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    Hell on Earth, Issue 1
    by matt c. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/09/2011 12:19:47

    Solid stuff. A great first addon to an already fascinating idea for a wargame. A very unique style of artwork and small fan fiction snippets to tell the grander story. Slightly confusing backstory at first but once you accept its progress through chaos, it all coheres. Highly recommend this and the other rulesets!



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Hell on Earth, Issue 1
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    Altered Earth
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/07/2011 08:35:48

    Opening with a Setting Introduction, which describes the variety of game types that you can play in this bleak yet chaotic apocalypic future-Earth, a setting rich with a wealth of opportunity for those brave, perhaps vicious, enough to sieze what they want and defend it against all comers. The background is explained, a gradual decline brought about by wars, economic catastrophes and environmental damage: no single apocalyptic event but a succession of disaster after disaster that brought once-green Earth to its present state of barren wasteland scattered with giant city-fortresses ruled by warlords.

    Scene set, Chapter 2: Races looks at, well, the races available to players. The default is, of course, human beings - as described in the 'Humans' section of the Dungeons & Dragons 4e Player's Handbook. However, if 'fantasy' elements are required, the use of this ruleset means that the D&D fantasy races are compatible - even if they are explained away as aliens or from another dimension within your game. Or there are other options here: you might want to play an android, for example, a robot with artificial intelligence that has developed self-awareness... a process which tends to end in insanity. The formulae of D&D 4e have been used to good effect with such as 'Play an XXX if you want...' and powers for androids being renamed 'skill programs' - very neat retooling of the ruleset to suit the game setting. You could also pick a cyborg, a human with a lot of prosthetic enhancement and replacement. Stranger are the experimentals, subjects of mind or body altering biological experimentation, and gene freaks, who are genetically engineered humans, altered to excel in one specific area. Strangest of all, perhaps, are the risen, who have died and been restored to life by technogical means.

    Next, Chapter 3: Classes examines the different career paths that characters can follow. Different races tend to be better at different classes, but you can enter whichever one that you wish. There are three to choose from: athlete, diplomat and specialist. Fantasy classes from D&D can also be used, the most suitable being those that draw on the martial or psionic power sources... unless you want to go really fantasy, of course. Athletes excel in melee, specialists in ranged combat, whilst diplomats use their minds and their charms to achieve desired outcomes. For each, a wealth of exploits and other features enable you to customise the character within these broad categories to end up with whatever you want. It's clear that plenty of thought has gone into these.

    Chapter 4 then presents some paragon paths for those who reach 11th level and choose to specialise further. These are based on past history and inclinations, not on any specific class, and all are available to any character. Relic hunter, killer, high-tech gladiator, free agent, king of the streets, tunnel rat... it's the style in which you go about your adventures, the areas in which you wish to excel, that determine which, if any, you choose.

    Race and class decided, on to Chapter 5: Skills and Feats. There are two new skills - Psych and Science - to equip your character to deal with the world as it is now, as well as notes on how to adapt existing D&D skills to the setting, in particular how to use knowledge of nature to forage in the wastelands. There are plenty of setting-specific feats to choose from as well. This is followed by Chapter 6: Equipment and Vehicles, so that you can kit out your newly-created character. In this setting, each fortress-city has its own currency, often held in electronic format: fine whilst you stay in one place, but what if you are visiting, or travel around a lot - or just have to leave in a hurry? Once you move on, electronic funds need to be converted into something more tangible. Precious metals and gems are a standard, of course, but drugs, medicines and ammunition are also popular. Then on to armour and weapons, and more general gear including medicines, food, and the various necessities characters are likely to need. An interesting point is that gear is defined as the stuff your character has that makes a difference to his being able to complete the adventure. Services - from lodgings to those of 'sex workers' and even a scale of bribes - and vehicles are also included here.

    Next is Chapter 7: Experiments. Here are described several protracted procedures that characters might wish to undertake. They fit an analogous position to the 'Rituals' of D&D although they can involve the use of a wide range of skills. So if you wish to reanimate a fallen character, or persuade one of those archaic satellites to give you a view of the world from space... here's how. A character sheet blank, and off you go...

    Despite the overview of the setting given at the beginning, the GM is going to have to engage in quite a bit of pre-game designing: surroundings, personalities, as well as whatever adventure is to take place. This work gives you the tools and a glimpse at the setting, but more work is needed before you will be ready to stride forth and adventure in the Altered Earth. What is here is good, clearly presented, consistently thought out... but it feels almost as if there's a second part to the book yet to come.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Altered Earth
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    Lightspeed: Alien Contact
    by Yilbber V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/05/2011 22:47:23

    Totally useless for Fuzion, And stats are incompatible with Fuzion material.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Lightspeed: Alien Contact
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    Art of Michael Wolmarans, Nightmares and Dreamscapes
    by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2011 07:01:22

    Originally Published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/08/05/the-night-gallery-volume-i-issue-i/

    Object d’art number two: Art of Michael Wolmarans, Nightmares and Dreamscapes. At a hefty $9.99 you’d expect this collections to have at least four black and white pictures. But no, instead you only get 10 full page, full color illustrations as well as the same pictures again, but shrunken down and in b&w. There’s a nice selection of fantasy/horror going on here. There’s the bloody-mouthed woman from the cover, a hellish landscape, odd skeletal remains, even the Bride of Frankenstein dressed in her 50’s housewife best holding a fresh-baked apple pie. My favorite is a somewhat original take on what I assume is Baba Yaga.

    While some of the art is a bit too wacom-tablety for my taste (wide, soft lines that don’t look like anything other than a computer made it) each piece is good in it’s own right. Not just nice to look at, but seeming to convey a story, or a part thereof, all by itself. Good art is inspirational , and you could easily work these into your campaign, or even use them to create a new scene you hadn’t thought of before.

    So is it worth ten bucks? I’d have to say that’s up to you. It’s a bit much for my taste, but you could certainly spend your money in worse ways.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Art of Michael Wolmarans, Nightmares and Dreamscapes
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    Altered Earth Preview
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/27/2011 14:41:36

    Jam-packed into some mere 28 pages are an overview of the setting, several sample characters, an adventures AND some ancillary material: plenty and enough to decide if this is a game that would appeal to you and your players.

    First comes the setting information. After talking a bit about science-fiction adventures in the far future, things calm down a bit and it turns out that this is a post-apocalyptic Earth setting some unspecified time in the future. Civilisation has been destroyed in a series of wars, so well destroyed that nobody really remembers what it used to be like. Out of the chaos there arose powerful warlords who over the course of time have established fortified city-states that stand proud over the desolation and wilderness. Against this backdrop, all manner of adventures may be had.

    The cities are teeming masses of humanity, crowded into too little space, piled layer upon layer, the higher up you live, the better-off you are. Governance is sparse, law and order just about non-existant. The rich hire security, the rest survive as best they can. Even in those rare places that hold elections, little concern is paid to the well-being of the population, whilst the majority of places are under the sway of a dictatorship of some kind. Real power lies in two places: the corps and the warlords. Neither care about ordinary people.

    So, given this premise, 5 pre-generated characters and an adventure for them to play are provided for those who are intrigued enough to want to try this out. Glancing over the character sheets, it's clear how core D&D 4e has been bent, folded, mangled, spindled and macerated to suit. You'll still need the corebooks to make the most of it, or certainly once you branch off to concocting your own materials or characters for this setting, but there's a whole range of new stuff - from chain-swords (shades of Rifts here!) to appropriate powers and skills - that remain true to the underlying system yet give it a distinctive spin.

    The adventure comes next. Set in the urban jungle of the lower levels of one of these vast cities, the characters are asked to find a missing girl, whose adventure sampling the darker side of life has gone sadly awry. Encounters aplenty await, as they make their way through situations that are described evocatively, words bringing them to life in the mind's eye. Chases, brawls, negotiations, opportunity to try out role-playing, skills and that chain-sword as you explore this alternate reality and stamp your mark upon it.

    Then comes the additional material. Some concept art, mostly warriors and gangers, people you'd not care to meet in a dark alley but probably will if you play the adventure. And more background material, this in the tangible form of how money is handled in this game, and some of the things you can buy with it. Want a protein bar, or space in a 'coffin hotel' to spend the night?

    As an appetiser, this gives a fair bit to get your teeth into (although I wouldn't recommend the protein bar, to be honest!), certainly enough to try the game out and consider whether or not it will suit your group and meet your gaming needs. And it's free, a good start. More than that, though, it does give a good flavour, a good feel, for what is in store.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Altered Earth Preview
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    GROMM: Fantasy Skirmish, Basic Edition
    by matt c. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2011 19:52:48

    An outstanding variation of the vanilla fantasy worlds we now find ourselves surrounded by. GROMM's mechanics are to the point and flawless in their operation. This is truly a gem of a free ruleset, and will only get better with time.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    GROMM: Fantasy Skirmish, Basic Edition
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    Mystic Adventures
    by james w. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2011 19:38:15

    My ten year old daughter and I enjoy this very much. One of our favorite games is Return of the Heroes. When we want a break from that or your typical dungeon crawler Mystic Adventurers and expansions fit the bill. Production quality and art is not the greatest but the game play is good and I usually pimp out my pnp games anyway. I rate it a 4 out of 5.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Mystic Adventures
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    Dark Dungeon 2, Mini-Game #20, Lair of the Spider Cult
    by Ricardo N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2011 13:16:31

    This adventure for Dark Dungeon includes three additional adventurers, two spells, five dungeon tiles and five new enemies. It is a good addition to the game as the adventure plays very differently from the Goblins Lair (the one that comes with Dark Dungeon.) While that was structured as a dungeon delve, this one has more of a story going, and plays as a mix of "choose your adventure" and tactical, grid-based combat.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Dark Dungeon 2, Mini-Game #20, Lair of the Spider Cult
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    Lightspeed
    by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2011 23:03:43

    The five stars is for the setting: a deliberate derivative of Wars and Trek with some classic '80s anime tropes thrown in.

    I much prefer the instant fuzion system to the full version presented here, but it isn't so crunchy that it's unplayable. I'm looking forward to the open D6 version of Lightspeed.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Lightspeed
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    Armored Assault, Mini-Game #6
    by Shawn K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2011 20:22:11

    I cannot recommend this supplement. The rules invite you to design your own vehicles but there is no guidance on how to assign the number of hits to each section. Also the "cost" of each provided vehicle is very low and there is no explanation as to how that value was arrived at. The rules include only five predesigned armored vehicle data sheets. It is impossible to determine how the final "cost" of each vehicle was arrived at as the component weapons and systems are each valued as more than the vehicle total. The rules do add a few new battle suit weapons and systems so that was nice but not worth the cost just for that.



    Rating:
    [1 of 5 Stars!]
    Armored Assault, Mini-Game #6
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    Steel and Glory, Set 2, Mini-Game #46
    by Brian R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2011 15:25:36

    Review: Steel & Glory Set 2, Mini-Game #46

    Steel & Glory Set 2 is the first expansion for the fantasy-themed S&G game, Steel & Glory. Introduced in this set are the forces of the Elves and human Barbarians.

    The units included are fairly standard fantasy fare. Elves get Bowmen, Spearmen, and a couple of stealthy types. Although they are fast, they also have slightly fewer hit points than some other creatures. Barbarians are tougher, many with charge abilities that allow them to both move and attack with one action.

    The map and obstacle tiles are exactly the same as in the first set, with the exception of the Battle Tile being grass-themed instead of dirt. No reason is given as to why the obstacles are repeated. If more of any are needed, they can easily be printed up from the first set, so including them again here seems very redundant.

    The 'rule book' in this set consists entirely of the scenarios from the first set being repeated. No changes, no options, just a copy/paste of that section of the rulebook. This was probably the most disappointing part of this set. It is especially perplexing considering that to use this set, you must have Set 1, which includes these scenarios.

    While I do like this set, the lack of new Obstacles and Scenarios does put a damper on my enthusiasm for the new units. I feel that a little more work on each could have produced some really useful options. Overall, though, Steel & Glory Set 2 is a useful addition to the game, so grab it and start pounding on those dirty puppy-kicking Elves!



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Steel and Glory, Set 2, Mini-Game #46
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    Dark Dungeon, Mini-Game #18
    by Ricardo N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2011 22:11:10

    A fun little solo game with an "old school" feel. Comes with all components needed to play (except dice, if I must say so,) although you may want to fiddle with some of them before printing, like downscaling the character counters or changing some black areas on the dungeon tiles to a lighter color that won't use so much ink. Rules are simple and resolution tables (for encounters, monster behavior) work well. For a more detailed review, you may check http://fantalonia.blogspot.com/2011/05/review-dark-dungeon.html



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Dark Dungeon, Mini-Game #18
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    Steel and Glory, Magica, Mini-Game #48
    by Brian R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2011 11:22:11

    Review: Steel & Glory Set 4, Magica, Mini-Game #48

    Magica is, as could be expected, the expansion that adds mages, spells, summoned creatures and more to Steel & Glory. Quite a bit is added, without the burden of pages and pages of rules addenda. The system is pretty sleek, and fits in well to the system.

    Rules take up all of four pages. Mages get a set number of spells from among 2-5 'schools' of magic. The thing is, each spell is rolled randomly. You can choose which school to roll for each time, but the particular spell is chosen by die roll. This can make for some interesting combinations, requiring a little creative tactical thinking. Spells are cast by simply rolling 1D6 and adding the mage's Magic Skill. If the total is equal to or greater than the spell's Difficulty, the spell goes off. Either way, one point is deducted from the mage's magic pont pool. This can be replenished a little during play, but is still a limited resource similar to character's Adrenal score.

    The units provided are quite varied. There are two magic-using characters for each of the six factions, as well as three Solos and several summoned creatures. As with all the S&G sets, counters for keeping track of units' special effects are provided on each page, as well as tokens for the units. Some of the summoned creatures are huge, taking up four spaces on the board. The Scorpion has a vicious Poison ability, and the Wood Spirit can be an absolute beast in the thick of battle.

    Spell cards for each of the schools of magic are clearly written, and each page has counters at the bottom to keep track of any ongoing effects, like poison or fire. The selection of schools and spells is respectable, and each has it's own flavor. The standard Earth, Air, Fire, and Water disciplines are present, each with an associated summoned Elemental. Priestly characters have the Faith school, as well as a separate Elven school. Nature and Darkness are next, for the Druids and evil types. Primal is last, accessible by some greenskins and others. The spells are varied, and each school is themed well by the chosen spells.

    I was very impressed with how much stuff is provided in this expansion. I wasn't expecting twelve new mages, plus Solos and all the summoned creatures, and as wide a selection of spells as I found. The ever-present typos creep in here and there, but I barely noticed as I went through the files. I was also glad that the required rules addition was so short. I haven't had a chance to get this expansion on the table, but there's a certain Ogre Magi in there that I'm itching to let loose on those Barony scum!



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Steel and Glory, Magica, Mini-Game #48
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    Steel and Glory, Set 1, Mini-Game #45
    by Brian R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2011 10:23:43

    Review: Steel and Glory, Set 1, Mini-Game #45

    Steel & Glory Set 1 is a fantasy skirmish board game from Avalon Game Company. It includes the complete game rules, character cards, tokens, game board, and terrain tiles. It uses the S&G battle system introduced in Monster Bash, and is compatible with it, but is complete by itself.

    First, the rules. Each player starts with an equal number of points to buy units with. These cost between 5-20 points each, and the given battle scenarios range between 15-75 points. Units are defined by several attributes, from Health, Attack and Defense to Speed, Strength, Movement, and Will. Another stat, Adrenal, determines how many times that unit may use any Special Abilities it may possess. Many units are unique, named characters, but a few are not, such as Goblins and Men At Arms. Movement is on a square grid. Each unit gets two actions to perform each activation, and several units get more than one activation in a round. Actions may be used to move, attack, or possibly use a Special Ability. The attack procedure is rather unique. The attacking units adds it's Attack score to the target's Defense stat, and tries to roll that number or higher on two six-sided dice. Thus, having an Attack of 1 is much more desirable than an Attack of 4. If the attack roll succeeds, damage is deducted from Health. There are rules for units fleeing if their Health falls too low, as well as for resting to regain Health or Adrenal points. Rules are also included for Tests of Strength, Panic, and throwing objects (or opponents!). Overall, the rules are pretty straight-forward. Subjects are laid out in roughly the order that you would need them in the game. The negative here is that a few typos have snuck in.

    The unit cards have a good layout, and all the information is easy to read. Basic stats are on the front, and weapons, armor and Special Abilities are on the back. The bottom of each page has the tokens for those characters, as well as any counters that are needed for those units' abilities, such as 'Stealth' or 'Poison'. The non-unique units have four tokens each. The two factions included in this set are the human Barony and the Orcs & Goblins. Lord John leads the humans, with a powerful broadsword backed up by his Command of his army. Many Men At Arms and House Guard follow him, as well as the Captains and Sergeants of the castle. Warlord Grom leads the greenskin horde, followed by orcs, goblins, ogres, trolls, and worse. Also included are a few 'Solos', units that can be hired by any faction. This set includes a Boar, Hydra, Minotaur, and Cockatrice. The cards are nice, but once again typos are present, including one armor typo that actually makes two of the orcs easier to hit! All of them are minor, however, and taking a moment or two to think about them will present an obvious fix.

    Games take place on the provided Battle Tiles. Each one is divided into a 6x6 grid, and they can be arranged in any configuration needed. This set includes only a 'Dirt' tile, alternating in light and dark brown squares. Two tiles are recommended for a 1 vs. 1 fight, and up to six tiles for the larger battles. Obstacle tiles are rocks, boulders, brush, trees, and simple buildings. A couple sheets of each will provide enough variety for almost endless battles, and Battle Tiles from other sets can also be used.

    The artwork for the game has a unique feel to it. I can't say that I love it, but it is consistent throughout, instead of having several different artists and styles. The cartoony, 80's-ish feel to it is not bad, but not among my very favorite styles.

    I really like this game. Skirmish-level battles are my favorite type of game, and this set of rules does it well. The typos detract a little from the game, but nowhere near enough to be a deal-breaker. Some of the pages could be arranged better, especially the Obstacle pages. I'm a big fan of putting as much as possible on one page, to save paper while printing, and there's a lot of blank space on some pages. There are enough units for the two factions provided to allow for a lot of replay before the need to add more units/factions hits. The $6 price tag is more than reasonable for the amount of game you get, and supplements clock in at $3 each, making the entire set easily obtainable. If you like fantasy skirmish games, pick this one up. It hits our table about once a week, and I am planning on adding the expansions to my collection as soon as I can.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Steel and Glory, Set 1, Mini-Game #45
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    The Patriot Incident, a Terror Network Adventure
    by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2011 01:13:00

    WHAT WORKS: The largest Terror Network module to date, it is also noteworthy for featuring a terrorist group that isn't Muslim jihadists. The fact is, dangerous ideological extremists do take more than one form, and Terror Network addresses that here.

    WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I caught a few editing issues...some buried in text and a couple in headers (which makes them far more noticeable, unfortunately). My primary concern with the adventure is that the time limit almost seems too harsh, with all of the travel, the due process of getting warrants for various situations, etc., that it has me thinking the deck might be too stacked against the PCs, but it is hard to say for sure without actually running the module.

    CONCLUSION: It can be easy for a company to fall into the trap of doing one thing over and over, even if they do that one thing well. Bedrock Games follows a familiar formula with their modules, but still manages to show the variety available in the counterterrorism genre. If anything, I would like to see a little tighter editing and a little more variety in the locations used (Boston showed up both here and in the mission included in the corebook, justified due to the game's creator being based there)...but The Patriot Incident is another great addition to the Terror Network line.

    For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/05/tommys-take-on-patriot-incident.html



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    The Patriot Incident, a Terror Network Adventure
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