Tabletop Obscurities 1-3

This is a series of playthrough videos I’ve made about some obscure tabletop games: Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Legend of Heroes and Dragonroar.

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Going Solo: Tabletop Games 5

Going Solo: Age of War

Age of War is a dice game set in feudal Japan. Your task is to gain control of as many castles and clans as you can in order to gain more victory points than your opponent and bring stability to the land. The game uses custom dice featuring infantry, cavalry, archers and daimyo (a powerful feudal lord). Each castle is represented by a card showing a number of battle lines which indicate the dice results required to conquer the card. In the beginning you roll all seven dice and can use your first result to conquer any battle line on any castle card. Then you must use your remaining dice to conquer another battle line on that card, continuing until the cards battle lines are filled. If you fail to fill a battle line when you roll you must spend a die in order to re-roll your remaining dice. For a solo game, Boardgames and Bourbon came up with the idea that when your attempt to capture a castle fails then that castle goes to the AI player. You can also attack castles already belonging to the AI player but you usually have to roll an extra daimyo battle line, and if you lose then the AI takes one of your castles ( I decide which one randomly). When all of the available castles have been claimed, you count up the points value of your castles, taking into account that if you conquer all the castles belonging to a particular clan then you take the clan’s point value rather than the values of their individual castles. If you have more points than the AI player, you win.

Age of War is a really light push your luck game. The dice are great and the artwork style on the cards is really nice. The solo variant will fill ten minutes with some dice chucking fun. It’s like a very light version of Elder Sign.

Going Solo: Mistfall

Mistfall is a game of card-based fantasy combat. It is similar in some ways to Warhammer Quest the Adventure Card Game, and also has some similarities with Mage Knight. Players travel across a series of location tiles trying to overcome enemies, earn extra items and gain new skills before defeating a boss, all within a time limit.

Mistfall has a similar adventure structure to Warhammer Quest ACG in that you enter an area with your characters and engage in combat with enemies and try to defeat them, as you work towards a final showdown with a boss. But in Mistfall you are using a deck of cards to accomplish actions, rather than having a few action choices which are resolved by dice.

The artwork is nice although each character’s feat cards all have the same picture.

The rulebook is terrible at teaching the game and, as this is a very convoluted game with many fiddly details to take account of, this is a big problem. The game just boils down to: enter new area, fight enemies, enter another area, fight enemies. It does not have the engaging back story of Warhammer Quest ACG. WHQACG’s peril track is also more exciting than Mistfall’s time track.

There are errata available online for about 16 of the cards due to typos, and if you are not someone who wants to sleeve their cards you are essentially buying a slightly broken game. This lack of attention to detail is very poor for a game that relies on keywords.

Due to the fiddly nature of the rules I find I have to do a refresher course whenever I play, which is tedious and irritating. WHQACG is far easier to pick up and play as the rulebook is better to begin with, and the rules are easier to remember.

I am new to Mage Knight/Star Trek Frontiers but I can see why people have compared that system to Mistfall as you use your card deck in a similar way, but Mistfall doesn’t have the freedom and exploration that the Mage Knight system has. I would also say that the Mage Knight system is easier to get to grips with.

I liked the idea of Mistfall being about wilderness encounters and I like the artwork and theme, but I find the rules unnecessarily counterintuitive and obtuse. The extensive learning of convoluted rules and the onerous set-up time does not justify the gameplay. It is not as fun as it should be.

Going Solo: Legend of Heroes

Legend of Heroes is a family adventure board game which was published by TSR in 1987. You could see it as a less well-known cousin of Dungeon! The aim of the game is to enter the underground complex shown on the board, defeat monsters and hazards, and when all the rooms are explored the players add up the amount of treasure they’ve found and the player with the richest haul wins. In the basic game each player plays a Fighter, but in the expanded rules each player has a full party of Fighter, Cleric, Magic User, Dwarf and Rogue. The Magic User picks one of seven spells at random to start with, the Cleric is good at fighting undead and can heal his comrades, the Rogue is good at disarming hazards, the Dwarf is good at fighting certain monsters and the Fighter is good at fighting others. The leader of your party can be changed throughout the game when you know whether the Action Card coming up is a Monster or Hazard.

The most enjoyable part of the game is that when you enter a room you take and read the Room Card. This will then direct you to take another card, a Monster, Feature, Hazard or Treasure. When you have read and interacted with this card it may direct you to take another card which continues the story of the encounter. This means that no game will be exactly the same.

There are fifteen different monsters including a dragon, gargoyle, skeleton, vampire, ogre, cyclops, but whereas there are two hobgoblins and two giant spiders the text on their cards is not the same.

In combat you match up the monster card next to your party leader’s card and must roll the number indicated in the top half of the card by a red dot, or higher to hit and defeat the monster. If you fail the monster tries to hit a number indicated on the lower part of the card or higher to hit you. If it succeeds then your hero is flipped over to the wounded side of their card and can either try to hit the monster again, let another hero become party leader and try, or retreat from the room. If an already wounded hero is hit then they are dead. Wounded heroes can be healed at the Magical Fountain or by a Cleric by missing a turn. In a solo game you can suffer eight wounds before retiring from the dungeon exhausted and in the basic game your Fighter recovers at the start of their next turn automatically.

Legend of Heroes is not a difficult game but in my own solo games I’ve used some of the optional rules and some house rules to spice things up. I use the ‘heavy treasure’ rule so each of my party can only carry one treasure. When travelling through a passage from one red square to another I roll a d6 and on a 6 I draw a Monster Card as a wandering monster. These wandering monsters do not carry treasure so any instruction to draw another card after the monster is defeated is ignored. I have also ruled that the Cleric cannot use healing so the only way to heal your heroes is to go to the Magical Fountain. Previously I ruled that the Party had to miss a turn and roll for a wandering monster while the Cleric was healing party members, but ignoring the Cleric’s healing ability adds more peril. Lastly I’ve made the aim of the game to find the three 500gp treasures, along with two of the 400gp treasures. This isn’t always possible but it makes the game slightly less like an aimless wander.

I’ve read some negative reviews of this game but when I fancy a simple, fun dungeon adventure then Legend of Heroes is ideal. The board is nice and colourful, the hero characters have a great deal of variety in their card artwork, and the mechanic of reading the cards which lead to other cards is really fun.

The box art is not great but overall I find Legend of Heroes a fun, simple and adaptable game. It’s a game I play regularly when I don’t want to play anything too demanding and just fancy a quick adventure. It’s definitely not for everyone as a lot of people will find it too simple and too random, and I’ve read complaints about the quality of the cards, but I really enjoy it and it’s definitely one of my favourite light games.

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Going Solo: Tabletop Games 4

Going Solo: Warhammer Quest the Adventure Card Game

Warhammer Quest the Adventure Card Game is a card and dice dungeon crawl from Fantasy Flight. I think of Space Hulk Death Angel as its more streamlined version. You take a number of heroes (2-4) into a dungeon where they have to fight their way through a number of locations in order to achieve their objective. You can choose from a cleric, dwarf, elf and wizard to take on goblins, orcs, giant bats, spiders, ghouls and all the usual suspects. There is a four part scenario and a random delve mode. As GW took back the licence from Fantasy Flight, this is all there will ever be, apart from fan made content.

This is a brutal slog of a game. Your heroes are relentlessly worn down by the monsters who hound your every move whenever you take an action, and then the peril track spawns a boss to make life even more difficult.

WQACG captures the grimness of the Warhammer Old World and offers a pretty tough challenge. Space Hulk Death Angel is also a tough game but as it’s an easier set-up, I’m more likely to play it.

The components in WQACG are the usual high Fantasy Flight standard, with custom dice and more cards than you can shake a goblin’s dismembered head at, so I’m sure it will provide plenty of replayability, especially with the delve mode.

I look on this one as a challenge game which I go into thinking “I probably won’t win.” But it offers a rich background and, as it is out of print and won’t receive any more support, it’s one to hang onto for a night of brutality in the grim darkness of the Warhammer Old World.

Going Solo: Arkham Horror The Card Game

Living card games are not for me. I got Arkham Horror The Card Game on impulse, hoping that it would provide some good value RPG-style adventure in the base set, but I was disappointed. The set-up is desperately tedious and there are only three adventures in the box. The first adventure is short and I didn’t find it involving.

I found the mechanism of the chaos bag didn’t work for me. It just seems silly. And if Helvetia Games can provide a proper bag with Shafausa, why not Fantasy Flight with this? The whole set is designed as a cheap come-on to get people hooked. But it’s not cheap, and that’s the problem. This base set does not provide enough value for money. If you’re into LCGs I guess the lesson is try before you buy, but for me this is way too expensive for what it provides.

Fantasy Flight produce some games I really enjoy but this one fell flat for me. Elder Sign is one of my favourite games and, with plenty of characters and enemies, it has loads of replay value. This set is the opposite of that.

Going Solo: Zombies!!!

In Zombies!!! you play a survivor who is trying to escape a city overrun by the living dead. The box contains 100 zombie miniatures and 30 map tiles which form the randomly created city streets, as well as 6 player models, 50 event cards and lots of tokens. The amount you get in this little box is great value. You begin at the Town Square armed with three bullets (each bullet can be used to add 1 to your combat roll) and three hearts. Hearts can be spent to re-roll your combat die, they also act as your lives so when you have no hearts left your character dies.

Each turn you draw and place a map tile, set out any zombies, hearts and bullets that tile may have, and then roll a die to move, adding the amount of hearts you have to the roll. When you encounter a zombie you roll a die to try to score a 4 or more. As mentioned, you can increase your score by using bullets and spend a heart to re-roll if you fail. After combat, another die is rolled indicating the amount of zombies that can move one space towards you in that turn. In Grimwold’s solo rules you then draw an event card, ignoring any advantageous ones and only applying the effect of negative cards.

The game is won by reaching the centre square of the helipad tile or by defeating 25 zombies. Grimwold’s rules suggest an easy option of getting one extra chance if your first character dies, so a new character starts at the Town Square with 3 bullets and 3 hearts, which seems to be a decent balance, although thematically it’s a bit odd.

In the third edition, which I have, there are several multi-player variants and scenarios, including Search and Rescue, Last Man Standing, Well-Armed Helicopter, co-op play and team play. There are no official solo rules I’m aware of, but several solo variants on Board Game Geek by people like Ricky Royal, Dr Alban and Grimwold to name three. I like the simplicity of Grimwold’s rules but I don’t find them entirely satisfying as a solo experience. Zombies!!! is not easily adaptable into a great solo game, but the box is such a nice little set that I still like to get it to the table regularly.

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Going Solo: Tabletop Games 3

Going Solo: Elder Sign

I have had the Elder Sign Omens app for some time and although I initially found it random and irritating, as soon as I discovered how to win I started to really enjoy it. So eventually I decided to get the physical version.

Just opening the box was exciting, as the components are excellent and the artwork exudes the Lovecraftian theme. You play a number of investigators (four works nicely) who are trying to stop an ancient one from awakening and destroying the world as we know it. It’s the usual story.

You lay out a series of adventure cards and you send an investigator to one of your choice to try to overcome its challenges by rolling the custom dice to get the appropriate symbols. You can also use your investigator’s items and abilities to give you re-rolls and extra dice. You can focus a die if you fail a roll which will make the next roll easier. Once you beat the adventure card you collect the items and bonuses from it. If you fail, you may lose health and sanity, but there are ways to heal your investigators.

All these options add up to a lot of dice rolling fun as you try to beat the adventures to win Elder Signs in order to defeat the ancient one.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds, because when the clock strikes midnight bad things can happen that could set you back or advance the awakening of the ancient one. Monsters can appear and make adventures even more difficult, and some adventure cards have extra midnight effects which can damage your investigators or take away bonuses whenever the witching hour strikes.

There are a good selection of investigators to choose from and also a nice choice of ancient ones for them to take on, who have varying levels of difficulty.

The footprint of the game isn’t too big and it’s an ideal solo game for anyone who likes Lovecraft and dice rolling.

Going Solo: Chainsaw Warrior

Chainsaw Warrior is a game from 1987, from what I think of as the golden age of Games Workshop. Other games from around this time included Blood Bowl, Talisman, Blood Royale, Block Mania, Rogue Trooper, Kings & Things, Dungeonquest, Fury of Dracula, Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Warlock of Firetop Mountain, first edition Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, as well as Warhammer Fantasy Battle of course.

Chainsaw Warrior is a true solo game and involves the eponymous hero entering a complex of municipal buildings in Manhattan, that are the epicentre of an invasion from another dimension. Zombies and other terrible monsters must be defeated and hazards must be overcome if our hero is to destroy the terrible power behind all this mayhem. And there are only sixty minutes in which to do it.

The gameplay takes place on a board which serves purely as a time track, character sheet and rules reference. The adventure comes about from drawing from a deck of random cards. The arch enemy is hidden somewhere in the second half of the deck and can only be defeated by one weapon, the laser lance, unless Chainsaw Warrior blows up an explosive vest, killing himself into the bargain.

Your hero’s attributes, skills and equipment are all determined randomly so it’s likely you could end up with a character with no chainsaw, who isn’t much of a warrior, and who will be lucky to last five minutes.

In combat you can try to shoot if you have a gun, or you must fight hand to hand by rolling two dice and adding your melee skill, and doing the same for the monster, highest wins. If you are injured by a zombie you become infected and start to turn into one of the undead. Mutants can destroy you with radiation. Slime can kill you in a heartbeat if you miss a shot with the laser lance or flamethrower. The hazards are brutal and unforgiving, your laser lance can be destroyed which means you basically have to start again and won’t have enough time to finish.

The artwork on the cards is mid-eighties GW cartoony style. The game comes with a nice little comic strip to set the mood, and the rule book includes the story of how the designer, Stephen Hand, came up with the game. He is also responsible for Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Chaos Marauders and The Fury of Dracula so he was certainly prolific.

This is definitely a game of its time. GW was known for randomness and making things impossibly hard and unforgiving. It is a terrible game containing no elements of choice or skill in the gameplay whatsoever. The Android app version of Chainsaw Warrior looks great and is perhaps a better experience to play than the board game, but it is also a glitch-ridden mess.

But somehow, despite everything, this awful game still gets to my table, probably just through the power of nostalgia, and the fact that I’ll die quickly so it won’t take long. House ruling about hopeless characters, always starting with the chainsaw, and being able to choose equipment might help the ridiculous difficulty. As I acquired it only a few months ago I hope the novelty and nostalgia doesn’t wear off.

Going Solo: Rogue Trooper

I think one of the reasons I enjoy The Witcher Adventure Game is because it reminds me of Rogue Trooper. I was lucky enough to find a copy of Rogue Trooper recently as I foolishly got rid of my copy years ago. I also had the Lone Trooper solo rules from White Dwarf magazine, written by designer Richard Halliwell, who is one of my favourite of Games Workshop’s designers. I remember it being a really absorbing game, but would playing it now just be an exercise in nostalgia, like Chainsaw Warrior, or would I still love it?

I still love it.

Your aim is to uncover the traitor responsible for the Quartz Zone Massacre by completing missions to find clue tokens and build up a picture of the traitor. When it’s complete, the traitor appears on the bridge of the satellite Milli-Com, and the chase begins to bring him to justice (meaning kick his arse all over Nu-Earth) within the time limit of the Rogue Deck. If you defeat him in the time limit you win.

Throughout the adventure you have to overcome hazards and enemies, but you will also meet companions who will help you, as well as finding equipment and supplies.

The artwork is all from the 2000AD comic strip so you get completely caught up in the atmosphere. You can even get the GI biochips Helm, Gunnar and Bagman who give you special abilities. The Rogue Trooper playing pieces are great and you get loads of cards so no two games will be the same as you travel across the different areas of Nu Earth.

I still find Rogue Trooper a really satisfying and challenging game. In my first game since getting it again I managed to defeat the traitor with only one card left in the time track, and only then by using Bagman’s second salvo to push my fire power score beyond that of the traitor to take his final life point.

I love the board, the artwork and the components in all their mid-eighties glory. It is so much like The Witcher Adventure Game that I think Richard Halliwell surely deserves an inspiration credit from Fantasy Flight. I really enjoy both games but Rogue Trooper will always have a special place on my shelf and my table. It reasserts itself as my favourite game after finding it again after thirty years. I love it.

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Going Solo: Tabletop Games 2

Going Solo: Talisman

Talisman seems to be a Marmite game for a lot of people. It is very random, relying on dice for movement and drawing cards to see what happens. As a solo gamer I simply bought the revised fourth edition because I liked the look of the miniatures, the gorgeous dice and the fact that Games Workshop had just taken back the licence from Fantasy Flight. What GW will do with Talisman now is anyone’s guess. It might be Age of Sigmar-ed, it might not.

I rarely get to play in a group, so how do I work, as a solo player, with this great looking edition? Well, I had bought the Talisman app beforehand and later realised that the Talisman Prologue app contained solo scenarios for various characters, although you can’t save your games in the Prologue app. So I’ve tried some of these with the physical game, and also general questing around the board, and also using a relentless one-space-per-turn time track character, but I haven’t really found Talisman to be a satisfying solo experience. I love the miniatures and the dice, but for me, Talisman doesn’t work very well as an enjoyable solo game.

Going Solo: Quest – A Time of Heroes

 Quest – A Time of Heroes is a light fantasy game for up to four players. The Works were selling it at a very low price a couple of years ago and it received a very negative review from Tom Vasel who said that neither RPG players nor boardgamers would be satisfied with it as it fell between the two stools.

I bought the game at the time and thought the components were great and couldn’t believe all this stuff (standees, plastic bases, dice, a map, coins, character boards, scenery and loads of cards) had been included in the small box at such a low price. I think I took the criticism at face value, keeping the game for the components and not really delving any deeper. However, Quest has now had a bit of a renaissance in my solo gaming.
The element that makes it work as a solo game is the choose-your-own-adventure style of the scenarios. What might seem to be a limitation to an RPG group session, restricting the choices of actions, actually works pretty well for solo play. The campaign follows a great story which makes the characters feel part of the island community where the adventures take place as they share in the festivals, meet new characters and visit new locations.
The location cards look great, the standees are perfectly fine and I don’t think the set-up of the battles is actually all that onerous. The rules are simple and straightforward, and there are only a few places where some German words were missed by the translators, and these instances don’t cause any problems.
The box includes a handful of scenarios, four characters (I like playing with two at the moment) and mostly orcs as the bad guys. Unfortunately the game doesn’t look like it will be supported any further so the scenarios included in the game, along with fan-made quests and fan translations of the German quests, are all there will ever be of this game unless you make your own, which would be an unusual challenge for solitaire play. But for the original price, this turned out to be a solo bargain with a rich campaign to work through.

Going Solo: Eight Epics

In Eight Epics the aim is to overcome a series of dice rolling challenges, such as rolling all the same number, a sequence, or above or below a certain score. You achieve this by using re-rolls and the special abilities of the eight avatar characters. Each threat card has a number of challenges and you have to pick one of the avatars to have a first attempt at accomplishing the first challenge. You get a free re-roll of up to three dice, after which one must be returned to the pool and you can re-roll the the remaining two, then return another one to the pool and re-roll the final die. The avatar can spend a life point to do another re-roll or use their power, which might be to change one die to a six, or change a die to its opposite face, and so on. You can use up as many life points as you like, even to the point of killing the character. After each avatar’s attempt, their card becomes exhausted (if they are still alive) and you must use another avatar to carry on the challenges of each threat card. When a card is defeated, all the surviving avatars are refreshed to deal with the next threat card’s challenges. You go through four threat cards and then in the fifth round you tackle two cards at once. If you run out of active avatars you lose the game.

This game has a lot of elements I would normally be drawn to. It is about dice rolling, which I like, and the card artwork is terrific. But I just don’t enjoy this game. I don’t find the challenges in any way engaging. The dice are really nothing special to look at and seem quite cheap. The theme just doesn’t come across enough to get me invested in it. I like micro games, especially ones involving dice, but I found Eight Epics really disappointing.

Going Solo: The Witcher Adventure Game

The Witcher Adventure Game seems to provoke strong emotions from some gamers who see it as boring, mediocre or average at best. Others, however, have a much more positive opinion about it. The game is based on The Witcher video games with which I’m completely unfamiliar. You take on the role of one of four characters: a warrior with a specialism in potions, a travelling minstrel, a mage, or a dwarf with his own group of companions. They all have different abilities which they can develop and use to overcome challenges.

In the beginning you can choose how many quests you want to go through in your game and Ricky Royal from Box of Delights has come up with an idea for solo play of having a dummy player earning two victory points per turn, which keeps the pressure on you to make the most efficient choices when it comes to choosing your quests and your route, as you aim to reach your target of 30 victory points (for a shorter game) or 50 victory points, before your dummy opponent reaches that target. You can also pick a quest card for your opponent so you don’t miss out on points for completing a support quest.

You take two quest cards at the start of the game and choose the one you want to follow. You have to travel around the board to various destinations earning clue tokens in order to solve different parts of your quest. You also have to overcome monsters and deal with unfortunate events in the form of foul fate cards. You can also choose to develop your abilities and activate your character’s unique skills.

I find the game really absorbing and the dummy player idea keeps the pressure on. The components are really nice and the board looks great. The four hero miniatures with the game are also really lovely with a unique style to them.

Playing solo could seem rather aimless, which is how I find Talisman solo, but the quests and the flavour text really bring your story to life and I felt like I was exploring a vibrant land in the midst of political and military upheaval. There is far more choice in this game, not the festival of randomness of Talisman, as you choose your quest, your route and whether you spend time developing your hero or go hell for leather to win victory points as quickly as possible.

I suppose you only get out of a game what you’re willing to put in, but I thoroughly enjoy The Witcher Adventure Game in both its app and physical form and I find Ricky Royal’s solo variant really challenging.

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Going Solo: Tabletop Games 1

Going Solo: Space Hulk Death Angel

A game I added to my collection this year was Space Hulk Death Angel from Fantasy Flight. The solo rules are superb and it doesn’t take as long or require as much setting up as Warhammer Quest ACG, which is another of my solo favourites. Death Angel captures the WH40K vibe really well as your six marines take on the genestealer hordes.

Each pair of marines can choose one action to perform each turn from a choice of three, but they can’t perform the same action two turns in a row. They can choose to attack, move and activate or support. Attack is self explanatory. Move and activate means they can shift their position in the column and activate either a door or other piece of scenery depending on the rules for that particular location. Support means you can give a support token to one of your marines to enable him to re-roll a die.
The AI for the genestealers is nice and straightforward and the event cards add a random element. There are a selection of locations to play through so there is a lot of variety.
The artwork is great and the tokens, cards and the custom die are really nice.
Two mistakes I made were using support tokens to re-roll defence die when attacked from behind which you can’t do. I also made the mistake of taking the number on the attack die into account when attacking instead of just the skull, so instead of killing one genestealer because of the skull I would discard as many as the number with the skull indicated. This was wrong as the skull just means you defeat one genestealer and ignore the number with the skull on the die. But it’s easy to get things wrong when you’re having fun.
Hopefully there should​ still be some copies available despite Games Workshop taking back their licences from Fantasy Flight. I would highly recommend Death Angel if you like 40K as it’s a great solo card game but works with up to six players.

Going Solo: Runecast

Runecast is a dice game that was funded on Kickstarter. The first I heard about it was on a Sam Healy review which was very negative, but then I watched a Rob Oren review which made me think the game might be up my street. The game comes with 9 double-sided, beautifully illustrated battle boards and great artwork on the hero cards too. The 32 custom dice are also lovely. There has been criticism of the lack of illustrations and diagrams, and a bit of dodgy typesetting in the rulebook, but as I knew what to expect from the reviews it didn’t bother me.

This game reminds a lot of Dungeon Roll, which I also really enjoy. It has a simple set-up and you just roll lots of dice. I prefer using 4 heroes as it’s a nice balance. With just 2 heroes they roll more dice and seem overpowered. Each battle board has a number of hit points and when you roll a hammer on a die your score a hit. You can also roll trees which allow you to heal up to two hit points for your​ hero per turn. The other symbol you can roll are snakes which are added to Loki’s dice pool which is how he attacks the heroes, drawing from the Loki card deck to see who he attacks with the amount of hammers rolled, and each battle board also has special effects when Loki rolls so many trees or snakes. Heroes can also draw a fate card in their turn which might be a weapon, armour, a positive effect or a negative effect.

Some games I have played have felt too easy whereas others have provided a nice amount of challenge.

This game is not for everyone as it’s a light game of dice rolling, but I enjoy the artwork, the components and the theme, and I love rolling lots of dice, so it happens to be right up my street.

Going Solo: Legends of Andor

Legends of Andor is not a fantasy adventure board game with roleplaying elements. It is a puzzle game with no character development between scenarios and an ill-fitting dice combat system. The four characters are bland, the wizard does not actually have spells of any kind and the only thing that differentiates the characters is that one gets more willpower than the others when drinking from a well, one pays less for items on a certain space, one rolls one die at a time in combat and can fight monsters in an adjacent space as well as in the one they are in, and the wizard can reverse the facing of their die roll in combat so 1 becomes 6 etc. The monsters move on preset routes towards the castle in an effort to overrun it while the heroes are trying to protect it as well as trying to complete other tasks.

The artwork on the board is great and the idea is clever, but the fantasy theme, artwork and blurb on the box give the impression that this is like Runebound. This a fiddly puzzle in fantasy boardgame clothing. Many people clearly like this game but I found it unsatisfying and irritating. I also didn’t find the story engaging as it is very generic and hackneyed. I wanted a fun fantasy adventure with interesting characters who get stronger as you play through the adventure campaign, but that’s not really what this is.

Some people love this game but it’s just not quite the game I was hoping it would be.
I’m​ going to stick with it and keep it in my collection for the moment, but I have to think of it as a Chainsaw Warrior-type grind of a game rather than a game I really enjoy. And Chainsaw Warrior is far easier to setup.

Going Solo: Dungeonquest (first edition)

Dungeonquest first edition was published by Games Workshop in 1987, based on the Swedish boardgame Drak Borgen. You are an adventurer braving the terrors of Dragonfire Castle in order to collect as much treasure as possible and make it out alive before sunset. Each turn you move your playing piece in the direction you wish to go and draw a dungeon tile at random. This may contain a room, corridor (which is effectively a shortcut so you move through this space and draw another tile), or a trap. In a room you draw a room card which may contain a monster, trap, treasure, a crypt, a fallen adventurer (whom you can search for useful items) or an empty card which will sometimes come as a great relief when your Life Points are low. The base game came with four heroes to choose from with different strengths and weaknesses. If you manage to reach the treasure chamber you take two random treasure tokens and then draw a dragon tile. If the dragon is asleep you are okay, but if he’s awake you’re in a world of trouble. There are a nice mix of the usual generic monsters as well: goblins, orcs, death warriors, trolls, chaos warriors, giant centipedes and giant spiders. In the solo combat rules you roll on a chart for the result, which is perhaps preferable to the paper, rock, scissors rules of the multi player game.

Fantasy Flight brought out an updated version a few years ago including the rules for catacombs, but I love the old school Games Workshop version.

The game is brutal, random and unfair, but I really enjoy it as it’s pretty easy to set up and simple to play. I love the eighties artwork and, for me, it’s an uncomplicated and satisfying way to get my dungeon crawl fix.

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Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son review

The point where Iron Maiden entered my life was 1988. The Clairvoyant single was released after their first performance at the Castle Donington Monsters of Rock Festival and a live version of The Prisoner was on the b-side. I bought it and I was hooked. Seventh Son was Maiden’s second album to go into the charts at number one and meant they were the only metal band who were able to mount any serious assault on the charts. This was a different time when metal was desperately unfashionable and before Metallica broke big. Maiden were the only ones flying the flag and Seventh Son was one of their finest albums.

Moonchild begins with its subtle acoustic intro before exploding with keyboards and guitars. And then Steve, Nicko and the air-raid siren get involved. The song is an absolute powerhouse of an opener. The lyrics set the tone for the mystical story about to unfold over the album’s eight songs. Maiden have never lacked musical ability and this album expanded their horizons and pushed them further than anything they had done previously.

Infinite Dreams begins as the beautiful, gentle contrast to Moonchild, but this doesn’t last long, as the song launches into the Seventh Son crying out against the horrific visions that torment him. The guitar harmonies are exquisite, driven along by Steve Harris’ intricate bass, until the song goes into a Nicko clatter-fest. His drumming is brilliant as usual and more complex on this album than ever before due to the nature of the songs.

Can I Play With Madness is one of Maiden’s greatest songs. A brilliant riff, chorus, time changes. It just has everything. When Maiden’s three best songwriters work together this is what happens. The video for the single starred Monty Python’s Graham Chapman as a school teacher in one of his final roles. The single hit number three in the top 40 when such things mattered.

The Evil That Men Do was the next single and has been a regular track in the band’s live set as it’s just the kind of song that fits well anywhere, with its catchy chorus and opportunity for Eddie to make an appearance during the guitar solo. This is another Smith/Dickinson/Harris composition, like Madness, and the quality shines through.

The title track follows, in all its unapologetic majesty. It is monolothic with its chugging guitars at the beginning before plunging into a quiet, mysterious middle section with lush choral keyboards, much akin to The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner, before diving headlong into spine-tingling guitar duels between Dave and Adrian. Only a song as epic and extraordinary as this could be the title track of this album.

The Prophecy is a Murray/Harris composition and although the vocal sections are a bit Piece of Mind, the instrumental middle section launches​ into a wonderful short bluesy solo from Adrian. But, yes, this is the weakest track, although it also has some lovely acoustic guitar at the end.

The Clairvoyant is a Steve Harris track, and it begins with his amazing bass riff. This was another great single, and the song that made me an Iron Maiden fan. The time changes are extraordinary for a hit single and the success of this album’s singles show just how powerful a devoted fanbase can be.

Only The Good Die Young is a Harris/Dickinson song that brings the album to its triumphant conclusion. An absolutely storming track that roars off like a runaway train, but with some wonderful key changes and even a great bass solo. The guitar harmonies, as usual, are gorgeous and the end of the song is the biggest and best finish this extraordinary album could have. An absolutely​ storming conclusion to an astonishing album. One of Iron Maiden’s very best albums.

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