Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Moving to a new home!

Actually, I'm already there.

I'm now on a Wordpress blog. It allowed me to merge my three blogs into one (Wordpress has this amazing import utility) and most importantly, it has a download facility. I can pull down the full contents of the blog and save it if I want to.

So, this is my new URL.

Dream Weaver 7 (merging my boardgame blog, movie/TV blog and general interest blog)

Not everything is working yet (I'm working backwards on the post tagging) and I'm restoring all the sidebar contents bit by bit.

Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Zupport for Zavandor

Mike Siggins's new Notebook is up.

Favorable review for Das Zepter, which makes me feel a lot more secure in my decision to order it despite its being an indy game (Lookout Games, Jens Drogemuller) that has a reputation for running too long. I have to admit, it was the theme that tipped me over the edge here. A fantasy-flavored system game? I'm there, and I'm sure my game group will be happily predisposed to giving it a shot.

All I have to do is call it "The Rod of Seven Parts".

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Toys 'R (Finally?) Us

The first TRU store in the country (ever?) finally opened in one of the city's malls a few weeks ago. I finally got to go check it out. I didn't have a lot of expectations, boardgame-wise, but did hope that some of the more common stuff would be there at somewhat reasonable prices.

The store is small by TRU standards. It's smaller than the two TRU stores in Singapore that I've had the chance to visit. The display that greets you at the entrance is a large Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest tableau. I immediately go looking for the only item that might interest me - Pirates Dice.

Nope, not available. Dammit.

I can see the large stack of Monopoly Manila edition a couple of aisles down and make a beeline for the boardgame section. Ooh, Game of Life. Ooh, Trouble. Wow, bunches of chessboards.


Interestingly, the party games are very sparse. I see several Charades variants (no Time's Up of course). I went looking for Electronic Catchphrase, which I would have picked up had it been there.

Nope, not available. Dammit.

Along with scads of Battleship and Clue and Monopoly Basic Edition and a hundred UNO-brand games were a few boxes of Heroscape Master Set and one of the expansions. Not interested in that (there's a reason that it's a children's game), so that was it for the boardgame section.

Disappointed, I walked through the rest of the store, pausing at the videogame section just because they had some iPods and iPod accessories. Nothing unusual that I couldn't get cheaper elsewhere. So I turned around to leave when something caught my eye.

I could spot the box cover of Vegas Showdown on a shelf across from the action figures section.

This part of the store has a small selection of CCGs and CMGs. I was about to make a remark to the staffers that most of the Wizkids products on display were now unsupported, but thought better of it and instead focused on the boardgames.

There was a small selection of FFG, Hasbro and Eagle Games from the local distributor. Descent and Twilight Imperium III were US$100 each. Good luck selling those things. Vegas Showdown, Sword and Skull, Monsters Ravage America and Nexus Opes were around US$50. Still Ouch. Tsuro? US$50. Doom? US$65. Ingenious or Beowulf, which I was actually interested in picking up?

Nope, not available. Dammit.

So much for that.

I threaded my way past the Disney section, the Barbie section and even more Pirates to the exit.

One last check for Pirates Dice...

Nope, not available. Dammit.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Divining Descent: Journeys in the Dark

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What is it?

Descent: Journeys in the Dark is a boardgame. Designed by Kevin Wilson for Fantasy Flight Games, it's a tactical combat game in a fantasy setting. The main activity is combat. Two to four players each take a character (or characters), ideally forming a team, and explore rooms and passageways. Their opponents are various fantastic critters controlled by another player. Essentially, it's kill or be killed all the way.

What is it NOT?

It's not a roleplaying game. It's also not a Eurogame. Descent is more of a videogame adaptation, since characters cannot die (the adventuring side just loses victory points) and the "overlord" player has an unlimited amount of creatures that theoretically can appear anywhere. It's also not very variable. Descent is a series of endless battles until the victory point condition is met by either side. Characters either hack away with melee weapons, shoot with missile weapons, or utilize "magical" attacks.

What do you get?

A huge box filled mostly with miniature unpainted plastic figures. The game also has cardboard tiles, cards, and a lot of counters. Overall, the production is very well done, as you might expect from Fantasy Flight.

What did you like?

The combat system is interesting. (I never played its predecessor, DOOM: The Boardgame so it's new to me.) The odds of success in attacks and the amount of damage dealt are driven by various colored six-sided dice. The type of attack and the weapon utilized determine which and how many dice are rolled. Damage is soaked by armor. Various status effects apply. The system isn't a bad approximation of what many similarly-themed videogames present.

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What could have been done better?

Descent is a long game. Given the system, it's unavoidable since there is no "downtime" for the players unless they leave the dungeon premises and teleport to the town. If they do that, they're no closer to winning the game. There is also very little story here - it would have been nice to have more reasons for things in the game, especially since Descent is purely an experience game. There is no pretense towards balance anyway, so why not lean completely on the theme so that it's easier to overlook the various problematic game elements?

Related to the theme thing - the way the Overlord plays completely breaks the theme. Monsters coordinate perfectly, as if being driven by a hive mind. That makes no sense. They also can use knowledge that they thematically don't have, just because the Overlord player has the game information.

Finally, to beat a dead horse - the treasure rules make no sense at all. Character have to be adjacent to pass items, but treasure from the chest teleports to the characters? And there are always magic items equal to the number of players?


Descent is an MMO "RPG" translated to board game form. As you might expect, it's a lot slower than its computer kin, it's got a lot of moving parts and it makes less sense because of the lack of story. If you shun MMOs and need your fantasy tactical combat fix, give it a try. Otherwise you're probably better off playing a similar game online.

If you're looking for a true roleplaying game, you won't find it here either. It's just a game. There are no roles, and no story to speak of.

If you're after a lot of plastic fantasy figures to paint, you're in luck. Descent has a lot of plastic figures.

Eurogamers, there's no balance and a lot of randomness here. Roleplayers, there's no story or logical structure to the in-game behavior of the elements. Heroquest fans, this is right up your alley. MMO fans, if you for some reason want to get off the net and play with plastic, this is also right up your alley.

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Personal Spin

Not for me, but I would play if asked by my game group and there's no one else available. I would consent to playing the Overlord, but would inject reasonable monster knowledge and intellect into the proceedings. I'd also probably choose to not spawn in cleared areas, because that makes no sense. Considering the time investment and the lack of a compelling hook, I don't look forward to the next play at all and will probably never ask for Descent to be played again.


My rating for Descent: Journeys in the Dark: 4/10
Current Boardgamegeek rating: 7.2/10

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I knew it was a bad idea to use a .css file that was hosted on a site other than Blogger. So I converted two of my weblogs over to templated from googlepages.com because I liked how it all looked. Now, that site has exceeded its bandwidth and so it stopped serving the .css file. It took a week to figure it out.

Oh well. So back to one of the standard Blogger templates until a better idea surfaces.

Ah, the distractions from publishing actual blog posts that people want to read... :(