Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thunderstone - Review

Hey all I'm back.
So before i get to the review I want to say thank you for everyone who visited this site so far despite there only being two other posts up. It certainly made me feel like maybe I have something to say.
                                                            You guys make me smile

So anyway on with the review!

Thunder - Thunder - Thunderstoooooonnnnne HOOOOOOO!

So if you are a gamer and have not heard of this game i suspect you may have been living under a rock or in some sort of internet/phone/telegraph devoid basement. If you have not heard of the game itself you may have heard of the game's genre which is termed "deck building game". Basically the premises of this and other games like it is that each person starts off with a number of generic cards, each player having the same cards. You then utilize your meager deck to acquire other cards that will help you obtain, or are in fact victory points. These games rely on deck cycling  to work ( that is to say when you run out of cards you reshuffle your discard pile into your deck). Then once a certain condition is met the game is over and you go through your deck and count up your victory points and determine a winner!

Thankfully these games (which have become all the vogue) are NOT collectible card games. All the cards you need come in one nice package and then expansions full of other fun cards follow. No chasing down that impossible to find Vesuvian doppelganger for you, not with these games (3rd edition...).

The Game: 
So to date Thunderstone has three expansions, with the third having come out this month. I was fortunate enough to be doing some Super Dungeon Exploring when i noticed it in the "to be received" pile at my hobby store. My friend and i quickly snatcher this up since it had been about 6 months since the last expansion and we had not played in a while.

The goal of this game, of course, is to get as many victory points as you can in your deck. You do this by hunting monsters in the dungeon. The dungeon itself has 3 levels and each level makes the monsters in it more difficult to defeat by way of a light mechanic.

To help you get rid of these menacing monsters the villiage is stocked with 4 random heroes you can hire, 8 unique town items you can purchase and 4 generic, in every game, cards. The heroes can be leveled up with experiance obtained from a monster. Once you do this you sift through the hero pile and get the level 2 hero (or level 3) and put it in your deck. Unfortuantly, once there are no more cards of a given hero or hero level, that guy can no longer be purchased/upgraded.

The items in town are usually weapons, mercenaries, spells, or light sources. These things are given to heroes to help them deal with the deadly monsters in the dungeon.

The game is over when the Thunderstone is revealed and reaches the first level of the dungeon. 

Pretty simple hu? Well its not. It is however A LOT of fun with a huge replay value. I have explained some of the basic principles but if you want an in depth look at the rules check them out here.

The Expansions:
To date there are two expansions. I must say that these are a must for anyone who seriously enjoys this game. They are called Wrath of the Elements and the most recent The Doomgate Legion . These two expansions add some very cool heroes and a great variety of monsters to populate your dungeon. In addition these sets give you a method for playing a campaign as well as traps, treasures and "dungeon features".

The future of the game:
So slated for this February a new stand alone Thunderstone set will be released. Personally i am excited you can find more details and previews of the cards here. It looks to be a pretty impressive set with a few new game mechanics.

My Impressions:
Well lets start off with the good. The good for this may be great. First of all the re-playability of this game is outstanding. You can theoretically never play the same game twice. The randomization of playing elements is wonderful. The game mechanics are great too. With regards to other popular deck building games (such as Dominion) this game is definitely at the top of the ladder. There is no one stratagy that will get you the gold (no pun intended) such as with Dominion. While there is not too much player interaction in the game you really don't notice since you end up being so absorbed in your own options. And options there are aplenty, so many in fact that your brain is gonna strain to figure out how best to operate and build your deck. This, I think, is definitly a plus. Another wonderful aspect of this game is that it is very accessible to people. Someone with limited gaming background can come in and find the game play easy enough and enjoy the experience.

And the bad... Well with most games that release expansion there is a definite power creep going on. Some of the heroes you may draw are positively useless. The game's basic set has a number of these and as much as i try to use them i find that they just suck. Set up and tear down is also a little difficult. AEG did help us players out though, in the expansion set there are some nice card organizers so you don't have to pull your hair out trying to find all the cards you need or put them back in the right order.

The bad aside this game rocks. Its something you can just sit down and play over and over again. Most games my group doesn't even care who wins ( we usually just end up saying "That was an awsome set up let's do it again). The game usually lasts an hour to an hour and a half. All in all id say this game takes away about 7 1/2 stars.

Something from me: 
Here is a fun and challenging set up my group came up with:
Monsters: Golem, Elemental Pain, Dragon, Traps (death)
Heroes: Runespawn, Lorrigg, Reglan, Amazon
Village: Polearm, Warhammer, Goodberries, Soul Jar, Divine staff, Claymore, Lantern, Green Blade
I'm pretty sure that was the set up...

And now because i didn't put any pictures in, some random eye candy!

                                               Bones: he haunts my wife's dreams...

Next week i will be review the pirate game Ron & Bones by the nice folks across the pond at Tale of War Miniatures this will probably be a two part review because i don't think I will be able to get in many games this week.

Till next time - peace out,
Steve (MDX)

PS: please comment with anything you may want to see reviewed. Pretty soon ill start doing painting tutorials or mini reviews (I have a few in mind).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Super Dungeon Explore - Review

Let me start of by saying - in a non-objective way - I love this game!

I had the privilege of playing this game way back in August while i was at Gen-Con. The nice folks who run Soda Pop Miniatures took me through a demo. We had a nice long talk about the creator's vision for the game and for what the miniatures should look like. I managed to snag almost a whole set of their promo models. These models are 20% larger than the currently released models.

Currently the game is not "officially" released. Right now the demo rules are available for free at the Soda Pop web-site provided above. They also have a limited number of non-promotional models on their website. It is also important to note they have another game called Relic Knights. I have not played this game but very much appreciate the miniatures.

I have been working on creating a SDE set since Gen-Con. It has been a true labor of love. All miniatures, dungeon accessories and dungeon tiles were painted/created by me. So on with the reivew.

Two heroes are pitted against re-spawning monsters in an attempt to destroy all the monsters in the dungeon and those monsters' spawning points. It's pretty simple, but in the end, the game-play feels a lot like a Final Fantasy Tactics game or a Legend of Zelda Game.

Currently the game is incomplete. The demo rules are intended to introduce players to the basic mechanics of the game from the Hero side or the Kobold side. The demo rules give the heroes a large edge (poor Kobolds). According to what I heard at Gen-Con there will be a Boss mechanic introduced in the full game. There is also another type of monster rumored to be released: the Undead. I suspect their will be a boss dragon for the Kobolds and a Vampire for the undead when the game is finally released.

With a few house rules and some creative tweeking however, you can get the demo rules up and balanced in no time.
                                                        cool set-up, huh? ;)

To save me from explaining the game go here and check out the easy-to-read 8-page demo rules. Everything you need to play (minus the miniatures) can be found in that rule guide.


 So for the demo set a Mage, Paladin, Demonkin rogue, Ranger and dwarf were released.

Mage: She explodes, and does so well. She also has some capacity to heal and provides very good support while someone else goes in and takes out the Kobold spawning point. In the demo she is slightly overpowered.

Paladin: In the demo he is pretty broken. However, I have been assured by the fellows at Soda Pop that this guy will be "clutch" in the game and that he (and all the heroes) will need all their tricks to get through the dungeon. Basically the paladin can heal himself and others very effectively while making a path through his enemies.

Demonkin Rogue: Shes fast, super fast. She can get to important points quickly and avoid getting hit.

Ranger: She is a tactical nuke. With range capabilities that can take out up to 9 kobolds with one attack she is a valuble member of any party.

Dwarf: My group wants to like him but sadly he is a but underpowered in the demo. Hes very hard to kill but his special abilities just are not that impressive. He is similar to the paladin in his use though. He is designed to take damage and get on through to destroy the spawn points.

Next up: Kobolds, aka "Hey boss, they're takin' our shinies!"
These guys are fun. I have much more experience with these than the heroes since the people I teach to play always get to be Heroes first. The rundown of these guys is that you get a set amount of Kobolds for each pair of spawning points. From from to back you got: Flingers, Gougers, two versions of the Dragon Priest, Iron scales, and finally the Knuckleheads.

These little guys rely on mobbing an opponent since they get attack bonuses when they surround a hero. Unfortunately this tendency to bunch together allows heroes like the mage and the ranger to kill great numbers of them in one hit. That's OK, though! You can just spawn some more.

They take a little while to get used to but they are certainly fun once you get the hang of them.


The only things in this picture that are Soda Pop created are the three treasure chests. The first one was a promo prize at gen con. The second is a mimic named "Boo-Booty" and comes with the currently released Kobold mage. Finally, the third blue chest is what comes with each hero. The pillars in the background are what I used for Kobold Warren spawning points. The blue potions are used as potion counters. The brown jars are simply what I use for house rule dungeon accessories.

My Impressions: 
This is going to be a great game when it comes out. Until then we have some generously provided demo rules to keep us satiated while we wait. The game is wonderfully simple and reaches out to the board game crowd and the miniature game crowd. It has some obvious balance issues in the Demo rules but based on what i have heard from the company all the wrinkles will be ironed out. I'm going to give this game a 8 1/2 stars right now. The miniatures are wildly fun to paint, the game play is smooth and unique and the company is incredibly receptive to its fans. Look for its "official" release this summer during the second Quarter.

Bonus stuff from me: 
House rules! Since this game is currently incomplete it is great fun to come up with some of your own rules for it. The game bends wonderfully to those who want to make it their own. So without further delay here are some things to try out with the demo rules:

1: Blank loot cards: Put six or so in the loot deck. Sometimes monsters don't always drop awsome helpful stuff. I put funny things on the cards like "All your base are belong to us" or "The monsters dropped 1 Gil." My players seem to thing its a good laugh.

2: ITS A TRAP! Add a trap card to the treasure deck. Nuff said.

3: Keys: let the consul put key spawn points for the treasure. The heros have to grab the key if they want to open a chest. Then once the key is used it respawns. This allows players to use more of the dungeon.

4: Create your own kobold :)

Till next time, Peace out.
Steve (MDX)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to the dungeon

Hi everybody! (just pretend I'm Dr. Nick.) I created this blog as a way to showcase my obsession with hobby gaming and miniature making. I also seem to find myself playing all the latest games before they are cool. So I thought it would be fun to write some reviews of these games (before or after they come out). I participate in a wide variety of miniature games, board games and card games. One thing you will not find on my blog are Magic: The Gathering reviews. I do not play; I used to play but that was way back in the day (beta). I will also be showcasing miniatures that I have painted, miniature painting techniques I learn, and miniature bases I design (with or without how-to's).

Currently I am involved as a volunteer for Wyrd Miniatures in their Henchman program and paint for commissions (if I like you and the price is right). Any miniatures featured on this site are painted by me unless i state otherwise, so if you choose to feature them anywhere please give credit where credit is due.

I hope that my reviews are helpful and that you enjoy any eye candy I might post. Also if you want me to review something feel free to send it to me. Email me and I'll get back to you with my contact information.

Please feel free to look around and leave your comments, ideas, questions, and snide remarks on my posts! Just please also be respectful and appropriate. No promises on how often I'm going to update- I'm also in school and working full time.

Peace out and i hope that your dungeon faring yields treasure and successful encounters!

- Steve (MDX)