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Subject: Tomb: Cryptmaster - Too Much or Just Right? rss

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A. B. West
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It's no secret I'm a fan of Tomb. Last year, I found it to be the hidden gem of GenCon and wrote a review extolling its virtue. This year when I heard AEG was going to drop an expansion on us at GenCon 2009, well, I set my sights on it in the vendor hall first thing. It had the same heft and presentation of the original - everything looked and smelled exactly the same. So the brief summary is it essentially doubles the amount of stuff in Tomb: boards, cards, dice, characters - everything. But what does it add?

The title of the game is exactly what it contains: it's all about the crypt master in this expansion - and with that, more interaction between the players in general. In a simple touch, they added new 'RR' and 'LL' marks on crypts to you go *two* to the right or left to find the crypt master for the turn. In a more complex move, they've added new crypt master cards that you can draw in the inn - cards that let you play against the player when you are the crypt master. This is a fantastic addition to the game since you can be quite a bit more harsh if you have the inkling. A great number of the new characters give you special crypt master powers as well. Mercenaries are added as well. This allows fellow players join in on the raid and get some XP if things turn out well. So it's as if everything is designed to get more players involved each turn. The game certainly benefits from this.

The new tomb boards are great. I've now dumped by old Inn board in favor of the on in Cryptmaster - they needed to add a new spot for the crypt master cards, but also it's just laid out better - simply a row of spots to place the stacks. The new tomb has several spots once again giving the crypt master a bump - e.g. when you finish the crypt, the CM gets to take 2 cards. The new tomb boards are great - nice additions.

Another big touch is the inclusion of crypt lords - the baddest monsters in the game. These guys crush most parties and at times, impact all players. You can decide to include one (and only one!) in the game and place them in an agreed upon crypt. We deal one out randomly to the 'hardest' crypt (the one with the most cards). The rules say if you can kill this guy, it's another way to end the game - which is great.

The rulebook is improved, but still a bit lacking. There's no place that explains what a 'DC' is for example. And text on the board and cards leaves something to be desire - e.g. it's still difficult to tell when your party rolls or a single character rolls. These things I'm used to after playing Tomb several times - we just house rule everything that has a question. It plays along fine if folks are accommodating.

Finally, there are just a ton - I mean a metric ton - of new cards. The tomb deck combined with the original Tomb cards give you these huge decks, hundreds and hundreds of cards. New spells, prayers, items and tactics are also all very welcome. Love the new items especially - things like a 10 foot pole (better at skill rolls) and a torch (to increase movement and give you an extra die in combat) which are a smiling nod to old skollz D&D. And the characters - I mean there are just ga-zillions now. Zartoc gets really washed out at this point (he's the duplicate character from the original that when you get more than one in a party, they improve each other) and there's a new character that works well with on other particular character. Anyhow, again, more is just flat out better for me - so all welcome additions.

So with a crap load of cards and characters and boards - I've tried to stuff all of this in a single box, but it just doesn't fit. That's my downside right now. I need to organize it somehow instead of just cramming it all in. It weighs a ton too.

But I gotta say, I love the expansion. It's all that Tomb was with some substantial improvements (I think the crypt master cards and the crypt lords are the biggest boon this time out). I've already got a few plays in and I'm sure to get many more. If you didn't like the original Tomb, this one only adds a bit to the chaos - stuff I certainly like and believe gives you a better, more interactive, experience. I still wouldn't play with more than 4 people just because of the time commitment to finish, but it becomes plausible to do so now since several folks can get involved.

Bottom line: big thumbs up from a fan of the original Tomb.
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Brian Pedersen
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thanks for the review.
I have two questions:

- Are there any problems in mixing the two sets, other than Zartoc and the other guy? The caharcters in the previews seems to be a bit stronger than the original ones. Is that a general increase in stats, or just those few guys?

- Apart from LL and RR markings, what are the differences between the original map and the new ones?

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Brent Keith
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andrak wrote:
thanks for the review.
I have two questions:

- Are there any problems in mixing the two sets, other than Zartoc and the other guy? The characters in the previews seems to be a bit stronger than the original ones. Is that a general increase in stats, or just those few guys?

We specifically played a number of times with the sets mixed together during development, so I personally believe the two work well together. Sure, there are some characters I am less likely to recruit, but even with the base set alone that will always be true. If someone like the Iron Duke, Lady Bhaine, or Slayer pop up in the Inn, there aren't many characters in either set I'll choose in front of them. Both have some top tier characters, as well as mid-tier and lower tier.

That being said, I have a built in bias, and others can speak better about their experiences on how well we succeeded.

Quote:
- Apart from LL and RR markings, what are the differences between the original map and the new ones?

There are two boards. One board (analogous to the green board in the original) is designed for a faster play experience, with a bunch of 1's and 2's for crypt sizes - topped by a single 3 in the middle of the board. The smaller crypts put together with that board's four entrances (centered on each side) encourage parties to get in more quickly, heightening the race aspect of the game. This board was also designed with the PVP arena style of play in mind, particularly with the multiple entrances.

The other side of the board is more similar to the orange/brown side of the original, with some sort of special effect in every crypt, small rooms with special effects of their own, obstacles blocking areas of the board, and an overall more hard-core dungeon crawl feel to it. The main differences between this board and the original "expert" board are the specific layout and the special effects. In general, most of the effects on this board were written with more of an eye for increased player interaction - such as a room which lets you be the cryptmaster regardless of what the actual crypt says, or crypts which create an extra direct interaction between CM and raiding party (such as one stealing characters from the other).
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James Nelli
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So, with two double sided crypt boards now...how many people are just going to play with an inn board and both crypt boards to make a giant dungeon? Thanks for the review...I didn't even know this was out..just knew after playing the original that there were going to have to be expansions
 
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A. B. West
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andrak wrote:
- Are there any problems in mixing the two sets, other than Zartoc and the other guy? The caharcters in the previews seems to be a bit stronger than the original ones. Is that a general increase in stats, or just those few guys?

The two sets mix just fine - I personally enjoy the new found variety. I'm tempted at times to sort out monsters, traps, treasures and (now) curses to get a better mix each game. But for now, I've just piled them all into a single, gargantuan stack of fun.

Quote:
- Apart from LL and RR markings, what are the differences between the original map and the new ones?

The 'expert' side as described has a very different feel in play because there is a 'path' of rooms to travel through - and there's now a magic lantern space that you have to pass through four different tests for each of the four stats. The 'hard' room (5 cards) is in the opposite corner to the entrance. Reminded me of the path to the Crown of Command in Talisman. I like it - nice touch.

Again, if you enjoy Tomb, you'll most definitely enjoy this expansion. It does alot right. If you don't enjoy Tomb, it improves the first game, but doesn't change the fundamentals beyond adding some nice interactions.
 
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Jon Dockter
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We played our first game of Cryptmaster tonight and we got absolutely slaughtered. Almost every single tomb was death. The increase in difficulty compared to the original goes to 11. devil I'm planning on mixing it in with the original to even it out a bit.
 
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Christopher Beck
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For those who want to jump in new to Tomb, would you suggest starting off with Cryptmaster rather than buying the base set?

I also heard that, with the addition of a doom track, you can solo Tomb. How is that possible and is it fun? I have Talisman and Runebound (RB you can solo pretty well, Talisman less so) so will I feel Tomb is "same old, same old?"

I'm somewhat drawn to A Touch of Evil as well, so I'm having trouble deciding... That's what you geeks are for... right? :p
 
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Paul Metal-Head
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baelthazar wrote:
For those who want to jump in new to Tomb, would you suggest starting off with Cryptmaster rather than buying the base set?

I also heard that, with the addition of a doom track, you can solo Tomb. How is that possible and is it fun? I have Talisman and Runebound (RB you can solo pretty well, Talisman less so) so will I feel Tomb is "same old, same old?"

I'm somewhat drawn to A Touch of Evil as well, so I'm having trouble deciding... That's what you geeks are for... right?


id be interested in these being replied too as i play talisman + runebound
 
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A. B. West
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baelthazar wrote:
For those who want to jump in new to Tomb, would you suggest starting off with Cryptmaster rather than buying the base set?

Didn't see this reply, so it's been awhile. I think I would suggest starting with Crypt Master. It basically is Tomb Master done better.

Quote:
I also heard that, with the addition of a doom track, you can solo Tomb. How is that possible and is it fun? I have Talisman and Runebound (RB you can solo pretty well, Talisman less so) so will I feel Tomb is "same old, same old?"

I've soloed Tomb just for fun. It plays fine, but admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of solo games.

Quote:
I'm somewhat drawn to A Touch of Evil as well, so I'm having trouble deciding... That's what you geeks are for... right?

Touch of Evil is much more like Talisman. It does have just a touch of additional mechanics to it, but for me, it played *alot* like Talisman.

Tomb isn't alot like Talisman at all. It feels different for sure - and I actually prefer it. It plays faster than a full game of Talisman. But really, it's a substantially different game.
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Great review!

My experience with original Tomb, 15+ plays.

My experience with Tomb: Cryptmaster 1 play.

So I did pick up Cryptmaster yesterday and played a 3 hour game with my brother. It took 3 hours because I had to sometimes sift through the rulebook as a memory refresher.

I'm going to add a few things to the original poster's review. The Inn cards have improved vastly in Cryptmaster compared to original Tomb. The spell cards have so many Battle spells made for inflicting damage with few Turn or/and Turn/Battle spell cards. I think this improvement is great since the original Tomb contained about equal portions of Battle and Turn cards, with few Turn/Battle spell cards. There are also VERY powerful crowd control (CC) spells in this deck as well.

Tactic cards have GREATLY improved...It seemed these cards make movement more easier around the tomb than original tactics cards, example: React: Place your character at the door step of a crypt immediately after completing a raid! I actually ended up winning last night's game against my brother because of 2 Tactics cards. Tactics cards in the newer version seem to get you "free" XP, example: Turn: Look through the discard pile and take a card with XP and bank it. Discard this card. This tactic card granted me 10XP in a turn while sitting in the inn. Game winner card for my case last night.

Prayer cards not sure...but my brother drew a few prayer cards that were very good damage redirection and these went will with his wizard's crowd control spells. the prayer and spell cards in Cryptmaster seemed to work off one another quite well in this case, as well as other cases.

*Update: Played another game of Cryptmaster, and my same observations here haven't changed.
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Mark Prime
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adamw wrote:
There's no place that explains what a 'DC' is for example.

I'm interested in clarification of how 'DC' differs from 'TN' (Target Number). I see it on several cards in T:C. I don't have the original Tomb, but since the OP does and also doesn't know what it means, I'm guessing it was overlooked.
 
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Brent Keith
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The main difference is "TN" is the correct nomenclature, and "DC" snuck in due to a bit too much D&D in our recent past. All instances of "DC" were supposed to be "TN".
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Mark Prime
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AEGBrent wrote:
The main difference is "TN" is the correct nomenclature, and "DC" snuck in due to a bit too much D&D in our recent past. All instances of "DC" were supposed to be "TN".

I see. Thank you for the info!
 
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