Pathfinder Pocket Editions

One of the problems that role-playing gamers typically run into when they have to move locations for their gaming sessions is the sheer weight of the books that they must lug around. One understands the logic for these companies creating luscious tomes that are typically hard cover and full of amazing illustrations and further clarifications about nuances to the game play. The simple fact though is that if you are a Gamemaster and have to carry a players handbook, game rule book, and a bestiary, your back is going to ache. Continue reading “Pathfinder Pocket Editions”

Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide

Wizards of the Coast is rolling out the entirety of a new set of rules for their venerable game, Dungeons & Dragons and has just released their Dungeon Master’s Guide. This book provides information concerning the rule changes and how to conduct a campaign utilizing 4-8 players. The book is beautiful and provides easy to understand instructions ensuring that individuals of a wide variety of ages will be able to get started on their own fascination with the game. The Dungeon Master’s Guide links together vital text with impressive pictures to properly get the Dungeon Master (DM) into the right mindset when creating their own campaign or working off of a pre-made. Continue reading “Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide”

Stoner Fluxx

We have played Fluxx in the past and have really had fun with it. The company looks to change up their subject material to receive the most interest, and Stoner Fluxx is their latest creation. The game runs similarly to a traditional version of Fluxx but differs in terms of the subject matter. This means there are still rules (Keepers, Goals, Actions) or collections of cards that need to be received that will change the overall playstyle or rules of the game. Continue reading “Stoner Fluxx”

Monster Manual / 5th Edition

Dungeons & Dragons has been one of my favorite games for over 15 years and the game itself has captured the minds and hearts of fans for over 40 years. The Monster Manual is one of the earliest books that TSR (now owned by Wizards of the Coast) released and it is integral for any Dungeon Master (DM) that wants to utilize a bevy of beasties for their game. The important stats are present in the Monster Manual including hit points, size, weight, and special attacks that they possess. Continue reading “Monster Manual / 5th Edition”

Magic 2015 Core Set Review

The Magic 2015 Core Set is considerably different from other core sets of previous years. Fonts have been changed, the border has been streamlined, and a foil oval adorns any card at the Rare or Mythic Rare levels. A number of new cards have been released, including a set of guest-created cards. Aggressive Mining, created by Notch from Minecraft stops players from playing lands, but allows them the opportunity to sacrifice a land to draw two cards while Plants vs. Zombies’ George Fan has created Genesis Hydra, a green creature that allows players to pay additional mana to be given the chance to play an additional card from the top of their library. Continue reading “Magic 2015 Core Set Review”

Magic The Gathering Theros Set Review

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The Return to Ravnica block has just finished up with the release of Dragon’s Maze in May. Theros, a Greek and Roman-styled block, began on September 27th when the titular set (249 cards) was released. Theros is a set about Gods, heroes, and monsters. The Gods (Heliod, Thassa, Erebos, Purphoros, and Nylea) are very powerful Legendary Enchantment Creatures with the God subtype. Thassa, God of the Sea is an enchantment allowing a player to scry 1 (look at one card, decide to place it on top or on bottom of the library) and the ability to pay 1U and make a creature unblockable until the end of the turn. Devotion is (where each colored mana in a player’s permanents represents 1 devotion to that color), five devotion to blue turns Thassa into a 5/5 indestructible creature. Other keywords in Theros include Monstrosity (pay an additional cost, creature grows and gains an additional ability), Bestow (for different costs, the card can be played as an enchantment or as a creature), and Heroic (when a Heroic creature is targeted by the controlling player, it gains and provides a player a buff).

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Five distinct intro packs were created for Theros – Favors from Nyx (white/black),  Manipulative Monstrosities (blue/red), Devotion to Darkness (blue/black), and Anthousa’s Army (white/green). The Devotion to Darkness deck focuses around the Abhorrent Overlord, a 6/6 flying Demon that creates 1/1 black harpies every time it enters the battlefield. The harpy theme is furthered with the inclusion of the Blood-Toll Harpy (2B), a 2/1 flying creature that makes both players lose life with each entrance to the battlefield and the Insatiable Harpy (a 2/2 flying, lifelink creature). The demons and harpies of the deck are bolstered through the inclusion of the Whip of Erebos (2BB), a Legendary Enchantment Artifact that gives all creatures that the player controls lifelink, along with an activated ability (2BB, tap) that returns a creature from the player’s graveyard to the battlefield before exiling it at the next end step.

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 Rating: 9.2/10

Magic The Gathering Theros Set Review / http://www.wizards.com

Magic 2014 Core Set Review

Magic 2014 is a perfect introduction for those players that are looking to get into the game or as a refresher for those that may have stepped away for a few years.

The Core Set comes in 15-card boosters, Fat Packs (with 9 packs and a spindown counter), and Intro Decks. The Death Reaper deck is black and red, and has a heavy undead presence alongside the Bogbrew Witch, which allows players to pay 2 mana and tap the creature to bring out two other cards from the deck – Festering Newt and Bubbling Caldron. Old favorites like Sengir Vampire and Smelt are included as well for vanquishing one’s foe or removing a pesky creature from the game.

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Other strong cards from this set include new versions of Garruk (Caller of Beasts) and Chandra (Pyromaster). Garruk, Caller of Beasts allows players to dig into their deck for creatures, place those creatures onto the battlefield, and allow those creatures to multiply. Chandra, Pyromaster dings players and creatures alike, exile cards from one’s library, and even copy their favorite spell three times. The returning Slivers have evolved to a greater strength – the buffs provided are cheaper than they have been (Galerider Sliver provides flying for 1 blue mana), are stronger (Bonescythe Sliver gives double strike in white ), and are in a variety of colors (Syphon Sliver provides lifelink in black, Thorncaster allows Slivers to ping in red, and Megantic Sliver gives all Slivers a Giant Growth. The typical boons (pay 1 mana, gain 1 life) have been similarly changed to allow players to gain 1 life if one casts a spell of the proper color or plays a land that can be tapped for that color.

Check Magic 2014 out today, and the Theros block in the months to come.

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Rating: 9.0/10

Magic 2014 Core Set Review / http://www.wizards.com

Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers PC Review

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For those individuals that are looking to increase their ability with Magic: the Gathering, Duels of trhe Planeswalkers is a must-have. The various challenges that await planeswalkers on single-player mode allow for the more nuanced plays to be understood under the comprehensive rules of the game. The high-contrast design of the battlefield and zoomable aspect to the cards provides further information to those players that may not be familiar with each card in their (or their enemies’) deck.  Duels of the Planeswalkers provides a rapid Magic: the Gathering experience, with the AI making decisions generally quicker than a human would.

The deck design tool provides players with information about the CMC (converted mana cost) and the breakdown of colors in their decks. For this year’s Duels of the Planeswalkers, there seems to be a greater focus on multi-color decks. These decks will provide players with an array of different strategies and a sense for how the paired colors bolster each other. The greatest addition to Magic 2014 has to be the sealed deck variant. This means that players open a number of packs and create their own deck. This means that there is considerably more variation to the game play than was present in previous iterations of the game; the sealed deck campaign allows players to earn additional packs through the completion of different challenges.

With the next expansion (Magic 2014) to be released on July 19th, casual players and hardcore Magic: the Gathering fans alike will find considerably replay value to this $10 title. Make sure to keep an eye out for additional decks released by Wizards of the Coast, which will be released in a regular fashion.

Rating: 9.2/10

Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 PC Review / Wizards of the Coast / http://www.wizards.com /

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Magic the Gathering: Dragon’s Maze Review

Dragon’s Maze is the final expansion in the Return to Ravnica block, and it closes the lore chapter (for the time being) in the Ravnica plane. Ral Zarek, the Izzet second-in-command, has found a mysterious maze that runs through a considerable portion of Ravnica. Dragon’s Maze contains one planeswalker – the aforementioned Ral Zarek has an ultimate which may allow players five extra turns if coin flips go their way.  Voice of Resurgence (GW, 2/2) is one of the expansion’s most exciting cards, providing players with a token with a P/T of the number of creatures that the owner controls every time that an opponent casts a spell during the owner’s turn or the Elemental dies. When placed in a populate deck, the Voice of Resurgence will cause the end of many games. For those creature-heavy Green/Black decks, Deadbridge Chant (4BG) self-mills ten cards while allowing the player to choose a card at random. In those cases where the card is a creature card, the creature goes on the battlefield (other cards will go into the player’s hand). Finally, the Master of Cruelties (3BR) works perfectly in tandem with burn decks (an unblocked strike reduces the opponent’s life total to one).

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Wizards of the Coast has included an additional bonus in packs of Dragon’s Maze; each booster pack contains a chance to receive a shockland (cycle of rare lands) or a mythic rare (Maze’s End). This means that there is a small chance to receive three different rares or mythic rares in a single $3 purchase. Packs of Dragon’s Maze can be purchased at any local gaming store or department store that stocks Magic: the Gathering products.

Rating: 9.4/10

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Magic the Gathering: Dragon’s Maze Review / Magic: the Gathering / http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Summoner/

Police Precinct Board Game Review

Police Precinct

The first time I saw Police Precinct, it was at the tail end of its successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2012. A year later, after exceeding their pledge goal by over $3,000, publishers Common Man Games and Passport Game Studios have released their anticipated game to the public. But does the final product live up to the early promises?

Police Precinct casts you and up to five friends as one of eight selectable police officers and detectives, each with their own special abilities to solve crime and navigate the board. Your objective is to work together to gather enough evidence to arrest a murderer before he can escape town, while at the same time controlling the local gang population and handling different emergencies that pop up at every turn. Fail to apprehend the murderer in a set number of turns, or neglect to keep the gangs and emergencies in check via the ascending crime tracker, and it’s game over.

With well over 20 different types of boards, tokens and card decks, Police Precinct is a robust and daunting offering to dive into, and the instruction manual sits at 16 pages. Unfortunately, the manual can be quite confusing and tough to read in parts (including a setup page with minuscule images of some of the game pieces), and in my first playthrough with three friends, we spent an hour just trying to get through the instructions to learn how to set up the board and play. This made for a frustrating first encounter, and while the instructions do suggest that new players set up the game and play a few rounds by themselves before explaining it to their gaming group (a great suggestion), they wait to do so until page 13, well after we were in the thick of things.

To their credit, Common Man has been proactive about the instructions, uploading a cleaner downloadable version of the set-up guide to Police Precinct’s BoardGameGeek.com page, which is very helpful. Hopefully updated versions of the game can include these instructions in-box.

But after that rough initial playthrough, and after a thorough re-reading of the instructions by myself, subsequent playthroughs of the game became much easier and intuitive, and I found myself really enjoying it. Balance is the name of the game in Police Precinct, and if you and your team neglect to tend to the various emergencies and gang activity in favor of just the murder investigation, you’ll soon find the entire map gridlocked and the crime tracker approaching dangerous levels. Communicating and plotting your moves is necessary for success – sending two players to deal with an urgent bank robbery while the others collect evidence, for example – and when we pulled off a well-coordinated strike to bring down the murderer two rounds before he was set to escape, it was a pretty satisfying experience.

Be forewarned, with a crime tracker board and evidence board in addition to the main game board and various cards and tokens, Police Precinct takes up a lot of space. My first playthrough was on a narrower table, and it made for a cramped experience. If you don’t want to be stuck holding your character card and tokens while trying to roll dice, a bigger table is a necessity.

Adding a wrinkle to the teamwork, players can also play with one secret dirty cop, whose goal is to covertly sabotage the efforts of their fellow officers and allow the murderer to escape. Acts of sabotage can be removing evidence (by pretending the card you drew is blank), hoarding resources, or even accusing another player of being dirty to deflect suspicion. It’s a nice way to change up the pace for returning players, and Common Man has also added more clarity to the dirty cop role, again on BoardGameGeek.com.

There are also a few typos and spelling errors that make the final product rough around the edges. These range from small (“or or” instead of “or”) to several significant ones. One player card is for an officer named Doug Piece, yet on his police car token and in the instruction manual, his last name is spelled “Pearce”. And most egregiously, the game board features a compass that has east and west incorrectly reversed (so east is on the left instead of the right and vice versa). None of the errors will directly impact your playing of the game, but they still warrant mention.

Despite its flaws, Police Precinct is a game that I had fun with, and look forward to introducing to more people. I wouldn’t recommend it for your less-patient friends, but if you’re willing to look past the rough patches and dedicate some time to the instruction manual, you’ll find an experience with enough variety and strategy to earn its place on your board game shelf.

Rating: 7.5/ 10

Police Precinct Board Game Review/ Common Man Games, 2013

(This board game was reviewed with a copy provided by Common Man Games. Cameron Gidari is a freelance writer and the author of Seattle Before8. Follow him on twitter at CGidari)