Another two player game, the one that I mentioned in the Hanamikoji article. This one is a much simpler game, but still a very fast two player game with a cute table presence. In Blossoms you are trying to grow and cut the best group […]
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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“There’s so much on the planet, all this money to be made.”
“What about the giant bugs?”
“Hire some good security for the mines.”
“And the scary looking brain scorpions?”
“And the hydras?”
“Alright, mechanical armored security.”
That’s how I imagine it went as they set off for this unknown planet. And I don’t know how anything could go wrong as you fend off wave after wave of monsters as they throw themselves against your base. Xenoshyft: Onslaught is a cooperative deck building game where players upgrade troops and equipment while trying to keep the base working through nine rounds of creatures attacking. The feel of this game is somewhere between Alien and Starship Troopers. Definitely not as silly as Starship Troopers, but you are still fighting off waves of bugs for at least part of it.
Xenoshyft works really well as a deck builder as compared to something like Dominion, it has more game to it and feels much more thematically involved. As compared to another heavier deck builder, it doesn’t run into the situation of Marvel Legendary where you can just get stuck at times with the combinations and with money. The fact that each hand you get to add in a dollar for the first wave, three for the second, and six for the third means that you always can make a purchase. That along with being able to use the wave one troops to discount future troops makes the game scale a whole lot better.
And that’s a good thing, because this is a very tough game. Even without getting the wave bosses at opportune times, such as early in the wave, this game is really tough to beat. For each player the base gets an extra 15 hit points, but possible, early in the game, you can get down to half the points before you’ve gotten into wave two. You can often right the ship and push through wave two, but then wave three hits and now you’re dealing with a whole new level of creature. Maybe we should have just stayed on earth, but there was so much money to be made.
Another fun thing in this game is that you can help other people when they might not be getting what they need. Some of them are using abilities of your troops to help them fight the creatures. However, when you play a troop, weapon, or gear that the troop wears on the other players side of the defense, that card then goes into their deck for good. It makes for an interesting tool, because you want to empty your hand as much as possible each turn so helping other people can do that. I also like it because with the cooperative nature of the game, if one person wasn’t drawing well, it could come down to their side of the base that caused you to lose, but with trading weaponry, troops, and helping the other players out, it’s definitely more of a team game.
Finally, one of the biggest unique things is the idea of the combat lanes. When I say each side of the base (or mine), I mean that each player has a small player board where they can have four troops. These troops can then be outfitted with armor and weaponry. Then four enemies are dealt onto another player board, face down, and you face off against them one at a time. The monster attacking the first troop in your player board, figuring out damage, and then repeating as need be until that monster is killed or until the monster has killed all of your troops. Then, if you have no troops left, any monsters left end up doing damage to the base. But having these unknown monsters means that you have to guess when you might want a stronger troop, because you might not want them right at the front. Or you have to decide, do you want to use an item to help you troop stay alive longer or do you need to save that because a worse monster is coming?
Overall, this is a very fun game. I have only one once, and that was because we cheated slightly in our advantage. The other four times I’ve played, we’ve always made it to the third wave of creatures, there are three difficulty levels/waves, and in each wave, you face off against them three times. But it’s a game that you want to reset and play right away, and in some ways, it feels better to make it further, and it’s less about winning the game, because it might be a while until I can win the game again. Components of this game are okay, the cards are very nice, but when I called them player boards, it’s more like player cardstock, so that part of the game feels a little bit cheap. The plastic health and shield tokens also feel a little bit chintzy. If you’re a person who wants all the components to be amazing, this game might not be for you, though the game play is very good. Or if you’re someone who doesn’t like cooperative games where you lose more often than not, this game is definitely not for you.
Casual Grade: C+
Gamer Grade: B+
How do you get an A out of those grades? I really like this game, I’d play it whenever anyone would want to play it. However, I think that there might be a touch much going on for a more casual player, and with the grittier artwork and look of it, it might be a bit little going on for someone who thinks they are a heavy gamer and wants a lot of conflict. But for me, it’s really enjoyable.
Have you played this game before? Have you beat it before? If so, what has worked well for you in this game?
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Time for some gaming fun, this time with the newest game that is a craze, the Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger game. Which is based off of the Choose Your Own Adventure book by the same name.
House of Danger does what you’d expect it to. You are going through the story, and after reading a paragraph or so you have a choice to make. This basically is always what room you’ll go into next or area that you’ll explore, but there can be other things as well. Some of the cards have challenges that you need to beat. It could be fighting off a monster or searching for clues. However, if you fail, the danger tracker goes up, and the challenges are harder to beat. There are also optional challenges that you can do that will give you more clues to what is going on, but could end up driving up that danger meter if you fail.
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger comes in five chapters, and each chapter can take about an hour. That’s what they say in the game, but we got through two chapters in just over an hour. However, we left a lot unread, and most likely you’ll always have something that’s left unread, because you don’t want to accidentally end up dying, again. But when you do die in the game, that’s okay. Because they just send you back to the previous location you were at (or they have thus far), and you are penalized in your psychic ability which can make it harder to get all the clues that you want to get. I think, technically, if your psychic ability were to hit zero, you’d lose the game, but that’s not extremely likely.
This game is more of an experience than a hard core gaming experience. It really is a Choose Your Own Adventure in a box. The additions of the challenges are a nice game piece to what otherwise could just be the book. It also works well because it can be a group experience. We had six of us playing, and we’d take turns reading the cards. if there was a challenge on the card, the person who read the card would end up rolling for it as well. But the decision making process as to what to do on each card, which room to go to next, we made that as a group. Between that decision and the story being read out loud, House of Danger is a fun group experience.
Now, is this a game for everyone and every group?
I don’t actually think so. If you and your group generally are in for heavier gaming experiences where your decisions matter, House of Danger isn’t going to be the game for you. House of Danger is light, goofy, and fun. Even if you are that type of group and who enjoys those more experiential games, I think if you aren’t going to be a bit goofy with House of Danger, the game is going to fall flat.
This isn’t a flaw with the Choose Your Own Adventure game or the system that it is built on, but it’s done in such a way that it’s simple for anyone to sit down and play. It’s an experiential game that you can play with a very large group. Like I said, we played with six people and took turns reading, but there’s no reason that you couldn’t play with a much larger group. As long as everyone can hear and can have their voice heard when decisions are being made, you can go with as large a group as you want.
Finally, I hope that they come out with more of these games. The game itself is going to be somewhat able to be replayed. However, once you know the story, you could try and make an optimized run through it just to see how well you could do, but that wouldn’t be as fun. You can play through it with different groups and things will be different and jokes will be different each time, but the basis of this game would be easy to turn out a lot more of these based off of other Choose Your Own Adventure books.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: B-
Casual Grade: A
Have you had a chance to play Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger yet? Have you enjoyed that experience or that type of game before?
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