Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review - Ron & Bones

Picture it: the middle of the Carribean. A boat floats listlessly through the warm blue waters. On board the small tattered craft lay four pirates, who were, frankly, still drunk. The one named El Antillano woke first. He stupled to his feet and looked around. Three others from his crew were still passed out on deck. The Captain was no where in sight. He smiled, pulled out his pistol and fired into the air. 

"Looks like the captain is dead. I'm the captain now!" 
The other three bolted up and jumped to their feet. Like El Antillano, they swayed a little more than what is it expected on a boat. Mellienete was the first to react.

"Like hell you are, I'm the captain!"
Another, whose name was Toruk-Te, had not really grasped the situation. He wore a shark on his back for stealth and was a native from a far off Island. He looked at the man claiming to be captain and figured, since all the other captains he served wore large silly hats, that this man - who also wore a large silly hat - must indeed be the new captain. The old one was no where in sight. 

At the same time Erika Crabby, a cabin-girl, was not about to see that old, ugly, misogynistic sea slug El Antillano be her captain. She reacted by pointing at Mellienete and shouting, "She's the captain!" 

El Antillano grinned a yellow-toothed smile, "So that's how it'll be eh girl? What say you Toruk?" 
Toruk only shrugged and moved closer to the man he thought was captain. 

"Guess well have a go at it then eh girls?" Antillano leveled his pistol and fired.... 

Meanwhile at a bar far back in port the REAL captain smiled as he downed another pint. Those four barnacles were finally gone. Sent adrift in a drunken haze. He had been trying to get rid of them for months but their insidous pirate nature just kept them around. "Finally I've some piece of mind," thought the captain.  

Welcome back! It's been a pretty crazy week for me but I do not fail in bringing you a review of Ron & Bones (finally). So the saga of this game and me started back in November. I received this game as a gift along with a few extra figures. It had been sitting in my drawer since about three weeks ago. I had gone through a roller coaster of emotions with regards to this game. First I saw the pirates and I was elated. Then I remembered I don't have money or time. Then I got it for my birthday. Then I opened the packaged and realized...the characters don't actually come with the cards. So in the end I shelved the game. However, after I started this blog I thought to myself, I wonder if there are online resources. Guess what? There were! The forums for Ron & Bones had everything I needed! The rest you have seen in a previous post and is what follows. 

The starter set is (as usual) a good place to start for the game. The Ron & Bones starter kit comes with a basic hex based board, the rule book (which I will discuss later), 2 miniatures that are not otherwise available, 2d10 and all the cards you need for those two pirates. My friend and I used this set and two other figures to play a few games. Now the game seems designed for a pirate crew of about 5-8 models, we used 2 figures each but managed to find a good scenario for the low point cost. 
                                              We are all set up to rumble on the open seas!
The rules:
Usually I don't get too into this but I feel it necessary in this case. You can download a copy of the rules here. The game is scenario based and uses a hex based board system. Facing is important. You have the 5 squares in front as your "Zone of Action" and the back as your Rear. Line of sight is drawn from ZoA (ZAC as they call it). 

Basically When I read the rules for this game I thought, this is way to complicated for a hex based game. I thought I was not going to enjoy this at all. Thankfully, I was wrong. Movement and attack are governed by "Combat scrolls". At the beginning of the turn you choose one scroll (each character has a set of them) and then reveal once everyone has chosen one. Then your characters get to act based on the initiative and actions on the combat scrolls. You can wrestle, stab, defend, insult, handle, jump or even fall and trip. Movement is based on these scrolls too. 

                            Melienete jumps overboard with a treasure chest she shanghai'd! 

Combat is a little more complicated but simply involves rolling a 2d10 against a determined difficulty level. The level is determined via  a chart and character position. Damage is then decided based on how much you exceeded the roll by. If you exceed it by enough your opponent may gain permanent damage. For example, in one game El Antillano put out Melienete's left eye and then finished her by decapitation. 

                                          While Ericka pelted Teruk from the deck with Ninja
                                    crabs, Mellienete fell to El Antillano! Guess he's the captain...

The scenarios found in the starter book rely on routing your opponent by 60% reputation (that is a stat of your characters). The scenario we played was called "I'm the Captain" and it was great fun. Basically the captain was rumored dead and everyone else wants to be captain. This got us around the rule that each crew needs to have a captain level character (they usually run about 100 gold to hire). We also had to roll on a drunkenness table. All the characters were pretty drunk!

The game also relies on objects like barrels tables and treasure chests (all available in the Tales of War Shop) for terrain. With these, however, you can pick them up and use them as weapons. Each character also has a back pack and two open hands. You put little counters in the characters' hands to symbolize the weapons they are carrying. If you're using a character's left hand and he is right-handed, you get a penalty to hit. Also, a character can be disarmed- they have to drop their weapon. This would give another character the opportunity to pick up that weapon.

All in all, despite my apprehensions about the rules, my opponent and I were pleasantly suprised by how fun this was. 

The Rundown and my opinion: 
So by the end of our gaming sessions both my opponent and I were resolute in our desire to purchase more of these figures. We had great fun being pirates and yelling "No! I'm the captain!" during our game, to the extent that people repeatedly asked us what we were playing. 

So now the unfortunate aspects of this game:
The most annoying this for me is that the characters, when purchased individually, do not come with their necessary cards. While you can download them for free it definitely takes away from the game that you have to buy card lots to have the cards in hand (the cards are actually very high quality). The rulebook also suffers from the pitfalls of translation. Sometimes, in fact, we found it difficult to decipher the rules because of it. All in all, we managed admirably, though. 

The game also suffers from something many gaming rule books suffer from- no index. This is a game where you have to reference charts and rules a lot when you first start the game. It is not always easy to find things in the book but by the end of our session we knew where most of the necessary info was and mostly just had to consult a couple of the charts. The rules are, sadly, not organized in a very intuitive way for you to find things quickly (I still have trouble finding the rule for "stuck" even though we looked it up 3 times). 
                                                 Toruk-Te and Erika defend their treasure.

All in all though, this was a very fun game. The creators have truly engineered a unique skirmish game. This is a definite must if your looking for a different experience in a skirmish game. It takes a a lot for the guy I play with to actively go out and spend money on a new miniature game. It was also nice to see what they are creating across the pond. So many miniature games come from America that it was cool to get out of cultural bubble of gaming. 

I give Ron & Bones three ratings.
Miniatures/creativity of play: 8/10
Accessibility/Ease of entrance into the game: 6/10
Overall experience: 7/10

I am not sure what I will be doing next week, but I suspect it will be a tutorial on how to make a stone step green stuff base. I also have Anima tactics minis on my painting table so that will mean a review of that of of course (these things are seriously cool). 

Also don't forget to get your Pax East tickets. I will be there all three days doing Malifaux demoing, Super Dungeon Exploring demoing, and general cavorting with the nice folks at the Warstore, Cool Mini or Not and Soda Pop Miniatures. Come have fun with me! 

Peace out all you cool cats in miniature land, Antizombie signing off. 

-Steve (MDX)


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