Tag Archives: Dungeons and Dragons

Roll Player Adventures: Games We Love

Introduction

About a half a year ago, I became addicted to Kickstarter. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But, I did support several gaming themed campaigns. One of them arrived in a huge box. It took so long to be delivered that I forgot about it and wondered what the postman delivered. “Ah”, said when I opened it, “Roll Player Adventures. It’s a game I ordered on Kickstarter, I explained too my family. I got the game because it sold itself as a single or two player action game similar to Dungeons and Dragons.

Not exactly like D&D. That’s fine. Now we have two outlets for our nerdiness.

As I mentioned in my previous article, I hadn’t finished the newest adventure for our duet campaign I still havne’t completely finished it. I have the first part of it done now. At the time, I suggested we try Roll Player Adventures instead. Quinn agreed and off we went.

First Impressions

This game takes forever to set up for the first time. There’s so many different types of cards, dice, tokens, maps, and books. Plus, you need the rule book to set up your characters (thankfully, in this game, they came premade, so that saved some time) and an adventure book to set up the adventure map. Some of the set up is intuitive and (again) thank goodness for that. Some of it makes no sense without the context of the game, but you figure it out quickly enough.

I mean, look at all that stuff! It’s pretty intimidating.

Gameplay

Again, the gameplay is mostly intuitive if you’ve ever played a dice game before. A few things are difficult to understand, but the rules are mostly comrehensive. We screwed up more than one ruling, but it was just the two of us. Ultimately, no harm, no foul.

You move your party around the map. There are encounter tokens that can be either a skill check, combat, or sometimes both. There are also the defined areas on the map. Here, you run through a story that changes based on your decisions. Skill checks and combat work similarly. You need to build a die pool from the die bag, roll them, and match numbers and colors on the card to pass the check or win in combat.

Probably easier to show. To defeat the bandits, you need a white two, blue three, red three, and any color five. You have three rounds to win as shown in the lower left corner.

You draw dice from the bag, roll them, and try to match them. While this might seem like an almost impossible task, you can buy certain colors using your attribute points. You have a hand of cards that lets you alter die rolls or colors. All in all, we’ve only ever gone past round one on a couple of fights. In etween fights, you can rest to get ready for future challgenges. Rinse and repeat this process as you work your way around the map until the book tells you “The End”.

After that, you advance your character and you can “save” the game. This sets you up for the next play through so that you don’t spend as much time getting ready. The second time we played took a lot less time to set up and a lot more time to play.

Roll Player Adventures: Overall, a fun game

Both times we played, Quinn mentioned how much fun he had. He talked about the game at dinner to Christine and both of his brothers. We were supposed to play more today, but we took a two hour hike and we just finished eating dinner. I think tomorrow might be busy, too. So, you might have to wait until next week to hear more of our exploits against the enemies of ulos.

Top 5 January 2022: A Look Ahead

Introduction

This Top 5 January 2022 article comes about a week late. We here at 2 Guys Gaming consider that a victory after disappearing for two whole months at the end of last year. Also, unless I come up with something else while writing the article, this top 5 January 2022 might be only a top 4.

Will I make it to 5? Stay tuned to find out.

Top 5 January 2022

Well, that wasn’t at all suspenseful, was it? I learned over the last few years from people that I love who suffer from anxiety that suspense is overrated.

5. Geocaching – I will talk about this more on my other page. However, it became such a part of my life over the last 3rd of last year, I’d be doing a disservice by not mentioning it here, too. I currently have two goals for the year. Finish out my 365/366 consecutive days of caching and finding 1000 caches in the calendar year. Check out the other page to keep tabs.

4. Homebrew Games – I recently hooked up my Atari 2600 emulator to the downstairs TV again. I only played a few minutes of Frostbite and Circus Convoy. The latter reminded me how much I enjoyed the other homebrew games I purchased at the beginning of last year. So, I found myself on the Atari homebrew page again thinking about what new games I want for a 50 year old video game system.

3. New Games – I actually put together a Christmas list for the first time in years. On the list, I asked for a few new games. I saw Chess Ultra at Walmart for 13 bucks and Chris recommended Hades. I also asked for the new Metroid game before realizing it cost 60 bucks. But, I got Hades and Chess. I played through a few minutes of Hades, texting Chris the whole time and can’t wait to play more. Plus, Chess is always a winner.

2. Dungeons and Dragons Duels – I talked about this in my previous article wrapping up my favorites of last year. Quinn and I never got a chance to sit down and have a session. But I remain committed to making it happen. We have the same February vacation this year. Expect an update after that.

1. MtG Commander – I also wrote about this in my year end wrap among other articles. Unlike Duels, though, Chris and I actually got to play some Commander while watching Alabama eviscerate Georgia in the SEC Championship. As it turns out, Georgia gave Bama the rope a dope in that game and turned the tide (ha ha) earlier this week. I’d have lost my house if I didn’t think the line was super fishy. But, alas, back to the point. More Commander not this weekend, but next.

The Verdict

Our top 5 January 2022 seems less intriguing than our preview last year. However, it is far more sustainable over the long run since I’m not promising to play 75 games that I’ll never even speak of again as long as we live. Also, honestly, I’m not sure what else to write this week, so it might be a bit of a dry stretch until we play Commander again next week. Plus, there will be at least three of us there! See you then.

Top 10 of 2021: Our Favorites of the Year

Introduction

We unintentionally took 2 months off this year. We played the least amount of games by far this year than any of the other years since starting the page. I can’t explain either of those. It also defies explanation how, in spite of them, we had one of our best years as 2 Guy Gaming. I heard someone say that they just blame everything on Covid. So, let’s go with that and continue with our Top 10 of 2021.

Top 10 of 2021 (Honorable Mention)

  1. Atari 2600 – If I remembered earlier to hook it up, this might have actually made the list. Instead, I just hooked it up the other day and played through a few games of Circus Convoy. The games are so simplistic, but o much fun. Look for this to be on the list next year.
  2. Jackbox Party Pack 8 – I talked about this one in the last article. We played it a couple of times as a family and had an absolute blast. I would have liked to have gotten it working on Christmas to play with a larger group, though.

Top 10 of 2021 (#10-6)

10. Comic Books – Like most of my hobbies, I lost the time I used to devote to comics. I dedicated more time to my job (which, if you’ve been reading the other page, you know didn’t ultimately pay off) and family (worth the investment always). Comics were the first to go. Still, I collect them and enjoyed the storylines when I stopped. I will pick them up again at some point.

9. Football – I swore of the NFL about a decade ago. I simply found less and less enjoyment from watching. Perhaps, as a result, I leaned more heavily into college. It helped that my friend Craig liked college football. More recently, Chris texts me about the NFL. As a result, I watched more the last couple of years and enjoyed it.

8. Hades – This might be higher on the list if I played it before today. As it is, I think being number 8 solely on the recommendation of Chris is pretty good.

7. Geocaching – I found a cache on a whim during our trip to the museum with Quinn in late summer. That triggered something because I started hiking/caching after school and on the weekends. Then, I got the silly idea to try for a full year (366 days) streak of finding geocaches. I’m currently at 118 days. You can follow those adventures here.

6. Dungeons and Dragons Duet – When we tried playing D&D as a family a few years ago, it met with limited success. I wasn’t prepared to be an entertaining and engaging DM and, frankly, maybe the family just didn’t enjoy the game that much. Quinn did, though, and on a whim I bought him some D&D dice. I have also been reading a page on how to play 2 player D&D, called Duets.

Top 10 of 2021 (#5-1)

5. Battlegrounds – I have a love/hate relationship with Hearthstone. Every now and then, it evolves to hate/hate. However, I admit they did something right when they designed Battlegrounds. It takes little time or brain commitment and is a good way to kill 10-15 minutes.

4. Magic the Gathering Arena – In spite of the fact that I played less games this year, I still logged in to MTGA on a daily basis to complete quests and get my “free” loots from the reward track.

3. Disney + – From the best show to come out in recent memory, WandaVision, to the Covid shortened and potentialy ruined Falcon and the Winter Solider. From the Mandalorian to the new Book of Boba Fett. From What if to Hawkeye. I even splurged for their premier access to be able to watch Cruella after prom earlier this year. As with most things, Disney took the streaming service and improved it by leaps and bounds.

2. Marvel Movies are Back – We saw Black Widow in the theaters. Christine, high on girl power, enjoyed that one more than the rest of us. I liked it, but it wasn’t necessary and a huge let down after the last two Avengers masterpieces. Then, we just saw the new Spider-Man movie. Those who say it is the best Marvel movie ever are engaging in hyperbole (both Infinity War and Endgame are better stories and movies), but it is the best live action Spider-Man.

  1. Commander – I wrote several times in the last few months about my adventures in Commander. Chris and I finally played face to face while eating pizza and watching Alabama destroy Georgia in the SEC Championship. He Alabama’d me in the games, but it inspired me to improve my decks for the rematch next month.

The Verrdict

As you see, even though we weren’t active on the page as much this year, we still found time to do the things we enjoy. Maybe this will inspire us to do more of them and write more and, who knows, podcast (inside joke, haha) more. Or, maybe this is one last hurrah and we fade into obscurity. Only one way to find out. Stay tuned.

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Miscellany

Introduction

First Esper, then Gruul, now the Forgotten Realms Miscellany article. I am on a damn roll this week with content. Fear not, though, I have nothing planned for next week and the following week is the annual Cape Cod trip. So, the page will be languishing again in no time. Look forward to that!

Rest In Peace – 2 Guys Gaming (2014-2021)?

But, for now, revel in the fact that we are here and providing you with at least second tier content. Chris texted me yesterday, “There’s a lot of good cards in the set.” I replied, “Yeah, it’s a fun set.” Of course, that reply came before I reviewed green, so I was grading on a bit of a curve. Nevertheless, I like the set and I agree with myself that they’ll probably make another D&D set once they see how popular this one is. Let’s see what fun cards are in Forgotten Realms miscellany.

Forgotten Realms Miscellany: Dungeons and Artifacts

I already touched on dungeons in one of the other articles, but I only showed one of them at that time. These three cards represent some of the most recognizable dungeons in the game Dungeons and Dragons. I can’t wait to put together my dungeon themed Tiny Leaders deck.

Speaking of dungeons, here’s a map! Plus, 50 feet of rope! But, watch out for that Mimic! Ah, mimic, the reason that generations of Dungeons and Dragons players have trust issues.

Forgotten Realms Miscellany: Multicolored

This section became a showcase for some of the most iconic names in Dungeons and Dragons history. Tiamat fills two purposes, one as a major geek-gasm and the other as a flavor win by being 5 colors. The alt art isn’t for Xanathar, but I wish it was. Maybe I will commission an alter to make it so. Finally, I never read nor played any of the Forgotten Realms setting, but even I know Drizzt.

Forgotten Realms Miscellany Gives Us Some Fun Cards

I love the dungeon concept. I wish they gave us more of them, but three gives enough variety now. Who knows? Perhaps they will make more or the MTG/D&D community will make more for us to use. Every single one of those artifact cards is going in my dungeon themed tiny leaders deck. I told Chris that I’m going to have fun opening my box of this set and I will. I just hope they make another D&D set and selfishly, I hope they base it on Dragonlance next time.

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition

Introduction

Yesterday, I rolled up into your life after 2 months like nothing ever happened with the first of my MTG Forgotten Realms articles. Today, I bring you Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition. These colors are always the most difficult for me to pick cards. I am in no way shape or form a red or green mage. Chris is, which is what makes our one-on-one duels so much fun. We end up on opposite ends of the color wheel almost every single time.

Unless we’re doing sealed. Then, I always go 5-color good stuff. Picture courtesy of TCG Player.

Though Chris has rubbed off on me a bit through our games and conversations, keep this in mind as you read the article. I pick red and green cards through they eyes of a blue (and sometimes black and white) mage. Don’t expect any one turn kills or massive mana spikes. No, for this Forgotten Realms Gruul edition, you may have to suffer through card draw and counter spells. It could happen! Red got Tibalt’s Trickery after all.

Red: Give me a quest, a baby Embercleave, and a possible 2 turn kill

Honorable Mention (You Find Some Prisoners/Dueling Rapier): I sent both of these cards to Chris. I like You Find Some Prisoners because it again illustrates a facet of Dungeons and Dragons. Since it is basically a cooperative storytelling game, as I explained to Chris, you often find yourself faced with decisions like this that are introduced in such a manner as “The party…”

When I texted Chris, I captioned “Dueling Rapier” with “Baby Embercleave”. Now that I look at it again, it is more like fetus Embercleave. Still, a fun card, just not the tiny broken weapon I initially rated it as. Now that I say that, someone will break it, most likely against me.

Minion of the Mighty: Yep, you guessed it again. I texted this one to Chris. My exact quote: “This is going to be a problem.” Sure enough, the next day, some web pages wrote articles about how it enabled turn 2 kill in some formats. Granted, it requires a specific set of cards, but most combos do. I just like to pat myself on the back when I get a card right.

Green: Give me a cursed idol, a neat trick, and a tiny leader

Honorable Mention (You Find a Cursed Idol/Wild Shape): Green cards in this set are pretty lame. I consider none of them good or even fun. These three represent the most fun and they are pretty damn awful. Cursed Idol, at least, has some versatility. Wild Shape, too, and it can be a fun trick to play at the end of the game to give you another turn to find an answer. I wish one of the options gave you deathtouch, but that’s neither here nor there.

Varis, Silverymoon Ranger: I have a tiny leaders deck with Yisan, the Wanderer Bard. It’s a fun deck that isn’t terribly tuned, but it was able to beat Chris’s even less tuned deck. As soon as I saw this card, I wanted to build a tiny leaders deck around a dungeon theme. Again, not a great card, but I guess if pressed I could call this one fun.

The Verdict (Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition weighs heavily in favor of red)

Red gets some of the most fun and powerful cards in the set. Green is all but forgotten in both cases. I suppose not all colors can be winners in every set, but they’ve actually been pretty good about printing powerful cards and balancing all colors in that regard. Maybe I’m missing something. It wouldn’t be the first time. However, thinking back on it, Chris and I didn’t share many green cards during our spoiler texts, so maybe green is just bad this time around. Thanks for reading my Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition and come back tomorrow for the miscellaneous cards.

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Esper Edition

Introduction

Welcome back (after an unintended and extended layoff) to my Forgotten Realms Esper Edition article. Those of you who frequent the page on a semi-regular (as I make it difficult to visit on a regular basis due to not having a proper posting schedule the last couple of years) basis know that these articles are ways for me to highlight the “notable cards” of a set. If you want competitive cards, search for them. There are plenty of those articles.

No shortage of wanna be Spikes out there.

Okay, now for a quick explanation of where I’ve been. Again, those who are regular readers of the page know that I get busy at the end of school, so that is often a time that the page is lacking content. Usually, though, I make up for it by starting my summer blitz that lasts until about February, where updates become sparse again. This year, my wife and I went to the Florida Keys almost as soon as school ended. So, the dark period lasted a bit longer this year.

Know that we still thought and cared about you. And, yes, I meant to say “we” there. Twice, Chris and I planned to talk about the new Modern Horizons set. The first time, I flaked on the recording and the second, we planned it for Father’s Day, which interfered with my plans. And, so, unofficially, 2 Guys Gaming is dead. But, I put a few hundred dollars into this page, so why not continue to throw bad money after bad and keep seeing if something ever happens here. Besides, I like writing and I like writing about games. On to Forgotten Realms Esper Edition.

White: I want removal, a planeswalker that turns into a dragon, and a pet gargoyle that enters the dungeon

Honorable Mention: (Cloister Gargoyle and Minimus Containment): I start with containment, even though it is right most in the preview. I sent this card to Chris and he replied about not liking giving the other person mana. I can respect that, but it hits literally everything. Having played against far too many Ugins in MTGA, I replied, “Eff your Ugin.” “Ooooh, he said, that can be powerful.”

I chose Cloister Gargoyle because I don’t think I’ve ever previewed/reviewed a gargoyle card, but I often think the cards are neat. This one also showcases a new mechanic in Forgotten Realms, the dungeon. After all, the set is named after the iconic RPG, Dungeons and Dragons. How are you not going to incorporate both into the set? Well, they have, as you’ll see in future installments of this series.

Grand Master of Flowers: I doubt this card has very much utility. However, I became enamored with the fact that it turns into a big old indestructible dragon god. I also thought, what if we combined this with the new Kasmina in a Bant deck. Oh, what the heck, my Timmy mind went crazy. Why not put together a five color EDH Superfriends deck and have all the Planeswalkers. Look for that deck in the coming weeks.

Blue: Give me another planeswalker, an almost lich, and some card draw

Honorable Mention (Mordenkainen/Contact Other Plane): I also sent Mordenkainen to Chris, this time with the comment, “Overcosted as hell, but a fun card.” This one is definitely going in my Superfriends deck. I mentioned in a previous article (and never finished the cycle) that I like drawing cards. Contact Other Plane lets me draw cards. It also brings another iconic D&D action to MTG. Roll a d20. Not a spindown counter. An actual, factual d20.

Demilich: You guessed it. This one went to Chris. I actually sent it to him while we were walking through Laguardia airport to catch our connection to Key West. That’s how much I liked this card. I said something along the lines of, “It’s not Legendary, either, so you can chain them.” I don’t think it will be as powerful as Narcomeba or anything, but it is going to be a fun, fun card to play in many formats.

Black: Give me a warlock, an indestructible zombie god, and some card draw.

Honorable Mention (Warlock Class and Deadly Dispute): Another mechanic integral to D&D is the class system. After picking your character’s race, you inevitably pick their class. This card showcases one of those classes and also a leveling curve to improve the quality of the card. Very cool design.

This episode of “this card is black?” features Deadly Dispute. Look, I understand that they’ve adjusted the color wheel recently to include different strategies for each of the colors. I’m just having some difficulty adjusting, I suppose. This card is really just Village Rites with upside. Even so, I still think it should be blue. Of course, I do.

The Book of Vile Darkness: I might have shared this card first with Chris. I definitely shared it early in the spoiler cycle. They took until the end of the cycle to share the Hand and Eye of Vecna, so I had no idea even what abilities that zombie might have. As you see, they’re pretty damn good abilities. Fun stuff!

The Verdict (Forgotten Realms Esper Edition is good, but not great)

A few of the cards previewed here are fun. I definitely want to build that Superfriends deck now and go off with some Planeswalkers. Also, I love the idea of building a stupid Vecna deck and trolling MTGA players with that one. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones to see me in casual with it. Until then (and until next time for the Gruul cards), have fun out there, fellow MTG nerds!

D&D Horror Bundles: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Okay, this one is a lie, too. Sort of. Remember last time when I said that I would take this week to discuss games that we received for Christmas. Well, that’s not strictly true. I actually just pressed purchase on the D&D horror bundles from The Arcane Library about an hour ago. Since then, I’ve been looking at the adventures to see if they will, in fact, be good to try to get the family to play D&D again.

I mean, they do look pretty spoopy, not gonna lie. Picture cropped from The Arcane Library.

If this all seems to have come out of left field, you’re not entirely wrong. I mean, if you followed us on Twitter, you’d have seen that I was searching for an appropriate adventure to try to get the family hooked on Dungeons and Dragons. I want to get a weekly session going, if possible. This led me to purchase The Lost Mine of Phandelver on D&D Beyond before realizing that was the adventure we tried to play last year from the beginner’s set. Oh well, WotC can use the cash, I’m sure.

Well, Facebook ads finally got me this time. I saw an ad for The Arcane Library and visited it. Rarely does this ever result in me purchasing anything. However, this time it did. First, I downloaded the free adventure to see if the writing was any good. It’s very well designed. More on that in the review, obviously. Then, I bought the bundle meant to follow characters from 1 until level 20, I think. There may be some gaps needed to fill. Not entirely sure on that one. However, I then saw the D&D horror bundles. As the lone hold out from the first time, I think Aiden will get a kick out of some horror RPG. Let’s see if I’m right.

The Great

Writing: This doesn’t come as a surprise now that I’ve read the author’s biography on the web page. She’s a former journalist and English teacher. Nevertheless, and this will come as rich from someone who hasn’t edited a single post on this web page in several years, it is good to find web based content that isn’t riddled with spelling and grammar errors. Especially in a D&D adventure, that takes you right out of the fiction.

I did edit my 2 books. But, I wouldn’t call myself a good editor. Wait, you didn’t know I wrote two books?

Well Organized: Along with the good writing, the adventures follow the well established outline for adventures set by the official versions. Each adventure starts with a synopsis and some background. This is followed by some nuts and bolts to further explain. Each encounter flows smoothly, building a rich tapestry of the story. As I read, I saw how the encounters worked and, more importantly, how they worked together.

The Good

Minimalist: Piggy backing off that last point, the books contain only the information needed to continue the story. I feel like part of the reason our play session last year got bogged down was all of the reading necessary to run the adventure. As a DM, I try not to be a rules extremist when playing D&D, but I think I might have just been nervous. I really wanted my family to enjoy playing D&D with me. It just felt like a natural play group.

Maybe I just need to stop trying to make “fetch” happen. I won’t, though.

Horror: Granted, it is mostly up to me to set the proper mood. However, if you’re going to advertise an adventure as horror, there should obviously be the seeds of that horror in the adventure. These accomplish that quite nicely. I already said that I saw the story grow as I read the notes. The same can be said for the horror setting. These stories have great creep factor.

The Decent

Story: This may seem strange given all the nice things I’ve already said. However, even as a criticism, please understand that this is minor. To be fair, it’s said that there are only 7 types of stories that can be told anyway. This may even be more limited in science fiction and fantasy settings. Even the official adventures are limited in their scope. Just know that these stories aren’t terribly original. But, they are still very good.

How well did I straddle that fence? Eh? Eh? Meh…

Not beginner friendly: Look, I also understand that if you are considering a non paying career as a D&D DM, you probably aren’t a beginner. With that being said, everyone gets their start somewhere. But, if you are getting your start as a DM, I wouldn’t recommend these adventures as your first campaign. They’re just so sparse in their notes for DMs.

The Verdict

The D&D horror bundles from The Arcane Library are, overall, very good. The stories are compelling enough. They have a definite horror vibe, even just from reading through them. That can, obviously, be tuned to your individual play group. I don’t regret purchasing them or the other bundle one bit. Now, I just have to get my family to want to play them. Stay tuned for that.

Tabletop Look Back 2020: A year of Gaming

Introduction

This 2020 tabletop look back is going to be a bit one sided. As you will see, we branched out a bit from our traditional tabletop game of Magic the Gathering. However, in spite of our best efforts, my wife and I have not been able to get a board game night going for longer than a couple of weeks. The kids just have interests that are too varied right now.

I mean, Aiden is obsessed with anime about volleyball. How much more varied can you get?

Even so, we have been able to try some new games that became (temporarily and they might return) favorites for a time. Quinn, Aiden, and I went on an end of the summer camping trip and that led to us exploring two different games. I just have to be better about initiating. Then again, as I mentioned that doesn’t always work with our attempts at getting a board game night going. Okay, enough of the “woe is me” parenting. Let’s take a tabletop look back at 2020.

I will structure this article different from the mobile look back. The reason for this is two fold. One, there are only 3 games to discuss, so splitting them into categories doesn’t make sense. Also, I want to spend more time talking about each game.

Dungeons and Dragons

We tried to play Dungeons and Dragons as a family last year. It met with mixed results. Christine and Quinn said they had fun. Liam played along, but he could take it or leave it was my impression. Aiden, who I thought might enjoy the game the most, actually hated it. He complained that the game takes too long.

So, 3.5 out of 5 ain’t bad, right? Well, yes and no. I’m obviously glad that most of the family enjoyed the game. I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons and have many great memories with my friends and even my brothers a few times. Being able to pass that on to my family is one of my dreams as a gaming dad. And, so, as we often do, I find myself obsessing over why Aiden didn’t enjoy himself. I downloaded some pictures and mood music on my laptop.

I even went so far as to develop my own adventure for the game. I wrote some dialogue, built the skeleton of a harbor city, and inhabited a village and abandoned mine with NPCs and monsters. Unfortunately, I’ve used none of it. We haven’t played a game since. Oh well, Christmas break is coming. Now that I wrote that, I’m furiously searching for the adventure that I wrote in order to have it for break.

Dicemasters

Regular readers of the page probably remember when we played Dicemasters. I posted an article about the team that I built. I actually promised more Dicemasters content in that article. I have not delivered on that promise. We played once or twice after that. I even built a second team.

Then, and this is a familiar refrain around here, school started. We all got busy with school work, so many of our games fell to the side. I thought this one might persist because the games go quickly. Alas, it was not meant to be. Well, another game added to the revisit over Christmas break list.

Because I genuinely enjoy playing the game. Given the opportunity, I’d play once a week. I put it almost on par with Magic the Gathering and I play multiple games of MTGA every day. Both Quinn and Aiden played Dicemasters. Heck, Liam even put together a team in August. I’d much rather play a game with my children then against randos online.

Chess

Unlike the other games, I can’t remember how we ended up playing chess. I remember that I purchased a board for school because some of my students last year wanted to play during office hours. Unlike one of the other math teachers at the school, I’m no expert. I played some as a kid and a bit here and there as an adult.

I do enjoy the game, though. Therefore, when one of them expressed interest, I took advantage. Along with the Dicemasters, I brought the chess board with us camping. We played several games. I taught them some strategy about the game. Mainly, I showed them that you should be thinking several moves ahead and considering how your moves will impact future turns.

As with the others on the list, talking about chess has me wondering where I put the board. I will have to dig it out and play some games with the boys. Of the three, this is the most likely to hold their attention, followed by Dicemasters, and finally (unfortunately) Dungeons and Dragons. But, hey, a guy can dream.

The Verdict

I thought about doing an honorable mentions for our tabletop look back 2020, but I’ll just toss some names in here. We also played Ticket to Ride and the Europe(?) expansion that we just got for Christmas last year. Liam has this “flag game” that requires knowledge of geography. Quinn and I played Minecraft: Builders and Biomes a couple of times. Overall, it was a decent year of playing tabletop games. And, now, because it took me so long to write this article, I have negative one days to get the tabletop game of the year done. Well, join us tomorrow, hopefully, for that one.

DunGeons and Dragons: Destination Ravnica?

Introduction

Dungeons and Dragons: Destination Ravnica? The title says it all. I remember back when Wizards of the Coast purchased the Dungeons and Dragons property from TSR, Inc. Being one of those grumpy old man gamers (more so even than I am now as an actual grumpy old man) who railed against the conglomeration happening at the time. I mean, generally speaking, it is a bad thing.

And this is under unfettered and unregulated capitalism. Technically, it’s not a monopoly, right?

Then things more or less went as they had been. It was like the Activision acquisition of Blizzard. People were concerned about that, as well. I mean, sure, you can make an argument that it hasn’t worked out well. And, trust me, people have made that argument. However, I still play Hearthstone daily and the new trailer for Shadowlands has me thinking about picking up World of Warcraft again.

My main point is that the WotC acquisition of Dungeons and Dragons and then the acquisition of WotC by Hasbro has more or less gone off without much of a hitch. Sure, there have been some growing pains, but mostly unless you knew, you’d probably not even know the difference.

Does this qualify as a growing pain? I mean, I enjoy playing it and so does Quinn, but I’m sure there are people who stopped playing MtG because of this.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. In addition to putting the MTG license on board games, they have also released Dungeons and Dragons products with Magic the Gathering lore. The first I heard of this was a campaign based in Ravnica. This makes sense because Ravnica is quite possibly the most popular plane in Magic the Gathering. Well, I finally got around to picking up the sourcebook for the campaign. How is it? I’m glad you asked.

The Great

Well Integrated – You got Dungeons and Dragons in my Magic the Gathering! You got Magic the Gathering in my Dungeons and Dragons! Two great tastes that taste great together? Well, actually, yes. I spend some time in the Dungeons and Dragons Beyond character creation and simply from that I can see that they’ve been able to blend the two games almost flawlessly.

As Chris and I discussed, the art alone is nearly worth the price.

In Depth – Not that I expect any less from Dungeons and Dragons, but you never know. They could have easily just mailed it in. They didn’t. There is an absurd amount of information in this book about the plane of Ravnica and the denizens that reside there. I felt like I was being transported to the plane of Ravnica as I read through the book. Honestly, they’re probably just happy that they get to finally share all of this information with us.

The Good

Sample Adventure – Speaking of mailing it in, the sample adventure that they’ve included in the book feels like just a bit of generic Dungeons and Dragons with the Ravnica characters tossed in for some flavor. I get it. It’s just a sample adventure and D&D has a certain feel to is, so maybe all adventures/games feel like this. I know I had a similar reaction to Pool of Radiance.

I mean, it is cool to see Krenko in this context.

Character Creation – As mentioned earlier, I spent a good two hours in the Dungeons and Dragons Beyond character creation tool. So, why isn’t this in the great section? Well, I now have these two characters that I’ve invested time and emotion into and now I don’t have a campaign to play them. Poor guys.

The Decent

Tables to create adventures – I know that not everyone is creative. However, I was a bit taken aback by the tables that they put in the book to create an adventure. Basically, nearly all of the decision making and creativity is taken out of the task of being a Dungeon Master. Ultimately, it doesn’t affect me and I can ignore it.

And, truth be told, I’ll probably use it once or twice for giggles.

I want more! – Yes, this is a cop out. No, I don’t care. Honestly, the only “bad” thing I can find about this is, in spite of how in depth it is, I still want more. More lore, more characters, more story. The whole thing is just a testament to how much I love both of these games. I can’t wait for Theros to be released.

The Verdict

You never know how these crossovers are going to go. Especially in comic books lately, their super summer crossover events have been lackluster. However, Dungeons and Dragons: Destination Ravnica is an overwhelming success. I already have the adventure that I wrote for the family and I will be sure to expand on that, but there’s nothing that says we can’t have multiple campaigns. See you on Ravnica!

POOL OF RADIANCE: Noob’s Way Back Machine

Introduction

I don’t know if I ever played Pool of Radiance. One of my most fond memories of high school is playing Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve already talked some about my memories with paper and pencil D&D. However, I also have extensive experience with the computer games as well.

The thing about the PC games is that I don’t have specific memories of which games I played. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I remember playing the Spelljammer game and I remember playing at least one of the Dark Sun games. I don’t know if I played any of the Dragonlance games, though I’m almost positive that I did at one point or another. It remains my favorite setting even today.

In case there was any question, we’re putting the “way back” in Way Back Machine today.

One game I’m almost positive that I never played was Pool of Radiance. Why, then, am I picking that game to feature? Well, according to my extensive research (a single Google search), it is the first of the PC games to feature the mechanics of D&D. So, it’s only fair that I pick that one as my first entry into the Way Back Machine. If it goes well, I might take a look at one of the Dark Sun games in a couple of weeks. If it goes poorly, I definitely will.

The Great

Decent Graphics – I know many of you will scoff at this. And, you might have a right to do so. However, compared to my expectations, this game blew them away. Granted, I’m not sure what my expectations were, but I clearly forgot about the capabilities of those early games. There were different sprites for the different monsters and you were able to customize your characters to some degree.

I mean, doesn’t he have the classic dwarven features?

Surprisingly in depth – Again, I’m not sure what I was expecting. I mean, we’re not exactly in the prehistory of games, but 1988 is pretty early in the history. The Super Nintendo (when I really started to become involved in video games and consider to be the start of good graphics and consistently good gameplay) is still 3 or 4 years away. I guess the old PC gamer mentality of being a step ahead was true at the time. In addition to the character creation feeling almost (you don’t individually roll stats, but you do pick alignment) like pencil and paper, the features of the game are greater than the sum of their parts. Let’s talk about some of those features.

The Good

Intuitive – Granted, this isn’t pick up and play if you haven’t played Dungeons and Dragons before. It will take some getting used to. As I told Chris when he texted about flipping through a source book, “It’s a whole other language. However, like Magic, once you get used to it, it’s second nature.” This game is very much along those lines. Within a half an hour of (probably too in depth for a simple review article) character creation, I was into the game and wiping my party. (More on that in a bit)

Minimap – Again, those of you who have grown up in modern video game times might get a chuckle out of an oldbie like me thinking that the minimap is worth of mention in the article. But, hear me out. Being an oldbie pencil and paper D&D guy, I took about 5 minutes to look for some graph paper to start drawing my own map of the town before I realized there was a minimap built into the interface.

Even so, my map would have been more detailed.

The Decent

The Story – The story of Pool of Radiance isn’t bad. In fact, it’s actually pretty engaging and gets you into the action quickly. I’m not surprised because this is a TSR (the owners of the D&D license before WotC bought them) product. Even so, the story is pretty generic RPG stuff and isn’t engaging enough to keep me coming back for more. That’s to be expected since The Forgotten Realms is the most generic of D&D settings

Pool of Radiance is hard! – So, I went to the City Hall to find out what commissions I could collect. “Go to the ruins and help clear it of monsters.” Okay, sounds good. Let’s kill some monsters. First encounter in the ruins? A party of kobolds. No problem, right? Wrong. 2 party members dead. Crikey! Let’s rest. Nope. Interrupted by a party of monsters. Let’s rest in the city. Nope. It costs 1 platinum to rest in the inn. Let’s rest in an alley. Nope. Caught by the guards. WTF. Okay, how about a temple? 100 gold pieces for cure light wounds. Jesus. Fine. Now, back into the ruins. Second encounter is a party of orcs. And, we’re all dead. Well, that was fun.

Lucky I saved my game. Now, if only I could figure out how to load it.

The Verdict

Pool of Radiance is a game that definitely stands the test of time. Over 30 years later and I will probably keep going back to try to at least defeat that first dungeon. Who knows? Once I do that, I’m sure that I’ll be back to try to finish the rest of the game. Then, I’ll move on to other games in the series. I have been playing the game on this web based emulator. However, I recently discovered a place that has the game plus a bunch of others for only 10 bucks. I just have to vet the source to make sure that it is legit and not bloatware or virus ridden like the old Limewire files. In spite of the frustration of the game being hard, I suggest you give it a try.