Tuesday, 24 April 2007

It Looks Like a Duck, Quacks Like a Duck....Part III

Well, sorry for the week's delay, but I was off in Atlanta on business (really, an elaborate, expensive ruse to boardgame and have the company pay for it).

When we left off, we had listed off several items that may or may not constitute a strong, definitive ideal of "Ameritrash". For the most part, save Production Values, I think we nailed a lot of them. To be fair, I think that "Production Values" is really a modern Ameritrash thing...AT titles these days are filled with tons of nicely-produced bits that we wouldn't have dreamed of getting for these prices several years ago. Some have pointed out (and rightly so) that *all* games these days have seen a general ratcheting up of production quality as boardgames fight to catch they eye on a crowded shelf. Therefore, I've given up tilting at that particular windmill, and concede defeat.

So...how do we apply what we've learned? I thought it best to take three seemingly similar titles, lay out the elements of them that would make them candidates for being "Ameritrash", and find out the differences that keep some or all of them out of this category.

As a disclaimer--I consider all three of the below games to be excellent. Do not mistake any of the discussion that follows to be criticism. This is, as Barnes would put it, "Ameritrash Academia".

The three games for consideration all share a similar theme--the "Dungeon Crawl". All have the typical fantasy characters and races, the dungeon setting, and the trappings you would expect from such titles in the form of spells, combat, dragons, and more. The games I've selected are Drakon 3rd Edition, Dungeon Twister, and Descent.

Drakon 3rd Edition:

Luck: Players have a hand of tiles that are drawn randomly. When players place tiles, they refill their hand with a random draw.

Theme: Six adventurers have been captured by Drakon and offered a sporting chance; the first of them to collect ten gold will be set free; the others will be dragon chow. The adventurers are all archetypes of the fantasy genre--a warrior, a wizard, a dwarf, an amazon, a thief, and a barbarian. They all have a one-off power relating to their "class" that gives them flavor--the wizard can walk through a wall, the thief can snatch gold from another player, e.t.c.

Conflict: This one's a little iffy, but it's there. Though you cannot attack another player directly, many tiles can be placed that allow you to trigger nasty effects for an opponent, including moving Drakon into their room which sends them back to the start and losing gold to boot. Other tiles include destroying other tiles in play, mind controlling your opponent, placing tiles that force your opponent to move a certain direction, steal gold directly from your opponent, and more. Also, some of the character powers directly involve affecting another player, such as the thief/rogue.

Production Values/Plastic Bits: This one cheats a bit because it wasn't until the third edition that plastic figures were added for each of the characters. Also, as stated above this is not as important of a consideration. However, it is difficult to look at the highly detailed miniatures and not give a nod here. Plus, the new tiles are nice and thick, and the overproduction even extends to having an elaborate, ornate token for each player that only serves to show if you've used your ability yet or not.

Player Interaction: With two, you are free to both go in your own direction if you so choose. This makes for a much less interesting game. With multiple players, you cannot help but interact with the other players--you are going to place tiles that mess up the plans of other players. And since there can only be one winner, you are going to be doing everything in your power to screw with them. You don't have the super-direct player interaction that you'd find in the typical AT title, but if you've played your cards right you can destroy their intended path, put nasty obstacles in front of them, or use other tile triggers to steal from them, force them off in other directions, or what have you.

The Verdict: So we seem to hit all the sweet spots, but I would not consider this a true AT title. Why? Look no further than the rules...the rulebook is four pages, and half of that is essentially a glossary describing what the tiles do (each tile has a symbol to show their effect). Since this information is duplicated on six player aids, this part is superfluous anyway, and you're left with two whole pages of rules.

Also, while the game has a dungeon-crawl fantasy theme, it is not far enough removed from the level of abstraction where you could strip the theme completely away and replace it without effort. The game could easily be re-themed to The Running Man, with each player representing a differenct convict with a one-time ability and Drakon representing Jesse Ventura's character or something. Hell, you could remove the theme completely and leave it abstract with generic pawns and score chits.

Lastly, while there is Conflict and Player Interaction, it borders on being too indirect at times. Maybe, just maybe, if you could move into a tile and fight with another player directly, that might do the trick.

My vote: Not AmeriTrash.

Dungeon Twister:

Luck: Dungeon Twister gets dinged here. The placement of the tiles for the dungeon has randomness to it, but the action from that point forward is all deterministic. You know how far you can move, you know how strong each character is in combat, and even the combat itself uses a deterministic card-driven "play a card from a limited pool to boost your strength" type deals.

Theme: Again, another Dungeon Crawl, but this time you have two opposing parties of adventurers (more parties can play with the 3-4 player expansion) who want to kill their opponents, escape out the other side and take a little treasure with them on the way. You have your typical fantasy characters--the rogue, the warrior, trolls, goblins, wizards--alongside the trappings of a fantasy game with fireball spells, spiked traps, and more. Still, this veneer of theme peels away more easily than Drakon, a point we'll discuss more in a bit.

Conflict: In this, Dungeon Twister succeeds in spades. In a two-player battle, it's definitely a zero-sum game--I kill your characters or steal from you your items, I twist the passages to block your movement, I attack you when I get the opportunity...there's no denying here that this has oodles of conflict. Your warrior charges me only to get a fireball in the face for his trouble...

Production Values/Plastic Bits: Not as relevant. The game uses character stand-ups and cardboard tokens and tiles. Still, it is notable that Asmodee wasn't satisfied with the components of the first edition feeling they were too flimsy and thin and sent out FREE replacements to first edition customers. The replacement stuff is indeed much thicker and sturdier than before. Also worth noting is that there were plastic miniatures released seperately, and these look very nice...but weren't released in the US, a bit of a head-scratcher considering our AMERITRASH HERITAGE. Since the expansions continue to be released in the US unabated, perhaps they'll reconsider.

Player Interaction: Bucketloads. You have to escape out through your opponent's starting area. No way to just "sneak around" your opponent--you've got to go right through his home base. You can move in and attack your foes. You can use the "Dungeon Twisting" mechanic to block your opponent in, prevent his chances for escaping, or corral him toward your waiting combat monsters. If one of you casually waltzes through the other side, something is VERY wrong.

The Verdict: This one has a decent enough ruleset to cover what is essentially a very different take on the dungeon-crawl/fantasy skirmish type game. They still aren't heavy by any stretch, but certainly more involved than Drakon's.

The theme criticism hangs over this game much more strongly than Drakon's though. This one is only a few steps removed from absolute abstraction; in fact, many gamers are quite surprised when they first try the game as it feels more like Chess than it does your prototypical AT title of old. You could easily change things up a bit and apply the theme of the upcoming Tannhauser to this, for example.

My vote: Not AmeriTrash.


Luck: Heh...where do you want to begin?

First off, Descent has something that the other two games distinctly lack--dice. When you question most players about what constitutes an American-style game, dice is usually front and foremost of the responses you'll receive.

When your warrior goes smashing into the skeleton hordes, you might know your odds of success, but the dice can still betray you. Every swing, every attack are governed by the whims of the dice (alongside whatever loot you can pick up inside the dungeon, of course).

The Overlord players similarly is governed by the same luck--his monsters attack using the same dice. On top of this, he has a hand of cards that are drawn randomly, granting him the ability to spawn certain monsters or affect the players in mean and nasty ways.

Is it governed by luck? Not at all. Strong tactics will certainly carry the day, just like any good game. However, there is the chance that Lady Luck can abandon you at just the wrong time...and as any good AT'er knows, that's when things get really interesting.

Theme: I know that some will argue with this point, but Descent achieves a level of marriage to theme that is not quite as easily stripped away. Characters have very specific stats and powers relating to them and what type of character they are; items grant very specific powers and abilities; the idea of a level is not to wander around and achieve some point-based goal but to reach the "end" of the dungeon level. In that regard, the players really are on a "quest" to achieve a tangible goal. True, the Overloard player is playing for "points" or kills, and the fact that players "re-spawn" after "dying" takes away from the theme a bit.

Blame that on the popularity of the MMORPG, I suppose, where gamers expect to die, respawn back in town, and wander back to their original carcass to pick up whatever loot they had left.

Still, to that end, the theme is very strong, with mechanics that obviously serve the theme and not as easily stripped away or distilled into a more abstract form.

Conflict: Conflict here takes on a bit of a different form in that one group of players is working against another, and the adventurer players do win or lose as a group. However, this sort of mechanic serves games such as Fury of Dracula quite well, and in no way detracts from the conflict of the game system.

Players have direct goals that are in opposition to one another and this of course results in a zero-sum game where I win, you lose. The Overlord wants to stop the players; the players want to reach the end of their quest. There is no way for these two goals to co-exist--and this strikes at the heart of what people refer to when they say Eurogames are lacking in "conflict". Too often, the conflict in a Eurogame is not zero-sum; our goals are not mutually exclusive.

I realize that I could define the word "conflict" better in terms of this, but I think the AT fans know what type of conflict I'm talking about. In Carcassonne, I can play a tile to finish a city before you were ready....oooooooh.

Here, I can have my dragon chomp your warrior clean in half. HUZZAH~!

Production Values/Plastic Bits: "Over the top" doesn't begin to cover it. A glut of plastic miniatures, thick tiles, tons of cards and tokens, cardboard doors with stands, character cards, this is a veritable orgy of bits. Fantasy Flight Games is unashamed to take up the banner of AT and does so with some real panache here.

If you have a bits fetish, you will need counseling after looking at this. If you need advice for a good therapist, I have a few on my speed dial.

Player Interaction: Hand-in-hand with conflict here. Players on the side of the adventurers must interact and plan how best to use their resources...who should smash what monster? Who needs to stay back and heal? Can you provide enough cover for the sorcerer to do his thing?

The Overlord's entire game is based upon stopping the adventurers, and he will do this by directly interacting with them, by attacking them, playing cards against them, doing whatever it takes to slow them down. Again, the interaction comes from having mutually exclusive goals--no player can be passive lest they give the win to the other player via inaction.

The Verdict: What more can I say? This one has all the tickmarks of an AT production and then some. A meaty rule set. A not-easily stripped away theme. Rules and mechanics that solely exist in service of that theme. Random dice that although you can play the odds, they can still betray you. Nasty player interaction. Combat. Killin'. Dragons. Monsters. Swords. Treasure. Plastic pouring from the box the moment you open the lid.

My vote: AmeriTrash.

The Wrap-Up:

This is another time when I am welcoming your feedback and thoughts on this evaluation.

One thing I thought was worth further discussion was this idea of "zero-sum" conflict. In Drakon and Dungeon Twister, it is arguable that both do NOT have "zero-sum" conflict until the game reaches a certain point. For example, the amount of gold in Drakon is an endless resource; you and I can move about, content to collect our gold independently of each other. A gold piece gained for me is often not a gold piece lost for you (barring the "steal" tiles, of course).

The game reaches a point where it is zero-sum, of course, but it is only at that point where ALL games become zero-sum--at the point of declaration of a winner. That tenth gold piece in Drakon represents that point. Up until then...these are just arbitrary VPs that can be pulled from a infinite supply, and only at the end do our goals come into conflict with each other.

I feel that a lot of Eurogames are like this--in that we can co-exist, gain points without interfering with one another, and a point gained for me is often not a point lost for you. It is this particular type of conflict that I think helps us differentiate between the genres of games, possibly moreso than any of the other defining elements. Theme is important, but as demonstrated above theme alone is not enough, it only gets the game's foot in the door (so to speak).

There are also those who argue that theme is only applied in such a way that it helps us remember the game's mechanics, and to some degree I can agree with that. But it's obvious that in many games--particularly AT titles--that mechanics exist solely to serve the theme.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward as always to your excellent feedback.


Pat Hamill said...

Good read. I believe you raise a good point on conflict. It should be noted that in a true AT game you are presented with the choice to attack your opponent early or often depending on your strategic needs. However, the conflict is inescapable and turtling is rarely if ever rewarded. The mechanics take over and force the issue.

In opposition to this the conflict presented in the common euro (or non-AT as the other two titles would more resemble) generally revolves around stomping on another players pickle fields thus hampering their ability to score while avoiding direct conflict.

Dice are at the source here. If direct confrontation is at the source of the game then it is very difficult to simulate without the players feeling they have a "chance" which of course brings in our old friend lady luck and the contents of her hand bag - dice.

Quite often the "conflict" in euros as mentioned earlier revolves around stealing points, eliminating scoring chances and movement options. Player elimination or conflict is presented as more of and end move ala check mate, than a punchers chance as they say in boxing.

Nothing feels better than being completely surrounded and rolling shitloads of six's and your opponent rolls more snake eyes than you would see at the reptile exhibit at the zoo.

You're still in it.

MWChapel said...

Dungeon Twister has been put into that grey area that has hurt it more than helped. It's not an AT game because of the abstractness of it, but not a Euro, because of the artwork and theme. If they would have stuck with the euro-production theming I believe it would have gone further with the euro crowd. Hence not in the top 100. It just doesn't belong anywhere.

I blame Asmodee, and it's effort at fusion. Blah! So how about Mission: Red Planet, where would that fall, AT or not AT? ;)

Ken Bradford said...

Mission Red Planet--Not AT.

The theme is OK, and man, there is a LOT of randomness...but area majority is a mechanic that you won't find in many AT games. In AT, if we share a square, one of us has to die.

Michael Barnes said...

Not if you're the Bene Geserit.

Jack Hill said...

I agree that the non-zero sum thing is a very Eurogame characteristic.

It does show up in a lot of AT games. Battlelore and its ancestors, as well as a TON of wargames.

The real problem with the mechanic (crap, there's that word) is that Eurogame designs often relate victory points to some vague indefinable nothingness. In AT games, it is dead guys or cities taken.

It does have its plus points. The big one is that the game ends. The worst counter example I can thing of is GW's Dragon Masters. It is a Risk-like game where you can make only one successful attack per round. Object is to be the player who owns X number of territories.

Clearly zero sum. But that one successful attack leads to a game where I take a territory, you take a territory. Repeat until you decide to use the bits to beef up your copy of Mighty Empires and torch the rest.

Pat H said...

I will destroy the Geserit with my Messerschmitt in any space.

robartin said...

Damn Franklin, these things are freakin treatises! Professor F.W. Cobb, Ph.D of Ameritrash Studies is in the house!

Michael Barnes said...

Yeah really...what's with all the "Look at me, I been to Kolledge!" talk?

I can't understand the multisyllabic words Franklin uses, but he makes a good argument...the problem with DRAKON (which is prett AT-y despite the issues Franklin brought up) is that it's just clumsy and uninteresting- it feels like one of those 1988 also-rans and for the weight class/theme there's no reason to play it whatsoever over DUNGEONQUEST (which had miniatures in its FIRST edition, thank you very much). At any rate, it's better (and more AT-friendly) than the other Tom Jolly FFG game, CAVE TROLL, which is a miserable attempt at aping area majority Euros with the most static, uninteresting, and frictionless use of a dungeon theme I've ever seen.

I like DUNGEON TWISTER but it it can be pretty dull with folks who think that their opponents want to spend all night waiting for them to figure out a logic puzzle. It's definitely NOT AT in any way though, outside of the theme. It plays more like an American football game played by sneaky wimps than Chess though.

DESCENT...I really, really wish that I liked DESCENT more than I do. I mean look at it...it's just totally over-the-top, there's some neat mechanics, and it's definitely the Big Hoss of dungeon crawl games these days. But I just feel indifferent toward it. I mainly think that the pacing of the game is just wrong- I might as well play a one-off D&D scenario and have even more options and possibilities in the same amount of time/same relative rules weight. An hour a room for what amounts to a hack-and-slash 1st level D&D adventure is pushing it.

Ken Bradford said...

Relax, Gents...I'm taking a break from "Ameritrash Academia" after this.

Just wait until you see my next blog entry...HILARITY is going to ensue. HILARITY~!

Ken Bradford said...

And this "Dungeonquest"...sounds great, wish I'd ever had a chance to play it.

Michael Barnes said...

YOU HAD A CHANCE AND YOU SQUANDERED IT. Maybe you learned a valuable life lesson.

Ken Bradford said...

I certainly did. The next time I come to Atlanta to game, it's all 15-minute fillers for me, baby.

Should we start with "Hey! That's My Fish!"?

Shellhead said...

I like the dungeon crawl theme, but I've never bothered with either Drakon or Dungeon Twister because they didn't sound that good from the reviews that I read.

Descent disappointed me. Barnes nailed it when he said it's like a hack'n'slash 1st level D&D adventure. And the re-spawning mechanics for the heroes are just bad. Instead of simulating death with either player elimination or some other heinous penalty, we get Valhalla as a shopping mall.

The one time I played Descent, the first hour was confusing, the second hour was kind of fun, and after that, everything gradually became tedious.

Michael Barnes said...

That's a pretty accurate trajectory for DESCENT from what I've seen. Actually, the last time I played DESCENT the folks I was running it for started to disconnect about 1/2 of the way through as well...so I started doing all the Overlord stuff in a Bill Cosby voice and that made the whole game a lot more fun.

It isn't that the game has to be shorter, but for 4 hours I want something a little more substantial than character/story development that amounts to little more than getting cards that let you roll more dice. It's like if BEASTMASTER were 4 hours long. At 90-100 minutes or so, it's just right. Any longer and its faults become more apparent and the fun starts to get outstripped by length.

robartin said...

I can't understand the multisyllabic words Franklin uses

Good one, Yogi.

Thaadd said...

Drakon is a 'lunch' game around here fairly regularly. I'm not sure if it's the general types of people who end up playing or just the AMOUNT we have all played it - but it becomes a 'screw with your neighbor' game of the strongest form. It's not uncommon for 45 minutes to pass, and of say, 5 people scattered around the table not one to have more than 3 gold.

Sure, you can't be eliminated, but you may wish for death the 4th time you get half your gold taken and launched back to start.

It actually makes me want to figure out some more vicious house rules...

(great article btw!)
(and now I'm perversely tempted to do the math on the average page count of FFG games. Hmm.)

Ken Bradford said...

I do know that Drakon's rules are a smidgeon shorter than TI:3 and War of the Ring....if that helps your calculations any.

ubarose said...

Just reading about Descent makes my heart race. I need a cigarette. . . I'm sad to hear that it disappoints.

I need to add Drakon to the list of games that give me a headache. It makes me want to take my shoe off and beat someone with it.

William Boykin said...

The upcoming expansion for Descent is supposed to add the final little bits of chrome to turn Descent into a true 'RPG Lite'- you keep your character from adventure to adventure, there are new dice that you get to use as you 'level up' etc. The key differnce is that the Overlord himself, as he wins or loses games, ALSO gains experience, with new abilities and the like.

So it sounds interesting. The key question I would ask, that MB brought up, is this- is Descent really any better than just playing a pure hack and slash campaign of DnD 3.5? And I think that the answer for that will depend on the group- if most of your friends won't touch a RPG with a ten ft. pole and 30ft of rope, then go with Descent. If they are mostly RPG people, then I would play a 'stripped down' game of DnD for that 'lite hacknslash' loving that we all need sometimes.


Anonymous said...

I know this isn't exactly the same thing, but I think I prefer Doom over Descent and it's probably more of an AmeriTrash game then Descent, which is probably why more Euro esque people prefer Descent over Doom. Especially with the expansion which adds Deathmatch and CTF the conflict just rises up a notch.
Sorry to use Doom as an example of a dungeon crawl, it's obviously not of the same nature as the other games mentioned.

Jonas said...

Forgot to login, I made comments about Doom

mtlawson said...

I look at Dungeon Twister as a step up from the abstracts that my oldest likes to play (like Gobblet), and that will hopefully be a bridge toward more heavily themed games. I've still got Talisman waiting patiently in the basement, so when they're ready, the kids are going to get it sprung on them.

My plan with the C&C games as a gateway into wargaming seems to be working, so I figure that DT will provide a similar bridge.

ubarose said...

mtlawson said...
I've still got Talisman waiting patiently in the basement, so when they're ready, the kids are going to get it sprung on them.

What are you waiting for? My daughter has been playing Talisman since she old enough to read and add.

Mr Skeletor said...

What the hell?
I come here to relax with friends after the latest BGG adventures and what do I find?
A bunch of crotchety old Dungeonquest motherfuckers bashing the greatest dungeoncrawl of all time, descent!
What a pack of fucking moaners. Go play your D&D 3.8 with your friendly dungeon master who makes awsome stories where you can't die, you wimps.
Drakon is an interesting one as to where it fits. It feels like an AT even though on paper it probably shouldn't be. It's certainly amongst the nastiest games I own, and people who don't think it has much player interaction (especially with 2 players) hasn't played the game enough. I love it. Jury is still out on cave troll.
Dungeon Twister should be an AT that just doesn't feel like one.
Overall my votes

Drakon: AT
Dungeon Twister: ???
Descent: AT

Jonas said...

I own Drakon and enjoy it very much. It can be a nasty game especially with certain tiles. I think it plays best with 6 players with 3 vs 3 teams play to 20 gold then everyone on your team has to escape. Another way we have played is 3 vs 3 and if Drakon got anyone your team didn't lose gold but that player was eliminated.
I think the problem that people get into with Drakon is that they expect more out of it, if that makes sense.

jack hill said...

I'm in the Descent does suck camp. I suspect the big problem with it is the scenarios. The first section is a big room full of monsters. The second section is a big room full of slightly harder to kill monsters. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I'm all for Warhammer Quest. (Which is just shy of D&D, but is the pinnacle of GW excess.)

And of course, Mutant Chronicles. Everything that people like about Descent is in there, but simpler and faster.

The crown jewel, however, is the campaign game. That changes the game dramatically. About the third mission, all sense of cooperation between the marines breaks down, and it turns into a backstabbing and kill-stealing sort of game.

A kind of "He's ahead on points. Let's block off his retreat and laugh as the Ezoghoul eats him."

And don't forger to add random turn order every round.

The only thing it is missing is Overwatch.

Mr Skeletor said...

How does Warhammer quest not have those problems? If anything they are worse due to the stupidly big squares the game used (places much less emphasis on maneuverability) and retarded "monster magically appears next to you" rule.
Siege is indeed a classic game, but I honestly think it could do with being a few degrees more complex than it is.

Anonymous said...

Descent is so awesome that my head explodes into a thousand shards of gooey joy just thinking about how friggin' cool it is!

It's the ultimate hybrid of boardgame and fantasy RPG and if that's not your cup o' joe, then avoid it, but if you have a passion for either, I HIGHLY recommend picking this BEAST up right now!!!

As an added bonus, the core set box is big enough to bury a small child in (not that I'm suggesting anything...)

Michael Barnes said...

I agree with Jack Hill (and thank you for directing both FOXY BROWN and SPIDER BABY, one of the greatest cult horror pictures ever).

SIEGE OF THE CITADEL- and SPACE CRUSADE for that matter- really "do" all the same things that DESCENT/DOOM are loved for but in half the time and without a lot of fluff. I don't think DESCENT is a bad game, I just feel like it doesn't offer a good return on investment. Hell, setup alone is 30 minutes.

I am interested to see what they do with that new wilderness expansion, that might be interesting.

Ken Bradford said...

Oh man, I'm all about SIEGE OF THE CITADEL. Great game. Just didn't match the theme for purposes of this discussion.

I'm surprised you guys would peg Drakon as being AT--I expected guff for even suggesting it was borderline. The theme is just barely there, it could be anything.

Julian said...

Descent is AT through and through. I haven't played the other two games.

I'm in the Descent is a bit disappointing camp. I totally agree that Siege of the Citadel is trying to do a similar thing, but succeeds better.

I have four main beefs with Descent, some of which have been brought up already. First, it is too long for the kind of game it is. Second, the magic system is dull. Magic weapons are just super good ranged weapons. Even Hero Scape had a better magic system. Third, I don't like the respawning. I think this was to appease the anti player elimination crowd. It would be better if the Overlord was trying to wipe out the party before they acheived the quest. Last, the Monsters are not tough enough. All the really nasty things are traps. If I'm fighting a Demon or Dragon, I want to feel a bit nervous. I don't get that in Descent. Still the game has some good points, so its a middling game for me.

Michael Barnes said...

The theme is just barely there, it could be anything.

Yeah, but you could say the same thing about DESCENT.

Reface all the corridors with Sci-fi art, change all the monsters to demons, make the swords chainsaws and the bows assault rifles, make the fantasy heroes marines and you have...DOOM.

Sure, it's still really a dungeon crawl but the theme is pretty independent of the mechanics...I think that really sort of characterizes most games in the genre, which kind of flies in the face of conventional AT wisdom, but it's true. Witness SPACE CRUSADE...it's elementally not that much different that HERO QUEST, but the window dressing and scenarios bring ample theme to "convert" it to a new setting.

Pat H said...

Holy shit I have been under a rock. I have never heard of Space Crusade. I would definitely have bought this as I still occasionally play Heroquest, although it is showing its age and isn't as much fun anymore.

Heroquest was a good source of cheap plastic mini's and I bet Space Crusade was a mistake that GW won't make again. Looks like 40 mini's or so for about $50. GW used to do this sort of thing until people started showing up at their lousy Fantasy and 40k tournaments with the Heroquest and Space Hulk mini's. They have since made rules regarding the types of figures you can field to play.

What a bunch of fucken losers GW turned into.

Michael Barnes said...

Yes, SPACE CRUSADE is ridiculous- the best mass-market production of a game EVER. The whole thing is really high quality. The figures are actually better than FFG quality.

It's a great game, you can still trade/buy on Ebay...there's a couple of expansions, the Eldar one is pretty hard to find. apparently the German edition changed all the weapons into "nonlethal" versions so the autocannon fires time-warping bubbles. I kid you not. I'm surprised you don't have to bid corn nuggets to beat the Chaos Space Marines.

Jack Hill said...

Herr Skeletor:

You are correct about the basic non-GM'd form of Warhammer Quest. It is pretty tedious and...reminds me a lot of Descent.

The GM'd scenarios are much more interesting, allowing the GM to trim back the respawns to sane levels. The adventures break up the monster slaying. It is more interesting than Heroquest, mostly because you have a team of 1HP red shirts.

The best part is that the hard monsters are really hard and scary.

Descent definitely has the better overall system. More dungeon crawls should have included Overwatch. Descent just has too many downsides---you are going from 1st to 10th level over the course of a single dungeon, but still have to slog through crappy respawns.


Space Crusade mostly feels a bit like a multi-player watered-down Space Hulk. Or a Mutant Chronicles without the backstabbing.

Mr Skeletor said...

Space Crusade was fucking awesome. I got it before I got siege, so I always assumed siege ripped it off (the games were kind of similar) but I could be wrong there and siege may have came out first.
Heroquest, space crusade and battlemasters. What a fucking awesome childhood.

Jack HIll said...

Space Crusade was before Mutant Chronicles, but after Space Hulk.

I do like the blips in Space Crusade. They are so much more effective than in Space Hulk. In Space Hulk, you get a few critters, but you can usually deal with those.

Nothing compares to flipping over a blip and running into a Dreadnaught.

The only thing worse of course is a whole freaking factory of the things (see the second expansion for that horror.)

mtlawson said...

What are you waiting for? My daughter has been playing Talisman since she old enough to read and add.

Oh, I tried to explain it once to the two older ones, but the oldest wanted to play a princess, and the middle one started rummaging through all the Adventure cards. Things did not go well.

I figure I'll try over the summer, when we've got some time and I don't have all this blasted work hanging over my head right now.

ubarose said...

Oh, I tried to explain it once to the two older ones, but the oldest wanted to play a princess, and the middle one started rummaging through all the Adventure cards. Things did not go well.

LOL! The first time we played, my daughter wanted to be the princess too. We gave her one of the non-magic female characters and told her it was the princess in disguise. I think we also played without spells the first time and upped everyones starting stats to shorten the game.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Space Crusade still pretty easy to pick up in the UK cheaply (thank God something is), I got a couple of copies a few years back for my lad (now 8yrs) and it's about time they came out. We were playing LotR Combat Hex last year with heaps of dice and hit points and Heroscape seems quite basic to him so time to move him up.
Just have to get those damn console game controllers out of his hands !!

mtlawson said...

LOL! The first time we played, my daughter wanted to be the princess too. We gave her one of the non-magic female characters and told her it was the princess in disguise. I think we also played without spells the first time and upped everyones starting stats to shorten the game.

My daughter picked up the Prophetess and asked if that was the Princess, and I was NOT going to let her have one of the most powerful characters while my son wanted the Dwarf; he'd get carved up if he didn't know what he was doing. If she really wants the Prophetess, I'm going to give him the Dark Elf.

ubarose said...

My daughter picked up the Prophetess and asked if that was the Princess, and I was NOT going to let her have one of the most powerful characters while my son wanted the Dwarf

We pulled the Prophetess right out of the game. Not only is she absurdly powerful, but she is also down right annoying and slows down the game.

My daughter plays the "Amazon Princess". The Amazon's powers are easy and she can play a straight strength game. When she gets older, we will introduce her to the magic component. She thinks the Amazon is ugly, so she gets to use a Wonder Woman fig as her pawn (Wonder Woman - Amazon Princess).

mtlawson said...

My daughter plays the "Amazon Princess". The Amazon's powers are easy and she can play a straight strength game. When she gets older, we will introduce her to the magic component. She thinks the Amazon is ugly, so she gets to use a Wonder Woman fig as her pawn (Wonder Woman - Amazon Princess).

"Wonder Woman!!" ::cue 70's music::

Where's Lynda Carter when we need her?