What You Missed

It's been a busier week than usual here at TOG; here's a quick look back at this week's posts! Monday's news: Or maybe this wasn't really news, but we brought you a little more info about the new reboot of Wizkids Pirates of the Spanish Main.

Tuesday we brought you a special Election Day review of Pixel Lincoln!

Wednesday we didn't have an interview for you, but there was some exciting news about the new data pack for Fantasy Flight's Netrunner.

Thursday's Kickstarter Weekly this week featured Lost Legends.

And today we brought you a bonus review, which is also our first Double-Take Review, of the Kickstarter project Ruse!

Thanks so much for reading; feel free to write us if there are any games you'd like us to review.

Have a great weekend!

What You Missed

If you haven't been around this week, you've missed out on some fine blog posts here at TOG! Let's take a quick look back, as we move into the weekend! The News on Monday: Z-Man Games is releasing an English version of Robinson Crusoe, a co-op game of island survival!

The Review on Tuesday: Firestone reviewed Donald X. Vaccarino's Gauntlet of Fools.

The Interview on Wednesday: This week's interview featured Jesse Catron as he discussed his new Kickstarter campaign, Salmon Run, a racing, deck-builder with a fishy theme.

Kickstarter Weekly on Thursday: We featured the campaign of the converse version of Castle Panic! Known as Storm the Castle!

Also Today, we've added another little page to our humble site titled "Get Your Game Reviewed", enjoy!

Stay tuned next week, or else you'll miss more news, reviews, and interviews, including a very special, presidential interview with a very special guest, don't miss it!

Thanks again for reading, and have a great weekend everyone!

Running the Gauntlet Of Fools

by Firestone

Donald X. is the incredibly successful designer of hit games such as Dominion and Kingdom Builder. His latest is nothing like Dominion at all, but don’t let that stop you from playing this fast, fun game.

Gauntlet Of Fools comes with:

  • 90 cards—divided into 20 Class cards, 20 Weapon Cards, and 50 Encounter cards.
  • 30 dice
  • 4,000 tokens—okay, that’s an exaggeration, but there are a BUNCH of tokens.
  • 1 Playmat on which to place Boasts before they’re taken.

You’re going to control a hero, who will enter the dungeon, and who will die. (Well, you'll almost certainly die, unless you get really, really lucky. But plan on taking dirt nap...) Your goal is to end up with more gold than your opponents at the end of the dungeon.

First you deal out one Class card per player; they’re the Heroes, and include ninjas, barbarians, zombies, and jesters. Each one of them has an inherent defense, and a special power that you can use in the dungeon. Then you attach one Weapon to each Hero; they include spears, axes, whips, holy swords, and deadly fists. Each one has a number of dice you will roll for your attacks in the dungeon, along with a special power. Every game the Heroes and Weapons combinations will be different, so there’s plenty of replay value here.

Heroes and Weapons have special powers, and while you can use a few of them automatically, almost all of them cost an Ability token. The number of tokens varies based on the power (with a low of zero and high of 20), but on average you’ll get two Class Ability tokens and Two Weapon Ability tokens.

You should be aware that there are some “darker” cards in these, such as necromancers, zombies, and demonic blades. Their power is abstracted, but they’re there; if you felt strongly about it, you could easily remove those cards from the game without really affecting anything.

There are two phases to the game: the Boasting Phase and the Gauntlet Phase.

First comes the Boasting. Starting with the start player, each person takes one of the Heroes—and the Weapon attached to that Hero—and places it in front of them. If they think the Hero might get taken from them, they can attach a Boast to it, but it’s not required. Now the next player takes a Hero. If they take one that’s already in front of another player, they have to attach at least one Boast to it. That continues until each player has a Hero in front of him or her.

The Boasts include things such as “One Arm Tied Behind My Back,” which means that when the Hero is in the dungeon, he’ll ignore all 1s and 2s rolled on the dice. Or while “Hopping On One Leg,” which means you reduce the Hero’s defense by two. Or “With A Hangover,” which means you reduce your Hero’s attack dice by one and defense by four, but as soon as you kill a monster you get rid of the Hangover—fighting sobers you up! There are a few others, too.

So you can take the Hero someone else has, but you’re going to “pay” more for it—in the form of Boasts. And you might really want a Hero, but you have to ask yourself if it’s worth all the Boasts. It generally feels that a Great Hero with a Great Weapon—and a Boast or two—is more valuable than a Good Hero with a Good Weapon. Of course, that’s not always true, and some Boasts feel more harmful than others. It’s a sort of auction, where you’re valuing what’s out there, and trying to do a better job of valuing than your opponents—it reminds me of the province auction in Amun-Re.

Now comes the Gauntlet Phase, where you fight the monsters. And die. Early on, people were comparing this to Munchkin, and that scared me off. I can’t stand Munchkin—for lots of little reasons, but the big one is that the games often take FOREVER. FOR. E. VER!!!  Gauntlet of Fools is only superficially like Munchkin (fight monsters in a dungeon), but it’s also got a natural timer to it. You’re going to die. Everyone’s going to die. You might live one or two rounds longer than someone else—or vice versa—but that’s it. This keeps games at around 20 minutes, and that’s just perfect for this weight and type of game.

Anyway, you play a series of turns, and in each one you determine the encounter (draw the top card of the Encounter deck), attack the monster, defend against the monster, and then check to see if you’re dead yet. Most of the time the Encounter will be a monster of some kind. Each one has an attack strength, a defense strength, a gold amount for if you kill it, a wound amount if it hits you, and finally a special power. They’ve done a good job of conveying a lot of info in a clear way on a single card.

There are a few special Encounter cards. There’s a Spear Trap where you automatically take a wound, and some modifiers that make the next monster worth more gold, or have extra defense, or extra attack power—or do double damage. There are also some good Encounters that give you gold, or tokens you can use on your special powers, or allow you to heal a wound.

So for each regular Encounter your Hero will roll however many dice he or she has for attack, and if the total is as much or more than the monster’s defense, you’ve killed it, and you get the gold. Even if the monster dies, it still gets to attack your Hero. Again, if its attack equals or bests your defense, you’ll take one or more wounds. This attack and defend portion is where you can also use those Ability Tokens you got with your Hero. You might be able to turn one in and automatically kill any monster, or turn one in a roll an extra attack die, or turn one in a reroll all attack dice.

So there are definite decisions to be made in the Gauntlet. When should you just attack, and when should you spend a precious Token? Will I die this turn, and can I somehow prevent that?

Eventually everyone dies (four wounds and you’re dead at the end of the turn), and you count up the gold; whoever has the most gold wins. That’s not necessarily the person who lived the longest. If I was able to kill a couple of big-money monsters—but died early, that could be better than you living a longer time, but only killing monsters that give you one gold.

That’s an exhaustive look at the game. It probably took you longer to read this than it will to play a game. (Okay, that's an exaggeration...)

So what do I think? I like it! It’s a fast and fun dungeon delve. Some people don’t like that you only Boast once and use that one Hero through the whole Gauntlet, but it’s meant to play quickly and easily, and that’s just what it does. Want more? Play another game! Want Mage Knight? Play Mage Knight!

The dice add a lot of uncertainty. There were plenty of times that a Hero should be able to best a Monster, but then he'd roll a bunch of 1s and 2s. We played once, and then we immediately wanted to play again. And then we played another after that.

If there's one thing I'm uncertain about, it's that I'm not sure how well this would go over with nongamers. Auction games might be the hardest genre to bring out with Grandma and your Aunt Fanny. It's hard to figure out just how much something is worth, and if they undervalue or overvalue something, it can kinda throw the whole game off. But Gauntlet's light enough and fast enough that I'm far less concerned with this than I would be with, say...The Princes of Florence.

There’s plenty of room for expansion with this game, and I’ll eagerly add them if and when they come out. In the meantime, I’m going into the Gauntlet with my mace-wielding knight—unfortunately, he’s blindfolded and he skipped breakfast…

Our thanks to Indie Boards & Cards for graciously providing a review copy to Theology of Games.

When We Last Left Our Heroes...

It's been a busy week for us here at Theology of Games—unfortunately, not because of gaming, but because of our busy lives. But we did get out a few new reviews, and share some news about the gaming world with you all! Stay tuned for more from the world of gaming next week! Here's your weekly recap of the week that was, on TOG! We all got giddy over the news of Wizkids' plans to release a Lord of the Rings themed dice building game!

Jeremiah reviewed the indie game "Walls of Light".

We looked for a little feedback on the blog and the possibility of a video post or two.

And Firestone reviewed Wizkids original dice builder, Quarriors!

Thanks for reading and thanks for the feedback! We hope you're enjoying reading the blog as much as we are writing it!

Of Dice and Cars - A review of Dicey Curves

-by JeremiahMatt Worden of Matt Worden Games was kind enough to send me a review copy of his racin' and rollin' dice game Dicey Curves. I finally had the chance to pull it out and give it a test drive. Want to know what I thought? Good, keep reading... The Basics - The player’s turn breaks down pretty simply for this party game of up to 8 players: Roll Dice, Move Cars, and Gain Control Chips (if possible). Each player rolls at least 5 d6 (Six sided dice) on their turn, and for every 6 you roll, you get to add an extra d6 and re-roll both the 6 and the extra die. You then group them up in pairs, triples, doubles, etc. (pairs consist of either of matching numbers or sequential numbers). Having a triple allows you to move a race car along the track 3 "spots", a quad 4 spots, etc. You can play a single, but it will mark the end of the movement of that car for that turn (players can -and should- control multiple cars in a game, if there are less than 8 players).

Control chips - allow you to do some nifty maneuvers depending on the phase of your turn. If you're rolling dice you can add a d6 set to any number 1-5, or re-roll any amount of dice already in play. If you're moving cars already they give you the ability to continue playing dice after you've played a single; juke, which switches spots with a car next to yours; or take control of another player’s car. I mostly found that using them to continue playing dice after a single allowed for optimal use of your dice in a turn and didn't use them for much else while moving cars. You gain control chips by turning in unused dice at the end of your turn.

The Race Track - is made of cards revealed at random from a shuffled deck. There is no set length to the race, you simply tuck the finish line somewhere in the deck and fire up your engines. The track consists of three elements, Spots, Paths, and Gates. Spots determine how far you can go depending on the dice groups you roll, Paths determine how you move between spots, and Gates are essentially roadblocks that require a specific group to be played before allowing the racer to pass. The Gates simulate the degree of difficulty for certain turns or areas of the track, requiring racers to throttle down to navigate. There is also a suggested variant for setting up the track first in a circle around the table, but I found the uncertainty of not knowing what was coming around the next bend more exciting!

My Final Thoughts -I definitely recommend playing the game with as many cars on the table as possible. We found that with only 4 cars in the race it was very easy for a player to pull out to a lead and never look back. It's also important that the deck gets shuffled well!! I can't stress that enough, as a section of our first walk through yielded a Straight Away or Wide Open card 7 out of 8 pulls which added no challenge to the game. I wasn't a huge fan of the artwork either, but the components were overall what you'd expect from an indie publisher and the game itself holds up well.

What I took away from Dicey Curves was a quick moving, fun party game, the control chips were well thought out, and remove a good chunk of randomness from the game and inject a healthy shot of strategy into a game that would otherwise be completely left to the luck of a roll. The Dicey Curves expansion Danger! Was just released, I'll be reviewing that soon, so stay tuned! You can grab a copy of Dicey Curves right here!