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Subject: Solo Campaign Finished - My Review rss

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Ben Evans
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Well, I've finally made it through a campaign and here's what I have to say about it:

Legacy of Dragonholt takes the framework of a choose your own adventure book and turns it into an RPG-Lite experience by giving you a customizable character, and keeping track of your endeavours in an adapting and changing world.

I rate the game 9/10. It was a great experience, I'm left feeling a little hollow at the end like I often do at the end of a good book. I almost want to keep writing my character's story as I grew so attached to them throughout the adventure.

I played solo and I think this is the optimum way to enjoy the game. I could see it being good with about 3 people, especially if you want to ham up player interaction. With 6 (the games maximum player count) you'd have a lot of downtime and I could see it getting a bit chaotic - it would really depend on the group. It took me about 12 hours solo but I tried to savor the experience.

I enjoyed the writing. In particular I found the quests exhilarating, and exciting. I was able to play 4 of the 6 quests. I found the bits in the town fun for the first four days but then they could drag on later in the game, especially if you were just trying to find an open establishment.

The extra components that came in the box (map/journal/letter etc.) added to my tactile experience. The box art, graphic design and booklet covers were all well done. The cards were excellent. FFG also didn't overdo it, they didn't pad the box out with a bunch of tokens and cards that didn't need to be there.

I was initially a bit disappointed having pre-ordered this game and finding out it didn't come with any dice. The action resolution system instead is a like a COYA, but where certain (presumably better) options get unlocked if you have a relevant skill. This allows each action to have a specific and resonant description of it's result, rather than just marking off the result from a stat sheet or something similar like you get in the fighting fantasy books. It also let the designer put other things neatly into the action resolution, like advancing time or marking story effects. Having played it I now think it was an excellent choice and added to the game experience. I found the action selection tense and dramatic.

There have been some comments elsewhere in this forum about the game including progressive characters and relationships, to the point that it's man bashing or pushing an agenda. I didn't feel like the game had an agenda, and I didn't find the role of the female characters to be incredulous (especially in the context of a world with magic and dragons). My game ended with one of the male NPC's having had a very satisfying arc, and it may be that some people's story choices didn't allow this to occur. You can control your own character so you can be as macho or tender as you want. There's a lot of skipable activity in the story as well. The quests in particular were fairly action oriented and there wasn't any mention of social issues getting in the way of the flow.

I'm intending to play the game again at least once, with a different character.

I have a few criticisms of the game.

-Given how exciting the quests were and how much of the game content they represent I wish that there were more of them, and that they were easier to find but you had to pick between two options. If you could be guaranteed to have a couple of different quests on a subsequent playthrough it would really help replayability.

-The price point might be a little high for the contents of the game. For me it represented value and I'm glad I paid for the experience, but it's easy to see why people think it's a bit on the high side when for an extra $30 at cool stuff you can get Black Plague (I don't think black plague is better than this game - I'm just comparing box contents).

-The game could have had more illustrations. Some monochrome pen and ink drawings in the books done in the same style as the item cards would
have been nice.

-The tactile pieces were really fun, and I wish there could have been more puzzles based on these objects.

Final Thoughts

For a long time I've wanted a classic D&Desque, high fantasy board game experience that I could play solo, or with a group. When I was about 10 I found the legendary D&D red box with the Larry Elmore cover art in a cupboard in the back of a daycare facility, and my love of fantasy and gaming was born. It had a short solo player experience and I've always wanted to capture a longer version of that. I'd tried dungeoncrawlers and the like but something was always missing.

Legacy of Dragonholt finally captured this elusive experience I'd been craving. It's the high fantasy adventure game I've always wanted to own. Now it's not a deep mechanical game, or a weighty stat driven dice chucker, but it's a classic adventure you can enjoy on your own or with a group. It's streamlined, personalized, and fun. It's accessible enough to play with a family, engaging on your own, or a great framework for group shenanigans with friends. I love knowing it's sitting on my shelf now in it's beautiful box with it's tasteful graphic design and writing, just waiting for me to open it up and play it again. I'm looking forward to loaning it out to like minded friends and tackling it as a group experience.

I love this game. Nikki Valens is now my favourite designer. I can't wait to see more work from her. I hope FFG picks up this Oracle system and runs with it because I want more, not just on Terrinoth but in all their worlds .

I found this to be a captivating, inspiring experience. In an age of app integration and swollen miniatures games - this streamlined, classic adventure is actually a bit special.
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Tony Graham
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I am completely wrapped up in this game. About three hours in and I finally have my first quest out of the village book. I agree with a lot of your points. I also havent see any political or social agendas yet, everything makes sense so far seeing how it is a FANTASY world. I think the only point I disagree on is more art. Without the book showing me the NPCs or locations, I get to create the entire world in my head without preconceived ideas.

I have been looking for a solo D&D RPG for a while and this is really filling that void. I really hope they expand this story as well as take the system to new settings and IPs.
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WD Yoga
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Thanks for the review. A couple of questions if you don't mind:

1. How is the replay value?

2. How different each class/race/skill combination play?

3. Is there any save mechanic if players want to stop their session mid game?
 
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Derrick Wildstar
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Cor6 wrote:
I hope FFG picks up this Oracle system and runs with it because I want more, not just on Terrinoth but in all their worlds .

I found this to be a captivating, inspiring experience. In an age of app integration and swollen miniatures games - this streamlined, classic adventure is actually a bit special.


I so agree with these statements!!!

Thanks for the great review!
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Sean D.
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The more reviews I read, positive and negative - the more I desire this game. I read 100's of CYOA type of books back in the day and have an overwhelming good feeling of nostalgia towards them. They are really what got me into reading books period. If this game really is like a modern reinvention of the old CYOA books then I'm sold on it now. The group option is especially intriguing to me as my wife doesn't like learning all the rules of a D&D type of RPG but likes the story aspect. This is something we could play without having to commit to a large time block as well.

Thanks for your review!
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Ben Evans
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Esvath wrote:
Thanks for the review. A couple of questions if you don't mind:

1. How is the replay value?

2. How different each class/race/skill combination play?

3. Is there any save mechanic if players want to stop their session mid game?


Hi Esvath,

1. I believe you could get a second run through without too much difficulty of you set your character up differently and Make some different choices. If you're playing in different groups it would help to as a part of the value is the characters you create. I would want a big gap (maybe 6-12 months) before my third play.

2.Other than a couple racially dependent action choices, the races and classes just form a framework for selecting skills, you could have two fairly different catfolk Knights for instance. Different skills could mean the difference between succeeding and failing a quest. The more important thing is establishing your characters personality as this would change a lot of the ways you would solve problems "in character"

3. All you would need to do during a session is write down the entry you are currently on, and you could come back at any point, as all other info is tracked.

Thanks!
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Ben Evans
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JavaGammer wrote:
Without the book showing me the NPCs or locations, I get to create the entire world in my head without preconceived ideas.


This is a great point and I'm probably a bit biased as am avid illustration fan
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Deschain Delgado
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Thanks so much for such an informative review. I am extremely excited to pick this up. Sounds perfect for me.
I also hope I will be able to get my wife to play this with me. She's not much of a gamer, but loves stories and characters, so if character creation is easy enough and intriguing enough, then this could make for a lot of fun over Christmas.
 
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Jason Brown
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Derrick Wildstar wrote:
Cor6 wrote:
I hope FFG picks up this Oracle system and runs with it because I want more, not just on Terrinoth but in all their worlds .

I found this to be a captivating, inspiring experience. In an age of app integration and swollen miniatures games - this streamlined, classic adventure is actually a bit special.


I so agree with these statements!!!

Thanks for the great review!

FFG's product code for this is ORA01, so it bodes well for the future of the Oracle system!
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Tony Graham
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Cor6 wrote:
JavaGammer wrote:
Without the book showing me the NPCs or locations, I get to create the entire world in my head without preconceived ideas.


This is a great point and I'm probably a bit biased as am avid illustration fan


Oh, maybe an art companion book would have been cool.
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Elijah
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Thank you for the review! I’d like to pick this up and you’ve helped push me further.
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J. Chris Miller
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Was a bit on the fence. As a solo gamer, this sounds right up my alley.
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Ren
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Thanks for the review. I had concerns mostly about replayability and the quality of writing, but from yours and other reviews I'm feeling positive.

Cor6 wrote:
I found the bits in the town fun for the first four days but then they could drag on later in the game, especially if you were just trying to find an open establishment.

Could you elaborate on this? Does it drag because you're seeing paragraphs/npcs/dialogues you saw earlier, or is it because you were focused on a main quest and were finding only side quests, or...? (Sorry if this is a daft question, I've been trying to avoid spoilers so I'm not 100% sure how the village book works.)
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mathew rynich
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Hector131 wrote:
The more reviews I read, positive and negative - the more I desire this game. I read 100's of CYOA type of books back in the day and have an overwhelming good feeling of nostalgia towards them. They are really what got me into reading books period. If this game really is like a modern reinvention of the old CYOA books then I'm sold on it now. The group option is especially intriguing to me as my wife doesn't like learning all the rules of a D&D type of RPG but likes the story aspect. This is something we could play without having to commit to a large time block as well.

Thanks for your review!


It's all those things. It's definitely a well produced and updated CYOA system. It's definitely not a rules heavy experience. In fact after you read a couple pages of the rules it tell you to stop and start playing because it has an "explain as you go" format to the first quest (and there really isn't that much to learn anyway). It definitely isn't a big time investment to play. You can pretty much mark where you left off and stop at any time.
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Jonas Gustafsson

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Would it be possible for Oracle to support negative traits such as vices?
 
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Tony Graham
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Frostmarrow wrote:
Would it be possible for Oracle to support negative traits such as vices?


Very easy. Something along the lines, you cant do this if you have this vice or this auto happens if you have this vice, or this option is only available (something normally deemed negative) if you have this vice.
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John Greek
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I´d love to see FFG use this system with the Tannhauser universe
 
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Sean D.
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SO everyone here needs to buy this game so that FFG does more right?
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Ben Evans
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Frostmarrow wrote:
Would it be possible for Oracle to support negative traits such as vices?


Hey Jonas, it definitely would, although this game doesn't. I could imagine an option that's forced unless you spend stamina or another resource to avoid it if you have that vice. It could work for traits you acquire in the game as well, like curses, serious wounds or addictions.

I'm not sure if this is the path the designer would want to go down as it could be seen as depriving the players of choice, but I could imagine it in say, the fallout world if you become irradiated or addicted or in the Arkham Horror files is you see one too many naked star spawn.
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Ben Evans
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zabalaj wrote:
I´d love to see FFG use this system with the Tannhauser universe


You've got my vote for chancellor of the European Reich
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Ben Evans
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Hector131 wrote:
SO everyone here needs to buy this game so that FFG does more right?


If not some budding game designer needs to do a similar system as a print and play
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Sean D.
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Cor6 wrote:
Hector131 wrote:
SO everyone here needs to buy this game so that FFG does more right?


If not some budding game designer needs to do a similar system as a print and play


That too. Bring back the CYOA games in a newer more refined format.
 
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Kelly Overholser
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Cor6 wrote:
Frostmarrow wrote:
Would it be possible for Oracle to support negative traits such as vices?


Hey Jonas, it definitely would, although this game doesn't. I could imagine an option that's forced unless you spend stamina or another resource to avoid it if you have that vice. It could work for traits you acquire in the game as well, like curses, serious wounds or addictions.

I'm not sure if this is the path the designer would want to go down as it could be seen as depriving the players of choice, but I could imagine it in say, the fallout world if you become irradiated or addicted or in the Arkham Horror files is you see one too many naked star spawn.


It may not fit in the high fantasy world presented here, but I don't think it would be "limiting" at all to have negative traits. It would probably be bad if a lot of options say "Oh, if you have a gambling addiction, you must choose option B", but if it was something like "You can't choose option C if you have a gambling addiction" (when there's two other choices that you'd still be able to pick from) or "You must spend a stamina to pick C if you have a gambling addiction", it would still be pretty open. Mechanically, it would pretty much work like having skills, only the "best choice" is locked off if you do have a certain trait, instead of being locked off unless you have a certain trait.

I would say that negative things like this should be optional, though. Maybe like "You get 2 stamina/an extra skill if you take a vice" instead of "Everyone must pick a vice". (Though again, that may depend on theme; something in Arkham would probably be pretty well suited to requiring everyone to take a madness condition.)
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Kevin B. Smith
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Mejis wrote:
I also hope I will be able to get my wife to play this with me. She's not much of a gamer, but loves stories and characters, so if character creation is easy enough and intriguing enough, then this could make for a lot of fun over Christmas.

My wife and I are 3 hours in (3 one-hour sessions), and we are about to embark on our first major quest. Creating our characters took us about an hour, so that was our entire first session. My wife has never played an RPG, so she had to wrap her mind around the idea of creating a backstory...which would be irrelevant mechanically but would add to the gaming experience. She ended up getting into it, and running out of room on her sheet. If we were going to create new characters, it would probably take 15-30 minutes, of which 80% of the time would be writing free-form text, and the rest choosing race/class/skills.

While playing the game, there is a lot of text and story. Comparable to Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, if you have played that. It's perhaps slightly more text than my wife would prefer (she's more of an action-oriented person), but she seems to be enjoying it so far.

Based on your one-sentence description of your wife, I would guess she would enjoy this quite a bit.
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Ben Evans
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To all the people playing with their spouses/partners, it would be great to get a couples review at some point
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