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Review of getCrewd game

 

by Peter Bess

getCrewd is a thematic 3 – 8 player card game. Each player takes on the role of a film producer with the goal of putting together a seven person crew (hand of cards) to make their movie. Play begins with each player randomly receiving a “Budget” card face up for all to see. The budget card gives two pieces of information. First, what genre of movie each producer will be making, i.e. Superhero, Romcom, Adventure, etc. Second, how much money they can spend to make their movie.

Game Play

Once everyone knows their movie genre and their budget, each player is dealt a starting hand of three “Crew” cards. Crew cards have the title of a job on a movie set, i.e. Director, Actor, Production Designer, etc. and the cost for that crew member. Over the course of the game each player is trying to get a hand of seven crew cards which includes one director and one actor of the movie genre on their budget card and five other crew cards without any duplicate job titles. Plus, the total cost of all crew cards in hand cannot exceed the budget total on their budget card unless they have gained any “plus/minus/over-budget” cards during game play which may change their budget total.

Game play in getCrewd is fairly simple. On a turn the active player draws a new crew card adding it to their hand, then discards a crew card to their personal discard pile. Next, the same player draws an “Action” card and completes the action listed. There are four different types of action cards: getCrewd (draw another crew card without discarding,) Producers Choice (an all play, kind of like Apples to Apples with the winner getting a crew card,) RTD (Return to Deck,) and Plus, Minus, & Overbudget (these cards will change the budget for the player.) Once the player has drawn a crew card, discarded a crew card, and drawn and completed an action card play moves clockwise to the next player. The hand limit is seven cards.

Thoughts

The idea behind getCrewd is that it is an easy to play card game, light on rules and strategy. It is definitely a party style game and shouldn’t take much more than 30-60 minutes at most. It is easy to learn and teach, but there are three issues when it comes to play.

The first two issues have to do with the action cards.The action cards are the main driver of the game. They are how the players get enough crew cards to win, how they interact with other players, etc.

The first issue is that there are a few of the “Return to Deck” action cards that are confusing; the text on the cards does not do a great job of informing the player as to what they should be doing or how. There are not many of these, but when one comes up it really slows the flow of the game as the players are left trying to decipher what to do next.

The second issue is the “Producers Choice” action cards. When one of these is drawn the player who drew it asks the other players a question or gives them a prompt. Those players must come up with an answer, and the active player then chooses their favorite answer, awarding a crew card to the winner. The rules state, “Read card aloud and ask all other Producers to respond, then choose the best answer.” Rather than have the other players respond to the card aoud, I would recommend that these answers be written down and submitted anonymously. Otherwise, the active player has the ability to choose a winner based on whether or not it would benefit them strategically.

The third and final issue is that the rules do not state when exactly a winning hand should be played to finish the game. The rules do state what a winning hand must include, but not when a winning hand is submitted. Example, if the active player draws a crew card at the beginning of their turn and it gives them a winning hand are they still supposed to finish their current action which should be to discard a crew card, or can they immediately stop play and submit the winning hand? Or, must a player finish a complete turn of drawing a crew card, discarding a crew card, and playing an action card and then if they have a winning hand submit it? The rules do not answer these questions.

Final thoughts. The theme is interesting and well presented. The game even comes in a great film can with two nice sleeves to hold all of the cards in place. In the end, getCrewd is an okay card game that needs a bit more work to make it a good game.

Review of Here to Slay

by Peter Bess

Here to Slay is the newest game from Unstable Games, the makers of Unstable Unicorns, Llamas Unleashed, and more. In this 2-6 player game, you are working on putting together the baddest party of heroes around, and slaying monsters. There are two ways to win. Be the first player to have at least one of each of the six different types of heroes (Fighter, Wizard, Guardian, etc.) in your party, or be the first to slay three of the fifteen monsters in the game.


Here to Slay fits right in with the rest of the titles in Unstable Games’ library. There is tons of cute animal art, and a lot of “Take That” action. It is easy to see how they have taken Unstable Unicorns and placed a layer of Dungeons & Dragons and other similar role-playing games over it. In Unicorns you have your “Stable;” in Here to Slay you have your “Party.” In both games this is the location on the table where you play your cards that will eventually bring you victory. In both games there are ways to halt other players in their tracks; in Unicorns it is the “Neigh” card, in Here to Slay it is the “Challenge” card. And just as your unicorns each have a power associated with them, your heroes in Here to Slay bring their own special skills to your crew.


The largest difference for me between Here to Slay and Unstable Games’ other titles is the introduction of dice rolling. Yes, here they introduce more luck into the game. For some players this is where you get off the train because of a preference for strategy over luck and that is an understandable position. I believe it is an attempt to bring in more of the RPG feel to the game, and I love it. I enjoy the tension that rises when I have a plan, but it hinges on the roll I am about to make.


The game at a lower player count can finish rather quickly; sometimes only 10-15 minutes for a session. At a higher player count, 4-6, the game can last an hour. This is a pretty big swing, but again, not a deterrent for me.


The other thing I like is that as I played and enjoyed the game as is, I also began to think of variants I would like to try out. Foremost being a “Monster Slayer” variant where we play until all monsters have been slain and highest kill count wins.


As always, no one game is for everyone, but if you enjoy RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and others this may be a card game for you and your crew to play in between sessions or campaigns. If you like Unstable Games’ other titles, I would think you would also enjoy Here to Slay. And for a fairly inexpensive cost I think it is worth your time to check it out.

A Review of Asunder: A Dark Fantasy RPG

By Peter Bess

Roleplay gamers, it’s time to get excited, a new game is on the horizon! Tuesday, November 17th is the Kickstarter launch for Asunder: A Dark Fantasy RPG from Failed Superheroes Club. You can visit here to request a notification when the campaign launches https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/failedsuperhero/asunder. You can also go here to watch some actual play https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBfluW5HgOw.

Many roleplaying games are focused on a ruleset. This ruleset can then be used by Game Masters in whatever “fantasyland” they wish to set their game. Asunder deviates from this. Those who decide to purchase this game will be getting a ruleset and a world; a world that drives the type of game that will be played.

The World

Asunder is a harsh and broken world in which the gods have left and now the planet is slowly dying. The dead are walking, plague ravages the world, floating islands have begun to sink, and this is only the beginning. The world is not the only thing that has changed due to the gods leaving. The people of Asunder have begun to evolve as well.

Player Characters

A player in this world takes on the role of a Seeker, an individual who sees the signs of the end times and is not content with merely going about their daily lives until oblivion consumes them. They seek answers and are willing to go to great lengths to find them.
In a rather strange but interesting deviation from most mainstream fantasy RPGs, all player characters are human. There are no elves, dwarves, etc. in Asunder. Character variations are determined by where they come from in the world.
Humans from the different areas of the world have been changed by the gods leaving. Their divine Essence, gifted from the gods upon creation, has transformed them. In some areas of the world it transformed their physical appearance. In other places it caused them to bond with plants and animals. And in still others it has given them the ability to defy gravity. 

The Rules

A quick summation of the rules. The game relies on players rolling D20s and D6s. Players will roll their D20 to attempt performing actions and a D6 to determine effects such as damage in combat. Characters have four main attributes: Strength, Agility, Intellect, and Will. They also have three main characteristics: Health, Defense, and Perception. 
The game also uses a Strain system when characters begin to utilize their Essence. If they push their Essence too far a character could become sick, go into a coma, or even die.
Advancement in the game is broken down into 10 levels. The group levels together whenever the Keeper (Game Master) says. The focus for leveling the group is the achievement of story objectives; no XP in this game.

Final Thoughts

I love that the rules and the world are so entwined; it gives the feeling that things have really been fleshed out. I am intrigued by the decision to keep player characters human. All-in-all, I am excited to introduce this new world to my friends and see if it grabs their imaginations as it has mine.

A First Look at the Savage World of Asunder!

 

GM Ron

What is Asunder? That’s what I wondered when I was asked to review this exciting new RPG. I hope to provide you with a sense of the game and setting so that you can decide if this is the right game for your table. If you are a fan of TSR’s Dark Sun setting, I think you would enjoy this game.


Asunder is set in a savage fantastical world with no gods, no metal, chaos and not magic, and varied types of humans. Humanity on this world were created by the gods with a part of their essence. The gods left the world, sundering it and ripping away the metal as they departed. The humans they left behind were unable to continue without the gods’ essence and bound themselves to various parts of the world’s essence to survive.


Humanity changed from bonding with different parts of the world. Some developed amazing fighting abilities, some the ability to bond with beasts, others developed fantastical powers of gravity manipulation or mutations to adapt to the environment.
The player characters, Seekers, question why the gods left, why the metal was removed, and explore the hidden corners of the world for answers. The game master, the Keeper, holds the answers to those riddles and unveils them through game play.
The actual product is beautiful. High quality artwork graces the pages, full of colorful action scenes. Rules for the game were different than other games that I have played, but the learning curve was reasonable. Players are given ample choices for character paths and development.


The game is still not released but the QuickStart I received did not include pre-generated characters or an introductory adventure. The character sheets are very pretty but I wasn’t sure if the art and design used will interfere with playability. I think both of these would have been beneficial to review example of actual game play.


My overall impression is that the world conjured images of a blend of Dark Sun, Conan, and Pirates of Dark Water settings. If you want to adventure in a savage and brutal game world then Asunder might be the game for you.

Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Scenario: Mansions of Madness V.1 a Player’s Perspective

By Peter Bess

So yeah…I just played the Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition RPG by Chaosium for the first time and it was great! My history with RPGs has mostly been limited to playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, with a couple of one-shots in other systems like For the Dungeon and Journey to the Whispering Tree written using Powered by the Apocalypse. Call of Cthulhu was a different beast altogether. I have played the board game Mansions of Madness, 2nd edition by Fantasy Flight Games so I had a small insight as to what I was getting theme-wise, but I was excited to see what would happen with the open endedness of an RPG set in that world. I was not disappointed.

When preparing to play the game I began, as you do, with reading the rules that I was given by my Game Master (GM). These were a shortened version of the full rules but still made for some meaty reading as I tried to begin wrapping my brain around a new system.

What? Percentile dice are used as the primary dice in this system?!?! Sweet! I barely ever use those in D&D. Okay, I want to roll low, not high. The lower, the better, because if I roll just below my stat it is an easy success, but if I roll higher then it may be a hard success or an extreme success. This matters when the GM decides how difficult a task may be; I may not succeed unless I roll a hard or an extreme success. (These are the noodly bits, the crunchy bits, and there are more; but where this game shines for me is the same place where D&D shines, where all RPGs shine…the roll play.)

If you have played RPGs you know what I am talking about. There is nothing better than sitting down to a table or on a digital platform like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds with other gamers and getting lost in your characters and the world of the game. For this to take place you need a game that sucks you in, a world with strong imagery and theme. The sinister world of the Cthulhu Mythos has all you need and more. As our group of investigators slowly stumbled upon the machinations of the game’s villain we went from confused to surprised to repulsed. When a vegetable garden turned into a vile grave and plants began to attack I knew we were in for some revoltant developments. We visited a sanitarium and had a car chase. All of it leading up to the inevitable fight against unspeakable evil. If this one adventure was any example, the new Mansions of Madness, Volume 1 has some great scenarios for this RPG. With a good GM, some excited players, and a solid adventure you are in for a treat.

So what are you waiting for? You can pick up the Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition Starter Set for just $24.99. Grab some friends and enter a world of mystery and darkness where you will do your best to shed some knowledge and light on the road to MADNESS…

You can find Mansions of Madness here: https://www.chaosium.com/mansions-of-madness-vol-1-behind-closed-doors-hardcover/

Mansions of Madness, a Game Master’s Perspective

GM Ron

When James asked if I’d be interested in reviewing Mansions of Madness for Call of Cthulhu, I was a bit hesitant at first. I’ve been involved with role-playing games for over 40 years as both a player and a game master, but didn’t have much experience with this game. I played a different edition of the game once or twice a few decades back, so other than understanding the most basic concepts I was starting fresh. Hopefully, this article and my impressions will be helpful to anyone thinking of trying out the game.

Our game was full of experienced role-players, but none of us knew the game system. As we didn’t own a rule book, we played using the free quickstart rules. https://www.chaosium.com/cthulhu-quickstart/ These rules were easy to understand and worked very well for our purposes. I was very pleased to see that the quickstart is available for free on Roll20 also, so it could be made available to my players prior to and during the game. The online character sheets made gameplay easy as well, automatically showing degree of success or failure on each roll.

Mansions of Madness is a collection of five stand-alone adventures. We played the first one, Mister Corbitt, so my thoughts and impressions will be based on that adventure. The artwork used in the collection is high quality and it’s obvious that a lot of time and love went into developing this book and all the player handouts.

The first thing I’d like to point out is that Mansions of Madness is designed for a more experienced table. If you are new to the system, you might be better off purchasing the Starter Set that is designed to teach the rules and includes four adventures. https://www.chaosium.com/call-of-cthulhu-starter-set/ In fact, Chaosium’s description of the product states that it’s an ideal ‘next step’ for those who already experienced other adventures.

The adventure contained a good amount of detail on the story that was to be told. The main antagonist was highly detailed, as was his history and motivation. The handouts were beautiful. The story contained some twists and challenges for the players and offered an engaging scenario that everyone, myself included, enjoyed. When you run this scenario/game, expect an interactive and role-playing heavy experience.

As the scenario is sandbox style, it requires the Keeper (game master) to actively read and prepare in advance. You cannot just sit down, flip open the book, and run this. While a lot of information is provided, much of the adventure is left to the Keeper to ad-lib. It’s important to fully read the adventure to understand how all the characters, locations, and scenarios interconnect.

One thing that I found very different from other RPG experiences is that there were no ‘box text’ entries. The Keeper is responsible for describing scenes and providing the necessary information. A few times I felt like I was juggling to get the players the information that would steer them in the right direction without railroading them. This included inventing new means for them to obtain necessary information, or tying individual scenes together so that it provided the necessary clues for the players.

Another thing that I found odd was that the Keeper was given a map and key for every room in the antagonist’s house, but only a few locations actually had a description provided. Additionally, the players’ map included a secret room, even though the ‘S’ was removed. Because of these reasons, my game used a narrative approach to the house instead of showing the players the map. I think the narrative approach worked better as it allowed me to focus the players on the important areas.

Overall, I really enjoyed the game and received a lot of positive feedback from the players at the table. Despite my initial hesitation regarding this system, I plan on preparing and running additional adventures for Call of Cthulhu. If your table enjoys investigation and focusing on role-playing, I’d definitely recommend trying this game.

You can find Mansions of Madness here: https://www.chaosium.com/mansions-of-madness-vol-1-behind-closed-doors-hardcover/

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