Thursday, 15 December 2011

Review: Super Dungeon Explore

So much promise, by and large left unfulfilled

Well this will be an interesting product to review. I think it's fair to say I was left a little bit 'deflated' after my unboxing of the game. Hey, I'm open to criticism and I went back through the article and tried to see if what I'd said was in any way a tad too harsh as some people had suggested to me. My considered answer after all this time? No, I was bang on with what I said. I still think it was a daft oversight not to include instructions on assembling their overly fiddly miniatures, and while I'm glad they've produced some, it's not in the box is it? Secondly it doesn't say anywhere on the outside of the product that it requires assembly. I'm not bothered that I need to assemble these miniatures, as I'm a wargamer and used to such things, but as a product on the shelf it should tell people what it is, and what to expect. The box it comes in is a shit quality corrugated card board affair, that does damage far too easily and thus makes storing the contents of the box difficult. And the playing cards? They're still the worst quality playing cards I've come across. So I'm sticking by what I said, so to those of you who have emailed me and told me to edit my unboxing article and be more upbeat... kindly go forth and multiply. They're my opinions and I'll not change them for all the barracking in the world! But what do I think of it as a game now I've played it?

Box contents pre-assembly
Product Description

Yep it is yet another board game in a box. Get over it already! You get 9 hero miniatures, 5 minion spawning points, 5 treasure chests, 2 boo-booty treasure chests, 22 Kobold minion miniatures, 6 Drake denizen miniatures, 2 Kobold Ogres and 1 Dragon miniature. They're the undeniable stars of the product. There are 5 double sided dungeon tiles that measure in at roughly 12" by 12". There is also a game tracking card which tracks various game effects and also measures 12" by 12" in size, meaning the maximum gaming space it takes up is 3' by 2'. There's a myriad of colourful game tokens and a nicely produced full colour rulebook. There are also 16 custom dice, 8 blue (weakest dice) 6 red dice (middling) and 2 green dice (most powerful). Finally there are about 60 playing cards representing Loot, treasure, Adventurers, Minions, status effect etc.

Gameplay 6.5 out of 10

A game set up and ready to go.

Let me be clear about this, I actually have enjoyed playing this game for the first few times. It's a pretty good brainless dungeon crawling romp, tinged with a soupcon a 16-bit SNES geekery. It's mindless fun, and there is nothing wrong with that. The mechanics aren't all that bad, even if much of them are borrowed from other games and have some inherent flaws. But what game in this hobby hasn't borrowed mechanics off of another game? Sometimes theres a comfort in the familiar and it can aid you in learning and playing something new. Yesterday I wrote about how I struggled at first with Claustrophobia, and its new and different mechanics. I'm guessing you could say that Super Dungeon Explore is sort of the opposite of that experience. I took to the game and the rules like a duck takes to water. Sure there are the odd wrinkle or foible that takes getting used to, like there is with any game, but on the whole I've seen it before and that helps getting started.

A nice artistic touch, but it's not enough to make it a good game
That's a good thing though sometimes, and initially I have to say I took a lot of enjoyment out of finally putting the super cute chibi miniatures down on the board and rolling some dice. I want to make it clear, that initially I found Super Dungeon Explore to be a riotous amount of fun. I was all ready to forgive the game its initial disappointments, but then came some pretty nagging doubts about longevity. I am blessed or cursed, depending on your viewpoint, with a highly mathematical brain. I literally see probability and numbers, it's hard to explain sometimes, but when I was at university I had an uncanny ability to look at data sets thousands of cases long and tell whether they'd be statistically significant or not. And even in some cases to what sort of degree they were significant. Some of my lecturers thought I was some sort of savant. I'm not, it's just that I get maths, I can visualise systems in my head, and Super Dungeon Explores has some serious flaws.

The dwarf prepares to cleave a path to the first spawning pool.

The game scales appallingly, if at all. The maths of the game and the specialist dice are broken. I think that Soda Pop must have realised this at some point as well with the dice, because they limit the amount of damage that can be dealt by anyone attack to only 1 wound. That is a clunky fix, to a systemic problem that their dice and profile system has created. There can be wildy varying results in terms of damage rolls vs defence rolls that can measure as high as a differential of 7, because of the specialist dice mechanic. If they didn't limit the damage to 1 'wound' per 'hit' then it's theoretically possible that sometimes heroes could be killed with one hit. Rather than accepting the dice were wrong and needed fixing, or that the profiles needed changing, or subtleties added they placed this clunky 1 wound limit on top of the a system that doesn't feel like it was meant to be limited. But does it work?

No, it's a fudge and it feels like it. Is it OK that the hero's only cause 1 amount of damage on monsters when they hit? Yep because most of the basic minions only have one wound, or two at the most. Plus the heroes have multiple action points meaning they can make multiple attacks and theoretically topple sometimes 3 minions in a round. For the minions on the other hand causing only one point of damage at best is pretty much pointless, this is because I've found that as heroes you are likely to roll hearts on your attack dice to get those wounds back. The adventures seem to be far more likely early on to cause damage to others, than receive damage themselves. There's nothing wrong with that on its own. But the dice themselves often mean that you're rolling potions or hearts more likely than not, meaning in the unlikely event that the heroes do take damage its rapidly nullified. This turns the early rounds of the game into nothing more than a slow butcher fest, a hollow grind or slog. Maybe that's for you, maybe you'll enjoy it, but I can't get past the fact that it is actually a pointless phase of the game that has little meaning. It's just a speed bump until you get the mini bosses and boss out onto the board.

It got a bit hairy for the heroes at the mid point, but after that it was plain sailing

You as adventurers with multiple wounds and action points blat the lower level minions quite easily, smashing them to pieces and working your way to spawning points and destroying them. You then nip off collecting treasure from those treasure chests, some of which can really swing things your way. It's OK and at first  and it's fun, but soon you start wanting more from the game. Something different, a little bit of depth. As the Consul (or console, yeah I see what you did there. Nice!) you rapidly realise that it is best to just blindly throw cheap minions at the adventurers for them to slaughter as rapidly as possible, so you get to spawn your mini bosses and boss onto the board. That's when you start being able to deal damage and resist a bit yourself. I've heard people say they've found it hard or a struggle, but seriously as an adventurer we've not really had too much of an issue at 16-Bit (3 heroes) level. Each adventurer getting a tile, a spawning point and treasure chest sounds like it should actually be balanced. But it's not. It's the second flaw in the game.

A mini boss gets twated, while the last spawning pool dies!
At 8-bit or two heroes the two tiles and the two spawning points are dealt with way before power marker ever threatens to reach super and the boss is unleashed, or even the mini bosses at the halfway point sometimes. As the Consul you do only have two adventurers to deal with, but there is no where to run and invariably it comes down to one or two lucky dice rolls to see, which side wins. Or if the heroes have found stupidly powerful treasure items! At 8-bit the game is boring and not really a challenge for the adventurers at all. At 16-bit I found things a little bit more balanced, but still not really giving the Consul much of a chance. Have I won as the consul? Yes, and at times it's touch and go as to whether or not as the heroes whether you destroy all the spawning points before the final boss comes out. And if you don't you can find yourself in a sticky situation, that's the strategy for the consul really, chuck cheap crap at the heroes in the hope you slow them down and bottle them up so they can't destroy all the spawning points before the boss appears, allowing you to get the maximum amount of minions on the board to help you with the final fight.

At Super level, or with 5 heroes it swings wildly in favour of the consul. You see, all the adventurers start on the same tile, and this means they now have 5 tiles to move through, to try and get to those spawning points to destroy them. Is the power gauge made longer? Nope. So you have more bad guys to kill, more distance to travel and no swing in your favour to help you out. Perhaps it's not meant to be scaling in the normal sense, perhaps it's supposed to get slowly tougher I don't know. Perhaps the experience is meant to change this drastically. If it is then evidently I've missed the point, and I guess as the heroes it does become an engaging challenge, yet sadly for the consul it suddenly switches to being a boring walk in the park.

Finally the boss appears and it already looks grim for the Consul

There is never really a happy balance in the system. 16-bit gets close but fails to really deliver an engrossing game. I think sadly Soda Pop were relying on the hits of nostalgia they've carefully placed and loaded throughout product. The language in the rulebook and with the artwork, specifically on the board tiles to see them through on nostalgia and style alone. But, sadly the image of an old arcade machine on a floor tile does not a good game make! It helps, it does and I'm not denying that, it's just not a substitute for a solid gaming experience. But, the biggest fail is the total lack of variance within the game. Every game is the same, seriously. I'm not even sure changing the heroes you take actually changes how things play out that much, if at all, especially given they can all only deal 1 point of damage each any way. And then there's the boss. Singular. Yes I get that old top down adventure games were all about the bosses many of them, I really do. And I get that Super Dungeon Explore is trying to emulate that, and actually it doesn't do a bad job of it... but there's one boss.

One boss. A dragon. That's it. So I slog through the game again and again and again to face the same boss. Colour me unimpressed. If they'd included a few more bosses I could have brought into the premise, but they haven't. Maybe that's their trick, maybe they'll be selling us all mini bosses and full on bosses to mix the game up. I hope so, I really do, because if this is it, if this is all it'll ever be it's shit. It gets far too repetitive far to quickly for this game to ever have much longevity. A few puzzle mechanics might have been nice, even if it was switches on different tiles, forcing the adventurers to split up to press the switches at the same time time to 'open up' the last tile. Maybe a rescue the princess mission. Anything. People have said to me I should write some rules like that myself, but honestly I don't really see why I should when there are other products and games out there that have done that for me.

The floor tiles are nice looking, but don't lead to interesting or varied games

I've also been told I should use my tiles from Descent or the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System games to make more interesting and engaging shaped dungeons. Maybe I should, but I don't feel inclined to do so. Because putting it bluntly it's just easier for me to take the miniatures and play other games with them that have already done all the hard work for me. Can I see kids enjoying this game with their parents? Yes, and I think that might be where its biggest success will be. It is a simple game to learn and it is colourful, bold and brash in a child friendly way. It also generates mercifully brief games so it's unlikely to bore kids like some more involved products. I've yet to test it on impressionable young minds though, but knowing what games I own that kids I know like, this is definitely ticking many similar boxes. It's just not for me... yet! If Soda Pop bring out some different baddies at a reasonable price that mix things up. Introduce different sorts of missions, then it might yet prove a more engrossing experience, but right now it isn't.

The bad guys
Detail 10 out of 10

This is something that nobody I know can criticise Soda Pop Miniatures over. The design brief is unique, wonderfully realised and pretty much perfectly executed. It looks like a 16-bit top down console RPG / Adventure game. It screams Secret of Mana, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy or the daddy itself, The Legend of Zelda at you. It treats its source material with a reverence and respect that shows its creators have a lot of love and respect for it, and that shines through. It's fantastic, and I love the atmosphere and feel the game pieces create, from the floor tiles to the miniatures. It's clear that Soda Pop have spent an inordinately huge amount of time getting this visual aspect of the game and its setting just right. It feels like it was a labour of love, and that shines through in every miniature and token. I can't emphasise enough just how strong the theme is, and how well produced it is.

The good guys... notice the witch if sans staff because it won't fit

The tokens scream 8-bit and 16-bit computer games at you. The artwork borders on plagiarism at times but always comes down on the side of loving and respectful homage. The floor tiles themselves are splendid, the artwork calls up games like Secret of Mana, Pac-Man and Dragon Quest. The artwork on the tiles has many nice touches, the oft mentioned arcade machine is a nice 'in joke', but that's not really being fair to the rest of the tiles. They are splendid works of art. The pictures on the cards as well is always brilliant and massively anime and 90's video game inspired. They also function really well, with the treasure cards in particular marrying up nicely to your adventurers profile card depending on what sort they are. This means that they take up a small amount of space because of it. It is a neat touch and one that's welcome given how huge the actual game tiles are and how much space the game takes up.

The artwork on the cards is really good and characterful...
The rulebook is full of nice imagery and console game jokes, as is the game itself. The illusion and atmosphere is never broken by something being out of kilter or wrong. The land of Crystalia they've created also goes above and beyond the background you normally find in board games. I guess Crystalia also gives Soda Pop somewhere to expand to. Crystalia too evokes 90's console gaming at it's best, the map looks like something you'd see in a platformer or some such game from the era of cartridges. The rulebook is full colour and actually has high production values in terms on content. You can't fault the effort and artistic endeavour, it has made me smile on more than one occasion. It is a very stylish product that has been put together in an exceedingly slick manner and it certainly elevates the rest of the product far beyond what it's underlying game mechanics and components would otherwise achieve. As I've said before in my board game reviews, it's these touches that can really help a game out, and for Super Dungeon Explore that's certainly true.

...even if their quality is terrible!
Quality 6 out of 10

Right, lets get the bad out of the way up front. The game cards come on thin pieces of crap, to call the substance they're made out of card is far to kind. I've genuinely used printer paper that's thicker and sturdier. They're awful, awful, awful components and feel cheap and nasty. They're not consistently cut either, which is just a huge unforgivable sin. Some have rounded edges while others have more squared off edges. They're already getting dog eared and battle worn. Piss poor and Soda Pop and Cool Mini or Not should be embarrassed, given the price of the product, it is wholly unacceptable. The tokens were a pain in the ass to get out of their cardboard sprus as well. On more than one occasion I was close to tearing the artwork on them as they hadn't been properly punched out. Sitting their and removing them carefully with a craft knife is not my idea of fun.

Removing these carefully without tearing them was painstakingly slow.

I've been told that I expected too much from a new company releasing their first product and that I'm being harsh. Thing is they are operating in a field where Fantasy Flight Games, Wizards of the Coast and Asmodee ply their trade. When they release a product that costs more than these companies premium product and it fails so hard in comparison on key components it's not acceptable. My dice actually had some of the white paint in them chipped before use, I mean how crap is that? Also if I'd been picking the game up in an actual shop I'd have thought twice about it because of how flimsy and easily damaged the box is. It doesn't 'feel' like a premium board game product when you hold it in your hands, yet sadly enough it has pretencions of being one as its RRP confirms. It isn't all bad though, otherwise the score wouldn't have been dragged up to a 6 out of 10.

The centerpiece. A bugger to put together as it's warped and comes in too many pieces. But it is glorious when done

The miniatures are lovely. True they were an utter bitch to put together as many parts in my set were warped beyond the point of fun! The fact that Soda Pop could lavish such attention to detail on the art direction yet fail to include any sort of instructions for the miniatures in the box though beggars belief. But, I need to calm down because I'm close to flying off the handle again, and I want to be positive about the miniatures, because they're lovely! They super cute and well worth the effort once they're assembled in my opinion. I love them and they are a significant step up on what you usually get in board games. They're up there with the Gears of Wars miniatures from Fantasy Flight Games as being currently the best examples of miniatures in a board game. I don't include the Dwarf Kings Hold games because those are sort of wargames miniatures 'borrowed' for a board game. The rulebook too is a very nicely produced full colour glossy affair, crammed with cool artwork. The tiles are very sturdy and as good as those provided by most board game manufacturers you could care to mention. It's just a shame some of the other components are so utterly rubbish, they really do let the product down as a whole and that's a crying shame, as a little bit more care and effort with sourcing them would have elevated the product so much.

Service 9 out of 10

It is a miracle of biblical proportions that the box got to me unscathed by it's transatlantic excursions via God only knows what method of transit, to the games UK distributor. Then from the distributor to OG games and then onto me via Royal Mail without damage. Because not two minutes after it was in my hands than my terribly cute Maine Coon cat Poppy sat on the box on it dented it badly. So truly, to all involved in getting the box to me in one piece, and unscathed. Thanks. And I'm sorry your hard work was in vain... stupid bloody cat! The fact that OG Games got the game into my hands weeks before many Americans who had pre-ordered the game off of Soda Pop got it is also testament to how good their customer service is.

Price 7 out of 10

It gets a 7 out of 10 purely by virtue of the amount of really nice miniatures you get in the box. If the game had been utterly brilliant and varied, instead of the bland grind that it is I dread to think of the score it would have got as a product. Couple that with the massive improvement they could get for the quality of the components... missed opportunity! Here in the UK its RRP is £64.99 and OG Games knocked that down to £55.99 for us. Not bad for those mini's as I say, but it isn't much of a game and some of the components are diabolically shoddy.

it's a total Dick in a box moment
Overall 7 out of 10

Super Dungeon Explore seems to me to be a product that was purely designed to give people a good enough reason to buy Soda Pops cute chibi miniatures. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's basically how most miniature companies operate. It's an accepted business model. However, I think the miniatures are striking enough and strong enough to have sold on their own merit any way. I really do love the aesthetic style of them and question why they weren't done by others before now. It just seems so obvious when you see them. So kudos to Soda Pop for finding something original to produce in a sea of identikit games. The score is arguably as high as it is because of the miniatures. My biggest problem is that the game as it currently stands that you get in the box isn't anywhere near as strong as the artistic direction on the product.

It's an exasperating product it really is because it could have been so much more than it is. However, it really is a triumph of style over substance at this juncture. The game gets boring really quickly, far too quickly for my liking. Sure I could spend time writing my own different scenarios, or using the tiles provided by other companies products to make interesting looking dungeons... but... why don't I just play other peoples games that already do that for me with Soda Pops admittedly excellent looking miniatures? It's a question I've asked myself and it's one I find easy to answer. There's no point at all in trying to develop stuff on top of Super Dungeon Explores core mechanics. I'll keep an eye out to see if Soda Pop actually release some sensibly priced and designed expansions packs for the game, that give us more variety. But, I'll be very wary of dropping my cash on further Super Dungeon Explore gaming products. I will however continue to buy their miniatures. Peace out!


  1. What?

    ...But you're wrong...So very very wrong!

    Assembly wasn't nearly as terrible as your making it out - didn't have loads of warped pieces, cards were also fine...maybe you just had a bad box?

    This game is loads of fun, we played 2 games last thursday night. First game I played has a hero, 3 heroes total, Heroes won. 2nd game 4 heroes, I choose to be the concul in this one. Consul won.

    This is a great little hack and slash dungeon crawler. It has a far amount of replay value thanks to the double sided tiles and treasure/item cards.

    Its a nice team game, a simplified dungeon crawler. Our crew ranged from veteran mini gamers to video gamers, and just casual gamers.
    We thoroughly enjoyed both our games, and had a ton of people watching & wanting to play the next round.

  2. @Lord Azaghul, thanks for telling me my opinion is wrong, but as it's my opinion it can't be either 'right' or 'wrong'. It's my opinion.

    My miniatures were horribly warped and required some heating to put right. The cards are the worst cards I've ever had in a game, and I have plenty of games to compare them too. I've run through countless games of SDE and its glitz started to wear thin pretty quickly.

    I stick by my assessment that what is in the box becomes tired after repeat play. There needed to be more to it. I have a list of game results that would suggest that the number of adventurers has a bigger influence on the out come of the game than those playing it as well.

    I didn't just write this review after 1 game like some. I have taken my time to read it, play it. Re-read and re-play it some more. Arguably way more than many other games because I knew many people would be of the same opinion as you. However, sorry to disappoint you but this is my considered opinion.

    Love the miniatures and the artwork, but the game and some of the components are very poor quality. If it wasn't for the artwork and the amount of nice looking miniatures you get in the box the game would have scored significantly lower. The double sided tiles don't add any replay value at all, they hardly affect the game, and those that do don't exactly change things up massively.

    I'm not trying to say my opinion is better than anyone elses, but I don't just blindly write things for the hell of it. Or to piss people off, which is something some people think I do. Sorry if it's put your nose out of joint, but I just don't think it's that good.

  3. Just because there can never be enough opinions, the Penny Arcade guys (actually Gabe) put up a quick review:

    Basically, he had the same issues building the minis as you did (and said he was almost ready to give up on it after that), but enjoyed actually playing the game in the end.

  4. Don't worry FG, not offending by your opinion - I just disagree with it, and how you reached it :P

    And just for the record: its my opinion - after being on this earth a good while - opinions, just like tastes and preferences, can indeed be wrong - why else would so many people have paid to see Spiderman 3 or King Kong or watch reality TV? :P

    I still enjoy reading your blog though!

  5. @Kemp, yep I know, I've read plenty of comments similar to mine with regards to the actual putting together of the minaitures. I've also read others haven't had any problems and I believe them. It's speaks of quality control and consistency issues. I'll freely admit that at first I really enjoyed the game. I thought it was a mindless romp that was just plain old fun. Then the nagging doubts started and I started to see things wrong with it. One boss being the biggest glaring problem in a game that is all about the boss fight. Hey, not here to try and be popular, I'm here to say it as I see it. Sorry if that offends people!!!

  6. @Lord Azaghul, no problem buddy. Just wanted to make it clear I did take my time coming to the conclusions I have. I don't expect people to agree with me. Many people love the game, and I'm sure many people will get enjoyment out of it. I just think there are way better games out there that I could use these models in. lol.

  7. Santa has my copy, so i've been on the net reading reviews and watching vids on youtube. 90% of them loved the game and had little if any trouble with assembling the minis. I'm going to go into the game knowing it is what it is. A simple hack n slash game, with cute minis which should please my 7 year old son. May be we are spioled with 2,3 part minis these days. Any way great review and honest. If my son enjoys it then its a winner.

  8. Spiderman 3 was so bad....
    I haven't watched the King Kong remake (the one with Jack Black)...I maybe never will.
    I love the old black 'n' white joint, and as Frontline knows, I'm resistant to new things.

    Yay for Coffee reads!
    Well, I guess we saw this one coming, huh?
    I really like the chibi motif of the minis. My stepson and I keep a Playstation 1 around just to play the old Squaresoft games (before they were Square/Enix), and I'm a big fan of JRPG's (especially turn-based combat).
    Throw a catgirl in this game and I would have a hard time saying no.

    But if you're going to live with a game, you have to take the thing as a whole, and this game seems to lean more towards straight up hack 'n' slash, with some Diablo/Dungeon Siege mechanics.
    Also, I'm with Frontline on one thing- games need to be built right for play 'as-is.'
    I shouldn't need to grab tiles from another game, or 'house rule' stuffs, design scenarios or any other nonsense to make the game play right.
    If the game is awesome, and I wanna add to it, that's one thing.
    'Fixing' it is entirely another.

    I know it's disappointing to be all amped up for something, and then get let down. It happens, though.
    Still, I'd rather get the straight dope than a bunch of excuses for a not-so-great product.

  9. @GoldenKaos, I seriously hope you mean the original King Kong and not that God awful remake!!! Man watching that film made me want to scoop my own eyes out with a desert spoon!

    @Pancake, If you leave your brain at the door and if you intend on playing it with the kids it'll be fine. I'm sure the fact it's such a simple game to learn and reletively quick to play will make it a fine product to play with younger children. Just don't let them near the miniatures before assembly!

    @SinSynn, It feels like a terrible waste of an opportunity. I can't seem to get over some of the component issues, and whoever is responsible for the cards being as bad as they are needs a serious reprimand.

  10. King Kong remake? Best bit were the truly gruesome worm things:


  11. @Fiendil, true. But I ask what the hell was the point of them? Then again what the hell was the point of the whole film? I'm still totally flumoxed by it.

  12. And he did such a good job wirh LOTR films.

  13. @Pancake, don't know if that's sarcasm or not, but honestly I don't think the LotR films were that bad.

  14. Like the review, as it gives a good idea of longevity of the game itself. Also is a bit better than things like video reviews like this:

    Though I have to say, regardless of the models, I will probably pick it up, but will wait until the next set of baddies are available to make it more worth while.

  15. @Mr. Lee, I saw that video and it told you nothing really about the game at all or indeed the product. Wasn't very impressed and it was clear to me he was just caught up in the mini's, artwork etc.

    The miniatures aren't too much of a ball ache if you're a wargamer. And when they're together I love them to bits. John Cadice has told me about some of the future plans for SDE and I can at least say that Soda Pop have learned an awful lot from this experience and I have some faith that the expansion packs will save the SDE experience for me... I'll keep my fingers crossed for good measure too, because I want to love this game.

  16. Very detailed review. Fun read.

    I was wondering if you've been playing without a few key rules though (and I know the rulebook is a pain to understand).

    In your description of the Super version, you say the power meter doesn't get longer. Doesn't it actually get twice as long because of Overcharge?

    Have you been letting the Consul give his army an item (when 16 bit/Super is reached, draw one loot card for every spawn point still up and keep one), which is then applied to all Consul figures? A huge obstacle for the heroes in my games.

    8-bit mode is supposed to be played without a Boss -- just one mini boss. Although the winning conditions aren't exactly clear in the rulebook. I've just been playing it until the two spawn points are killed. Great practice for the consul player to get good at finding new tricks to keep the spawn points alive.

    As Consul, I wouldn't just feed the Heroes the cheap minions. I find that stalling them with Ironscales and Hatchlings allows time to assemble a sufficient horde and take advantage of mob to really tear up a hero. A hero walking into a gauntlet in favor of the Consul, and not just a conveyor belt of minion death, makes things much more of a challenge. Strategically placed smoke bombs are also a must (it blocks line of sight and teleports that lead to quick spawn point kills).

  17. @Unknown, yep you're right I wasn't really clear in my description. The first game or two we played we got a few things wrong. As is the case with almost EVERY game you'll ever play. lol. But my subsequent reviews were based off of games that we played with the proper rules. It's one of the reasons I can sometimes take weeks or maybe even months to review product that I get because I want to make sure I'm reviewing the right game.

    My main thrust about it scaling badly, and it getting tired quite quickly still remain. It's the lack of variance that kills the game dead for me personally. Its fun for maybe the first 10 or so games but it becomes repetitive. As you say there are optimum tactics and 'bottle-necking' and 'smoke screens' were the ones we settled on fairly rapidly. The game needs more options. Having spoken with John Cadice about that I'm confident it'll get them. Whereby I'll reappraise the game then.

  18. A quick note regarding my second printing copy:

    The card stock seems improved and is consistently cut. It's not quite M:tG standard, but it's close enough (they're also the same size as M:tG cards, so deck protectors work wonders). I think this applies to the box too, as it doesn't seem particularly flimsy to me (but maybe I have different expectations).

    The tokens sheets have none of the problems mentioned by Frontline here, so I can only assume they've fixed those too.

    I only had two models with problems - the Dragon's leg doesn't quite reach the stand (time to get some hot water!), and the Ember Mage's staff still doesn't quite fit (I was able to fix this just with a bit of pressure on her arm though).

    1. Yeah so John Caddice tells me. I'm not so sure if he did or not, but he was intending to send me a review copy to compare. All I'll say is he wouldn't have even suggested he did that if he wasn't confident the outcome would be very different.

    2. There's still a few problems, but I'll let my blog post scheduled for later today spell them out rather than waste more company time commenting on this article :D

    3. Remember to post a link back here when you're done.