Will you defeat the Leviathan? Naval combat micro game on Kickstarter

Leviathan Kickstarter Cover

For all of those that would like to play out Moby Dick

Tabletop wargaming is still considered a niche area in gaming.  There have been attempts to crack the mainstream gaming community lately, most notably X-Wing and Armada from Fantasy Flight Games.  These games are all large affairs with a lot of pieces though.  Leviathan from Past Go Games is trying to change that with a unique twist.

Leviathan has 18 cards, and you play within in a set flat area.  The Kickstarter project does offer a vinyl mat which is attractive, but not strictly necessary, making this a very easy to transport and set up anywhere.

It is based on the story of Moby Dick, where one player is the titular whale and its pod.  The other player plays as Ahab himself.  The goals are simple – sink the Pequod, or catch the whale.  Both sides have other ships or whales to help, as well as some tactical cards to play.

At its core, Leviathan is an asymmetrical two-player game, where the whales rely on mobility and hidden information and the ships have more actions to achieve their goal.

Leviathan is a surprisingly deep tactical game that uses its simplicity to great effect.  Movement can be complicated in these sorts of games, usually with a dedicated flexible ruler and a set of rules.  Here though you use a card, and set its base against the movement arc of your card.  Combat is straightforward, and yet surprisingly deep.  It’s hard to explain in a quick summary, but the quick play of the Print and Play had me comparing this too much bigger games that take much longer to play.

Check out the Kickstarter page here, and grab the print and play version to give it a try.

You can also check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Leviathan Kickstarter Cover
Leviathan Cards 1
Leviathan Cards 2
Leviathan Cards 3

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

All Kickstarter projects hope to be The Big Score. Will this be one?

The Big Score Box Art

The Usual Suspects?

Van Ryder Games has a bit of a soft spot for me. Recently I posted about Hostage Negotiator, a great solo experience. Detective: City of Angels is one of my most anticipated games of 2018. And now The Big Score has hit Kickstarter, and it is growing on me very strongly.

The Big Score is a game that I would say about a quarter of my game group will not like. It’s a competitive cooperative game, where you don’t discuss your moves. A lot of players in my usual group don’t like this aspect, so The Big Score is a game I instantly put in the ‘not for everyone’ group.

That said, The Big Score is almost two games in one. The first stage involves deck drafting where each player gets to form their individual crews. The crew they are after depends on the locations that they want to hit. The catch is with the number of cards you have, your crew can maybe complete one or two places with guaranteed success, or spread yourself out and be a part of a lot of heists and get an equal share of those heists.
If another player adds one card that will contribute to the success of a location, all players involved will get an even cut of the job, so if a player always completes a mission themselves, a valid tactic will be to simply add one member to their crew for maximum profits.

It’s a unique spin on risk and reward, and not discussing your strategy adds an amount of tension to this. This stage only sets up an initial bank of money (points), so it’s not essential to excel but at the same time failing a job will cost you on the get-go, so it’s an interesting dilemma.

The second phase is the Big Score itself. Here, you reach into a physical bank shaped box and try to steal as much as you can before the police turn up. You can pretend to take a token and pull out of the heist, locking your amount for the end game. You can also pull out a Cops token, too many of these and it’s game over for everyone.

There is simultaneously a lot going on and an elegant simplicity to the game. A.J. Porfirio has also added a solo campaign to the game, and I am keen to give this a try as well.

The Big Score Box Art
Can you get away with the Big Score?
The Big Score Components
The Big Score Prototype Demo
The Big Score The Bank
The Big Score The Crew

If this sounds interesting, check out the Kickstarter page here for more information.

You can also check out the Board Game Geek page here.

Until next time!

JohnHQLD

Nanty Narking – it’s old Victorian for Great Fun apparently.

Nanty Narking Annioucement Image

What do you do when you can’t release your game anymore? Retheme the living Dickens out of it that’s what!

I am a major fan of the Discworld. That’s not a secret to anyone that knows me. It may seem like Firefly and Rick and Morty have a higher place in my heart, but no. It’s only that most of my friends don’t get the Discworld references. Martin Wallace originally had a trilogy of Discworld themed games. So when I heard that the first game was being rethemed and called Nanty Narking, I was instantly intrigued.

The first was Martin Wallace Discworld game is Ankh Morpork, a game that most closely resembles Lords of Waterdeep, but doesn’t. This game is the basis of Nanty Narking, and what I am excited about.

Then came The Witches that kind of but not really resembles Pandemic. This is a fun little experience with a number of ways to play it, and well worth a look.

Then, there was to be The Gods, the final in a trilogy. Due to Sir Terry’s passing, The Gods and pretty much all Discworld related licensing was pulled. And for the general public, The Gods were never to be. A piece of me does think that Sir Terry would have smiled at that little piece of irony though.

So what do you do when you have a fun game that you can’t print anymore because of lawyers? Retheme it and place it in a semi-fictional Old Victorian era, and call it Nanty Narking!

At the moment all I honestly know of the game is that it is coming to Kickstarter this year, and has some fun looking minis already 🙂

Based on Ankh Morpork gameplay, Nanty Narking has players competing to take control of what I assume will be London. This will be done with a mixture of area management, hidden roles and varying objectives.

I am hoping Nanty Narking will streamline and balance a couple of the roles that were found in Ankh Morpork, but like Restoration Games, this seems to be being handled by a group that genuinely love the base game and want to bring it to a new group of players.

If you know anyone with a copy of Ankh Morpork, have a game or two before the Kickstarter launch. I will be reviewing Ank Morpork formally around the end of March in the meantime. The gameplay and mechanics to me stand up well, and Ank Morpork was not a game that needed the Discworld theme to hold it up, so I am very excited about Nanty Narking!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Nanty Narking Annioucement Image Large

Viceroy: Times of Darkness is on Kickstarter!

Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Art

What do you do when the nobility is getting to you? Bring in the monsters of course!

Viceroy is an interesting but fun game. Based on a Russian Collectable Card Game, the idea behind it is to build a ‘pyramid of power’. This pyramid represents your fantasy empire and earns you influence. The player with the most influence at the end of the game wins.

There are things that Viceroy missed a little with me, but I do enjoy it very much. I enjoy the series of interconnected mini-games that creates the Viceroy experience. There is deck building, resource management, pattern placement, bidding and bluffing. It’s a game that sounds like a mess, but all comes together nicely.

The first round can be a little slow as with a lot of deck builders. This changes with the first auction phase. From here, you want to be getting nobles (cards) before your opponents. You always want to be getting these cards in one way or another, because all are useful for your empire in the end. The worst situation to be in with Viceroy is not being able to build your empire.

Now on Kickstarter, Viceroy’s expansion is coming in the form of Viceroy: Times of Darkness. This follows a modular expansion system allowing you to mix and match as you wish.

The Aristocrats have little initial value. They prefer to in higher positions in your empire, and their cards reflect this. For example on their base, they contain special bonuses instead of the colours of other tiles. This means to maximise their benefits, you need to place them higher for full effect.

The Invasion module brings monsters to the table. Three times a game at set intervals, players will be attacked by creatures. These creatures are faced with bidding and bribery. You can defend against attack, or pay more for special benefits turning your foe into an ally. Failure to defend your empire brings a penalty, so you need to weigh the costs.

Finally, the Underworld brings the criminal element to light. This is represented wonderfully by building their empire below yours. Instead of gaining gems, players may choose to take an Outlaw card and a random judgement penalty. The benefits of using these outlaws can range from financial in the form of wild gems to manipulating your empire mid-game, a new feature.

Viceroy was a game a little harder to get in Australia, but you can pick up the original game as a part of this Kickstarter. If you enjoy Viceroy, this is an expansion that should have you interested. If you haven’t played Viceroy, I encourage you to find a copy and give it a game!

Check out the Kickstarter page here.

You can also check out the original Viceroy on Board Game Geek here as well as the Times of Darkness expansion here.

Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Art
Viceroy Times of Darkness Box Back
Viceroy Times of Darkness Components
Viceroy Playmat

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

UBOOT The Board Game – A very interesting Kickstarter

UBOOT Box Art

Simulation games are something that traditionally video games have had a handle on. UBOOT brings on a new look at this concept.

Many many years ago, I played a lot of Silent Hunter on the PC. It was a WWII submarine simulation with a career mode that I imagine took a fair snapshot of what it was like to command a submarine. One thing that is always missing from these situations is the rest of the crew. You know you can’t be the only person running the boat, and yet commands are invisibly carried out with a text response. UBOOT has decided this was also something lacking and added crewmates and other things besides.

On first look, I thought UBOOT was a semi-realistic Captain Sonar. I was very, very wrong. That real-time team action is a good comparison, but it’s also incomplete. Even hearing about the app, I thought XCOM the board game or some of the new ‘Overlord’ style digital apps, and still, this is an incomplete but not unreasonable comparison.

UBOOT allows up to 4 players to participate in skirmish games or a full campaign against an app-driven AI opponent. The App is also fairly unobtrusive, especially given the real-time aspect of UBOOT. Firing torpedoes, the periscope and the Enigma device are all handled by the app, but everything else is coordinated and decided by the players in real time.

There are only a couple of days left for the campaign, jump over to Kickstarter and check it out!

You can also see more and some videos on the Board Game Geek page.

UBOOT Demo Essen 2017
UBOOT Demo Essen 2017 2
UBOOT Area Breakdown

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Page Quest: Season 1 Kickstarter with the free A4 Quest!

Page Quest KS Banner

A4 Quest. Page Quest. It sounds like when I need to format a report at work.

So the other day I hear an offhand comment about a solo print and play game called A4 Quest. It sounded a standard type of affair – get through the dungeon and beat the boss using dice. It was something that I thought I might be interested in but put in the ‘later’ pile.

Then I go looking through some Kickstarter emails and see a reference to a solo game called Paper Quest. Well, didn’t that sound familiar. Looking around I see it’s from the same guys that did the Superhot Card Game, so I have a closer look at the preview.

To my surprise, it’s the same guys that made A4 Quest! Board & Dice and Thistory Games apparently team up on a few projects, and this is the latest. Looking at the preview for the Kickstarter project, it sounds like a game I would be interested in. So I print up the first scenario of A4 Quest, grab my dice, tokens and Superhot figure, and play.

Now I did this late at night after a long day. My brain was not in the best condition. I was in a funny mood and decided to test if it was truly print and play. And it pretty much was! The gameplay is relatively intuitive, iconography makes sense, and the summary tables on the ‘board’ are easy to follow. My first game took 20 minutes, but that was my own fault. I had to restart as I ran out of dice on the second panel, and it was because I wasn’t playing properly. The Boss battle also took longer than it should of because of rule reading during the game.

I played it again immediately afterwards, and it took about 7 minutes to play and had a ball. A4 Quest is a fun little game that does seem to be asking for a little bit more to it. Not having to cut the board seems to be great for tutorial games, but not knowing the next room and what is required will make action dice management more meaningful. This is already covered by the game as you can cut out the individual rooms and create a random stack to explore as well. I also came nowhere close to losing both games I played, but I am putting that down more to above average dice rolls with a scenario that eases you in.

It’s these areas where Page Quest seems to be stepping up to the plate. Page Quest seems to be essentially the same format as A4 Quest, but have an overarching end goal rather than a single experience. I wouldn’t say campaign as such, simply an episodic format – kind of like Telltale video games. The ‘Season 1’ also strengthens this impression for me. This is by no means a bad thing – it simply means that each month there will be a continuation to the story. Based on the gameplay of A4 Quest, this just means a fun 20 minutes each month as the new boards arrive.

Check out the Page Quest Kickstarter here and have a look for yourself. Do yourself a favour and while your there, grab the pdf for the 3 A4 Quest adventures and have a bit of fun playing as well. It’s a lot of fun to be had with 9 printed pages, 7 tokens and 5 dice!

You can also check out the A4 Quest Board Game Geek page here and pick up extra companions!

A4 Quest Gameplay 01
The idea is simple. Get your piece to the end of the quest. How hard can it be?
It may not look like much, but this adventure is a lot of fun. Superhot mini not required!
Page Quest Characters
Characters from the Kickstarter Page Quest
Page Quest Stephen Miles Bio
Full character dossiers are a fun touch, and the presentation is awesome.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Heading through The Grimm Forest, I found a nice surprise.

The Grimm Forest Box Art

You realise that the original fairy tales were dark and horrible stories right? It’s things like The Grimm Forest that make you forget that.

Last year, there was a Kickstarter project for The Grimm Forest. Looking at it, I knew up front that it wouldn’t be a game destined to be the next hotness. The idea of an area control/worker placement style game in a fairy tale land gone wrong had a simple appeal to me. A slightly heavier game for younger players in my collection is always a welcome thing.

Well, last night my copy of The Grimm Forest arrived. I knew from the Kickstarter project that the art was pleasant enough, but it was late, and I wanted to have a look. Opening the outer box, I was presented with the game in a sleeve that made it look like an old book. It has an embossed style cover, with that old time leather look to it even though it’s a simple cardboard sleeve.

Then I saw the ‘back cover’.

The Grimm Forest Sleeve Back
It's the little touches, rather than hard to store extras, that make me appreciate things like this even more

It was a lovely little thought that brought a genuine smile to my face. There have been a lot of Kickstarters with acknowledgements and letters of appreciation in the contents. This was just a little touch that was immediately seen and appreciated.

I will be doing a full review of The Grimm Forest in about three weeks time. I am looking forward to sitting down with it properly tonight and going through the contents.

The Grimm Forest Components
The components for The Grimm Forest are so beautiful
The Grimm Forest Sleeve and Box FRONT
Beneath the Kickstarter Sleeve, the standard retail version awaits.
The Grimm Forest Sleeve and Box Back
I can't wait to get right into this and give it a proper play

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Cypress Legacy VR – A unique Kickstarter digital board game.

Cypress Legacy VR Box Art

Can Cypress Legacy VR gain its own inheritance?

So a day or so ago, a new Kickstarter for Cypress Legacy VR was launched. While I follow the digital Kickstarter projects, they take a much lower priority for me as I am well aware of the issues with software development.

This one has taken me by surprise because it’s the exact digital implementation of the board game based on a to be released IP. The people behind the Cypress Inheritance Saga seems to have gone all out. A series of novels, a board and now video game, and the website shows a feature film in the plans.

I knew nothing of this series before yesterday, but the games seem to have the seed of potential. The gameplay doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary – explore the mansion, find the stuff, escape before the others do. This isn’t a negative – many games have this basic formula. It just seems without the books behind it, Cypress Legacy the board game doesn’t seem to be too much to make it stand out from the crowd.

Cypress Legacy VR has managed to stand out though. Take the same game, but now you are the pawn on the board. You can explore the house, and be the first to find everything and get out before the other players do. And doing this in VR? This is something I want to explore. And with the other players being able to be playing from all over the world, it could be a lot of fun.

The only other board game I have played like this is Werewolves Within, and while fun fit has you sitting around a campfire without exploring anything. This isn’t the games fault per se, it is a social deduction game after all, but free movement and exploration are always better in my opinion.

A curious choice for the designers to me is that they are aiming for PC and Vive/Occulus primarily. This could be because of many reasons, not the least being licensing and costs. As a platform, PSVR has the largest install base by far and PS4 doesn’t really do early access. This will only ‘hurt’ people that can initially play and test the game in VR, which is where I think it will shine. While playing in FPS mode is great and still works very well, releasing this mode as early access on steam can possibly backfire. Either word will spread, or potentially kill it before it starts as the shine wears off. Worst of all, it could simply be passed over as no one knows what it is actually about.

Time will tell how this all works out, but for a different idea and take it’s worth having a look at to see what they are trying to achieve.

Check out the Cypress Legacy homepage here, and if your interested also check out the Kickstarter here.

Cypress Legacy VR Box Art
It's an interesting take on a board game
Cypress Legacy VR Foyer_SS1
Want to go investigate upstairs? Then upstairs you go!
Cypress Legacy VR prototype_stage-_7
It may not look like much, but this layout is actually pretty deep into the development process
Cypress Legacy VR prototype_stage-_8
Just like you leave post it notes for yourself, placeholder art assets do the same!
Cypress Legacy VR prototype_stage-_6
Computer graphics are an art form. A room doesn't magically happen - layer upon layer of detail needs to be added

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Agents of Mayhem has come to Kickstarter!

Agents of Mayhem Box Art

It may be the Pride of Babylon, but who knows if it will be the pride of anyone’s collection.

The Saints Row series has an interesting history. Originally a Grand Theft Auto competitor/clone, it had an OK reception until the third entry in the series. Volition and THQ took the main aspects it was being compared to with GTA and turned it on its head. Saint Row: The Third became a self-parody, and it was a heap of fun to play because of it.
 
One of the things that made the series so over the top is the inspiration for the gang leader are based in part on the exploits of an in-game cartoon called Agents of Mayhem. Well, more correctly M.A.Y.H.E.M. – Multinational Agency Hunting Evil Masterminds. The plot style can be summed up with that information and their opponents – L.E.G.I.O.N. (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations. If that doesn’t tell you how deep and intricate the backstory is, nothing will :p
 
This sounds like a fun game, and it should have been. I say should have been, because reception has been ‘meh’ at best, which is a pity as the last couple of Saints Row titles were a lot of fun. Even I am guilty of looking at the game and thinking ‘later’, which with my must play backlog is tantamount to saying ‘skip it’.
 
The board game of Agents of Mayhem seems to be a completely different take than the digital version.  Academy Games Inc is publishing the game. They have an impressive tactical game history behind them already.
 
From the screens and information at hand, Agents of Mayhem seems to be pretty close to an actual XCOM tactical style board game. So close on the surface that I actually wonder if they tried to develop this with the XCOM license in mind. That isn’t a bad thing – I am wondering if it will work in the board game arena.
 
So the base look of the game is you have the Mayhem players against the Legion mastermind, kind of like Imperial Assault and the like. The main standout difference is the 3D maps that include building levels kind of like the buildings in Rampage/Terror in Meeple City. This allows skirmish style play including building combat, kind of like Necromunda. There is also the twist of being able to blow up said buildings, dropping levels and reducing areas to rubble.
 
This sounds like a heap of fun, doesn’t it? Here’s the catch for me though. The rules aren’t available yet, and a lot of add-ons are already in play. This may make for a very expensive nice idea in your collection. Now CMON does things like this all the time, and to be honest I am wary when they do this as well. This Kickstarter seems to be following the CMON formula, but I am not sure if it should in this instance.
 
One of the two add-ons, the Giant Building tiles, seems like a must have as it increases the space between building levels. This will help placement for any model game, there is no denying that. But rather pay an extra USD$50, I would rather the base be an extras USD$30 and not waste the cardboard with smaller tiles. Or even make two versions – one that’s cheaper with the smaller tiles, and a deluxe with the larger tiles. So value for money wise, this makes a roughly USD$100 game cost USD$140. Compare this to Zombicide with fewer tiles but triple the minis for USD$100, the perceived value is hard to justify.
 
I will definitely be watching Agents of Mayhem, but I am very wary. I am wondering if a Kickstarter for a revamped XCOM style digital Agents of Mayhem would be a better idea. This may sound harsh, but without seeing some firmer rules it’s hard to say.
 
Check out the Kickstarter page here and let me know what you think.
Agents of Mayhem: Pride of Babylon’s Board Game Geek page can be found here.
Agents of Mayhem Box Art
Oh Board Game Box Renders. How pretty you always look.
Agents of Mayhem Board Layout Mid Game
The 3D terrain style is a great way to allow changes in gameplay
Agents of Mayhem Board Layout 360 View
Oh, the pretty fly around view of a board
Agents of Mayhem Blow the Building
And how it should look as you blow that terrain away!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

The Rogue Set is here

PolyHero Dice Rogue Set

A quirky Kickstarter project today!

People that play RPG or dice-heavy games know how the dice can work for or against you. There can also be the horror of someone else rolling your dice on you!

Or more commonly someone mistakenly packing away your dice because it’s another d20 in a set everyone else has because it came in the game starter kit.

This is one reason why there is a huge market for unique dice. Another reason is simply some die just look amazing, and that is the category these fall under.

PolyHero Dice have been on Kickstarter before, and they add a fun level to the standard fantasy RPG type. The dice are all the fairly standard affair, with d4 to d20. The difference is the appearance. The Warrior set has swords, helmets and gauntlets while the Wizard set focuses on potions and staves.

The new set currently on Kickstarter is the Rogue set and is a cute addition. There is even a stretch goal for a lockpick d20 set to add something a little different!

Not a required addition to everyone’s dice set, but definitely worth a look if you like things a little different.

Check out the Kickstarter project here.

PolyHero Dice Rogue Set
The bare bones of a fantastic idea
PolyHero Dice Rouge Nightshade Sample
And what they become!
PolyHero Dice Rouge Rendering
The render does show finer detail better
PolyHero Dice Rouge Complete Set
All of the dice! It will be hard for someone to accidentally grab your die

Until next time,

JohnHQLD