Sunday, 31 July 2016

Kickstarter #7

I'm at a loss

So its time for another Kickstarter post, but this week I'm at a loss.  I normally try to find four Kickstarters I like the look of, but this week I've only found one.  Nothing really jumped out at me, nothing grabbed my attention enough, and ultimately what I've found is something that (if I could afford enough of them) would plausibly solve the issue of board game storage creep.  As some people might know I've got a lot of games and little storage space.  Anyway, lets at least have a look at this Kickstarter, and I will explain why I like the look of it, but also a few things I think could count against it, or could be improved.

BitBox - Game-Ovations - LLC

There have always been attempts made to help gamers to store and improve their boardgame collection capacity.  Initially the vast majority of these storage options were designed to optomise the way the original game boxes are used.  The general introduction of Box organisers (either laser cut mdf, plasticard or foam board) has allowed people to make setting up and storing pieces in the box a lot easier.

In general this is great, games like Eclipse are a pain for bringing out on the table and setting up, so the box organisers also improve the set up time as you don't have to dig everything out.

The issue, of course, is you still have to get all the boxes themselves stored somewhere, and that is not always easy.  My personal storage unit isn't big enough now for all the games I own, and logically this means I need even more storage somewhere in the house (not actually easy when space is a premium in some houses, such as mine).  So internal organisers are good, but collections are still limited by the boxes themselves.

BitBox allows you to compress everything even more, by eliminating the need for the box, and putting all your games into a specially designed set of file boxes.  The benefit here is clear, more games fit into a smaller space.

The design idea is nothing new, I'm sure I have seen the concept before, but BitBox seems to have a clearer ideal than most.  The boxes and organisation seems to have been thought through, and you certainly get a lot for your money.  $30 will get you one of the storage units, but the idea is that will then fit 10-16 games (I'd be needing 5 of them based on that estimate).  Plus you can get a carry case variant, so that you can move your games around to play with other people.  That in itself makes things very interesting.  Of course there is something to say for buying these things one at a time when you start collecting, thus spreading the cost, something I wouldn't necessarily be able to do.

Now, I personally like this Kickstarter because of the size and depth of these boxes.  Clearly you could make these yourself from existing file boxes, if you wanted to spend that time.  However, these boxes are well laid out, you know for a fact that they have enough space in them for the boards as well as the pieces (something some of these boxes fail to do, meaning boards and rules end up loose elsewhere).  You can't quite split everything up as you could with box organisers, but at least there is that.

There are issues with the idea though.  Transferring trays over to the travel case may take longer (if you have to move boards between boxes for instance, if the boards aren't already in the same tray then you'll have to work that all out each time).  In the original game boxes that won't be the case.  They have got around the issue of knowing what is in each BitBox by having labelled outsides, which I like, but I also like seeing all the official boxes and art work crammed into my cupboard, and I know (because I have this as well) people would be loathed to give up those official boxes, so there is the need for storage just for them (though a watertight store in the loft might do).  The thing is the box art can also be the thing to tempt new players into doing something while they visit.

Finally though, and I do hope I can link Game-Ovations into this post, I really want to be able to have an envelope type thing to put the game boards into before I put them in the game tray.  That way I don't have to dig through all the folded up boards in each tray to find the right ones.  An extra set of cardboard slips that the boards go into would be ever so helpful, especially if they hand the outside label option as well.  Now I'll admit some games have a lot of space requirements for the boards (such as zombicide) but I still thing even using 2-3 of these slips for big games would be easier than lots of game boards being loose and mixed together.

Even with all those downsides I still like the look of this.  Also one of the pledge levels is just outstanding (if miles and miles off my budget at $2000).  Pay that much, and Game-Ovations will fly to your house, with an "unlimited" number of boxes, to sit and go through organising your entire collection for you.  Sometimes, the height of laziness can be ever so appealing.  That said though, I do think that is a unique and rather cool little pledge level.

There aren't really any stretch goals here, but the produce itself isn't really "expandable" in that way anyway.  There is the option of buying extra trays and boxes of course, but I think buying the packages in the set pledge levels is more than enough.  The question of course, is the downside of "losing" the box outweighed by the space saving.

Finally, for those outside the US (the vast majority of my readers), there is quite a postage price on top of the item.  Its $30 to the UK for instance.  I assume this is due to the bulk rather than the weight, but it is a shame.  I'm hoping these sorts of things get over here for retail once the kickstarter is done, at which point some of the postage will be consumed by the retailers rather than having to fall flat on the customer.. sadly we won't know if these even end up being locally sold til a lot later on.

Anyway.  The Kickstarter is right here if you do want to look.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

A bit of Nostalgia #6

AEG’s little masterpiece

I was going to cheat this week, because I was going to put two different RPGs into my Nostalgia post.  Now I did have good reason for this, because both games were heavily based on the same gaming system.  In the same way as White Wolf had a single core rule set, that they then hung a decent background and a few special powers off of (please note, I know they still have the single core rule set, but they seem to have forgotten the decent background part in the more modern games they have released), AEG created the Roll and Keep system and then hung two very good settings and a couple of special rules onto.  Through this they released Legend of the five Rings (l5R) and 7th Sea.

I’m still even now debating which one of these two I’m going to look at.  They are both fantastic and I was going to do both at the same time, but I think they deserve their own little section in the Nostalgia wings of BGG.  So, this blog is going to be about…. 7th Sea.

Why?  Why I hear (absolutely none of) you cry?

Well, because it’s probably the least well known of the two.  L5R has a massive following behind it, a really heavily detailed CCG, new version of the RPG that are constantly being released, and thus still quite a popular following.  7th Sea on the other hand is only just seeing a second edition come out, but someone else, and via Kickstarter, and I never really understood why.  The core mechanic is the same, the special rules are actually more fun and certainly more cinematic than L5R, and the setting is… well it’s a fantastical version of Europe, something people might actually know a bit about and  be able to join in with.  L5R, being oriental in nature, always suffered from the guy who knew a bit about the culture and so would dick around including references in the games that no one else would really know about (and yes, I was that guy).

So let’s go with the same outline as I have done before.  Background, System and then Playing experience.


Set on the World of Theah, 7th Sea is heavily influenced by 17th century Europe.  The topographical view of the game is pretty much the same as Europe, though most of the nations are slightly different is shape and the political nature of each state is also slightly different.  In addition the world still has a strong tie to magical arts, and there are a few other bits and pieces kicking around as well which make things every so blatantly different to the real world.  Now, it was entirely possible to play the game based on the idea that you were all just adventurers mixing with the local flavours of Theah, but I think it is fair to say that the real draw of 7th Sea was that every was just a little bit Errol Flynn in nature, and a lot of people went with the idea of being Mercanaries for hire, or even better, a small Pirating band.

The Nations you picked for your character also have a big effect.  From which magic you could take (if you were so inclined) to the languages you knew, and most importantly which Swordsmaster schools you could learn from.  The Sword schools really were a big part of the game, in fact most people didn’t really play with the magic too much, because the stuff you got to do as a swordsmaster was just so much fun.  Either way, a small breakdown of the nations is worthwhile.

Avalon – Basically the UK, but in this case rather than England having forced Ireland and Scotland into a British style, the three nations (Avalon, Innismore and the Highland Marches) are drawn together in treaty.  Queen Elaine rules the country and Fey are very prevalent, especially for those in Innismore.  Magic is called Glamour and is about disguise and trickery.  The main sword style involves a short sword and buckler (and is basically quite Saxony in style, with a lot of cheap dirty tricks rather than honourable duelling).  Avalon isn’t liked much because it just broke away from the Vaticine Church.

Castille – Spain, right in the midst of the Spanish Inquisition.  Castille is home of the Vaticine Church and is a highly vealot nation.  Mix into that a bit of Zoro, with El Vago a desperado fighting against the rule of the Church and the strangle hold of certain well off nobles who have paid said church a lot of money to own land etc.  Magic is outlawed here, but they have a sword school which uses a Rapier and a lot of dancing to keep people distracted.

Eisen – Germany, still somewhat in a bad shape after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.  In this case Eisen is basically a loose collection of five Noble estates, and the land itself is more or less mud and craters after the wars that occurred over a thirty year period when the country really did go to hell.  They do have a rather lucrative metal here though, and that is more or less what has kept the nation going.  They do have magic (if I recall correctly it’s somewhat elemental based), but the main thing they have is a sword school dedicated to the old idea of lots of armour, and a really big sword.  The school basically uses the idea of soaking up damage to get up close and personal, and using your gauntlets to bash people to the ground so you can stab them.

Montaigne – France, just slightly before the Revolution, so you have an Emperor and a rather over the top sense of self privilege.  Montaigne used to rule quite a lot of territory, but with a general degradation they have stopped being the same power house they used to be, and the peasants are starting to move towards revolting.  They have the power to rip holes in reality so that they can create portals (as a note, these casters use a dagger to literally cut a hole in reality, which bleeds as they do it).  The sword school is based on rapier and insults.  Once you have annoyed your opponent enough they make a mistake, you can then go in for the kill.

Ussura – Russia, around the time of the Boyers with the reformations of Catherine the Great on the horizon.  This very cold and wintery country is just on the edge of modernisation, but some people really don’t like it.  Especially those that have a serious case of wanting to keep to the spiritual ways of the people.  There is no sword school here, but there is a Magic type, with the ability to connect to spirit animals and shape shift into the various (and rather dangerous) animals of Ussura.

Vendal – Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia, the time line for these is in the historical renaissance of their culture.  Basically this was a time period where the area rapidly swapped to a mercantile set of nations, but in the real world they didn’t forget their heritage.  Well in Theah it’s very difficult for them to forget because the Vestenmannavnjar (Vikings) still exist, and really aren’t impressed with their trading neighbours.  The Magic school and Sword school are both from the Viking side, with Rune magic (wards and protection spells) going hand in hand with a “sword” school about getting really angry if you get hit and taking that anger out on people’s faces… preferably with an Axe in fact.

Vodacce – A collective term used in the game in the place of the Merchant States of Italy.  Though this isn’t the pretty and nice Italy we think of now.  Instead each of the Merchant States works together mostly because they play a great game against each other in the background, and partly because the magic of the nation is only held by woman, and that magic is the ability to manipulate and change Fate.  The Sword school is equally devious, with practitioners learning how to fight with their off hand, so that firstly people are confused with things being the wrong way around (remember in this day and age everyone is Right hand dominant, even if they aren’t), and secondly so when you use the dagger in your right hand you can actually use it to attack rather than just defend.

Now, as I said most games work on the idea that you play a character from one of these nations, and to gather everyone together most games worked on the idea that you had then discarded your ties to your nation for one reason or another.  After this, the game then works through the basic mantra of coming up with weird and wacky things to do.

The system

So, as I said before this uses AEGs roll and keep system.  It sounds more complicated than it is.

Generally, like many games, you had stats and skills, which you have bought at character creation.  In combining the numbers of a stat and a skill you would work out how many 10 sided dice you could roll in an activity.  For instance, if you wanted to hit someone you add together your Finesse and Attack (sword school) skill.  However, after rolling you only get to “keep” a number of dice equal to your stat.  Once you have worked out which ones to keep (normally the highest, not always) you would add them together to give you a total.

This pretty much worked for every single type of check in the game.  Damage would involve adding your Brawn to an initial value for the weapon (a rapier might be a 1k1 weapon, a two handed sword might be a 1k3 weapon etc).  Health was worked out as being a threshold amount you could take from a damage hit before you took a wound, and being wounded a number of times would knock you out.  In a rather interesting way there was also a social “combat” side of the game where you could actually put someone down in a public social situation to the extent that you basically ended their public standing and they had to slink away under your insults.  It was, to be honest, quite rare for groups to play the social side of the game, certainly a lot less often than in L5R where the game practically dripped in the political game play.

I also said that both L5R and 7th Sea added something different to the basic rule set.  7th Sea, in my opinion, had the best addition of the two… Drama dice.

Every player had a number of Drama dice for their character.  In a specific situation a player could choose to add drama dice to a role, in essence increasing not only the amount you could roll, but also the amount you could keep.  Drama was the big thing though.  Choosing to use the dice when it truly really mattered was fine, and you might get the dice back if the GM was nice.  More importantly though, even the most mundane action could be made “dramatic” by the way you tried to do it.  Walking down stairs to stab a guy might be important, but it you instead decide to jump from the balcony, grab the chandler above the bar to swing over the head of the rabble, landing just in front of the bad guy, tip your hat and then run him through… well in that case the GM can give you “free” extra dice to roll and keep, just because it is such a cinematic thing to do.  Of course, if you keep doing it, keep over dramatizing what you do, then the GM can do the reverse, because your character is just being an idiot if they always try to overdo everything.  It was all about kicking the right time to do the big things.

Game Play

On this account I do not know much, I managed to play one game of 7th Sea (over the course of only a few sessions), but I really liked the game, and I have always been looking to run a game for people.  Most of my experience of the Roll and Keep system is from L5R, and what I can tell you from that side of things is that the system flows really nicely.

I’ve always wondered why L5R was more loved than 7th Sea and honestly I have only come up with a couple of reasons.  Firstly people see Oriental stories as being more fantastical than the 17th Century European setting.  Partly this is because I think people somewhat riled against a setting which is a little too close to home, something they know a little bit about.  The second things I think people didn’t like was the fact that if people mostly played pirates why isn’t the setting somewhere out in the Caribbean, “I mean, that’s where all the pirating stuff happened right”… well no, but I do see your point a little bit.  Europe is a big old expanse of land, and the game wants you to move towards doing the pirate side of things, so why set it over here where there is less… well, sea.

Never the less, this is a good game, and people could easily build the “Spanish Main” into their world and probably do quite well with it.  Personally that is what I would likely do and really get into the Errol Flynn daring and dashing cinematic pirate movie... though if anyone happens to make a character called Jack, and isn’t a monkey, I might have to just push them overboard immediately.

7th Sea was, by all accounts a good game.  I just wish I had had the chance to play it more.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Kickstarter #6

Oh crap! My childhood returns

Very quick intro here because I want to jump straight away to a really big Big BIG kickstarter.  So, here is my kickstarter review, with its whimsical look at four of the current gaming kickstarters out there.  Once again, I do not have a copy of these things to play, these are basically my reviews of the kickstarter themselves, though serious one of these I would honestly die for (I wish I had the money for this I really do).  So without further a due, I'm opening up my brain and allowing an old friend to start messing with my head again

System Shock - Nightdive Studios

Sweet mother of mercy, please please please someone, anyone, I throw myself in front of you and beg for this game.  Actually, System Shock itself wasn't something I played, but System Shock 2... and just the thought that this Kickstarter going live could possibly mean SS2 comes out at some point as well.  I mean honestly, there are very few things in this world that could possibly drag me away from the computer if that were to ever happen.

Now, it possibly comes as a surprise to people that I, Mr "can't watch a scary movie even at home" would be obsessed with a Sci-Fi horror game.  However, please bare this in mind, System Shock was and still is a centenary game.  One of those that comes along once in a lifetime and spawns its own genre of gaming.  Deus Ex, Bioshock, A lot of the Aliens games (certainly Isolation) all come from System Shock.  I can (and probably should) put together a nostalgia post about System Shock 2.  Around 2002 I played it for the first time when the multiplayer mod came out.  In 2006 I trawled eBay and forked out £50 for this game.  It was release in 1999, and even seven years later it was worth having.  It still sits pretty at the top of my favourite PC games list.  Shodan is, and always will be, one of the best PC game villains of all time and I am so happy to see she is back.

So back to the Kickstarter.  With the recent run of remastered games, I jumped when I saw this.  The video intro is a little corny, but well worth the watch, and as you would expect the stretch goals are about multiplatform and additional content in the game.  What really makes this kickstarter is that you can already see they are most of the way through production.  Graphic shots, game play, music scores, all done.  So this Kickstarter is basically to refine the game and then get it out to people.  Instant win, and dear lord you will not regret it if this is anything even close to the original.

8 days left, $30 for a digital copy of the game.  Go look at it now and get yourself an absolute masterpiece of a game in next gen clothing.

Battle of Britain - PSC Games

So how do you move on from such a massive remake.  How about with another absolutely corking remake of another classic.

Now, I've never been lucky enough to play the original Battle of Britain board game, but from everything I have ever heard or seen on the original it really does warrant the title of classic.  I'm sure from the title you can guess what the game is about, but in a nutshell it really is the opportunity to recreate and rerun one of the most important parts of British history.

Now, with the correct hat on (ie not the one gushing over the fact that people keep remaking classic games that are impossible to get hold of in the original form), I'm going to look over the kickstarter.  First and foremost, the video will tell you far far more than I can on this simple blog.  It seems that the Plastic Soldier Company is basically releasing the original game, with refined rules for sections where they were a little weaker, and then adding some really nice 3d sculpts of the aircraft in as well, just to spoil people.  This kickstarter is well past all of its current stretch goals and the variety of miniature you are going to get (at a cut down RRP) really does look very very tempting.

Look over it here for more information.

Vampire Hunters - Dark Gate Games

Ok so something new, Vampire Hunters looks like a really good game.  You'd be forgiven for thinking this is just a Vampire version of Zombiecide, but on looking (and listening) a little more you will quickly notice that this has a lot more going into it, and there are some really nicely themed mechanics to get the distinct feel of the game well out into the open.

A few things that I picked up on really quickly though, the Minis are really really nice.  I mean really nice.  Someone has put a lot of effort into working out what this game is going to look like and feel like through those minis.  In addition it really does look like the rest of the pieces that have gone into the game have been thought through in detail, from the customisation in the game board (the bit that will make you think of zombiecide), to all of the cards, the art work and the general widgets that come with the game.  For a start, the hour counter is really very pretty, and the mechanic they have for it is pretty interesting.

Now, once you watch the game play video you really do get the idea that this is a very different game.  The Vampire activate based on cards, but after each player.. during the day anyway.  At night the order is reversed (and so are the vampire cards, making them harder during the day).  There are logical ways to play the game in a campaign as well, with points being usable to upgrade the characters between games.  This is something I've never really been happy about with Zombiecide's campaign play, because everything resets.  So I really think this is a good move.  And hey, if you die during a game you can always flip the character over and be a vampire for a while....

It does look rather tasty, so go have a look here.

Darkness Sabotage - Dethrone Games

Sometimes I just like to indulge in some truely gorgeous miniatures board games, and this one hits the nail right on the head.  While the wheat and chaff enemy models in Darkness Sabotage are simple, some of the boss models are just stunning.  I mean one of the ones shown in a picture of the board game is just unbelievable in scale.

So this possibly joins up three genres that most people would look sideways at and never put together.  But Dethrone Games have gone for a Space Pirates vs Demons board game, and what they have come up with is just... well eye catching is not doing it justice.

Again, it looks like the board is modular in design, giving you plenty of options in terms of games.  The art work on the kickstarter page is something else.  And serious I have to come back to those models, I mean blimey they are something else.

This looks like a truely immense cooperative game, with a variety of different scenarios to go with the game.  Some of which look really good.  Dice based mechanics for combat, a bunch of cards for your pirates to "steal" or set off on board the ship you have found.  I still can't register how good these models are either.

Go have a nose here.

The wrap up

Four things, all of which I want to have, and that is quite a rarity.  If I had the capacity to have them all I would, but I just don't.  I hope some of you find a few things you like here though and go and support these kickstarters.

Real life, the bane of all gamers


Yes, I know, I’ve been ignoring the blog for a few weeks.  After reviewing my first prototype game you surely can give me a bit of slack?  No?  Right, well screw you guys!

Ok, in all seriousness, real life gets in the way sometimes.  I find myself in a position that people generally don’t ever envisage, which is of someone who has become solely responsible for himself after some time of not being.  That done, all paperwork signed.  I’m not going to say I like it, because I don’t, it is not something that I ever wanted, but there it is, and I have a bit more to have to do than I thought I did to get myself in order and get my life going in the direction I want (and hope) it might go now.  So, yeah, I’ve been a bit busy, and therefore neglected my blog.

In addition to that, I’ve somewhat been caught up in a PC game.  Well as often as I can, because my PC is also being pathetic, Radeon don’t seem to like making Windows 10 drivers, and my graphics card is a little outdated and prone to crashing everything and anything it can get its hands on.  However, when I can play, I’ve been playing Overwatch.  I really really like Overwatch.  I’m not going to review it though.  I think there are plenty of websites and video game youtubers out there to already show you what it is all like.   So go have a look.

It does tie in to a few other things though.  So, because I like Overwatch, a lot (I hope this is becoming clearer), I’ve been watching all the youtube videos (made by people such as Muslek and Flik) and have been thinking over if I want to do some videos myself.  Now, I have actually done a couple.  I did an unboxing of the phase 2 CMON Black Plague kickstarter, I also did a short review of a Feldher bag that I’m using for my Guild Ball models, and if  you want to look for me on youtube I am around, but I’ve not really put the time and effort into it that I would like.  I’ve considered doing gaming videos (board games, guild ball/malifaux/Bushido, video games), but generally I think there are enough people out there that do them.  Well may be not the wargaming, Guildball Informer having gone into the mist more or less leaves those Battlehammer chaps, and Hot Gates Gaming, to cover that game.  Some bloke called Chris Hay does Bushido stuff, and Malifaux is.. well there are a lot of games out there, but most aren’t just straight battle report videos.  Anyway, there are people out there doing those things, and I don’t want to step on toes.  Straw and Parker, from the Battlehammer, are amazing guys (genuinely) and I personally know I couldn’t match what they do long term (for a start I don’t have the duo dynamic they have together, though don’t ask which one is the sidekick).  Hot Gates Gaming works because of the enthusiasm expressed through the camera, and those that know me know it takes a lot to get me to be enthusiastic (well at least to express it, beyond one of my goofy smiles).  Anyway, I don’t have the money to get the boards and the terrain, let alone the camera to record with.  If I can’t afford that, then can I really do videos?

So the other option out there these days is Podcasts.  A Big Grumpy Gamer podcast sounds like a laugh, but do I really do something like that on my own?  What would I do it about?  I mean, I don’t generally stay on topic at the best of times on here.  I do love Podcasts though, TotesMcAwesome from the Battlehammer was going to look at doing one, and that really piqued my interest again in the format.  That, and I’m rather fortunate to know McPigish and Bucky from the Breach Boys Podcast (though I sadly have not seen them of late because I’m too damn busy!).  I still want to work out what on earth to do the Podcast on if I do one.  Well, I say that, but if you listen to most podcasts they are a rambling path of random conversations mixed in with a bit of wargaming.  This is more or less my life, though there is a bit more boardgaming or computer gaming in there, dependent on the people I’m with.  So maybe this is something I could do, though again, I don’t really have the dynamic duo mix, or even a group to record with.  I do think Podcasts about gaming work better when there are more people involved in them (even if the herding of cats issue does rear its ugly head from time to time).

I’ll have to see if Mr McAwesome still wants to do some sound checks perhaps…

This blog is not dead though, I’ve been ignoring it as it laments on the bottom of people’s least likely to follow list (it’s not actually doing badly to be honest, considering I work on the good graces of others to share it.  So to those that have shared what I write thank you), but it really isn’t dead.  I’m quite impressed with myself for vaguely remembering to come back to it from time to time.  My hobby time is limited right now though (have I mentioned I’m rather busy and playing a lot of Overwatch?), but I want to get a few more games of Guild Ball in, learn how to play Bushido, meet some more people and generally mess about.  If anyone happens to fancy a meet up (I can drive, but if you aren’t busy I’m in the Sheffield area!) then please either find me on Facebook, Twitter or even leave a comment here.  I’m pretty sure I can sort out some sort of time.

Anyway, there is more to come, honest.  I’ll even be doing a Kickstarter review again… possibly even tonight... now that would be something.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Nightlancer review - A little case in the Cyberwar

Nightlancer – Adversity Games

You find me at an interesting point in my “career” as a blog writer. Sat, looking at me across my gaming table (its a completely fictitious term, the truth is its really my dining room table) is a copy of a very very new game. In fact its so new that it isn't even out yet, heck its not even in production yet. What I have in front of me is a copy of Nightlancer, a game which is going to be hitting Kickstater in the next few months. So the initial thing to say here is, considering my blog has been going for all of three months, thank you ever so much to Adversity Games for considering me as a reviewer.

That aside, what we are going to do right now is look into this game in as much detail as I can muster. There is a lot to say as well about it. Quite frankly considering this game is in prototype mode there really is a lot of well rounded ideas in the box, and you can likely guess that my overall judgment on this game is going to be very positive. I'm somewhat loathed that I have to send this copy off to the next reviewer if I am honest. I'm going to, within this review, go through the background of the game, the overall turn mechanics and then a kind of hightlights and lowlights section (for what its worth the lowlights really are few and far between).

Now, I'm going to add a small comment from Adversity Games here, the game was in prototype phase so the graphical content of the game is going to be worked over before it hits kickstater. The box art gives you an idea of what they are aiming for, and if that is the case then anyone who has played Cyberpunk 2020 than you will have a pretty good idea of what the art work is going to be like. The whole game has that genre at its very heart, and certainly you can tell that they really are looking at condensing the feel of that RPG into a semi-cooperative/competitive game. That last part being quite important so read down later if you want to see what I mean.


So the background.. set in 2099 the world is in the grips of geopolitical turmoil and dystopian disasters. Humanity begins to use cybertechnology and narcotics to basically try to forget the rubbish of the world, and become more than human. While this is opposed by some groups, the rich use these vices to “transcend” the state of being human. Do it too quickly though you might find yourself less than human. These techshocked individuals form raging bands and police control slips, further dividing the rich and poor, as slums become insecure zones. You play a Nightlancer, someone willing to take on dark jobs and use even darker cybertech or weaponary to give you the chance of affording a way out of the slums.

So, this is definitely a staple of roleplay game communities, with several games reaching into this post-human, dystopian ideal, but I've not seen many board/card games that delve into it. Sure there is Shadowrun out there and the recently funded Oligarchy card game, but it hasn't been a major genre outside of RPGs. While this means it certainly triggers a certain amount of comparison with RPGs, Nightlancer certainly doesn't suffer under its Grandad's shadow.


Predominantly Nightlancer is a character progression style card game. There are a lot of decks to look after, and this can be quite daunting at first. Certainly there is a reasonably large set up time, but there are two very handy organisation boards to make sure everything can be set out easily enough. Going though them then, there is the Blackmarket deck (for cyberwear, weapons and other items that you can buy), the Contacts deck (which you get at least two of each turn and can affect skill rolls, or grant more of the other cards), the Agendas deck (which you can use to gain points, or some of them allow you to maintain your ideals), the Skills deck (which you get a number of each time you finish a mission, and can buy one of if you want, adding permanent boosts to your skill values), the Missions decks (Low and High difficulty), and the Events deck (which tell you how many missions of each type to use each turn, and then sets an immediate challenge to all or some players). In the first game looking at all of this was a bit of a headache, but actually each deck has very specific times when they are used, and following the board around can be done by which deck you are using each time.

At the start of the game you set the various decks up, and then turn over an Event card (you get 8 in total, 4 early events and 4 late events). Using that card you then turn over the correct missions, open up the black market cards for the turn and hand out contacts. Then you take the event test, which is normally a skill test. Picking a missions to do then finishes off the prep stage of the game. The Street phase allows you to buy points, complete an agenda, take out a loan, or buy a single card from the black market. We only did one of these things, so working out if we wanted something to complete your mission was also a bit of a risk reward as you can't do anything else.  However, in light of a conversation this morning with Adversity Games, you actually get to keep going around (in turn order) til everyone has passed, and I think this is definitely a far better idea, as it makes the loan mechanic far more appealing, and obviously the option of completing more than one agenda and still buying items is really handy.  In the end trying to figure out if you should be using the money you have to get the points you need at the end of the game, or pick up those nice Cyberclaws so you have a better chance at a fight you know will be on your mission can be vital, and not being limited to one or the other will certainly help.

The mission phase resolves around taking at least three tests to try and get to the end. I've deliberately skipped a bit of the Prep phase hear because it'll be easier to explain now. When you pick your missions you do it in the current turn order, and being the first person on a mission makes you the primary person in the first team. People can offer to join you, and if you accept then you basically get someone along who will make the same tests as you, and between you the highest result is then used to see if you pass. Of course you can say no, at which point they can do the same mission in the second team slot. Should you both get to test number 3 then you have to fight each other to see who actually gets the chance to try and complete the mission. Losing a gun fight is really harsh, as you lose all life and a point of ideal (if you have zero health you aren't out, but if you have zero ideal you can't win the game). Lastly, if you have the right contact card you can lock out the second team space on a mission, making it yours and no one elses to run through. This is where the semi-cooperative/competitive thing really shows up in detail.

The tests for each mission basically fall into either standard challenges or combat challenges. Each of the characters has base skill levels and these can be boosted by items or skills. Now there is a lot to go through with those, but skills are always on, cyberweapons are also permanent, but you can only use one weapon in any one test, so you'll need to decide if the cyberweapon is the one you want each time. “Normal” items are limited, firstly by a carry limit of three, but some missions you need to be sneaky or quiet (so that big old sniper rifle has to stay at home). Add up your points, roll the dice and see if you beat the number. If so move on to the next test. If not, you might find yourself shaken (unable to carry on, but also safe from the next event), just outright failing, being followed by the police, or in an outright gunfight (and as we know from above, loosing a gunfight is pretty serious). Standard challenges can also have special “flavours”, which require additional cards in order to even be able to pick that option, whereas Combat challenges automatically cost health.

The game lasts 8 rounds, and each time you work through the same steps. You can choose to miss picking a mission, which you do need to do because it reduces your heat (how interested the police are in you) and lets you fully heal up. After the game ends you work out your score, based on the points you have gain during the game from cards or buying points. Then you also add points for the money you have stored up, the ideals you have left, and lose points for any loans or heat you still have. Highest score wins.


Firstly, this is a really well put together game idea. There is just enough of a strategic edge to it without it being overawing, the cards have enough different options on them that you don't feel each one has limited uses, and there are plenty of strategies to winning each game.

It didn't take too long to work out how to play it. We missed a few rules each play through, and honest they make a big difference to the game, but they didn't stop the game being playable, so it is quite forgiving if you forget things

There are a lot of these semi-cooperative games that fall over because the competitive side is an afterthought at the end of the game. There are plenty of ways in Nightlancer to really make things harder for other players and keep it competitive.

Even with it being a prototype there was enough in the box to keep track of everything, and I do love any game that gives you a clear organisation method.

Going back to the background, this is a pretty unique genre for board games, and it doesn't stumble in terms of keeping the background in the look and feel of the game.

One of people in the first group I played it with said its not a game they would turn down playing again, and they aren't anywhere near as involved in the board gaming world.


I personally think there were a lot of symbols to have to remember. Now I personally think there are a lot of ways to deal with this, and certainly I think a lot of this will be solved with the move from prototype to production.

Lastly, the amount that goes out onto the table might well put off a group that has no gaming experience at all. This wouldn't fall into my gateway games list.


I really really like this game, and I will likely be putting money on the kickstarter when it comes out. I really felt that after playing this a couple of times I well on the way to working out exactly how the game worked, and we didn't really have to pick up the rulebook that often when we played it the second time around. I am looking forward to how the design moves forward. It also fits a very good gap in my games list, as I don't have many “light” strategy games where there are many options for winning and also a direct set of confrontation options. The fact that it can stand alone, not just as a game in my collection, but also side by side with the roleplay games that also fit this genre. I can see me showing this game to people who know, and play, a lot of other games. I really can see some of my normal gaming group really enjoying this game, and certainly there will be avenues they will open up that we didn't see a lot of over the weekend (certainly someone I know will really like playing the negative effect of cards on their opponents, which we did little of in the games we played). It has that scope for people to play it in different ways and each option will be viable to get the win.

There were a couple of hiccups because we missed rules, I do, however, think a lot of that will be the normal rush through of the rules, and some aspects of the rulebook needing a little reworking.  I'd also be quite interested in the event cards having a long term effect over the missions as well, just to add even more re-playability to the game (not that there isn't already a lot of that anyway)

This is a solid 7.5/10 game, but also one that might well go further up the scale the more it is played and the more options you get to see. Each game also doesn't go through all of the mission cards and there are more than eight of the event cards in the box, so there is definitely a lot of re-playability anyway.

The Important bits

The Nightlancer game has a facebook page which can be found at

The images used on this page are from the Nightlancer page itself (as you will see)

Adversity Games themselves can also be found on the following pages 

It is well worth a look around the various pages, and I have added links throughout this post for Nightlancer itself so curiosity should have got the better of you by now surely.