, and help assist them when deciding which new game to add to their collections. Each game is given a rating out of 20 on a 20-sided dice

Current Reviews:
Century Spice Road

I've been trying out a whole lot of new games lately. Probably one of the best of the new games I've played is the first in a series of 3 games that are set to come out in an anticipated one per year schedule. The first game being Century Spice Road.

Century Spice Road is a great resource gathering/victory point game that utilizes a variation on the whole deckbuilding concept. In the game, you have a choice every turn of one action:

  • Acquire a card from a line-up of cards, the one in the first slot being free, and each slot down the line costing one of your spice cubes.

  • Play a card from your hand, which allows you to manipulate your store of spices in some way by either gaining, trading, or upgrading them in value.

  • Buy a victory card, by spending a specified spice alotment.

  • or you can Rest, which is the only way to take up your spent and acquired cards so they can be used later

The game ends when someone has 6 victory cards. The gameplay is relatively fast, taking no more than 45 mins to an hour to play through even with a full complement of 5 players. The strategy can get intense, and the play is enjoyable throughout. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the game though is the production value that you get. The game incluldes small cubes of colored wood that represent each of the 4 spices you trade in. The game comes with 4 cups to hold the cube bank that fit in the box's contoured molded packaging. There are 5 player cards, one of which is marked with the first player logo so you can randomly shuffle and figure out who goes first. There is also a victory card deck and a trading deck to round out the game. All in all, this is a great value prouction-wise for only 40 bucks. I highly recommend this game if you haven't tried it yet. There is a demo copy currently at MetaGames if you want to check it out!

Type: Card/Board Game
Genre: Trading/Resource Mgmt
MSRP:$39.9t


Rating:

GravWell: Escape from the 9th Dimension

So, Me and the Girlfriend tried this game today over at Cave Turkey from their Demo Shelf. I gotta say, for such a simple game, it is pretty frustrating in the amount of strategy you need to win.

GravWell is a race from 1 to 4 players to see if you can escape a Gravity well and make it to the warp point to get out of the pull of a singulairty. The rub? Every body of sufficient size has its own gravitational pull, which includes the other starships around you. These are the ships of the other players, plus from one to two derelict ships that's crew must have died in the attempt to escape the singularity. This means that you have to try to slingshot youorself past the other ships to be the first one to make it out in the 6 rounds of play. Either that, or just be the closest to escaping, without getting oneself locked up tight between two ships in a grav-lock.

The game only lasts for 6 rounds, each round consisting of 6 movement maneuvers. Each round also starts with a draft where you draft the cards you will be playing in the round. The cards are dealt out, 3 for each player in the game, face down and then on top of each of these cards is dealt, face up, a second card. Each player then takes turns shoosing one of the stackks of two to add to their hand for the round. The strategy really comes in when your drafting. The cards have letters on them corresponding to elements from the periodic table. The letters of a card indicate it's initiative order, based on the first Capital Letter on the card. A goes first, then B, etc... The tricky part is, there are also Repulsor cards that move you away from gravity sources instead of towards them, and tractor beams, that move all other ships closer to you. As you only know one of each pair of cards you draft, the trickier partisusing the facedown card you didn't anticipate in your hand.

GravWell is a quick game with a set number of turns, but can be infinitely replayable given the strategy involved and different numbers of players affecting the outcome. Not the highest rated game I've played recently, but a good solid investment if you like this sort of thinking.

Type: Card/Board Game
Genre: Outerspace/Sci-fi
MSRP:$35.00


Rating:

Myythic

Note: This is an ongoing playtest/review, scores may change

So I tried a new RPG today with 2 of the designers of said game. The game in question is called Myythic and it bills itself as a RPG without DM.

In Myythic, you play one of several races and classes in a fantasy setting. The game features extremely simple combat rules and a mullegan system tht allows any player to basically effect what's going on in the story at any time, by 'suggesting' an encounter by declaring either Creature, Beast, Trap, or Random Event. These declarations are free to do anytime, and then you roll on tables in the books to find out what happens. Another use of mullegans is to 'Cancel out a threat or in soe other way change the current conditions in some way. Each player has a limited number of these kinds of mullegans to use in the adventure. We didn't get to when they refressh, so I can't tell you that yet.

As for the bookkeeping, this is spread among the players mostly, with one person being the 'BookKeeper' who looks up things in game. Another player is the Note Taaker who keeps track of the Encountered things Health and Bonuses, and someone can also keep track of the map. In addition to this, the game has a companion Website that keeps track of certain Scenario Elements like which directions you can go from a given location, and certain plot driven items you might fifnd in given locations. They are in works on making both an Advanced version of the game, and a Book-form of the website for those going completely unplugged in play.

This game is still under review by me, so I'm not going to give it an overall dice rating as of yet, however, I enjoyed the session I experienced so far and look forward to exploring the game further in the future. You can check out Myythic and the companies other projects on their website, CactyysTotemGaming.com (and yes, that double 'yy' is not a type-o


UPDATE: So, I've played another session of Myythic this last Tuesday, and I have to say I'm really liking the gameplay so far. We had a more active player in the group this time. For a game like this, that means there was a lot more going on, as the more the players participate, the more that actually happens in the game. Players control call-out actions. They can, at anytime, call either Beast, Creature, Trap, or Random Event, and then with a couple of table look-ups in the book, you get an encounter or random event to happen. This can of course affect how fast you level, among other things, as you can increase the number of creatures you fight, thus leveling faster, but if you want a slower, more sedate pace, you can call out far fewer call-outs, and rely on the planned encounters that come with the web-enhanced adventures.

The game is set up to come with an adventure modular system. You buy the basic core book, and it supports a particular campaign set, and then there is web-enhanced supplimental material to keep things fresh (book version pending for those unplugged). When you want to do another campaign, you buy the next modular installment, or a different one, as eventually I'm sure they hope to have several available. In addition to these basic modular systems, the game is also planning to release an advanced book with more advanced modular content that can be used with the various campaigns. Their monsters are also included in the core book, fully statted out. They do have a Compendium of Beasts on offer, but unlike other games, the Beast Compendium (and one assumes, other future compendiums) will focus more on the flavor and background of the creatures, including images, while allowing the main stats to be available in the core adventures.

All in all, I'm finding the basic game of Myythic to be engaging and well thought out. I'm hoping to soon get to do some playtesting of the more vanced rules options that will be included in their upcoming advanced book. I have included a tentative rating for the game out of 20, but realize that as this is a role-playing game, the review is going to be an ongoing process, and this rating may go up or down as more and more is experienced in the game. Right now, I'm loving the symplicity, the web-enhancements, the storyline is engaging, and what there is of the game is fairly easy to use.

Type: RPG
Genre: Fantasy
MSRP:$29.95
Monster Compendium:$29.95
# of Players: 1 to ???(open)



Hero Realms

For those of you out there who enjoy a good deck-buider, Hero Realms is definitely one your going to want to check out for yourselves. From the makers of Star Realms, this fantasy-based variation on that game is a ton of fun in a small package.(My Girlfriend keeps it in her purse most of the time ready).

This deck builder can generally be played, start to end, in 30 mins to an hour and supports upto 4 players out of the box. You can also pick up one of 5 different Character expansions that turn your basic hero into a classic hero from a game like Dungeons & Dragons. These expansion packs enable you to play as a Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Thief, or Ranger, and each comes with 2 special ability cards that start in play from turn one, and a custom starting deck of themed cards to aid their class, as well as rules for alternate set-up when using the character itself.

All in all, if you love fantasy, and love deck-builders, this is by far one of the best of its kind out there and guaranteed to provide hours of fun for you and yours.

Type: Deck-builder
Genre: Fantasy
MSRP:$19.99
Character Packs:$4.99ea
# of Players: 2-4
(2-5 w/Character Packs)

Rating:

Spellcaster

A great game I finally had a chance to try out just yesturday. Spellcaster is a great head to head game with its own unique mechanic. The game is designed for 2 players going at it as great wizards fighting to amass Power Sapphires while draining the Energy from their opponents.

The game utilizes 4 different realms or schools of magic, as signified by the 4 colors of the cards available in play. Yellow, Red, Green, and Blue. The game comes with 4 'boards' one for each color, which you lay out in a row between the two wizards. During play, each wizard takes turns playing spells onto the 4 boards, taking control of them. Only the one who played a spell can use it, as signified by the facing of the card on top of a board's stack. Each turn, a player gets 1 card draw for free, and then can do 2 actions, either draw another card, play a spell down, or activate a spell already on the board facing him. Some spells also automatically activate each turn the controlling player has. There is no maximum hand size in the game so battles can get rather fierce after awhile, especially with spells that are dependent on cards in hand.

The game also has a Potions expansion that replaces 5 of each colored card with 5 new cards each(randomly remove 5 of each and shuffle the 20 new cards in) that are all potion themed. The expansion comes with little potion bottles as another resource that these new cards refer to and it adds another level of ruthless complexity to the game's overall strategy.

The game can also be played by 3 or 4 players, with the 3 player game being a 2-vs-1 game, and the 4 player version being a team competition of 2-vs-2. The game overall is quick and easy to pick up, and takes about 20 mins to play through, so it's a great game for those just looking at a short amount of play time

Type: Card Game
Genre: Fantasy
MSRP:$19.99
Potions Expansion:$9.99ea
# of Players: 2-4


Rating:

Red Dragon Inn

This game has been around for a little while now, but there are still several people who have not had a chance to give it a try. The game has several expansions, although personally I stick to just the first two sets when I play.

What happens when the adventure is over, and everyone needs to unwind? Head on over to the Red Dragon Inn to decompress and have a few drinks! Red Dragon Inn is a game where the adventurers are done fighting the monsters, and are ready for some good old fashioned drinking and gambling. Of course, knowing our stalwart adventurers like we do, no simple night of drinking and gambling ensues, but rather a raucous hilarious fun time of attacking familiers, drunken half-ogres, and cheating bards take over the local tavern.

Each player is represented by their own custom deck. Each deck is similar, but has its own uniqueness to it as well. Decks are comprised of Action cards, Sometime Cards, Anytime Cards, and Gambling cards that you use to help keep ahold of your small pile of gold coins, your Fortitude, and your sobriety. Working against you are the other players' decks, as well as the infamous Drink Deck. Each player has a single track on their board that runs from 20 to 0. You start with a Red bead on 20, representing your Fortitude, and a white bead on 0, representing your current Alcohol level. As you play, these beads slowly work their way towards each other, and if they ever meet or pass, you are eliminated.

All in all, this is a wonderful game, and highly addictive. It's been played so much at local conventions that people are finally starting to get burned out on it, at least until a new victim...er...player picks it up and starts the craze all over again. Well worth the price and time, but realize that after awhile people will get bored with it if you obsess over the game like many do.

Type: Card Game
Genre: Fantasy
MSRP:$25.99
Expansions:Varied
# of Players: 2-4(base)
+4 players per expansion
+1 player per individual deck exp.


Rating: