I have become a big fan of the science fiction TV series Doctor Who over the last few years, and while there have been plenty of Doctor Who board games published over the years, lets face it most of them have been pretty terrible. When I sat down at the table at GenCon to demo this game I had high hopes of Doctor Who: The Card Game. The game was designed by Martin Wallace.
As the name suggests, Doctor Who: The Card Game is based around a deck of cards. There are also some players tokens used to represent the TARDIS, Daleks, and Time Points. The game takes three or four players, and suggests one hour as the approximate play time.
On his or her turn, each player plays cards until he has three left, then passes those to his right-hand neighbor. You'll usually have five cards in your hand: two you've picked up from the draw deck, and three you've been passed by your left hand opponent. There are four main types of cards: locations, enemies, defenders, and support. Locations are played to your tableau and are worth VPs– you get the VPs at the end of the game unless the location is under attack at game end, in which case the attacking player gets the points.
Enemy cards are the ones used to launch attacks on other players' locations, and include monsters and aliens from the TV series such as Daleks, Cybermen, and the Master. Defender cards are used to defend your own locations, and represent the Doctor and some of his companions. When enemy and defender cards are both played, their strengths are added up to determine the winner, with defender winning ties. Finally, support cards bring in some of the equipment and allies from the TV series, and can be played for a variety of effects to shake things up a bit. In most turns, you will have just two cards to play, but it's possible to use a reserve (usually limited to two cards) and to buy extra cards. I won't go into all the rules here as they can be downloaded, but the above basic outline should give you the general idea.
So what do I think of it?
I like rules to be comprehensive and clear. These rules are well-written for the most part, but there are some pretty significant holes. The resolution of conflicts is incompletely described in the rule book and that's pretty important. Some things that seem to happen fairly frequently are not addressed in the rules (e.g. what do you do if you need more TARDIS or Dalek counters than the five provided? can immediate game end be triggered during the usual "end game" phase?) – I hope an FAQ will sort some of this out. But once you've figured out what the rules are intended to be, or house ruled the omissions, the game seems pretty solid.
For me, the theme is pretty important in this game. After all, I bought it partly because it's Doctor Who rather than because the mechanisms sounded interesting. The theme is well established by the artwork on the cards. In the TV series, the Doctor and his companions do defend various locations in time and space against a variety of monsters and alien invaders, so the game premise works. The enemy invaders tend to stick to their own kind, and the game encourages you to attack with, e.g., a group of Daleks– it isn't usually possible to mix and match different aliens in one attack. So it's a pretty faithful theme for a simple card game. The theme breaks down a bit if you try to ask the question, "Who am I as a player?" As a player you are rooting for the Doctor in the locations you've played, and cheering the enemies in the locations your opponents have played. Probably it would take a Time Lord brain to make sense of that thematically.
The components are good, with nicely rendered artwork, and it's pretty clear to see what's going on. The blue player's tokens easily get hidden on the blue backs of the cards-- but that's a fairly minor niggle.
The game plays in an hour, and once players are familiar with the cards, starts to get quite a bit quicker. There are always decisions to make, but I'd suggest it isn't a game to agonize over every card play: it's best played at a reasonable clip. There's lots of bluff-calling in playing the hidden attack and defense cards. There's always a trade off between doing what I want to do, and making sure I don't pass the best cards on to my right-hand neighbor– especially if those cards will let my neighbor attack me! Do I make a move now while my opponent’s defenses seem weak, or do I delay and use my reserve to try to build up a more powerful attack? When I manage to accumulate enough Time Points to buy a new card, I need to choose the right time to do that, as it effectively buys an extra action, or can save me from having to pass that killer card to my neighbor. Locations seem good– they give me victory points if defended properly, after all. But if I've been keeping an eye on who has what cards, I might think I have a better chance by passing it to my opponent and then trying to conquer it. There are lots of trade-offs to think about, but it never gets to complex and brain-melt down. I haven't yet played enough to say whether skill or luck will dominate in this game in the long run, but it doesn't feel impossibly random in my first few plays.
Author: Ben D. Fuller
What do you get when you bring together one woefully unprepared film nerd, two gaming enthusiasts, and one radio show at the largest gaming convention of the year? I’ll tell you what you get, three days of fun! (What were you expecting a better turn of phrase? Didn’t you see the part where I said I was a film nerd?) The trip started out great; I hooked up with Flagoon (the tall one) and Revan (the ginger one) on Friday night for a run through of True Dungeon, a literal live action version of Dungeon and Dragons, it only happens at #GenCon so this is a once a year event not to be missed for the full time gamer. After we left the Dungeon we headed out for dinner. We stopped at “Dick’s Last Resort” where they successfully humiliated us all with their unique brand of customer service.
You won that round Frat guy waiter, you won that round.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel that we shared, because what else screams Con experience more than a bunch of grown men sharing a room. First on the list was our chance to give “Dwarven Miners” a shot, it was my first time playing it, the others had been given a hands on tutorial by the awesome group over at Rather Dashing Games.
Let me tell you, I loved it. I had a great time with it, we probably 10 rounds in the two days that I was there. Flagoon and Revan each had their own copies, so of course I had to pick up one for myself and will now be introducing it to all my friends so that they can buy their own copies. And that’s basically all we did the first the night, keep any eye out for the official DCR review, like I said up there I’m just a film nerd with a taste for gaming.
Day 2 started bright and early for us, with our first interview of the day at 9:30 with the company behind “Battle of the Bulge” for the iPad. I really enjoyed the look of it, unfortunately it’s only out on Apple products and I’m an Android guy so I’ll have to just wait… If you’re reading this Shenandoah Studios, get on it! From there we wandered around the convention hall corridors as we waited for the doors to open, I got to hear about the first two days of the Con. Pretty bummed I missed them sounds like the guys had a blast, you can catch their review later this week on the site.
Going forward I’m going to try and explain what was going through my mind when I finally got into the hall, keep in mind I’m not a gaming guy like most of the people there so this was a whole new experience for me. But don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to conventions before like DragonCon and SLCNerd both of which are geared for the well rounded geek.
I walked into the hall:
1. “I am way out of my league here”
2. “What the hell was I thinking? I can barely finish a game of Monopoly”
3. “Wait, this is kind of cool”
4. "Where is Rather Dashing Games? I want my own copy of the game”- For reference I should have bought it at the end of the day, because I had to carry it around with for the next 8 hours.
5. “I wonder if Revan and Flagoon will notice if I disappear into the Artist Alley” – They did, but it was worth it.
6. “I need to check my bank account, things might get bad”ß at that point I was drooling a little.
So there you have it, my first six thoughts. Pretty great right? Ya I thought so too. So after I got over my initial shock we got started, hitting interview after interview with the practiced precision of a group that had done this before. (See I can turn a phrase if I need too) Around noon we took a lunch break and hit up the Steak & Shake right outside the convention center for so much needed food and a root beer. At least I had a root beer I think the others had milkshakes, how cliché. From there I took my leave of the group to wander the Artist Alley, where I got lost for an hour amongst the drawings and artwork of people that I wish I could call my friends. They had some seriously great stuff there; I’ll post pictures and reviews of each later this week. The booth that really caught my attention though was “Shadows on the Wall” entertainment memorabilia. The ladies and the one guy there were seriously great, they put with my fawning and waffling as I looked through their stash, I ended up buying three posters. Now, I have what I like to call a “collection” but a few (all) my friends refer to as an obsession with posters and prints, more specifically Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They had some great pieces but not the one that I was looking for, and the awesome staff went out of their way to assure me that they would be able to get one for me in October. At this point I was ready to just give them money. If you ever run across them (they hit a ton of cons, mostly east coast) you need to stop by and see them, and buy something. Then send me a picture of said purchase so that I can drool over it with you.
At this point we were approaching the end of the day, and we were all tuckered but had one last even to hit. A pizza party with some of the great Authors that were there, while Revan and Flagoon went to that I went home and took a nap, in preparation for more Dwarven Miner that evening. ( We played 6 rounds that night, you win Rather Dashing)
Well there you have it; an outsider’s not so detailed review of GenCon2013. Would I go again you ask? Yes, in a heartbeat. I’ll be forever grateful to the guys over here at Dungeon Crawlers Radio for inviting me to tag along, and will hopefully be doing a lot more with them in the future so keep an eye out. Until then, Little Ben is out.
After much anticipation it has finally been revealed who the 12th Doctor will be. There has been much speculation as to who will be playing this iconic role. BBC America did a great job with setting this announcement up quite well by playing the final episode of the 10th Doctor, David Tennat. It was a very emotional way to get this started.
All of us have our favorite Doctors. I am sure there are many of you who are sad to see Matt Smith go. However, if you recall, there was quite a bit of backlash over the choice of Smith 4 years ago. I am interested in see what the overall reaction is to the new Doctor.
With no further ado, the 12th Doctor is………..
For those of you who don’t know, Peter has been in many British shows including Torchwood and a previous Episode of Doctor Who. Show runner, Steven Moffat, said that Peter was up for the role of 11th Doctor, but it just didn’t feel right. Now is Peter’s time.
Interesting side note... Peter Capaldi, was in World War Z and played a doctor for the World Health Organization.... Doctor W.H.O. love it!
Do you think this a good choice?
Magic Item Compendium Premium Reprint (Dungeons & Dragons 3.5)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Page Count: 286
Cost: $49.95 ($33.41 at Amazon.com)
Release Date: 07/16/2013 (Originally 3/13/2007)
Wizards of the Coast has done a great job with the premium reprints of Dungeons & Dragons books from past editions. I’ve been especially happy with the adventure collections and the reprints of AD&D 2.5. Having it in my hands now, I have to admit, it’s a wonderful resource for any person who likes to run a Dungeons & Dragons game using 3.0/3.5 rules. Is it necessary? No. After all, it’s missing a lot of basic items, so if you just have the big Compendiums from 3.5 (Rules and Spells) you’re going to be missing out on the common items of all, ranging from simple staves to the mighty vorpal sword or Holy Avenger. So unfortunately, while a fine resource, the Magic Item Compendium is missing a few item and isn’t as complete as I would like it to be.
I have to admit, I was surprised when I saw the Magic Item Compendium on the docket for a premium reprinting back when it first came out. After all, it originally was released in March of 2007 – a little over six years ago. You can find the original quite easily still, and for a fraction of the premium reprint, so unlike a lot of the other premium reprints which were out of print for at least a decade and a half, the Magic Item Compendium reprint feels like it will be a hard sell.
When you first take a look at the premium reprint of the Magic Item Compendium, you can instantly tell the difference between this and the original printing. The original had greenish-blue cover and the art featured a long haired, one-eyed Paladin with a red scroll in one hand and a magic sword in the other. The art and cover design was not very appealing. The premium reprint, however is so much better, it’s hard to put it into words. The cover is bone white with gold lettering and it both looks and feels like a mystical tome. The cover art is simple but amazingly effective. You have a potion with a red stopper and a gold dragon curled around it. The cover also features both etching and embossing, which just makes the book fun to just rub your fingertips across. Had I seen the original Magic Item Compendium back in 2007, I would have derided the cover and not even bothered to look at the contents. With the premium reprint however, I wanted to rip open the shrink wrap and read what lay between the hardcover binding, simply from the cover design. It’s hard to justify paying for just a swanky cover, but if you’re a 3.5 fan and have yet to pick up the Magic Item Compendium, this is definitely the version you want.
The book is divided into six chapters: Armor, Weapons, Clothing, Tools, Magic Item Sets and Using Magic Items. Each chapter gives you a list of qualities or effects to the chapter’s item for a magic effect. Then the chapter moves into specific premade items, for those of you who don’t want to build and calculate your own magic items. Oddly enough, a lot of key, almost iconic powers are missing from these chapters. For example, with weapons you’ll find there is no way to build a Defender, Flame Tongue, Frostbrand and the like, yet you CAN make a permanently blessed weapon. This, to me, is a perfect example of why I didn’t care for Edition 3.5, as it tries too hard to come up with “wacky” or overpowered unbalanced options, but then forgets the core and/or simple ones that made D&D popular and memorable to begin with. I understand they are easily found in the DMG, but the Magic Item Compendium really needed to include some of those iconic powers in the same manner they list all the new ones. This needed to be a one-stop shop, rather than just another weighty tome you carry around just IN CASE you might have a use for it at some point. Most D&D fans would rather be able to have, say, a sword of sharpness and know that, with a certain roll of the die, a limb gets lopped off, rather than to have to keep track of the fact their sword is a desiccating, fleshgrinding mindfeeder with Ghost Strike, and all the different rules, DCs and rolls that go along with it. In an attempt to include every possibility for a magic item, the Magic Item Compendium forgets the most basic and important magic weapons, and also overcomplicated the entire concept of magic items to the point where it feels like all the fun is sucked out of them by this process. I know some people must find having to have a separate piece of paper just to keep track of how to use your weapon fun, but I sure do not fall under that category.
Basically, what I took away from the Magic Item Compendium is that it is for gamers that want to roll-play instead of role-play. It’s for munchkin min/maxing gamers who would rather spend more time looking up precisely how and what to roll (and when) rather than trying to tell a fun story with friends. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not the type of gaming I enjoy. The second edition AD&D DMG has pretty much all the rules you need to make magic items, and it takes up, what, one-thirtieth of the space and works just as well? As does the regular DMG for both 3.0 and 3.5. Now, if you like to design magic items or are looking to supplement a previous list of magic weapons with the sheer myriad of options that the Magic Item Compendium offers, then knock yourself out, as this book works wonderfully as a detailed supplement that is nothing but “100% crunch”, as they say. However, it just doesn’t work as a standalone compendium (which is what the name implies), as it’s missing too much stuff. When you think of a compendium like the rules, spells or Monstrous ones, it implies a book you can just pick up and be the only one you will need for that specific niche. Unfortunately, it’s just not true in this case. I hate to be so negative in this review, as I’ve loved all the premium edition reprints Wizards of the Coast has put out so far, but the Magic Item Compendium just seems to be a mish-mash of well meaning ideas without the necessary common sense to make them stand on their own. I guess when you advertise a book as quote, “collecting the most popular magic items in the D&D game and presents them in one easy-to-reference tome” and its not all there as NONE of the most popular magic items from D&D are in this book AT ALL, I get a little disappointed.
Yesterday we learned that The CW was looking to to develop another DC comic TV series based on The Flash. Apparently the character will be introduced in the next season of Arrow before he gets his spinoff series.
Arrow writers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns will be writing the script for the pilot.
We've now got a few more updates on the series. According to Deadline, the character is set to show up in the 8th or 9th episode of Arrow season 2, and they are going to start looking for an actor to take on the role this week. Berlanti had this to say in a statement,
"Barry Allen’s story always has been a favorite of mine, as well as of Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns. We wanted everyone to know about the show as that process commenced. We think it fits well both in terms of Arrow and as a stand-alone series."Kreisberg added in a separate interview with THR:
"When we first meet Barry Allen, he's just a forensic scientist … an ordinary man. Part of the fun for the audience … is to see how we view our Arrow take on the Flash legacy. Some of it will feel very familiar to DC Comics, some of it hopefully will feel different, fresh and exciting. The same way we approached Arrow is the same way we're approaching Barry."He goes on to say that The Flash will be wearing his a version of his classic suit:
"No sweat suits or strange code names; he will be The Flash."As for the Wonder Woman series they were developing, Amazon, that's been put on hold. CW executive Mark Pedowitz explained,
“Amazon is on pause (as) the script is not exactly what we wanted, and with an iconic character like Wonder Woman, we have to get it right.”Hopefully they can take The Flash and turn it into an cool series that we can enjoy!