Oct 312014
 

pic2099804_t[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

Alf Seegert is one of my darling designers and a dear friend of mine. Yes. He is a proper friend and I love him to bits. That means that this review is biased. Mind you, it doesn’t need to be because the game is excellent, but if it weren’t, this review would be biased.

There. That’s my contribution to ethics in games journalism.

Anyway, Alf teamed up with Steve Poelzing to design Cubist, a game in which the players create works of cubist art and setup their exhibitions and build a museum. In reality the game is a dice rolling abstract game with a theme very cleverly attached to it.

The production is pretty excellent. The game comes with *a lot* of dice in four colours 81 in total; 20 dice per player, plus a red dice that marks the first block of the museum the players can build during game. The dice are marble cubes or loveliness, I have to say. I really like the marbled effect and the size of the dice is big enough to roll nicely in your hand.

The game also comes with five small boards, four for the players, and one for the centre of the table. The central board is the board where the players can place their dice to build the museum. The player boards have been printed both sides – unnecessary but not unwelcome – and, handily enough also comes with the turn sequence printed, so no one will get lost. The different areas of the board show the reserve dice (two of them), and the two rectangles where the players can setup their own exhibits.

There are also three decks of cards. One with the shapes of the exhibits, a small one with the shapes of the museum and a third one with extra actions the players can use during the game.

To make matters even better, the whole game has a cubist art direction. The cover is a cubist painting and the cards are all based on cubist artists. And the thing is that it works. Cubism is not my favourite art style and yet, I absolutely love the looks of this game.

The gameplay is simple. The exhibit cards display shapes that the players need to match in order to score points. The more complex the shapes, the more points the player gets.

Now where it gets tricky is that one can’t just choose any number on their dice to build up the exhibit. You choose the number of the first die you place on your building area, but after that you have to place a consecutive number. Say that you put a 3 as your first die, you can only put a 2 or a 4 adjacent to that dice in order to make the shape you’ve chosen.

Once you pile up enough dice to match the shape on the card, you score the points. The cool thing is that any player can attempt to create the same shape and the first one scores the points. So yes, there will be some sighs of frustration at the table as you steal those precious points away. The game ends when you get a few of those exhibits, or the central museum is complete.

Every round, you roll two die and you can choose to use them to build the exhibit, keep them in your reserve (a maximum of two dice) or place them to lock one of the activity cards for later use.

The abilities you can lock will allow you to turn a dice into a particular number, copy a die one of your opponents have in their reserve, remove a die… add a bit of depth to the game.

When you score a card, you can also lock some dice on that card with specific numbers that you can use to finish another shape, or to help build the central museum, which will also give you some points come the end of the game.

The gameplay is very balanced. Although there are a good number of decisions to make every turn and the dice provide with good variance, it is never too much to instil analysis paralysis or too small to hinder your choices and the rules are easy enough that in a couple of rounds you’ll be up to speed without a problem.

The rules are clear enough, though they suffer from a bit excessive text, something Griffon Games do very often, I have to say. Although they are not confusing, they could also do with being a bit more succinct.

Having all the cards listed with a description of their abilities is very handy and you can expect to check on those the first few times you play. Once you have them under your belt, the gameplay will be even quicker.

Overall I have enjoyed this game a lot, and so have the people I have played it with. It is an excellent light game, perfect to bring people into gaming too. However if you expect a lot of very deep thinking and gaming, this will probably fall short. This is not the sort of games you can build an engine around and get a headache with the effort of cracking the winning strategy. Luck is a huge part of this game, but not enough to be all it takes to win or lose.

If you want something quick, easy, beautiful and ultimately very satisfying, this is indeed for you.

Another hit for Alf Seeger and Steven Poelzing.

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Oct 302014
 

pic1970559_tWhen Sentinels of the Multiverse came out, it rightly turned some faces. Because the game is rather terrific. Or I think so at least.

Not everyone liked it, like my colleague Michael, who found it too bland for his card games tastes. To each their own!

Now, after a few expansion, a few more hundred illustrations, more heroes, more villains and more games, Greater than Games has brought to us a new game; Sentinel Tactics. Same heroes, same villains, same super powers.

Different game.

This time is a really tactical game in which superheroes will band together to fight the villains who want to destroy your beloved city. In this game, the story develops as the rules evolve and the challenges become harder and harder as the game advances.

But is it any good? We sat around the table and had a go to see how this game plays for the first time.

Hope you enjoy the show!

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Oct 302014
 

Feats of Seafaring By Endzeitgeist

Mythic Minis 17: Feats of Seafaring clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

This time, we’re all about sea-themed feats, so let’s check this out!

The mythic version of “Corsair” extends its benefits to any aquatic environment and doubles the bonuses while on board of a ship and also allows you to treat foes as flanked via mythic power. Solid. The “Hoist the Colors” mythic feat allows you to intimidate foes via your flag and, with mythic power, even whole crews/vessels and similar military units – and yes, more power, more severe fear-effect. Awesome, mythic – nothing to complain about!

Naval Commander comes as a regular and mythic-augmented version – it allows you to aid another ALL target allies on your ship. Which is damn cool even before expending mythic power to make the bonus LAST. Two thumbs up, especially since bonus to attack is still limited to once per ally/turn!

Savy Seafarer also offers two versions – the regular one offering bonuses to ship/repair/survival-themed actions, increasing the bonus with familiar vessels. The mythic version further increases these bonuses…and allows you to TRACK VESSELS OVER WATER. Yeah. THAT is what I want in mythic – epic options, more roleplaying potential, stunning derring-do, doing things that transcend the powers of regular PCs. Two thumbs up!

Finally, mythic Sea Legs kilsl most penalties to acrobatics and climb and also lets you move sans delay through water-themed terrain, but does not protect you from it. Solid.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

See, this mythic mini is what I’m talking about -feats that are bland and subpar in their regular, non-mythic version get better and worthwhile. The new feats are glorious and actually vastly increase roleplaying potential while breathing the spirit of mythic gaming, offering both rules and simply new hinges on which to base storylines and scenes. This one’s just awesome and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval – if your mythic campaign goes anywhere near pirates and similar themes GET THIS!

Endzeitgeist out.

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Oct 302014
 

Universal Path Abilities II By endzeitgeist

Mythic Minis 16: Universal Path Abilities II clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

This time, we’re all about more universal path abilities after the first, awesome installment, so let’s check this out!

We begin with 4 different 1st tier abilities, with two of these netting bonus feats from Mythic Magic: Core Spells. Yeah – while I get why they’re here, let’s call them out for what they are – filler. So what about “Dramatic Reveal”. This one is all about roleplaying potential – whether a birthmark or another characteristic – something marks you for greatness and revealing it helps immensely in social skills. While mechanically none too awesome, the potential and concept BREATHES mythic for me, so yeah – as far as I’m concerned: Cool! The final 1st tier ability, “Planar Scholar” makes you a savant of planar knowledge, allowing you detect portals and decipher information about them. This ability is damn cool and carries a LOT of roleplaying potential while feeling distinct and suitable for mythic characters. Two thumbs up!

We also get 3 different 3rd tier abilities and oh boy…neat: Take one that nets you contingency (or its mythic equivalent, depending on your tier!) as a mythic power fueled ability. Yeah! What about being eternally young, including age-disguising/changing and yes, the immortal ability is also granted at higher tiers. Neat! Gaining endure elements and know direction on other planes and further expanding your planar knowledge, this one is a neat follow-up that delivers narrative potential galore: Two thumbs up as well!

The one 6th tier ability allows you to grant one mythic monster ability to your eidolon, companion etc. Solid and versatile, yes, but nothing that utterly wows me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson’s second universal path-centric pdf offers quite a few cool abilities that range from awesome to filler. While the majority of path abilities herein belong on the winner side, the second column of the pdf is 1/4 empty, offering ample space for additional content and the two feat-granting abilities feel like filler to me. Generally, the overall path abilities can be considered cool, yes, but still, the last spark didn’t jump over to me. Make no mistake – this is a cool, nice pdf, but falls short of true greatness due to both the relative brevity and aforementioned points. Overall, a quintessential “good” pdf and thus well worth 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Oct 292014
 

Feats of Treachery By Endzeitgeist

Mythic Minis 15: Feats of Treachery clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

This time, we’re all about feats of treachery, so let’s check this out!

All right, we begin this collection with “Betrayers” mythic version, which makes the attacks against foes you befriended is further increased – very much a standard improved version with slight mythic bonuses. Okay, but bland. Deceptive Exchange’s mythic version is more interesting, allowing for disarm/steal to accompany the feint and even replacing items in foe’s hands. “Disengaging Feint” as a mythic feat can be used as a swift action or as a standard action sans AoO, regardless how much you move through the threatened creature’s spaces. “Disengaging Flourish” works analogue to the previous feat and “Disengaging Shot’s” mythic feat allows you to add a dirty trick sans AoO with your shot – neat!

“False Opening” increases AC and makes foes falling for the AoO flat-footed. Okay, I guess. “Flick of the Wrist” is neat, allowing for sleight of hand to make drawing light weapons as free actions possible, potentially flat-footing foes. And yes, this one has a mythic tier-based per combat cap – interesting, if potentially problematic logic-wise. Why does the DC not increase for witnessing the trick/falling for it?

“Two weapon feint’s” mythic version allows you to use mythic power to reroll feints and sacrifice multiple primary hand attacks for multiple feints. The improved version of the feat allows you to sacrifice the highest BAB attacks to render the foe dex-bonus-less for longer durations, potentially even until your next turn – Okay, I guess, but VERY specific. In a lot of cases, I consider the trade-off not worth it here, though I like the idea behind the feat.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson provides a solid array of different treachery-based feats that allow for some nasty tricks…while some of the feats herein did underwhelm me. In the overall concept, none of the feats herein truly blew my mind and while they’re not bad, I also wouldn’t consider them must-purchase material. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to In dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Oct 292014
 

Archmage Path Abilities By Endzeitgeist

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

This time, we’re all about abilities for the archmage path so let’s check this out!

We kick this one off with 4 1st tier abilities – two of which will immensely help alchemists, with one helping with extracts and using mythic abilities (essentially fixing a GLARING hole in the base rules…) and a further one allows you to create better bombs. Spell Dilation is also rather cool, allowing your PC to make more or less minor metamagic-style forming modifications of spells. Those are cool. Detect Animals or Plants as an at-will SL, powered with mythic power, which is used to change the species-specific nature of the ability, though, feels very anticlimactic.

We also get 4 different 3rd tier abilities, one netting you a fear-aura when casting spells/using SLs, another increasing bomb-damage-dice and a third taking the cake, with the option to create even more impressive oozes (hint: There are two Mythic Monster pdfs to make use of!) – if you’re an alchemist. The final one makes your magical walls better.

The 6th tier ability is a godsend for arcanists, as it allows you to expend mythic power to escape grapple etc. via teleportation and for more mythic power, even potentially bypass teleportation-blocking effects – with concise rules, mind you. Neat!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jonathan H. Keith and Jason Nelson deliver here – the path abilities make sense in the context of the path and the poor, neglected alchemist finally has some valid reasons to take this path. This is a blessing and a curse, though, seeing that the majority of the content herein is for the alchemist. Personally, I’m a big proponent of the class, so that’s more than fine with me, but it might not be what you bargained for. Even if you did, though, you should be aware that the oozechemist ability is a reprint from Mythic Monsters: Oozes, Too and as such not new. Which brings me to a slightly unpleasant topic – I really liked this pdf and the options herein – what’s there, is arguably great, especially for alchemists. The one page has about 1/4 – 1/5 empty space at the bottom, though – space that could have been filled with more content. Add to that the cool (but reprinted) oozechemist, and this pdf, even for its length, falls short on the content-side. What’s there is damn cool, if very alchemist-centric, required even and would warrant a rating in the highest echelons of my system, but the relative brevity + reprint (which btw. eats as much space as all other 3rd tier abilities COMBINED) mean I can’t go as high as I would have wanted. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to for the purpose of this platform. Alchemist aficionados may add +1 star here.

Endzeitgeist out.

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