Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger Review

Choose Your Own Adventure House Of Danger Box Art
Choose Your Own Adventure House Of Danger Box Art
Released 2018
Designer Prospero Hall
Publisher Z-Man Games (Website)
Players 1+ (Probably 3-4 max)
Playing Time 40 – 60 minutes per chapter, 5 chapters total
Category Hand Management
Cooperative Play
Multipath Narrative
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Who wouldn’t trust psychic premonitions?

I have spoken before about growing up with the Fighting Fantasy, Pick-a-Path and Choose Your Own Adventure books.

Back in the 80s, these books were a goldmine for solo gaming.  Dungeons and Dragons was a thing, but without a group, I was a bit stuck.  I had Hero Quest and Space Hulk, but younger siblings made adventuring a bit difficult.

Already an avid reader from a young age, these books let me not just follow an authors tale but let me play my own story.  And I had every single one I could get my hands on back in the day.

So when I heard that one of the best early Choose Your Own Adventure games was being turned into a board game, eyebrows were raised.

What eventually arrived was a retro look and feel game that was both familiar and true to the books, but with a definite ‘game’ structure.

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Components
House of Danger Game Components. I didn't want to show my spoiled open copy :p

So what is the House of Danger?

Well – that’s the question.  You don’t know, and the point of the game is to find out.

Now at this point, I will remind everyone that House of Danger was an early young readers story, so don’t expect an epic storyline!

You play a psychic investigator and aspiring detective that is awoken one night from a nightmare by a phone call asking for help.  The number is unlisted, but after asking friends in the police force you find about the Marsden House.

Your psychic senses telling you this is the source of your nightmares, you go to investigate and solve the mystery of the house.

House Of Danger Story Card
This is the first card you read, and is fairly representative of the amount of text involved.

Playing the Game

I’m not really going to go into a lot of detail on how to play House of Danger.  This is partly because the system is fairly intuitive, but mainly it will be impossible to show the game mechanics without spoilers.

If you have read any of these books, or played games like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, then the basics are familiar to you.

You progress through the story by reading numbered cards.  Depending on the decisions you make, you will be directed to read a different numbered card.  This continues until you reach your objective, clearly marked at the start of each of the five chapters.

To stop players ‘accidentally’ reading ahead, the pile of chapter cards is topped by a book cover – a nice touch I thought.

House Of Danger Board
Apart from the cards, you will be referencing this board a lot.

On top of this ‘game’ wise there is a psychic meter and the danger meter.  Both are very simple implementations for common systems.

Your psychic level is a kind of experience level.  You start at Level 1, and during the game, you will get different premonitions or bonuses if you are at a minimum level.   There isn’t a guaranteed way of gaining psychic points in the game, but there are ways to lose points!

The Danger Meter is used for the various challenges in the game, broken up in different categories like Fighting, Dexterity and Strength.

The concept is pretty simple – you will read a challenge (e.g. Can you see a secret door?  Try a perception check) and if you decide to take it, roll the six-sided die.  If you roll the number shown on the danger meter or higher, you pass the test!

To help you, before you roll you can use an item add one to the die roll.

But.  There is always a but.  If you roll a 1, that is an automatic failure.  Think of it as a critical failure if you play a lot of roll playing games.  Oh and if you were using an item?  That card is now removed from the game!

House Of Danger Ready To Play
Ready to start Chapter one, items ready and the unknown waiting

So why am I playing this again?

This is going to be the reaction of a lot of people.  Without getting right into the nitty gritty of House of Danger it’s hard to justify why someone should buy it.

If solving an interactive story sounds good to you though, then House of Danger is more designed for you.

For older players or buyers due to nostalgia, House of Danger may be a game better suited to solo play.  I played solo, with another player and with two others and I enjoyed each experience, but each experience was very different.

Playing by myself and with Alpal, we both kind of went the ‘one straight run’ approach.  Playing with Alpal and Rabbit, the chapters took a lot longer but we explored most if not all options available to us.

My best advice would be to play with people that would play similarly to you.  Playing with strangers, this won’t be easy, but it would be easier playing with friends.  If you have someone that doesn’t want to do optional challenges or loop back and explore different areas, this could dampen the experience for everyone.

House Of Danger Story Cover
The only card that will make it through the entire game - and it's the cover!

An older player or two with some younger players though would be a different story.  Now by younger players, I don’t mean six-year-olds.  While the older players could do the reading and explain some concepts, House of Danger has a supernatural horror element that could still be considered too much for some.  But I think the recommended age of 10+ is a good guide if you wanted a game with your kids.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

Final Thoughts

House of Danger is a great idea and in a lot of ways the Board Game equivalent of the NES Mini and similar consoles.  Changing the format of the original book does open up possibilities for other players, and was a novel experience.

Playing as a group, it’s a fun shared story experience and a better gateway than the Consulting Detective series, and as such remember that this won’t be a challenge for a lot of people, just a bit of fun.

I don’t regret buying House of Danger, but I might recommend the Fighting Fantasy books for better bang for your buck, especially solo.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  •  Interesting Nostalgia Twist
  •  Turns a stand-alone book into a cooperative experience
  •  Light RPG Gateway experience

Cons

  •  Limited replay value, maybe twice through the whole story
  •  Potentially better solo, but then you could just get the book

Last Week’s Gaming – January 14th, 2019

20190114 Escape the Dark Castle

Escape the Danger of Suprise Bowling in the Shadows. Also, Unusual Animals on the Frontiers, having a Tea Party.

This was a huge week for getting games to the table – so big, there are a couple I had to defer to this week!

Let’s get straight into it.

Planet Surprise

An Alpal special she has been holding onto for a little while, Planet Surprise is incredibly well named!  The premise is simple – each player is exploring a galaxy, and the player that finds the best planets overall wins.

Played over 10 rounds, the mechanics are fairly simple.  In player order, the player decides what action to take, and then a planet on the card is scratched (like a lottery ticket).  A score will be revealed – positive and negative! – and after 10 rounds highest score wins.

An interesting diversion, but not a game easily found.

20190114 Planet Surprise
Never realised how much fun a bunch of scratchy tickets could be!

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

Alpal, Rabbit and I started playing this last year, but it fell to the wayside.

As a pre-games night warmup, Alpal and I are doing a turbo run through the game to see how we fare – no looping back to see what we missed!

This will be fun to knock out, and I really want to see how it ends overall.  Expect a full review in a few weeks – we are doing a chapter a week roughly, and I will probably replay it more cautiously before the final write up.

20190114 House of Danger
Playing through the first chapter, we are not doing as well on the psychic scale as the first run

Shadows: Amsterdam

Similar to Istanbul The Dice Game, Shadows: Amsterdam has all the makings of making it instantly into my top games of all time.

It’s a game that suits so many situations, and potentially different kinds of players.  While played in two teams, like Codenames it has that “Oooh that looks interesting, can I join?” that lets you instantly drop new players in.

Games of Shadows: Amsterdam rarely takes more than 15 minutes so far in my experience – if you haven’t had a chance to play it, please do!

20190114 Shadows Amsterdam
Such a fun little game, and easy to teach and play! Get your non-gaming friends in on the action.

Dinosaur Tea Party

Restoration Games continues their hot streak of tweaking old games and making them awesome again.

Technically, Dinosaur Tea Party is a reworking of a game called Whosit?, but that isn’t a game I am familiar with.  So description wise, it’s Guess Who? for up to 5 people.

Randomly assigned a character with specific traits, you are invited to a morning of High Tea – except no one knows who anyone is.  If you can correctly name a player after observing their traits, you are rewarded a sugar cube – first to three cubes wins.  Simple!

A lot of fun, and able to be played with a wide range of people.

20190114 Dinosaur Tea Party
For some reason I took the pic upside down... Oh well! If you want multiplayer Guess Who, here is Dinosaur Tea Party

Unusual Suspects

Keeping up the Guess Who? with a twist theme, Unusual Suspects hit the table this week.

One player is a clue giver sets up 12 pictures randomly selected from a fair sized deck of choices.  They then draw the culprit (random picture from within the layout), and the game begins.

The rest of the group draws 2 question cards and selects one to ask.  These are all fairly random, like “Is a coffee drinker?” or “Takes Public Transport?”, and the group must eliminate pictures based on the response.  If they eliminate the culprit, it’s an instant loss.  But if they eliminate everyone but the culprit, it’s a win!

It’s a game of stereotyping, but overall in a lighthearted way.  Lots of fun and joking was had with Unusual Suspects, and I suspect it will be pulled out a few more times over time.

20190114 Unusual Suspects
Unusual Suspects - or Stereotypes the game! Do you have the same impressions from just a picture?

Concept Kids: Animals

Concept is a great game, but to me, it is one you have to be in a certain mindset to play. Formalising Charades, clues can only be given by placing coloured blocks linking ‘Concepts’ on board.  And the answers can be very detailed – it’s not an easy game for younger players!

Enter Concept Kids – same theory, but simpler execution.  We played Animals, which focuses on guessing different types of animals. The core of the game was the same, but the clues are all slanted to identifying animals.

Yes, it’s aimed at kids game, but it was still a fun game to play with the five of us in a relaxed chatty atmosphere.

20190114 Concept Kids Animals
How many legs? Does it crawl or run? Clues aimed at the theme make this Concept easier for younger players

Bowling Solitaire

Bowling Solitaire is a game I can see myself getting addicted to.  Luckily it’s not only Alpal’s, but it’s a bonus game that comes in Elevenses for One!

The idea is pretty straightforward – set up the 10 pins, and ‘bowl’.  You can clear up to 3 pins at a time, done by adding up the value of the cards and matching the last digit to a number on your ‘ball’.

So in the picture, if one of the piles had a 6 on it, I could take out the two 3 cards on the second row – 3+3=6.  Or if I had a 5, I could take out the outside of the left hand side – 7+3+5=15, so the last digit is 5.

Once you can’t do this, that roll is over and you continue on in the frame.  Scoring is traditional ten pin bowling scoring, so 300 maximum.  But it’s a quick logic puzzle with a goal, and that’s what makes it a lot of fun!

20190114 Bowling Solitaire
20 cards and 15 minutes. Such a simple concept, but so much fun

Alien Frontiers

Alien Frontiers is a game lots of people have told me I would enjoy, but somehow got knocked down my on my ‘to play’ and even my ‘to buy’ lists. That changed this week, with Alpal happy to show me one of her favourite games!

Similar to Roll Player, Alien Frontiers is a simple logic puzzle involving luck in rolling the right dice. It has that ‘itch’ that’s perfect for my brain – a puzzle that can be solved, with all the information in front of you, but against other people.

In some ways, I think I will prefer Alien Frontiers multiplayer and Roll Player solo, but I need to get more games in of both before I can declare that is the final call.

20190114 Alien Frontiers
Another game that people have told me for years I would enjoy, Alien Frontiers has finally been played!

Escape the Dark Castle

I have spoken about Escape the Dark Castle before on the site – both in a review and a whole game with Alpal on Blatherings.

The expanded Kickstarter has been shipping, and Alpal was lucky enough to get her copy first. So naturally, we had to get a couple of games in!

We only played with the initial expanded content – more story openers, some new end bosses, some more items, and cards that end your story.

It was as fun as always, and we had a blast doing this again. Maybe in the near future, we can do another playthrough with 3 players to show off some of the changes!

20190114 Escape the Dark Castle
Once again, Alpal begins getting her pledges before I do! Escape the Dark Castle - always fun

What about you?  What have you been playing?  What are you keen to play?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming September 17th 2018

Downforce Danger Circuit Gameplay

Circuit the Danger House via a MacGuffin Expedition

A little light on in the number of different games played this week, but they were all great!  Well, almost.  They were fun though!

Downforce: Danger Circuit

First, off the ranks this week was the eagerly awaited Downforce: Danger Circuit.  This was one of my most anticipated expansions to play this year, and it didn’t disappoint.

On the surface, Danger Circuit is just more Downforce.  2 new tracks and 6 new team powers – that’s it.  There rule additions are minimal, and it’s great!  It let everyone simply jump straight in and play, and that is part of what made it great.

Already in my head, I have a couple of Grand Prix style events that can happen over the four tracks.  Four games of Downforce, maybe an hour and a half-two hours?  I am sure more expansions will be coming in the future as well, and I can’t wait to play them either.

Downforce Danger Circuit Gameplay
A couple of loops added to the gameplay - especially when SOMEONE tried to cheat and not go through the loop!

Get the MacGuffin

The MacGuffin is old Hitchcock film speak for the thing everyone wants.  And this hand management/social deduction style game definitely keeps this idea going!

It took me a couple of games to get into Get the MacGuffin.  It presents as Fluxx light, and I kept waiting for the other rules to drop.

Playing with three players was fun, and the games are definitely quick.  I think the sweet spot maybe 4-5 players, but Alpal quite enjoys it two players and isn’t big into card counting.  There will be more talk of this in the future.

Get the MacGuffin Components
You have some cards, and you do what they say. Just make sure you read ALL of the text!

Expedition: The Role Playing Card Game

Expedition: The Role Playing Card Game is a bit of a sleeper surprise for me.  I bought it out of curiosity and a desire for free shipping (it bumped me over the threshold!) thinking I could look at it and incorporate into an upcoming video.

Well, I will be, and it’s exactly what it says on the box – it’s a quick and easy role play system that will have you on a quest inside of a couple of minutes.

All of the components are the building blocks of an adventure.  The quests/missions you go on are all controlled in a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style manner via an app, and it works incredibly well.

Expedition Card Game Components
It looks daunting, but the Expedition system is incredibly quick to play and very replayable

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

Speaking of Choose Your Own Adventure, we jumped into the second chapter in House of Danger after a bit of a break.

Waiting three weeks between games may have been a bit long, but exploring the house was a fun affair.  We didn’t even notice the two hours fly by!

Things are starting to fall into place as we play, with some rules and options becoming clear.  The games writing and our own observations (read taking things not at all seriously) is more fun than I thought it would be.  We ‘died’ early on in an absolutely amazing and ridiculous manner early on, and it was great 😀

Definitely worth checking out, and will be played again soon.  Can’t wait to finish this one either 🙂

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Components
House of Danger Game Components. I didn't want to show my spoiled open copy :p

Video Game wise, it was Octpath Carnage?  Time Traveler is too easy

Time Carnage Switch

So a lot of Switch games (and Video Games in general) are starting to be released.  I was interested in Time Carnage because of my experiences with the game in VR, and gameplay wise it’s kinda close.

This is not a game I will be coming back to on the Switch, because I have the VR version on PlayStation and PC.  If it goes on sale or you are looking for a co-op rail shooter, maybe give it a try?

Read my Time Carnage review here, and my Switch comparison here.

Time Carnage Switch Better Visuals
A strange positive is the Switch graphics are much clearer than both the Vive and PSVR versions

Octopath Traveler

Yeah, I am going to be playing this for a long time.  It’s great, and I am loving it.

I have completed the first chapter for each of the eight characters and spent a lot of hours completing Therion’s (my main character)  Chapter 2.

Now, I have a lot of grinding ahead of me.  Chapter 2 recommends most characters are around the mid-20’s in term of levels, and I have a three characters in the 10-12 range.

I have discovered unlocking a second job class which has already opened up a lot of options for me, so I also have to go back to a lot of areas already completed and try for some more secrets as well!

Octopath Traveler Shrine of the Prince of Thieves
The Shrine of the Prince of Thieves - once found, you can unlock Thief as a second job on your characters!

So that’s what I have been playing – what about you?  Let us know on the Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last weeks gaming 27/08/2018

Century Eastern Wonders

Choose your own beasts to score wonder

Happy Monday everyone!

Today I am starting a new Monday regular – what I played over the last week!

Sorry, there are a couple of box shots only.  I really need to get into the habit of photographing my games for the site.  Hopefully, I will get better at this quickly!

But enough of that, onto the games 😀

Choose Your Own Adventure – House of Danger

I wasn’t too sure what to expect with Choose your own Adventure: House of Danger, but it certainly didn’t disappoint.

We only played through the first chapter of five, so we have made our way into the Marsden House, only dying once from memory.

The component quality is simple.  I am undecided if the slightly aged looking cards are cheap components or a nostalgic throwback.  But the experience was fun, and the three of us are looking forward to completing the story 🙂

This will also make a great solo experience, and one I may make a video on in the coming weeks.

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Box Art
The new form of Choose Your Own Adventure

The Big Score

Semi-cooperative games are games I find great with the right group, and The Big Score didn’t disappoint.

In some ways two games in one, the first Act has you secretly dispatching teams to various heists to try and increase your loot and build your crew.  Everything comes to a head in Act 2 as you push your luck pulling tokens from a bank, where one too many cops turn up can cost you everything.

I did switch the rules up a little bit to tailor to the group in question, pushing more of a cooperative slant on the first act.  But either way this was fun, and I can’t wait to play some more for a formal review soon.

The Big Score Box Art
Can you get away with the Big Score?

Beasts of Balance

I backed Beasts of Balance in 2017 for the ‘New Edition and Battles Expansion’.  The premise looked interesting – stack animals and special elements on a plinth that sent data to your tablet, where you can evolve and strengthen your creatures while you play.

Last week, the Battles expansion arrived, and we tried to give it a go.  Unfortunately the YouTube video tutorial wasn’t really able to start (internet problems) so it was a bit of hit and miss mucking about, but still fun making silly stacks.

I did learn (again) to read the Kickstarter properly.  When making the “Everything” pledge, I thought I was getting all creatures.  Nope.  I have 3 other creatures to buy as add-ons.  Always read the fine print guys!

Beasts of Balance Legendary Creatures
The new arrival that prompted the play - the Kickstarter second wave beasts!

Century: Eastern Wonders

I have been looking forward to Century: Eastern Wonders for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, Century: Spice Road (and my preferred Golem Edition) was a simple to play and teach deck builder.  Emerson Matsuuchi has an ability to make some complex mechanics very simple, most of the time.  He has missed sometimes, but doesn’t everyone?

Secondly, you can combine Spice Road and Eastern Wonders into a standalone game – Sand to Sea!

We aren’t in the ‘ready to combine’ stages yet, but it was great getting Eastern Wonders to the table.

Century Eastern Wonders
Century Easter Wonders - Shenanigans in progress 🙂

So that’s what I played in the last week, what about you?  Any new games or Kickstarter deliveries that prompted a big gaming session?

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Choose Your Own Adventure now has a new look

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Box Art

So much of my childhood seems to be coming back into vogue

I have mentioned a couple of times how book series ‘Fighting Fantasy’, ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ and ‘Pick A Path’ got me into adventure gaming.  There have been a few reimaginings of these types of games lately.  Tin Man Games bringing the Fighting Fantasy games back digitally, and now Z-Man is bringing back a card game version of Choose Your Own Adventure.

Now there isn’t really much information about the game itself on the Z-Man site yet, but the images do let me make some assumptions.

The House of Danger was originally printed in 1982.  While it could be seen as strange that Z-Man has picked up later in the series, this was probably the first ‘game’ type adventure in the series from what I can remember.

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Box Art
The new form of Choose Your Own Adventure

As a child detective, your mission was to answer a strange call that leads you to the titular House of Danger.  There were many red herrings and traps that made the game more complex than any of the previous titles, as well as 20 different endings.  I don’t remember specifics of the story this many years later, but I do remember this being one I had to come back to and finish compared to all of the others.

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Components
House of Danger Game Components. I didn't want to show my spoiled open copy :p

Now I was not getting this first time as a nine-year-old, so I am not sure how difficult overall the adventure of House of Danger will be for adults, but the components shown do make me think it will still be worth playing, even if only solo as a curiosity.

It looks like the game is played primarily with a  deck of cards, similar to the Unlock! series (another series I am a huge fan of).  This would mean there will be quite a number of cards included, as the Choose Your Own Adventures are made up of hundreds of numbered passages.

But compared to games like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, everyone having a deck of cards to ‘own’ rather than passing a book around gives extra players a more inclusive experience.

Similarly, there is no need for a pen and paper to keep track of inventory items as there seem to be cards for all these things as well, as well as a board and marker for some overall ‘Danger Level’.

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Cards
Close up of some of the main cards
Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Items
And Equipment Items

I do enjoy these re-imaginings and different ways to play some of my childhood favourites.  I will talk more about House of Danger in the future I am sure, and I can already all but guarantee I will be grabbing a copy once it is released.

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD