This is a game that I’ve talked about some in previous articles, but I wanted to do a proper TableTopTakes review of it. Legacy of Dragonholt is a combination of an RPG and choose your own adventure book. However, it does feel different from something […]
Tag: Legacy of Dragonholt
I don’t really think I planned on going with some board game history and mechanic posts for a series, but I liked how the previous one turned out, and I thought it would be interesting to look at some more mechanics in that in-depth a way.
Story games are interesting because they care as much about the story and theme as they do about the mechanics a lot of the time. But for a long time there weren’t a ton of story games. Games, for a long time, were pretty straight forward either luck or logic games. A game like Chess or Go doesn’t really tell a story because it’s all been abstracted away. Even though you have two armies facing off in chess, they are just pieces that have specific movement rules, not like they are tied into the different types of characters and why they move the way they move.Or you would have luck based games. A game like Monopoly seems like it has some more story that is going on, but the game is so random that you can’t really tell a story in it.
Then there started to be some story games, but they weren’t your regular board games. RPG’s were the first games that really told stories and really focused in on story telling. There was story in some games prior to that, war games for example told the story of a battle, but D&D and RPG’s were the first to really create those story gaming moments. But even they had a lot of rules at the beginning, now we’re seeing the loose story based RPG’s that don’t care nearly as much about the rules or have abstracted most of the rules away into a single, simple roll of the dice for anything.
But in board games there were games that tried to delve more so into story, and we’ve actually seen the idea of story telling board games really take off as of late. A lot of this can be attributed to the growth of the hobby, but some of the earlier ones also helped the hobby grow. While games like Catan or Ticket to Ride have abstracted away all of the story and are some of the biggest ones for growing the hobby, story based games helped the hobby continue to grow into the big hobby it is today. Finding that sweet spot of where people could play a game the way that they want while still having some rules and structure makes gaming a lot more appealing to a lot of people.
There are a number of different story telling games. There are some that are basically light RPG’s and some that are board games that tell you a story. We have a number of interesting examples to look at though in board gaming.
Tales of the Arabian Nights and Near and Far are two interesting games where you are going out exploring. There are plenty of game focused parts to what you are doing and you have some skills, but the main focus of the game is going out exploring and getting a little bit of story. So that’s what most people are playing them for, being able to make those few decision bits in their story. Now, I personally enjoy both of these games, but they do have a bit of a flaw to them. That’s in both games the story while being loosely connected at items, especially in Near and Far, are random bits of story that you are reading from a book. The story isn’t cohesive as it goes along so while it starts to feel like a story game, it is missing a little bit.
Take that in comparison to a game like Sword and Sorcery. Now I haven’t played Sword and Sorcery, but it is one that I’ve seen played. In that, and in Tainted Grail, you are finding story events for various scenarios that unfold the story for you. A certain card or a certain place might trigger a different bit of the story. So while you don’t have to find the story in a specific order, always, you are figuring out the story and what’s going on in the world as you go. These games are newer than either Tales of the Arabian Nights or Near and Far (though Near and Far is quite new), and they can get away with it, because you are playing through chapters and scenarios.
That leads us into other scenario games. In particular, I’m thinking of Legacy games here. I don’t know that you’d consider Pandemic Legacy to be a scenario based game, but as you play through and find out more information about the story, it feels like it’s a scenario based game for how you have to win each game. In this case, they are handing out specific story points at very specific points in the game. And that works really well for a game like Pandemic Legacy or even a game like Gloomhaven which isn’t a true legacy game or is the new wave of legacy game where you can play it repeatedly without buying a new copy.
Seafall in comparison gives you a different story feel. While in Pandemic Legacy you can make choices that will affect the game, you are following a pretty linear story. In Gloomhaven you can go further afield from the story, but you are still focused on the story and you get the main story to unfold in a certain order. What Seafall tried to do was too ambitious in creating a story that unfolded in whatever order you read it. The issue is that it doesn’t really work, because you have to be so vague about it. That turned the story into a bit of a mess.
So, what other ways are we seeing stories besides these scenario games?
We’re also seeing story in games where the game is about making up your own story. Once Upon a Time and Gloom are two examples of this. In Once Upon A Time you are trying to create a fairy tale by playing cards while telling a story and eventually leading the story to your own ending that you got at the beginning of the game. This works okay as a game, but does run into a run away leader problem and the rules are just very loose, so it isn’t going to work for everyone. Gloom on the other hand is a depressing story as you try and kill off your family of characters while they are miserable. But the more miserable they are, the more points you get, so you are playing a card each turn and telling a story as you play the card as to why your character is more miserable or someone else’s character is less miserable. These games take the story telling away from the game itself, and mechanically add the story telling element to the game with what the players need to do. The downside to this is that if you don’t have a creative group, or more so, if you don’t have a group that is just going to be silly, the game isn’t going to work as well.
On the opposite side of things you have games that basically are only story. I did an article on them recently with RPG Lite. But two great examples of this are Legacy of Dragonholt and Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger. Both of these games are really just Choose Your Own Adventure, with a couple of mechanics added in so that you can’t quite just only do it as a book.
On the opposite side of things you have games that basically are only story. I did an article on them recently with RPG Lite. But two great examples of this are Legacy of Dragonholt and Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger. Both of these games are really just Choose Your Own Adventure, with a couple of mechanics added in so that you can’t quite just only do it as a book. That takes away the pressure of the story or the pressure of learning a lot of rules from the players and puts it back onto the game designer, but when you strip away most game mechanics, you can basically just worry about writing a story, it works well.
So, where do I fall with story games?
For me, if a game doesn’t have an interesting theme, I’m less apt to enjoy the game. There are some games where the look is nice enough or the mechanics are good enough, that I like it without having an interesting theme. But most of the time I want theme, and because of that, it means that I want heavy story as well. The story is one way to get a lot of theme into the game. So you’ll see what are commonly called Ameri-trash games showing up on my reviews more likely than a Euro Game because Euro Games tend to be pretty themeless. Even Euro Legacy games, like Charterstone, the story is 100% outside of the game and doesn’t impact what you do or how you play the game at all.
I also think that story is something that is important to games in terms of getting new people into games. There are some games that are simple enough that they don’t need story, but it’s easier to pitch a game to someone where they get to be a hero fighting against the evil corporation, versus a game where they are collecting gems. Even if the second game is a better made and balanced game, it’s still harder to get people to play it.
So, let me toss it out to you, what are some games that are story focused that you really like? How much story do you need in the game?
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It’s been a long day of work, school, or life in general, and you just want to unwind. It’s pretty normal for people to pick up a controller and play their favorite video game to unwind. This is something that people have been doing for a while now since games like Mario and Pong came into being. But now we’re seeing something unique come into another industry that gives you another way to unwind. The board game industry has been coming out with a lot of games that are either meant to be played solo or have an official variant of the game that is solo.
I’ve laid out one of the reasons why people play games solo, but I want to talk a bit about why I play games solo. First, board games don’t need to be a social activity, in fact some games you are playing by yourself just at a table with a bunch of other people at it. These games don’t have much interaction already, so the social aspect is just the table talking. However, there are some games that simply don’t give you time to talk to people more than just a little bit because you are going fast and trying to concentrate that you couldn’t carry on a conversation if you wanted.
Also, sometimes it’s hard to find time/people to play those board games with. There are games like Arkham Horror and Twilight Imperium that are all day events. You can’t get games like these to the table all that often, and then there are games like Dead of Winter which might be faster, but aren’t fast by any means. Dead of Winter still seems to take most of an evening whenever you play it, so while that’s easier to get to a table at two hours as compared to six, it’s still a good commitment for a lot of people. And even if you have the time to play a game like Arkham Horror, you might not have other people who have time to play it.
So when you need your board game fix, and you need that stimulation or reset for your brain after a busy day, solo gaming is a strong option. Most of the games that can be played solo don’t have a simple rule set that just allows you to only play with a single player and none of the rules change making the game either too hard or too easy, instead they have their own variant rules that keep the game balanced and challenging, or have been made specifically for a single player.
So what are some options for single player games, are there any good or interesting titles out there?
This is a game that was specifically made for a single player though I believe there is a way to play with two players if you want. It’s a fairly simple game. You play as someone who is trapped in a nightmare and are trying to collect all the doors to be able to escape the dream. The game is a card game and you are trying to match sets of different colors as you play cards from your hand to find these dream doors. However, there are nightmares lurking in the deck trying to stop you from escaping. This game has a pretty small footprint and doesn’t have anything more than a deck of cards and a little nightmare token that isn’t needed to play the game. So it’s an easy one to take along somewhere if you are waiting at somewhere that has a small table.
Arkham Horror LCG
Not to be confused with Arkham Horror the giant board game, which you might be able to play solo, Arkham Horror the LCG is still Lovecraftian themed, but instead of a big board, you are playing cards and building up your investigator to try and complete the various scenario you are playing through. These scenarios are why it is called an LCG or Living Card Game. The game can be played without buying any additional cards or story packs, but once you’ve played through it, you might want to play a different story. So you can buy a pack of cards that has a new story for you to investigate. The game has a strong puzzle feel to it as you try and balance resources, race against the clock to complete the story, and what you do in a previous part of the story, they are generally three chapters, can influence future chapters. This game doesn’t have to be played solo, and can be played by four people if two sets are combined, but works really well as a solo game.
Legacy of Dragonholt
Another Fantasy Flight game, this one is a RPG like game. You design your character, giving them abilities that you’ll use as you go through a scenario. As you read through the scenario, you make decisions and use your abilities to open up options. Like Arkham Horror LCG, your decisions can effect future games. This is what gives the game a legacy feel. I’ve only played through a single scenario with this game as I think that Kristen would like it quite well, and it’s a game that can be played with a greater number of players. So should I consider this a solo game? I think that it is, not just because it has the option, but because the game has replayability so that playing it as a group certainly wouldn’t prohibit you from playing it again. Just going through the first scenario, there were plenty of story chunks that I didn’t read and plenty of story bits that I won’t know.
Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
It’s a handful of a name, but a really fun game. The Dresden Files Cooperative Card game takes you through the Dresden Files. There is a scenario for each book and a ton of different characters from those books to play as. It also gives you an option to create your own missions for even more replayability. What makes this interesting is that as a single player game, you can play with up to four, you play with three characters and have less cards to beat the game with than most other player counts. Yes, you have more knowledge than with a lower player count, but it is still challenging. The game has some very nice resource management, and the fact that the story board is set-up randomly each time means that playing the game twice won’t unfold the same. It’s a well developed game where it’s almost always close at the end and you’re just hoping for the last thing to go your way.
There are a lot more that can be solo played games as well if you’re interested at jumping in. A lot of the Legendary Games, Buffy, Aliens, Firefly, and Big Trouble in Little China can be played solo, and these more story based ones flow better than the more generic Marvel one that I had a review of saying that I didn’t like it all that well. Robinson Crusoe is another game that is about resource management that takes you through different challenging scenarios. You’ll find that a lot of cooperative games have a solo option because you’re always working with a little bit of open information and working together as a team. Even a massive game like Gloomahven can be played as a solo game with a variant to help you make it more challenging. I also have sitting yet to be played Apocrypha and 7th Continent for solo gaming.
If you’re looking for a way to unwind after a long day or just looking for more board gaming in your life, consider solo board gaming as an option. What games have you played as a solo game?
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