In my continuing coverage of the Mantic Dungeon Saga kickstarter, I played the real scenario provided with the alpha rules. The first two test games, Journeys from the East and West, are more of training exercises to help you learn the rules and are not designed to be balanced. This scenario starts with all four heroes together at the entrance of a small room with 6 piles of bones and 2 armored zombies (represented by Reapers Bones Liches/Wights) and 2 normal zombies. Behind the zombies are two pairs of doors which need to be opened to get to the next stage of this scenario.
The Heros started by taking the fight to the zombies but a few bad rolls and some aggressive card play from the necromancer put some hurt on the heroes. The eventually cleared the first room down to two bones piles being babysat by the Ranger and Wizard when the dwarf breaks open the door.
The second part of the dungeon is a larger room with 4 more bones piles and a Dwarf Revenant (metal dwarf) over by the next door which breaking through wins the encounter for the heroes. Flush with confidence from fighting out of a tough spot in the first room the dwarf wades into the second room. I made a critical mistake and place the dwarf in a position combined with the still standing door blocked access to the room the the barbarian. The dwarf was then jumped by the raised skeletons and revenant before the barbarian could break down the other door to help out after 2 turns of trying.
The three heroes knocked down the undead in the second room but in the end a lone remaining skeleton gets that last wound on the dwarf forcing him down for a dirt nap to be later raised by the necromancer to help him on his path to world domination.
So the necromancer won this round and I learned some things about how to play the heroes better. I had previously commented that in the training mission with the two fighter types that they seemed sort of bland. This was less a problem in this mission as I was controlling 4 heroes and needed to worry about activation order to get the most outnumbering bonuses and not block other lines of sight or paths. Might be an issue though if you had 4 players each with one hero for this scenario so the heroes probably need a few more abilities at the start or pretty quickly.
I commented in a previous post that the dice test used in the game is very interesting. It is deceiptively simple but has some nice features. In the climactic point the mighty wounded dwarf warrior was under attack from a lone skeleton. Even though the dwarf has 4 armor and 4 dice to throw versus the skeletons 2, the skeleton just needs one of those 2 to come up as a 6 when the dwarf fails to also roll a 6 to get that 1 wound. This means that no monster can really be taken lightly as you can fall more easily to a series of basic skeletons than to the much tougher single Revenant (4 Dice and 3 Armor).
I am impressed with the game play and will most likely be throwing down for the game on Sunday morning before heading out for the day during the final hours. The kickstarter is not a model bonanza but they have a lot of ambitious claims about what the rules will cover and allow which makes me excited as I already have a lot of fantasy minis and have been looking for more options to put them to use. The freelance designer of the game has a blog where he presents ideas and listens to players which is something I cannot say about some of the big companies so I have faith they will deliver on at least part of the potential I see in this game.
Last night I got a chance to run through the second of the training missions for the Dungeon Saga Alpha rules. The set up is to train in spells and range attacks with the Heroes being the Elf Ranger with her bow and the human wizard. The bad guys are 2 archer skeletons, 3 regular skeletons and 5 piles of bones to reinforce the skeletons during the game. The heroes start near 2 magically warded doors and need to open one of them by casting the break ward spell on one a total of 5 times. Since only the wizard can do this the archer is there to delay the advance of the Bones.
Initially I moved up the archer to cover the top passage but I moved up a little to far and got caught by a skeleton and then partial surrounded. The wizard had to stop working on the door for a turn to come up and help me out with his two spells per turn once a game ability. The ranger then essentially dodged an attack of opportunity to get back so that she could use her bow again.
The Heroes won again but it was closer as you can see they are about to be overwhelmed when the door was opened. This game the heroes played more enjoyable than the first one since they have options of targets due to having ranged attacks and a small selection of spells. This is only the very rough form of the rules but definitely reinforced the idea that all the heroes need a few more abilities at the start.
The Mantic Dungeon Saga: Dwarf Kings Quest kickstarter is now in its last week. I looked at the progress last week and report that the project in my eyes was sort of in the fair value stage. Mantic is an essentially professional kickstarter company that builds its kickstarters to be at the point they will be a good value but not anything amazing. The project has moved mostly in a parallel direction in terms of value over the last week. They added a Hero to the base game, finished the 25 dollar Greenskin expansion with 18 monsters and 1 villain, and starter a 25 dollar Demon expansion with 8 minis(update 10) with a Bonus Hero being placed in the base pledge. The base pledge also picked up some expansion models finishing a 9 figure set for the greenskins and starting with 3(update 4) demons. So a total pick up of 8 models for 57 (58 Currently) models plus the dungeon decor in the 100 dollars.
One of the issues I see with the value of the base pledge that I am sure is intentional is that the currently 12 bonus monster models based on the expansion are probably only going to be really useful if you have expansions so that you have more freedom in designing your own scenarios. People might just want one copy of the minis so having them in the base might save those people from buying the expansion if they are willing not to get the villain, but those people would be better served in the likes of the Reaper kickstarters which provided minis at less 66 cents a piece. They have already implied that the basic missions will only use the monsters in the sets and not the bonus monsters so like 37% of the minis will not many scenarios that use them. Maybe they will put those minis to direct use in the Dungeon Journal Kickstarter Exclusive Missions so that they can have some use for people who just want to pull the box out of the closet and play occasionally. (This is what the designer says his plans are in a comment on his blog) Update: They also just put a 4 bonus mission backer goal up for 2 mission for the demons bonus minis and 2 for the greenskin bonus minis in the basic pledge.
If recent trends hold true they will fill out this expansion over this week and maybe have some heavier flux on the closing weekend. I would still like to see plastic doors and more monsters and villains in the basic game. The basic game has like 30 minis which is about 25% less than the around 40 minis the D&D Coop game manage in their boxed games that can generally be purchased in the 50 dollar range. I had previously suggested pestilence carrying zombie giant rates and giant spiders with a huge spider boss (as a wink at the Hobbit with its giant spiders aligned with a "necromancer").
I think the 500K level was sort of wasted on a new expansion. That is a milestone type level and would have been a great place to put more into the base game. They did do one thing the I saw good is that they added the Green Menace Scenarios and made add on packs for the original dwarf king's hold games miniatures for 20 dollars. The Dead Rising and Green Menace both have around 30 hard plastic models so are pretty good values. Those scenarios also seem to need more of single model types than most people have in general fantasy collections. The Ancient Grudge is much more limited with fewer models of more types so I could probably be proxied in reasonable fashion. They have also not add the Ancient Grudge scenarios so we might see those added at 4000 backers.
I am not really impressed with the presentation of information about the game directly on the kickstarter site. If you go and dig your way through the designers blog specifically the comments you can learn a lot of stuff about how he sees the game but since he is not the person who decides what is in the boxes it is certainly not game design driven product. He says that the campaigns are linear designed to be played through but that they also will have rules for if you want to do any scenario as a one off in terms of how to equip the heroes with which upgrades and such. They really have not provided much info on the advanced rules and the basic rules right now are very basic with pretty bland actions on the hero side from my test of the first part of the alpha missions.
There are really no details on what the Advanced rules are and if you want to figure out how many scenarios they you are supposed to get, good luck. Neither the basic game or the first expansion lists the number of scenarios. Both unlocked two "bonus" scenarios, but that term is sort of vague without a starting point. I actually took the time to go through every update to check what you are getting in terms of the rules and scenarios and here is how I think they are placed in the books.
Dwarf Kings Quest Base
Game: ?+2 Scenarios (Site Now Lists as 10)
Initial Scenarios: Unknown
Grund Bonus Scenario
Hoggar Bonus Scenario
Solo and Fully Coop Rules
Kings of War Undead Model Rules
Kapoka Hero Rules
Kings of War Goblin Model Rules
Kings of War Orc Model Rules
Dwarf King's Hold Elf and Dwarf Model Rules
Arianya Hero Rules
Kings of War Abyssal Model Rules
Dungeon Journal: 7+
(Site Now Lists as 12+) Dungeon Saga And 12 Dwarf Kings Hold Scenarios
Keldan Hero Rules
Keldan Bonus Scenario
Dead Rising 6 Scenarios
Hordin and Gnasher Rules
Hordin and Gnasher Scenarios
Green Menace 6 Scenarios
Warlord of Galahor:?+2 Scenarios
Unknown Base Scenarios
Great Axe+Skulk Bonus Scenario
Thrundak Bonus Scenario
Infernal Crypts: 6
6 Base Scenarios
Now it would be really great if this information was collected somewhere on the site. They talk about the different sections and have a separate Dungeon Saga website where they could point links to for people who are interested without cluttering up the main kickstarter site before showing the goodies. The game will only be a value if it is actually good and they could use a lot more info about what they are thinking. You can even set up stuff that differentiates between certain and possible ideas. I expect that the base number of scenarios the the Warlord is 6 so that is eight total. The base game your guess is as good as mine. I would hope that the basic set was like 10 up to 12 with the two bonus but no information I could find without trying to read through 20k comments.
Disclosure: I have currently not backed this kickstarter. I expect to make a decision on that in the last weekend.
Reaper in their lastest kickstarter update let everyone know that they will not be shipping on time again. It appears that this time they decided to actually check there production samples to prevent the appearance of any more alien cowgirls and children. Some failed the inspections so the molds will have to be redone. I was on reaper a lot about this before backing the second kickstarter and am glad that they are trying to maintain the model quality better this time even if it slows down delivery. The models are supposed to be my christmas present so hopefully they will still make it.
I think I had a feeling like this was going to happen. I hardly every comment on the kickstarter updates but about a month ago I was asking why we were not see more production sample since they were supposed to be shipping so soon.
So Mantic posted the alpha rules(which are not currently linked on the front of the kickstarter) for the Dungeon Saga game along with 3 starter scenarios. I recently picked up a couple of the older mantic boardgames at clearance prices from their site. I also get an extra dungeon tile set which matches those needed for the demo scenarios. I was able to get the minis for the first two scenarios from my Bones line and even whipped out my Dungeonbowl doors since the first two scenarios are about opening the doors to the dungeon.
Lego released a Ghostbuster set a few months ago from their consumer designed line. The box comes with 508 many small pieces for $49.99 and is only at Lego Stores or through online merchants. No decals which is great. Everything is printed. The box is a nice tab lock one that allow the set to be kept together after it is assembled.
The Mantic Kickstarter for Dungeon Saga: Dwarf Kings Quest has now reached the half way point as I was going to review where I feel it stands in terms of value and where I think it should go and what information is still poorly presented. The boxed game now includes 7 Heros, 4 Villians, and 18 Monsters with the lowest pledge throwing in a 9 Monster Undead pack, 6 Monster Pack for the Expansion, 1 Hero from the Expansion, and 4 Kickstarter exclusive characters. There are also 3d plastic dungeon dressings which I am not sure if they are part of the basic game box or an extra.
The basic game box (with the dungeon dressing) now appears about on par with Descent which can be had for like 65 dollars, the undead booster pack is list at 15, the Monsters and Hero from the expansion is about 10, and the 4 exclusive characters as amount to about 10 which adds up to about 100 dollars. So the value looks about fair if it is a good game. Sort of reminds me right now of the second reaper kickstarter which ended up at a fair price while the original Bones kickstarter ended at an amazing deal. Ofcourse that is more of a cash and carry value as opposed to a cash and wait and see when it arrives transaction.
The game expansion they are showing is currently at 12 monster minis but no Heros or Villians for 25 dollars. You get monsters that match it in the main pledge so hopefully they have at least a custom 3 player free for all mission of 1-2 heros verses a small group of undead and small group of green skins. Some type of king of the hill mission where points are earned by controlling a specific tile for a turn. Just a little bone for people who might not be able to pledge for the game but not the expansion so they are not getting minis that they have no use for at that point.
Mantic has done a good job keeping the stretch goal pacing such that the campaign unlocks something new about every other day or faster. One thing I would like to see is more clarity of the nature of the card components and the number of scenarios. Looking at some the Mantic's earlier dungeon crawl board games I was sort of disappointed to see like 6 scenarios making a game the sells at like 50-60 dollars. Castle Ravenloft had like 13 for a game that sold often for less than 50 dollars. A listing of the scenarios with a lower limit would be nice to help judge the games contents.
One thing is obvious about this kickstarter is that it is presale for paying for the tooling costs. The core game is clearly past the basic design phase. Looking at the stuff in the box set of the 29 miniatures listed as part of the boxed game only 2 are concept art. The rest are painted prototypes. The recently unlocked dungeon furniture is also painted prototypes which I think were visible over a week ago in one of the promo pieces. But I still think the basic game looks a little light. I would like to see some more monsters in it which have not been seen since just after the first few days of the kickstarter. Not sure if you need more heros or villians (maybe a sorceress or something) but a couple more sets of monsters would be good. Now if you want to keep it well themed the monsters should still be undead or sort of related but they are already selling an add on with KOW undead minis with most of the missing types of undead that come to mind so a little more creativity is needed.
I was thinking on this and had two ideas. One is zombie giant rats. These could be relatively easy to kill but also has a pestilence type attack that keeps hurting heros after the rat is destroyed. Thinking of minis I have in my collection, I have giant rats, I have skeletal war dogs but I have no zombie dire animals. The other idea I had was giant spiders. We know that spiders will ally themselves with certain "necromancers" and really large ones will lair in dark passages being "terrors". Spiders can slip through small spaces you do not expect so they can seem large compared to the squares without being unreasonable. They can also move out of holes in the ceiling not available to heros. This sets up both a monster set and a new villain. It also allows the addition of a web mechanic and counter which can be added to the dungeon to slow down movement in a way different from the locked doors (which should be coming in plastic for the basic game at some point). Additions like this would add some more interesting things to the game play, not diminish the add-on sales and help out the core set value which while I pegged at 65 earlier to make exactly 100 dollars in the core pledge is still light on minis compared to games available at a similar price point. Plus they would throw 2 extras minis in the undead add on to make it more in the basic pledge and the add on option.
The expansion currently listed is in need of its own Hero and Villian. They have already done a fairly good job of covering all the standard D&D style heros with a dwarf fighter, human barbarian, human paladin, elf ranger, halfling thief, human wizards, and human clerics. Leaves mainly assassins and bards but neither of those really jump out for dungeon crawls. The Hero should certainly be a female and I think a half orc would go with the theme of the green skins. A character rejecting the half beastly nature. Maybe a Delver (which is a underground ranger) such that the special abilities would be different from the woodland elf ranger. Obviously the villian also needs to be a greenskin. I would look for an Orc brute of some sort as most of the other villians are probably getting by with magical or special powers.
So here is a nice list of those stretch goals to carry through the next week:
Pestilence Zombie Giant Rats (disease counters)
Giant Spiders (with New Scenario and web counters)
Colossal Spider Villian (With New Scenario and tile)
Plastic Doors (Locked and Warded Varieties)
Half Orc Delver Hero (With New Scenario) (Stretch Goal Alluded to for New Dragonkin Hero 8-19)
Orc/Orge Brute Villain (with New Scenario and tile) (Stretch Goal Added 8-19 no Tile)
Ofcourse this is just wishlisting since Mantic probably already has its won plan and stretch goal map but who knows what is possible.
For disclosure purposes, I have not backed this kickstarter and am currently undecided. I will probably not decide until the final weekend.
Update for Monday: The next goal was revealed as Trolls for the expansion which would leave it with the same number of monsters as the base game but no villians compared to 4 and one hero (who is being used as a sweetener in the base pledge) compared to 7 which does not seem right. They also said something that I do not like about max value for this new troll for the expansion. Since they have not added much to the game play of the base game in a long time and seem to think they are done with the expansion it leads me to believe we will be seeing another expansion soon which I would prefer not to see. Another expansion even if they do the same things and add bonus monsters into the base pledge provides less value to people than additional monsters in the core. Add more to the base game such that it still appears to have a ton of value outside the kickstarter so it will not be a kickstarter only type product that is not available a year from now like so many of these things. They have also organized the add ons to have a section labeled "Expansions"
Ofcourse they could be trying to keep the core game cheap (like 50 dollars) for which I see nothing wrong but given that they put so many heroes in it seem strange. I see now that the dungeon dressing pieces are a bonus item and not part of the core game.
Is it just me of does GW seem to be getting very desperate for sales. They are releasing the Grey Knight Codex and Grey Knight stuff when they have not even finished all the space wolf releases. While there is nothing inherently wrong with releasing new products, seems to me that they are going to run out of good looking minis and tested ideas pretty fast. Some might say after the look of the recent space wolf models that they have already run out. If they run through all the codexes in like 2 years are they going to update the edition again at such a rate. With the remaining players stand for an new edition in 2 or 3 years again. I know all the games out there are being new editioned at a faster rate than ever before but this seems a bit excessive.
Details can be found in the post linked above. I would probably look to quote from GW's own financial reports about how the CEO mocks people who think video games are competition. Highlight how they think there models are exceptional and players want their worlds. I would also highlight the fact the GWs own online store runs anti competitive exclusive limited edition products that sell out very fast. This products force people to shop at their webstore the stores they say they are trying to protect from sales of those products and sales of additional carry on products since the exclusive products are often released at the same time as other new related products which customers will often just buy at the same time for convenience.
Spend some time, do some research and write both heartfelt and data driven. Ask questions about why the products are so expensive compared to the rest of the world. Note that since the retail prices are higher, the trade prices are also probably higher. Ask if GW claims that these higher prices are required due to high costs of business in Australia, then wonder if the GW Australia subgroup is paying the same amount to the parent company for the products as the North American Subgroup. Suggest that if they are not reasonably similar that GW prices are not really reflecting the cost of business difference in Australia but are instead being used to unfairly profit from the already limit sources of their product available to Australia consumers by making GW Australia the sole allowed importer but charging them rates not comparable to other regions.
Will it help, who knows. Can it hurt, probably not as long as people keep the GW rage down.