I don’t recall doing a Boardgame/Cardgame review for a while, so here’s two short ones at once!
Penny Arcade Deck Building Game:
I hadn’t heard that many reviews about this game before I played it. The one or two that I did hear weren’t the most shiningly positive either. And to be honest, I don’t know why this is the case.
Long story short, I went out to do some LARP weapon practice with some friends on Sunday, the rain kicked in with a vengeance, so we scuttled indoors and ended up playing this.
If you’ve played deck building games before, this will be very quick to pick up. Even if you haven’t, the simplistic nature of the rules would be a boon to someone who wants to try deck builders. Each player starts with a number of token and power cards depending on which character they’ve randomly picked, and every turn they use the total number of tokens and power in their current hand to buy more cards to add to their deck. Rinse, repeat until 6 stacks of the buyable cards have been depleted or until one of the boss characters has been defeated. Many of the cards you buy have additional effects that either benefit you or hinder your opponents. The winner of the game is the player that has accrued the most victory points, which are depicted as stars with number on the bottom of some of the cards.
If you are familiar with Thunderstone or Dominion, there’s even equivalents of diseases/curses in the form of “PaxPox” which Penny Arcade fans will definitely recall.
Being our first couple of playthroughs, none of us were making too much effort to read each card in great detail when we were purchasing them, we were just getting a feel for the game itself, which to be fair runs really nice and smoothly. It’s not as deep as the afore-mentioned Thunderstone or Dominion, but its quick to play and with cards like “Pickle Recognition Device”. “Shotgun of Sharing” and “Touch Wieners“, (the artwork displays to very cheery looking Sausage Dogs, and is my personal favorite so far) it keeps the chuckles coming.
That may be where people take issue with it. I think a lot of people see the big box and think they are about to get into a really meaty deckbuilder just to discover it’s quite light. It’s what people call a “beer and pretzels” game.
Anyway, it gets the thumbs up from me, and I’ll more than likely pick up a copy in the future.
Fellow Arcaders: Dave and Rob.
A couple of weeks ago I was around my friend Tom’s house. For various reasons, one of them being some exquisite homemade burgers, we didn’t break out the boardgames till around 9pm. We made the mistake of trying to play Arkham Horror. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the game (although I’ve only played it once and so long ago I really don’t remember a lot) but it’s pretty in-depth. Simply setting up the board, all the counters, cards and tokens felt like it took an hour alone. Then trying to relearn the rules from scratch was just too much. On top of that we were all feeling pretty restless. Back in the box it went.
(I do intend on giving this game another blast to decide if I like it, but I’ll do it when I’m in the right mood and have enough time.)
So Tom decided we were going to give Runebound a go, seeing as he had bought it that day. Setting up the board didn’t take quite as long but the box still has a reasonable amount of time, although to be fair this was our first stab at it so that is to be expected.
One of the first things we noticed whilst unwrapping everything was 5 large dice with odd symbols on. It turned out these were the movement dice. Initially I thought they looked like a bloody stupid idea, but I’ll explain why I was wrong.
With the board fully set up and our characters randomly selected (of which there are many to choose from), we leapt into our first turn.
Now this is where the movement dice start to make sense. The board is made up of a hexagon map, each hex being a clearly defined piece of terrain. Mountains, plains, forests, etc which kind of reminded me of Catan to some extent, everything is very easy to identify. On Each side of the movement dice there are multiple symbols that correspond to various terrain types. When it is your turn you roll 5 movement dice (or less in some circumstance) and use one at a time in any order to move to adjacent hexs that match the terrain on the dice face. I’ve probably not explained that as clearly as I could have, but trust me, it’s a great system, it’s very simple once you have the hang of it, and it really has an impact on how you move around the board in an interesting way.
During the game you move around the board, fight battles, gain experience, acquire loot and followers all in order to help you fight the final boss to win the game. I believe it is set in the Descent universe and I certainly recognised some of the characters from previous dungeon bashes.
The general feeling I got from this game was it was like a beefed up version of Talisman, and it shares a common theme i.e. building up your character to progress through increasingly difficult challenges, in order to beat your opponents to completing the final goal. In Talisman it’s the Crown of Command (if my memory serves me correctly), in Runebound it’s the final boss fights.
The other thing it shares with Talisman is that you need to put aside a good few hours play, although this may be due to the fact that we hadn’t played before. Saying that, the rules weren’t too complex and we got into the swing of what to do every turn pretty quickly. If any readers have played this game before I’d really like your views on this in the comment section below.
Despite a lot of bad luck when we played and getting my arse kicked to last place, I really enjoyed this game and look forward to giving it another stab soon.
Fellow Bounders: Amy, Tom and James.