Category Archives: DIGC310

Beards and Battle-axes: Play through

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It was a cold winter’s night and two shadowy figures were waiting outside the empty house. One of the figures paced back and forth obviously growing impatient.

“He probably just forgot, you know how his memory is.”

“Probably, but it’s not like him to have his phone off…

…I hope he’s alright”

This was the situation I found myself in on the night of play testing my semi-developed board game I have been working on. I had organised with a mate of mine to come over to his palace at 6 with another mate so I could playtest my game with them. This did not end up going according to plan. My friend and I turned up at my other mate’s house at 6, and after 45 minutes of waiting my mate finally turned up. He had forgotten, got caught up at work, and his phone had died. So, we had 15 minutes before everyone else arrived for D&d and I had to teach my mates how to play my game, play through a game, and then leave time for them to give feedback.

So with all of that in mind here is how my play through went.

The concept of the game didn’t take long to explain, they had both talked about it with me beforehand about it, and as you’d expect from people about to play a game of D&d they both easily coped with the level of abstraction in my game.

In terms of material my game was far from complete. My floor tiles were made from printed out copies of a floor plan that was no longer under copyright, cut into tiles with markings I made with a whiteout pen to show what happened on each tile. I used the life, mana, gold, and strength counters from Talisman, as well as any encounter/equipment card I thought would work in my game. The only real material aspect of my game that was close to the finished product where the character/boss cards I had made. So with this dog’s breakfast of things, we played (quickly) a very crude version of the game I have in mind for the final product.

Play was quick, both of my mates picked up the game mechanics pretty well. We revealed tiles, killed some monsters, got some loot, killed the boss, no worries. It is good to keep in mind that both my mates are pretty seasoned gamers though and I’m sure it wouldn’t have run as smooth with less experienced gamers.

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So, what went well?

The combat in terms of encounters went well, using the tried and tested method of rolling off using one stat. I will need to include some stronger monsters though.

The player cards where easy to understand, players all used their ability’s at least once. Thankfully I don’t think any one character ended up being over powered either.

What needs to change?

One of the comments my mates gave me was that too much was happening, pretty much every tile had an encounter of some kind, and they said they just needed some time to think and take stock of what they had and what they wanted to do. So I’ll have more tiles with nothing.

Something I noticed was that in making the movement only one tile a round made the game monotonous. I think adding a counter showing how many spaces you can move, like in Betrayal at House on the Hill, would add another element of play, deciding what would be the best use of your turn for that round.

The other major thing was the Boss. Having the boss appear after a certain number of rounds, with the players then being forced back to the centre to battle it did not make for fun combat, or an exciting ending. I think letting the players know what they’re up against, will add a level of strategy, rather than just hoping for the best. I think having the Boss spawn after a certain amount of rounds still works, but I want to give players the option of when to attack and if they want to attack all together or go one on one. Obviously I’ll have to add a consequence for if the players take too long to defeat the monster, a buff to the boss, environmental impact, instant death, something.

 

So definitely some things to change and tweak, but I think with the feedback from playtesting and just thinking through the mechanics some more I’ll be able to make some big improvements.

Special thanks to Laurent and Will for being my guineapigs.

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Pitch: Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest

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Something or someone has slaughtered everyone in the dwarven stronghold under the Black Mountain. Hordes of monsters have taken over, the once glorious mine, and it’s up to you and your fellow dwarf kin, to find what has caused this, remove it and return the stronghold to its former glory.

Search- Kill- Loot- Repeat

This is the situation you and your friends find yourselves in when you play Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest.

Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest is a dungeon crawler based game for 2-6 players.

The game begins with each player choosing a character/class to play as. At the moment there are four classes, Wizard, Fighter, Berserker, and Engineer, and each class has different abilities and stats. There are 3 stats that make up each class, Strength, Magic, and Life, much like in the game Talisman. I’m also toying with the idea of everyone wearing knitted beards while they play, not only because I think it would just be funny, but because one of the things about dwarves is that you can’t really tell if someone’s male or female because they all have beards.Long_viking_beard_hat_1024x1024

After everyone has chosen there class, players pick up 2 treasure cards, placing them face up if using it at the time, otherwise placing them face down in front of them. Players then place their character piece at the entrance to the mine and play begins. The mine splits off into tunnels in all different directions.

Players each individually pick a tunnel to venture down at the start of the game.

The tunnel system will be randomly generated as players flip tiles that show what’s in the room. Kind of like Betrayal at House on the Hill if any of you have played that.

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The symbol shown on the tile will tell the player to encounter a card from either the treasure deck or the event deck. The treasure deck is pretty self-explanatory it is made up of weapons, potions, equipment, etc, the event deck on the other hand will be more random, including curses, enemies, strangers, pets, other stuff. There will also be a few tiles that have specific things that only happen there, like a pit fall, or a treasure room.

The combat system will be much the same as in Talisman, with if the player has to use magic or strength to beat it written on the card. The player then rolls a dice along with the monster (played by one of the other players) and adds their number for that stat to it, the player/monster with the most points wins. If a player loses they must take off a life point (obviously if a player gets to zero life they die). A player may choose though to not fight the enemy at all and can choose to run away, on a four, five, or six the player succeeds, if they fail the enemy catches them and they lose a life.

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Back to the objective of the game, players are trying to get themselves ready for defeating the boss (which I’ll talk about soon), to do this players are trying to level up. To level up players need to defeat monsters, for every monster a player kills, the player will go up a level. W   hen a player goes up a level they choose one of their stats to increase by one. There will also be random encounters that will give players the possibility of gaining levels by other means.

The Boss

The final boss will arrive after a certain amount of turns, and will draw all of the players back to the entrance of the mine for the final battle. Now is when all players really are working as a team, as you combine all of your power to try and defeat the boss.

There are different bosses that players can fight against for different difficulties, this will be evident by the colour of the boss card when its face down. Green=Beginners, Yellow=Skilled, Red= Expert. The amount of rounds it takes for the boss to appear will be shown on the back of the card, with a different amount of rounds for the number of players.

The bosses will all have different special ability’s that will be written on the cards, this might be special attacks or maybe a resistance to a type of attack.

The combat system will be much the same as in Talisman, with if the player has to use magic or strength to beat it written on the card.

To defeat the boss it will be pretty much the same as a normal monster but it will have stats for both Strength and Magic, with players having to best it in both.

That’s what I’ve got so far, I hope it makes sense.

Thanks

Hayden

Shadows Over Camelot

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Enemies approach from all sides, and all hope seems lost for Camelot. You and your fellow knights of the round table are the last hope for your kingdom to overcome the encroaching evil. Collect the ancient artefacts, slay formidable foes and hold off the invading armies and you’ll likely succeed, but be on the lookout, there may be a traitor amongst your ranks.

This is the situation you find yourself in when playing Shadow over Camelot. Sound challenging? It is, but don’t think it’s unbeatable.

 

Introducing the game

Shadows over Camelot is a cooperative hand-management and deduction-based board game for 3–7 players. Each player represents a knight of the Round Table and they must collaborate to overcome a number of quests, ranging from defeating the Black Knight to the search for the Holy Grail. Completed quests place white swords on the Round Table; failed quests add black swords and/or siege engines around Camelot. The knights are trying to build a majority of white swords on the Table before Camelot falls.

On each knight’s turn, the knight takes a “heroic action”, such as moving to a new quest, building his hand, or playing cards to advance the forces of good. However, he must also choose one of three evil actions, each of which will bring Camelot closer to defeat.

Moreover, one of the knights may be a traitor, pretending to be a loyal member of the party but secretly hindering his fellow knights in subtle ways, biding his time, waiting to strike at the worst possible moment.

 

The Stats

Designers- Bruno Cathala & Serge Laget

Illustrators- Julien Delval, Cyrille Daujean

Publisher- Days of Wonder

Publication date- 2005

Languages-English, French, German

Price- $80aus

Players- 3–7

Age range 10 +

Playing time 60-90 minutes

 

Materials

You get a fair amount of loot, when you buy Shadows over Camelot. All up it includes a 20 page Rule Booklet, a 16 page Book of Quests, 1 Main Camelot/Round Table gameboard, 3 additional double-sided Quests (The Holy Grail, Excalibur, and Lancelot/The Dragon), 7 Coat of Arms, 7 standard dice and a special 8-sided die for the Siege Engines, 30 Miniatures, 16 black/white Swords of the Round Table, and a whopping 168 cards.

Like other games that I’ve played by Days of wonder all of the different components, are beautifully made. The board is colourful and has a lot of nice detail, the designs and art compliment the theme, and the miniatures are wonderfully detailed, with the added option for the owner to paint the miniatures if they want (which I think is really cool).  The cards are illustrated but all the important information is easy to find, and are made of good cardstock.  The board does take up a lot of space, but the pieces don’t go together in any particular order so you can make it work even with a relatively small amount of table space.

 

Playing the game

Like many large board games, setting up Shadows over Camelot is half the fun….. well it certainly can take up half the time. Once you’re done with set up, the first part is getting your character. We did this at random, but I guess you could choose who you all wanted to be, all the characters have different ability’s, but it won’t really change much if your play with cards that you choose yourself or picking randomly. During this time you also figure out if you’re a traitor or not. I wasn’t so in my naivety thought all might be well among the group. Maybe we were lucky and missed out on picking up the traitor?

After this the real game begins, and it can seem really daunting, especially for first time players. So much is happening at once and you have to choose what to do. Do you try and solo the Black Knight and get all the glory (and hit points) to yourself, join your comrades in the search for the Holy Grail, or maybe join your battle brother in pushing back the wave on Picts invading from across the sea.  I had no idea what to do at this point, and the choice that you have conveys really well the situation that Camelot is in. I was the one who decided to solo the Black Knight by the way. I was unsuccessful.

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Playing Shadows over Camelot, I found you really have to be smart with how you take your turn, and I think it’s because you have to keep so much in mind. Yes, you want to get white swords on the table, but you also have to think about everything happening around the board, how many siege engines are up? Are you running out of cards? Should you move to a new quest?  This is all going through your head when you make your heroic action. When you move on to your evil actions it can be even worse, especially near the end.

We lost by the tiniest of margins when we played, so we were feeling alright about ourselves as we talked about little things we could have done to win, that was until we found out that one of us was a traitor and we would have lost even if we did a couple things different near the end.

CURSE YOU JADE!!!!

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Final thoughts

Even though we lost, Shadows over Camelot was really fun to play, and it was different to any other co-op game I’ve played. I think there’s the perfect level of difficulty, as even seasoned players will struggle at times if the cards are not playing nice. I would definitely play Shadows over Camelot again, but I’m not sure if I’d buy it. It’s just too expensive for me at $80, especially when I know I could spend my money on getting two games.

 

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadows_Over_Camelot

https://www.daysofwonder.com/shadowsovercamelot/en/

Hi!

I am Vinz, Vinz Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer. Volguus Zildrohar, Lord of the Sebouillia. Are you the Gatekeepper?

No but seriously, I’m Hayden, and I’m sure like at least a couple of you I finish my degree this year, yippee!

I really love board games and card games and video games, really all types of games, so I’m really excited to see everything that happens in DIGC310. I also really like films, if that’s not already obvious from the Ghostbusters reference.

Anyway, I do wish we could chat longer but,… I’m having an old friend for dinner. Bye.