Tag: table top

Is a Game Better if it Looks Better?

Is a Game Better if it Looks Better?

This was a topic that was brought up on the Dice Tower in one of their videos. Sam Healy made a statement that if a game looked better, he would enjoy it more and it was a better game. That got me thinking about games […]

Top 5: 5+ Player Games

Top 5: 5+ Player Games

We’re up high enough in numbers now that I think that we should just go beyond five and wrap up the list with games that work best with five or more players. I wanted to do just a five player list, because there are a […]

Friday Night D&D – There Will Be Blood

Friday Night D&D – There Will Be Blood

Yes, this is coming out Friday morning where I’m writing from. But Friday Morning D&D sounds way different than Friday Night D&D. What I wanted to start doing on some Fridays, might not be all of them, but should be a number of them for a while is come up with D&D campaign ideas.

I’ve gone through how I build a campaign, and I just picked up Mordenkainens Tome of Foes. Reading through that, or starting to, it was giving me ideas for more campaigns, and even some games that are actually set in the the realms created by Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons and Dragons and not just my own home brew games.


Image Source: D&D Beyond

The Blood War, an eternal struggle between the ordered planes of the 9 Hells and the masses of the Abyss. The Devils of the 9 Hells have different hierarchy in the levels of what each one of them does, while the Demons of the Abyss throw their giant numbers in a much more chaos filled ways at the Devils.

That’s the simple backstory of the Blood War that rages on. There are a whole lot more details, but we’re going to focus on an interesting campaign idea surrounding that.

The idea is that if the balance is broken, either the planes will be overrun by chaos as the Demons run wild or the Devils will impose their own “perfect” order onto the planes. Something is now trying to throw off the balance. The Demons have allegedly found some sort of way to infiltrate Mephistopheles ranks and are going to be taking some of his research out with them, when they figure a way back out.

The adventuring party starts to see more random incursions of Demons and Devils into the Forgotten Realms. They are in fact contacted to dispatch and deal with some situations that are going on. Most of the time the Devils are countering some idea that the Demons have had to get their spies out of Cania in the 9 Hells. The work of the adventuring party doesn’t go unnoticed and an emissary of Asmodeus. The party eventually takes on a fairly powerful Demon and wins, and the party will be approached by an emissary.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

The emissary will have a contract that is sealed with Asmodeus’s seal that lays out what he wants them to do to figure out the problem. Laying out how, if the Demons are able to leave with the information it might be enough to turn the tide of the war and the Devils would turn the Forgotten realms into a smoldering world of chaos. He offers the party some money immediately and provides them with some additional information on the 9 Hells.

Unfortunately for the characters, this isn’t something that Asmodeus really wants know what is going on. As part of the deal they are sworn to secrecy. And that also means that while he can give them information about how to get to the river Styx, he can’t just take them straight into Cania, they will have to go through the other layers of hell.

This is the big crux of the adventure being created. How are the players going to get through the 9 Hells? What tricks or bribes will they have to use when they inevitably run into one of the Lords of one of the levels of hell?

You can determine how you’d want your story to end, maybe someone was trying to play a trick of Asmodeus, and there wasn’t an spy in their midst. Maybe there was a spy in their midst. Maybe it is a situation where Asmodeus is testing his own defenses, but remember that Devils are Lawful Evil in what they do and order is extremely important.

I would expect each level of hell, there would only be eight as they aren’t going to Asmodeus level, would be about three to five sessions. So this should be a pretty long campaign, unless you play longer sessions. At the end of the dungeon, players should be hitting 15-16 level. You could even then continue after that, most likely having to face off against some high Demon in the Abyss if you want to finish it off. I’d also expect the party to be around level four or five by the time they hit the river Styx.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

This is going to be a grueling game for the players. I would make things such as create food and water, maybe they work, but because of the extreme heat or cold of the levels of hell, probably won’t actually be able to sustain them. So they are going to have to be resourceful. And while there will be combat, create tempting spots for the players to sneak into, give them interesting loot, devil focused loot. At the end, you should have a well geared out party because of what they are finding on other adventurers who have braved the 9 Hells, and the Devils who have collected trophies.

What do you think of this game idea?

I think this would be interesting because you can create very thematic sessions as you go through the levels of hell. It is also interesting to have an adventuring party doing a good thing for a very evil being. Technically Asmodeus is having them do it so that he doesn’t lose, but it actually ends up helping the planes of existence from being destroyed or turned. However, it probably won’t be the happiest game, and it won’t be the most murder hobo game, though you won’t feel bad about killing anything. I’m also guessing this isn’t that unique an idea, but the Blood War was something I just learned about.

Would you want to play in a game like this one? Would you want to run a game like this one?

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Top 5: 2 Player Games

Top 5: 2 Player Games

Alright, I said I was going start another top 5 list, these are games that can either only be played with two players or are best with two players. There are some games that might have 2-4 players, but are really two player games, because […]

Top 5: Action Point Games

Top 5: Action Point Games

Final top 5 list, I think that I could maybe come up with some more lists, but I might do eventual lists of games that play best or up to two through six or seven to give ideas for games like that. As I know […]

TableTopTakes: Dice Throne Season 1

TableTopTakes: Dice Throne Season 1

You are part of a Mortal Kombat tournament of the ages. The King who runs it has been the champion for a long time and now you’re going to try to take the throne from him, if you can defeat him in the tournament.

Image Source: Dice Throne

Dice Throne is a 2 to 6 player game where you take on the rolls of different characters or classes, in a tournament style battle ranging from one vs one to three vs three. Each class has their own life tracker, combat point tracker, deck of cards, and player boards that let you know what your special powers are. Each player starts with a hand of four cards and two combat points (CP). The first player can play cards and then rolls dice for combat. You are trying to match certain number of symbol combinations to unleash an attack. Then the other player declares their defense and tries to stop the damage. You can augment your roll by spending CP and playing cards or you can improve your attacks by spending CP and upgrading what a small straight or some other attack might do for you.

Image Source: Dice Throne

Overall, it’s an an extremely complex game, and the characters aren’t all that hard to play. What makes this game really work is the characters, because each of them plays differently. I haven’t played two of them yet, the Paladin and the Barbarian, but in a match-up between the Shadow Thief and Monk was close, and the match-up between the Pyromancer and Moon Elf was close. So the characters feel really well balanced against each other, and it comes down to rolling dice a lot of the time. What works well is that the cards you can play while rolling the dice are generally pretty cheap CP wise so you can mitigate a really bad roll fairly often.

The characters also do really feel different. The Monk uses Chi to empower attacks or to prevent damage. The Shadow Thief can go into hiding to avoid damage, steals a lot of CP, and then can leap out of the shadows with a sneak attack. The Pyromancer is going to burn you, and the Moon Elf tries to entangle you and makes your attacks weaker. Their attacks make sense for what they do, and the tokens and conditions they can place on themselves or other characters makes sense as well. In their decks of cards there are some specific to them, but I haven’t gone through to see if the balance of utility cards is the same throughout the characters or if those general cards are the same for everyone.

It’s nice also because the game plays very fast with two players, and it keeps there from being too much down time for players. Even when the other person is attacking, you are figuring out with your defense what you are going to try and roll. So you are still engaged in the other players turns. And with fifty health, you feel as a player that your health is draining away a whole lot faster than you’d want it to. When you hit you’re generally doing five damage or more, and sometimes, if you hit your ultimate ability, you can be doing a whole lot more than that.

Image Source: Dice Throne

That’s another cool thing in the game, the ultimate ability is basically an attack that can’t be stopped, so really going into the Mortal Kombat style of game. However, you need to roll all sixes, so you end up being tempted to go for it, but generally not able to pull it off. If you can pull it off, it might just give you a come from behind victory. And each characters ultimate ability really uses the tokens and conditions that the character can inflict so even if you don’t finish off your opponent, it can set you up for future turns, or stop them for a turn.

This is a very fun and simple game. I highly recommend it for both gamers and non-gamers alike, because it’s a quick one to set-up and play. The fact it plays fast means that it’s also a good filler game. If every character felt the same, that would be an issue, but they really do feel different, and there’s been a season two which has even more characters – eight instead of six – which gives you a ton more combinations to play.

Overall Grade: A-
Gamer Grade: B-
Casual Grade: A+

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TableTopTakes: Hanamikoji

TableTopTakes: Hanamikoji

Back with another hot take on a game that’s been out for a little bit. This one is different though as I’ve been reviewing bigger games recently, and this is a small two player game. In Hanamikoji, you are trying to win the favor of […]

Alpha Gaming

Alpha Gaming

I’ve talked about AP gamers before (analysis paralysis) but there’s another type of gamer that can be annoying as well and suck all the fun out of gaming, and that is the alpha gamer. Alpha gaming is primarily a problem in cooperative games where everyone […]

TableTopTakes: Legacy of Dragonholt

TableTopTakes: Legacy of Dragonholt

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 like Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger as in that game you just have the choose your own adventure, you don’t have a separate character, everyone just plays as a single investigator. You do the RPG like thing of creating a character before you start playing Legacy of Dragonholt.

Let’s talk about character creation first. It’s a very simple and fast process compared to character creation for something like Dungeons and Dragons. In here you are still working off of the normal selection process of race and class, but you aren’t rolling up stats and everyone doesn’t have all the skills. In some ways, the best way to compare skill selection is in D&D classes you have a certain number of skills you can pick from a list of skills to be proficient at. You do the same thing based on your class and race in Legacy of Dragonholt, but you don’t get to have all the other skills that you can try to do. If you are “proficient” at the skill, you can use it, if you aren’t, you can’t use the skill. This means you have to diversify more across the group, but you generally will want to have a few of the more common skills and a true fighting skill. While this does make character creation a whole lot faster, because of how turn ordering works in the game, and because you can’t just try to do things, you’ll probably end up missing out on some story at times that you might have liked to get into.

So, how is the other big part of the game, the choose your own adventure side? To tie it back into the skills, I do really like the ability to use skills to open up story that feels more specific to your character. So that is a fun part of the story and making choices. When you have that skill ability though, you almost always feel like you should be doing that part of the story than one of the more mundane options. The writing isn’t extremely consistent on tone as well. I feel like they shy away from anything that would make it feel mature, but then sometimes you get situations where you’re fighting someone and you get a pretty detailed description of the damage you have caused, but then they try and stay away from saying that the person you were fighting died. It’s just an inconsistent blend in something that feels like it’s pretty often dumbed down and targeted to a young audience. I don’t think this is bad, but it needs to be feel more consistent and actually nail down what it wants to be. That said, the story is most definitely fun. I will say that I haven’t played through the whole story yet, but from what I’ve heard, the inconsistency does stay. I’m also not sure how you get around that feeling without either targeting only the younger or older audiences.

So, does this work as a game? I think it does, though it might be as much of a story activity as a game. It kind of walks that line where it doesn’t have extremely tough choices that you have to make, it’s always just choosing at a story point. But it is also clearly not just an RPG or clearly a board game. It certainly has been fun playing, and even though I’ve only played through the first chapter twice, once by myself and once with Kristen, it was fun and different enough each time. There were no extremely different new paths that I came across, but there were a few new things that happened in it that told a slightly different story than I’d play through before.

There’s also the question if this is something you can come back to again and again once you’ve played it? If you’re a completionist and must go down every path, I guess there is a lot of replayability, but having played through the first scenario twice now, I don’t feel like I’m going to want to come back to it any time soon, and the chunk of time between plays helped. It is probably something that I could come back to eventually and have a few story points forgotten, but as it’s not an extremely complex story, you’re going to generally know what happens once you’ve played it before. I don’t know if Fantasy Flight has plans to add in expansions, but that would certainly be a way to continue the game. Bring in new adventures that another adventuring party could face in a stand alone expansion. I hope, in some ways, that it happens as I could see playing this game as a family activity or an introduction to RPG’s.

Overall, it’s a fun time. If you’re looking for a grand and epic game, you aren’t going to love it, if you’re looking for amazing writing, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you go into the game just looking to have a fun time with it, it can certainly meet those expectation. And as an introduction to RPG’s, I think it works quite well. Probably the next step if someone likes the House of Danger game.

Overall Grade: B-
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: B

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Holiday Game Guide: Strategy Games

Holiday Game Guide: Strategy Games

We’ve done small games, we’ve done story games, I feel like the logical next step is going to be suggesting some strategy games. Who would you give a strategy game too? With the stocking stuffers and story games, a lot of them could be played […]