Simon Lundström
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A faithful adventure in the World of Warcraft

Introduction
Let me with my first breath say that I am a nut for this kind of games. Let me with my second breath say that that is also the reason why I am so picky with them. I have this idea, this vision of The Perfect Adventure Game, and although I haven't been able to concretisize this vision, all adventure games I play are compared to this elusive concept.

I also am, or was, a rather energetic World of Warcraft player, for about one year. For those it may concern I wasn't a raider, and I always frowned at the race for epics, despite the fact that it almost bit me too. I was there for the exploring part, the adventurous part and the roleplaying part. Once I reached 70, I logged off and haven't returned since. I'll buy the second expansion when it comes out, live the game to level 80 and log off once more. I'm that type of player.

I bought (or, to be specific, recieved as a gift) World of Warcraft the Board Game and was amazed beyond description over how that game had managed to fulfil one part of the vision so well: The idea of levelling and customizing your character. In most adventure games, this is done rather crudely, basically only increasing one of the fighting stats, which you will have to compare to a die roll or something. The ability to customize your character is usually non-existant and the items you can find are usually very general and not very varying. WoW:tbg did this levelling thing so well I was blown away. Sadly, though, I was very disappointed with the core gameplay, as it didn't contain any (or very few) surprises. All monsters were already placed on the map, your mission was basically to go there and slay them. The moment you slayed some monsters, some others popped up on the other side of the map, so you always had a five-some to kill, and the idea was to kill and level as time-effectively as possible. Which was, in my eyes, a very boring way to put this amazing level system to use. Bluntly spoken, it wasn't an adventure game. No one had said it should be, and it probably wasn't intended to be either. It was just me that had hoped for one, as that was how I played the online game. I wanted more intricate places to go to, I wanted adventure. I wanted surprises. Shortly, I wanted to draw cards.

So it was with great anticipation that I bought World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game (Wow:Tag). From the title I expected to get to draw a lot of cards. And I wanted more stuff to happen than jut a generic mob grind.

I got what I asked for. I got to draw a lot of cards. Really a lot. Very many a lot. And I get surprises. And on the whole, I am very pleased. There are a lot of – for me – strange things going on in this game, that I find weird at first but rather smart when I think twice. Something does seem to be missing, though. But let me elaborate.

Components
What you get in the box is a game board, 4 plastic minis, a set of character cards for each of the 4 characters, a deck of quest cards and a rather large number of double-sided encounter cards. Most of these encounter cards have a foe on one of the sides, the other depicting the treasure you get if you defeat the foe. The game board is actually a map – to be precise it's a map of the continent Eastern Kingdoms, from Undercity in the north to Booty Bay in the south. But it doesn't look like a map, really. It looks more like… a game board! Several "main locations" are large circles, and they're inter-connected by "corridors", that are divided up into spaces. Personally, I'd have preferred if the designer had emphasized the map-look a bit more, but it's functional enough.

The rule book is well made. I guess. I have this kind of my own way of sorting rules and stuff, and even during first test-play there were some things that popped up that I would have liked to have specified… but generally, I guess it's a good rule book.

All in all, the components are, as usual from Fantasy Flight Games, nop notch. Some might say "What? Not a zillion plastic minis?". Don't worry. You don't need them.

Brief game overview
Travelling across the board
The goal of the game is to collect 8 Valour points. This is done by completing quests. Quests are drawn at the start of the game and during the game, and can be anything like "defeat a number of foes of this sort" to "Get killed in battle against another player" or "Go to place A and then place B and then go back to Stormwind". Most quests are worth about 1 or 2 points each. There are 4 characters to choose from, each of a different class (Warrior, Hunter, Warlock and Mage).

This game is one of those that are simple and yet takes some time to get flow into. Basically, on your turn, you roll the die, move up to that number of spaces (yep, it's a roll-and-move!), "use" the space you land on and then draw an encounter card to see what kind of whatever happens to you. This "using the space" is rather weird: Each space (or most of them) have some symbols attached, like a red potion or a scroll or something. Once you land on a space you have to use one of these symbols. Some of them only affect you; the potion heals 1 hit point and the scroll lets you draw a card from your ability deck. Some others, though, lets you place a "surprise" on the board in the shape of a little counter. You get to look at the surprise before placing it anywhere on the board, so you can place it in your own way if it's something good (like gold, or a useful item), and place it in your opponent's way if it's something bad (like a sickness, an extra monster or whatever). This adds to the interaction, but on the other hand it also makes a big portion of the game unplayable if you play solo. Other symbols include using a flight path (teleport over the board) and replace a quest you have.

So, actually you interact twice with the space you land on: First, you use one of the symbols attached to the space. Then you draw an encounter card. Most encounter cards are enemies that have to be defeated, but some of them are events. Some events affect only one space on the board (like: "Place this card on Light's Hope Chapel. The first character to get here draws an item of his level or lower" or whatever). Some other events are global, and affect all players until the next global event is drawn.

As said, the game board is basically a number of "key locations" (Dalaran, Tower of Azora, Booty Bay) that are inter-connected by "corridors" divided into spaces. Now, the whole board isn't accessible to begin with. All locations and "corridors" are colour-coded. At first, you can only walk on the gray areas. Once you've reached "green level", you may enter the green areas. And once you reach yellow level, you may enter the yellow areas. Well, you get the picture.

What does feel a bit weird at first is that you don't level up by collecting experience points by defeating generic foes. You level up by defeating a set encounter printed on the board. Like, Van Cleef in the Deadmines. That's a green space, and if you defeat him, you level into Yellow and gain access to the yellow areas on the board. What also feels a bit weird is that gaining access to new areas is basically all that happens when you level. Sure, your hit points do increase a little, and sure, some of your ability cards get extra bonuses if you've reached a certain level, but generally, the main gain of increasing a level is that you can go to more dangerous places. Feels weird at first, but it's natural: Most quests apart from the starting quests involve stuff that are in the yellow or red areas. And also, in the red areas are dangerous bosses that earn you fair amounts of Valor Points if you defeat them.

Combat and ability cards
As for combat, at a glance it's very simple: Roll a standard d6, add your Attack value. If you reach or exceed your enemy's Defence value, you kill him. All enemies have 1 hit point, so if you hit them, you kill them, and get the loot. Enemy does the same of course, but as a player you have more than 1 hit point, and most enemies do only 1 in damage, at least at the start. So you're unlikely to be killed, and even if it happens, you respawn pretty nicely.

However, this is where each character's deck of ability cards comes into the picture. Each player has a twenty-some number of special ability cards (see it as 'spells'). You start by drawing 3 of these, and on some spaces you have the symbol "draw another ability card" that you can use to get new cards. And you get to draw cards when you level your character, so eventually you may sit with a fair number of these cards on your hand. Each card costs a number or mana to play, and the number of mana you have at your disposal is decided by the movement die that you rolled to see how many spaces you could move. Naturally, the faster you move, the less mana at your disposal.

Most of the cards are combat-related, spells you can cast to increase your attack value, or your defence value, or spells that affect the battle in whatever way. But there are other spells, some that affect your movement, some that are direct interaction with other players, shortly, about anything goes. Some of them are really imaginative. Also, most cards have a "bonus effect" if you've reached a certain level. Like, an attack spell might add 1 to your attack. But, if you're yellow level, you it adds 2 to attack instead. Or something like that.

For most combats, these cards are played in combination to strengthen your character in whatever way, so combats aren't just "roll the die". Usually, it's some sort of "think of how you're suppose to tackle this encounter with cards, then play some and calculate some and THEN roll the dice". Also, if both combatants attack with the same attack type (ranged or close combat) damage is done simultaneously. Otherwise, the ranged combat does damage first. So basically, after playing cards, you conclude that "if I roll 3 or more, I kill him. If he rolls 4 or more, he does damage to me, but as I attack with ranged, and he with melee, he won't do damage to me if I hit him." and then roll both dice at the same time.

And also, some enemies have special abilities that are triggered by special die rolls. The most typical is that the foe does more damage or gets more in defence if he rolls a 6 or whatever. Some of your items might have special effects too. Which leads us too:

Items and loot
What items you get, and how they affect your character is a rather important part in games like this (at least I think so…). In WoW:tbg it was incredibly well done. In WoW:tag it's naturally more simple. Basically, the only stuff you can get is weapons (affects your Attack value) and armour (affects your Defence value). When you defeat an encounter, you turn the card over and the item is yours. Mostly, you'll find an item you're not allowed to use, because you're the mage and you can't use swords, but they've thought of that. All items have a secondary use as a potion; either a healing potion (heals 1 HP), a mana potion (lower mana cost of a card with 1) or a swiftness potion (makes you more 1 space more).

As the combat system is just one attack value and one defence value, items can't be that diversified, but they've addressed that by letting most items have some special effect that is triggered if you roll a 6 on the combat die or something.

And that's about it. You roll, move, use a symbol on the space you land on, draw an encounter card, combat whatever is there, and then it's next person's go. Until someone has collected 8 Valour points and is declared the winner.

Verdict
As I said in the beginning, I'm rather picky with these games. And I will start my verdict with saying that WoW:tag made be feel a bit like "what the f?" at first. Everything felt bland and strange. What's this idea about colour coded areas? Feels confined. What's this with set encounters to increase level? And the only thing that happens when you level is that you can go to more dangerous places? You don't get much stronger? How the heck are you supposed to survive in these more dangerous places, then?

But after a while and some playing, gradually it started to fit: They are pretty good ideas, all of them.

First of all, the quests have you travel around the board quite a bit. Due to the half-abstract look of the game board, the travelling aspect is not as obvious as, say, Return of the Heroes (which I might add is one of my favourite adventure games) but once you get in the mood, it works. It's like "I have to get to the Deadmines… all my encounters close to there count towards this quest…".

And in order to complete these quests, you need to reach the areas in question. So you need to level. And once in the game, the fact that you can't level by "grinding", meaning just standing in one place defeating random enemies, is rather good. You have to go places. There are several "levelling" places to choose from, so it's not that bad. And come to think of it, the feeling of being confined to areas of your level is pretty close to the feeling of the online game.

Also, that levelling alone doesn't get your stronger is also rather good. Levelling does give you some more hit points, and it does give some extra whomp to some of your spells, but what you need to really get stronger is the items in the more dangerous areas. That's where you'll find the armours with Defence Value 9 and the weapons with Attack Value 5. I found it a nice balance: doing some generic grinding of encounters, and visiting some "draw a card" spaces to get ahold of some items/spells to be able to defeat the levelling encounter, so you can enter the more dangerous areas and rince and repeat. Works. Works pretty good.

The idea of the double-sided cards felt awkward at first, but I got used to it. You have to draw the encounters from the bottom of the pile so you can't see what's coming, which is a bit of a hazzle. However, it nicely combines the fact that all special unique foes have a set treasure that they drop, and still having all these items in a pile for themselves. Sometimes an effect calls for you to "draw an item". So you just draw an encounter and look at the back side. Having both encounter info and item info on the same side would look silly once the items are in your pack.

And the items and encounters is also much of the WoW flavour in the game. As an old WoW player, it IS fun getting the Illusionary Rod when you defeat Doan. I can't say otherwise. The items aren't as intricate as in WoW:tbg, but on the other hand, unlike WoW:tbg, there are a lot of unique foes you recognize from the online game and they drop the loot you remember. Which is fun. And which, on the other hand, does shut out those not familiar with the online game.

True, at first it feels weird that Doan is a random encounter in any yellow area, but what the heck… he drops the Illusionary Rod. That's all I need. The WoW feeling is there. It really is. For good and bad.

About the "customizing your character"… well, to be honest it's not much of it there. Levelling is a set levelling, the items are mostly just one value (Attack or Defence). There is none of the talent-choosing or spell equipping or intricate die effect of items that there is in WoW:tbg. But in some way, the ability deck makes up for this. Sure, it's a bit arbitrary what cards you draw and sometimes you sit there with shit cards and wonder when the heck you'll be allowed to fire your Shadow Bolt but… strangely enough it works. Having few cards does feel like "Whoops, I'm a bit tired and out of mana or something…". It's not much customization, but these cards allow you to do interesting stuff with your character. It's not just roll the same old dice no matter what character you are. Sure, you don't have maximum control over your character, but if you're short on cards… just go to a space where you draw more. When you think of it, it changes your arsenal for every fight. Which is varying and thus fun.

The only place where I can soundly say I miss something is the items and the look of the game board. I'd really have liked if the game board looked even more like a map of the Eastern Kingdoms, but maybe that's just me. And I would have liked something more varying for items, than just some special effect that triggers with a special die result. But I can't say how they could have made that more intricate without dragging the whole game down, so… I guess I can't complain there either. It's probably as goos as it gets.

So, what about the Main Problems: down time, interaction and "this game lasts forever!"?
Everyone who has played or even heard of Talisman knows about the sessions lasting forever, mainly because no one cares to go for the win. Winning in Talisman is a very very boring affair. Instead of going around and drawing fun encounter cards, you get to roll one die during your turn, and it's 50% that nothing happens. And to reach that position, you have to go through a series of rather un-inspiring spaces that are very far from fun card-drawing too. Face it, it's much more fun levelling your character even more, right? Right.

Now, WoW:tag could technically suffer from this too. Not that it's a boring affair to win, it's more of an anti-climax: Suddenly someone just reached 8 points and won. And you're left with this "But… but I wanted to level some more!" kind of feeling. It's also very possible to play this game forever, as collecting Valour Points is something you do beside levelling and grinding. You could just ignore all quests and just wander around forever if you wanted too. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think it's a good sign for games like this that it's fun to level and find new loot. But winning in WoW:tag doesn't have to be boring. It's rather typical that someone wins by killing one of the super-bosses that earn you 4 points. And if you're really there for the levelling… well, just raise the goal to 10 points.

Runebound and Return of the Heroes are often accused for being multi-player solitaire and lacking all kinds of player interaction. This, I can directly say, is not the case with WoW:tag. I'll go so far as to say that FFG probably put extra effort into the game not being so. First of all you have the surprise-placing mechanism, several quests involve defeating other players and a surprising amount of the spells for each characters are mostly only useful against other players. But although I had some stuff in my arsenal to slow my opponents down, I still got the same feeling of "just a race" like in Return of the Heroes. But I don't mind. I mean, I don't really care if there is no interaction in games like these. In games like this, the adventure is the important parts, and my opponents' adventures are as much a part of the overall feeling as the cards that I draw myself.

One thing I have to note, though, that was a bit the issue with WoW:tbg too, is the downside of the character-unique deck of cards. The first time you play, if you're not familiar with the full deck of your opponents, you have quite a hard time keeping track of what exactly they are doing during their spell-casting. It's one thing if you play a game where the Elf has as a special ability to find his way in the woods, but in WoW:tag, if you haven't ever played the Warlock, you do get a bit "Huh? Say again?" when the warlock excitedly goes: "So I use this Master Summoner card to summon my Void Walker, I do a life-tap to sacrifice him and draw two new cards, AND a third because of this global event, and then I use the other two mana I have to put this spell and this spell, so I have a Range 3 in Attack, but I have the Yellow level bonus on this card so it's a Ranged 4 and my Defence is 6 unless I roll a 6, in which case it's increased by 1 AND I get to draw a new card PLUS another card due to the global event and…"

Which brings us to this game's possibly largest inherent problem: downtime. One of my favourite things with Return of the Heroes is that if your turn takes more than 20 seconds, you're doing something horribly wrong. In WoW:tag, at least the first game, you're fiddling with cards and weighing choices and if you're 4 players, sometimes you might be a good 10 minutes between turns. And that's a long wait. Now, the interaction levels this a bit, but it's still worth mentioning that this game is one of those where you need to make an effort to be quick. I won't say the game's overall time is extremely long (knowing all the rules, you'll probably be done and all with a 4-player game in 3 hours, although I might be misjudging) but waiting between turns is never fun. Downtime is truly an issue in this game unless you take care. The card drawing also makes it hard to fully plan a move in advance.

So, generally, most feelings of "what the…?" that I had from the beginning faded into "aha… I get it" as time went by. But one feeling that was there from the beginning and that I could never shake was the feeling of something missing. Yes, partly the items but… no, it was something more. Definitely. And usually, once you realise, it's simple. And this time, it was crazily obvious: Where the heck are the other classes?

Now don't take me wrong. I don't care if there are only 4 characters in a standard fantasy game. Usually, that's all the variation you need. But the complexity of this game rhymes badly with having only 4 classes. Having a whole ability deck for each class is varied enough to represent every class from the online game and a lot more even so. I won't say the game feels incomplete, but I can't really find a game-mechanical reason not to have all 9 classes of the online game represented in this board game version. And I like druids.

And honestly, although the colour-coding was nice, and although there is a reason to keep players close to each other… I'd like to have a map over Kalimdor (the other continent) too. I mean geez, that's where I played the online game. I was a tauren!

Both extra map and the rest of the classes coming in an expansion? I won't object. I payed 350SEK ($60) for this game but in my end of the world, that's pretty cheap so I can stand the fact that I have to dish out some more to get more of the stuff. Because I like this game, I really do. I still have some deals to work out with the game, some diffuse parts that I'm not really comfortable with yet, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that this probably is precisely what I was looking for in a board game version of World of Warcraft (apart from the game board design). I haven't dived head-down into Runebound, but from what I've seen from it, it's fairly similar and the two games probably share a lot of pros and cons. However, I can't shake the feeling that WoW:tag has kept just so much touch from the online game that it's on the "mostly for WoW:ers" side of the fence. For an adventure game, that I usually pull out for a "light" game session, it's rather complex. It's not the adventure game I'd pull out to a non-WoW:er,

I guess you could say that this isn't really an adventure game with a WoW setting, but a WoW game in an adventure game style. Which, also, is precisely what the game title says. So in that aspect, it's very faithful.
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Sean
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I don't want happiness by halves, nor is half of sorrow what I want. Yet there's a pillow I would share, where gently pressed against a cheek like a helpless star, a falling star, a ring glimmers on the finger of a hand.
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Great review Simon
 
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Tommy Dean
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MrSkeletor wrote:
...but I just have to say - 10 minutes between turns?!?! What the?


If I read the OP correctly it appears to be saying that is 10 minutes before it is your turn AGAIN in a 4p game. That is 3 minute turns by my math...and not as bad But it HAS to be better than the 10 minutes a turn WoW:tBg had! How many times can a guy listen as someone counts out their dice pool AGAIN!!!

Nice review sir...as a Non-WoW player I will sit patiently on this title til more news is in...but as an Adventure game fan I am already tempted
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ozjesting wrote:
MrSkeletor wrote:
...but I just have to say - 10 minutes between turns?!?! What the?


If I read the OP correctly it appears to be saying that is 10 minutes before it is your turn AGAIN in a 4p game. That is 3 minute turns by my math...and not as bad But it HAS to be better than the 10 minutes a turn WoW:tBg had! How many times can a guy listen as someone counts out their dice pool AGAIN!!!

Nice review sir...as a Non-WoW player I will sit patiently on this title til more news is in...but as an Adventure game fan I am already tempted


I agree. I've been tempted by this, but as a non-WoW player, I'm still not quite convinced.

The designers claim that turns take about 1 minute each, and the game 90 mins as a whole. Now I know FF games are not renowned for the accuracy of their playtime estimates, but is part of the length due to the number of unfamiliar options, and therefore do you think it will improve as you get more familiar with the game?

Very nice review, as always.
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Philipp Kleinherne
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Thank you Simon for your thorough review! I was considering writing my own but I am intimidated by the quality of yours. Besides gameplaywise I would not being able to contibute much more information. Therefore I confine myself to commenting on your review:

I share your feelings about the gameboard. I would have prefered as much a 'map-look' too as I would have liked more characters. On the other hand I was able to buy it for the reasonable price of 19,60 Euro = about 31 $ (Simon, you still use those SEK (and not the Euro)in Sweden I used to pay for my copy of 'Junta' 15 years ago in the 'Tradition' in Goeteborg? ), so not much reason to complain about just four characters. But more diversity in these kind of games always means more replayability, so I would really appreciate expansions.
Considering the down- and playing time I agree with Mr. Skeletor. We never reached your ten minutes - not even during our first game. If I had 3:20 min for my turn I could easily have finished my turn, fetched another bottle out of the fridge and visited the toilette. So to my mind even two minutes per player-turn seems to me a very high estimation. I'd think one minute is quite accurate if you play with players who already know it. Even our first four-player-game was finished in 100 min and we took our time and reread some rules. The game plays enjoyably fast and we did not notice much downtime (in contrast to WoW: TBG and Runebound with more than four players).
Additionally there is much more player-interaction than in Runebound or WoW: TBG which eleminates the multiplayer-solitaire-feeling and is a good thing in my book (sometimes it is just to much fun to screw another player ).
Being a WoW-online-player is a nice bonus and adds the personal enjoyment of the game but is in no way necessary to enjoy the game in my opinion.
So all in all I am quite satisfied with the game.
 
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Simon Lundström
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bigfluffylemon wrote:
but is part of the length due to the number of unfamiliar options, and therefore do you think it will improve as you get more familiar with the game?

I think it's very much a part of the number of unfamiliar options, and that it will improve a lot as you get used to the cards. I might have misjudged, but during the first sessions there was a lot of "Hmm…? Let's see…" and a lot of "and then I play this… and this… and this…" so we had several turns taking 3 minutes. Also, I'm still quite unused to combined card play, so perhaps I took unnecessarily long time. Once you get the hang of it, I think it's a lot quicker.

I'd like to add one thing that struck me while playing the game, and that was the fact that foes always have one hit point. I found I was rather disappointed with this, and felt it was an unnecessary simplification. The fact that players do more damage with better stuff is only meaningful against other players.

Why not allow foes to have more than 1 hit point? Either you can fight till the death in the same round, or you can fight one combat round per round. I'd like this especially for the big bosses.

Also, it struck me that varying the items by varying the special effect more is perfectly doable. Perhaps something to await for a future expansion.

All in all, I get more excited about this game the more time goes by. That a lot of the enjoyment of the game is invisible for non-WoW:ers, however, is probably rather inevitable. That said, the rest of he enjoyment is probably enough to validate a buy.

And I'd love a map over Kalimdor. And druids.

(Edited for typos. Also edited the original post for a twenty-some typos.)
 
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František Orálek
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I think yes. This game need more. More characters, more abilities, more powerful creatures with 2 lifes which are necessary to slay with 2 players, more interesting items, maybe more game mechanics like trading or auctions etc.

The reason is simple. Money. I think that FFG produce like Descent:JID many "must have" expansions. Why to sell another complicated game for 80 bucks, when you can sell something simplyfied for 40 bucks and later offer expansions.

The difference is that FFG simply earn 40 not 80. So there is necesary to make base game a little bit less characters and items etc heavy and later offer expansion with 4 new characters, more advanced items etc. Expansions simply offer what base game lack.

This not mistake or bad this differend kind of business strategy. Game for 80 bucks simply offer complete basic game and game for 40 bucks offer not so complete base, so you will be glad for possibility to spend another money.

I think this mechanics is better than offer player expansive basic game with zilions possibilities and rules. Only hope that it will be not model like in runebound - too many expansions.

I prefer in expansions mechanics which add more interaction between players, like more items and abilities against players, quest for more players etc.

Interaction between players - this is in which this game has possibility beat the others group-solitaire games.
 
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mads l. brynnum
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Downtime is not really an option - especially since one other player has to roll for the monster. This might seem a bit redundant, but actually makes a lot of sense since he/she can look for special abilities and whatnot while the player who's turn it is can concentrate on the character, abilities and so on.

But nonetheless I played a two-player game yesterday which ran for about four (4!) hours. Actually we had fun, but the fun wouldn't have been any less if we'd clocked the game at three or even two hours. This might be because we weren't familiar with the cards (I'd only played one game before), and it most certainly was because we got caught up in leveling and stuff instead of going for the win. And in the end my opponent stole the victory from me with a bold move and loads and loads of movement potions. But still, four hours is too much for this game and I hope to shave some time off it next time.

mads
 
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Tom Walsh
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Great review but I'll admit that I really dunno about this game.

I like the short turns, the ability cards are nifty. But each time I've played it it seems to start off feeling fun and then ends up dragging on until someones wins, which surprised me as given the short turns I'd expected a quicker game.

I'm not too fond of how players movements are restricted by their level. It seems a bit odd to me.

At times this game felt like snakes and ladders crossed with Runebound.

I did however enjoy the PvP and player interaction, which this game seems to encourage.

Generally I think it's an ok game and probably an excellent choice for people new to the hobby. But not something that gamers wanting something with more depth should bother with.
 
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Will
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Tom, how would you rate this game compared to Runebound, World of Warcraft, Return of the Heroes or Prophecy ? Is it worth to try this game if the other choices are available ?
 
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Sean Shaw
United States
Idaho
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Thanks for the review. Sounds like maybe I'll pass on it due to what you've said.

Perhaps it's time to look at Garibaldi La Trafila instead.
 
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Tom Walsh
Australia
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willdesigns wrote:
Tom, how would you rate this game compared to Runebound, World of Warcraft, Return of the Heroes or Prophecy ? Is it worth to try this game if the other choices are available ?


I've played all of those except the World of Warcraft game and my personal opinion is that Runebound is the best of that bunch. I do think that WoW:TAG is better than Prophecy and Return of the heroes, but that's just my opinion.
 
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A. B. West
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Beech Grove
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Very much appreciate this review! The only thing holding me back with this game is the board. I wish it was more 'adventure' feeling. Having cards painted on the board just doesn't do it for me. Or is there some mechanical reason? I realize you probably resolve it like a fixed encounter - but do you place cards over that one? And so during play, you have cards on the board?

I'm going to look at those rules again....
 
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Bart Hermans
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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adamw wrote:
Having cards painted on the board just doesn't do it for me. Or is there some mechanical reason? I realize you probably resolve it like a fixed encounter - but do you place cards over that one? And so during play, you have cards on the board?


The pre-printed cards are all key events that are needed in every game.
- 3 times lvl grey -> green
- 3 times lvl green -> yellow
- 2 times lvl yellow -> red
- 4 overlord encounters
- The booty bay quest item (gives valor points)
- Alterac valley: attack a player anywhere on the board as though you are on his space.

There are also other encounters that can be drawn, and about half the encounters are location encounters that are put on the board as well (those can also be leveling encounters, or provide skills/items/etc.).
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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bthermans wrote:
adamw wrote:
Having cards painted on the board just doesn't do it for me. Or is there some mechanical reason? I realize you probably resolve it like a fixed encounter - but do you place cards over that one? And so during play, you have cards on the board?


The pre-printed cards are all key events that are needed in every game.
- 3 times lvl grey -> green
- 3 times lvl green -> yellow
- 2 times lvl yellow -> red
- 4 overlord encounters
- The booty bay quest item (gives valor points)
- Alterac valley: attack a player anywhere on the board as though you are on his space.

There are also other encounters that can be drawn, and about half the encounters are location encounters that are put on the board as well (those can also be leveling encounters, or provide skills/items/etc.).


There's one more you didn't mention, the Explorer's League which allows you to look at an exploration marker and replace it. Doesn't seem like this would often be used though...

Regardless, you are right, the on-board encounters serve an important purpose and that is to help characters gain levels. There are VERY few events and encounters in the deck that provide you with levels, and it would suck to have to rely on those alone. The only awarding encounters on the board only give our their reward to each player once, so it's not like you can sit there farming an encounter just because it's printed on the board.
 
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Simon Lundström
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Täby
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I just have to add, that after a couple of plays and experiencing some of the special events and global events, I have to say that this is as close to the ultimate adventure game as I guess I'll ever come, with 2 objections:

1) The warcraft theme is a bit too thick for this to be considered as a "general" game.
2) It's a wee bit too complex and each turn is heavy. I still feel Return of the Heroes has an advantage here.

Apart from that, I have to say there are few board games of late that has had be so excited about the next play. Upgrade to 10.
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Cameron McKenzie
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Player interaction is pretty high in this too. I wish I could tell you that familiarity with the WarCraft universe was not important, but I don't have that perspective.. being the biggest WarCraft fan of anyone that I know.

I suppose taking down the overlords may not feel like as much of an achievement of you aren't familiar enough with WarCraft to realize that these are some of the nastiest villains around.
 
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Jonathan Franklin
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We played the game and I know nothing about Warcraft/WoW. One of us was the green guy and the other one was the guy with the musket.

I don't think you need to know anything about WoW to play it. In fact, the system could work with almost anything. Starships, miners, building a pyramid. It works well. The only real surprise is that I did not feel as invested in my character as in Prophecy/Runebound.

I think it has to do with the fact that a character is modified by one armor and one weapon + cards played over the course of the game. As the character levels up, the changes are nice, but minor.
 
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Simon Lundström
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MasterDinadan wrote:
I suppose taking down the overlords may not feel like as much of an achievement of you aren't familiar enough with WarCraft to realize that these are some of the nastiest villains around.

Yeah, they do feel a bit weak. At least... eh... sometimes. We had this guy attacking Nefarian, and the monster player rolled a 6… now, getting a 9 ranged attack with 6 in damage is pretty much one-shotting any character that comes visiting him… then again, getting a 4 ranged attack with 1 in damage is pretty much lame. The boss fights could do some work, to be honest. Giving them 3 or 4 HP wouldn't hurt that much.

grandslam wrote:
I don't think you need to know anything about WoW to play it. In fact, the system could work with almost anything. Starships, miners, building a pyramid. It works well. The only real surprise is that I did not feel as invested in my character as in Prophecy/Runebound.

I might be wrong, but I think it's partly because the investment in character sort of comes with that you're familiar with the online game, and that's what I meant with the WoW theme lying heavy on the game. A lot of enjoyment (at least for me) comes from recognising encounters and the loot they drop. Just such a fact that we laughed when the warlock encountered general Drakkisath near the Tainted Scar (he doesn't belong there at all, he's from Blackrock Mountain) and joked about how the heck he'd ended up there gives a hint. I don't mean you have to know WoW to play this game, just that knowing WoW will make the game a bit better.

One thing that I could add to my wish-list is trying to do more cool special events. The Embalmer travelling from Twilight Grove to Darkshire, and the Scourge Invasion going to Stormwind (ending the game if nobody defeats it) are examples of really cool game events that I'd love to see more of.
 
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Toasted Jones
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Rugeley
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Thanks for the review, I've been thinking of this too, but the touted 4hours is putting me off. It does sound like Runebound lite, so why does it take Runebound length?

I own ROTH and Runebound, I prefer Runebound, but it doesn't get played so often as it takes the entire evening, so everyone must be in the adventuring mood. ROTH doesn't quite do it for me, although the downtime is so insignificant that it plays quickly.

WOWtag sound like it could be the nice middle ground I'm looking for, but still a bit flummoxed by the long game lengths. Is it simply learning curve or the fact you have loads of cards to read through? (I know this slows Runebound down once players start getting nice challenges and items)
 
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Simon Lundström
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Toasty wrote:
WOWtag sound like it could be the nice middle ground I'm looking for, but still a bit flummoxed by the long game lengths. Is it simply learning curve or the fact you have loads of cards to read through?

It's the learning curve combined with that you get more cards. I'd say, for a 4-player game, it could end in 2 hours, but do prepare 3. For the very first game, it might take longer, depending on how you play. We usually like to sort of "tell the story" as we play, say "Okay, now I'm off to this guy and this time he's gonna EAT it!". That does prolong the game, (say, it taked 2:15 instead of 1:45) but we like it that way.

It much depends on who you play with. People who have grabbed 10 ability cards and want to look at each and every one of them as soon as their turn starts and and soon as they start a battle… they drag the game down. If you keep track of your cards in your mind, then this is a quickie. Played with people who do quick decisions, a 4-player taked 120, which is perfect. A 6-player should take 180, and that's perfectly fine with me. If (whenever) the other continent comes out, I think you should be at least 6 players to sort of fill the board(s).
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My friends and I like some aspects of the adventure game a lot, and I often want to play it simply because the concepts contained inside are great. But the execution is horrible, for several reasons:

-Too many discovery tokens means less ability to plan traps
-Fights take too long and are dull/uninspired. They are supposed to be fast but forcing people to wait on a space while they hit at a monster futilely is not fun. In the very least allow people to instantly sacrifice some health to kill a mob if the going gets tough.
-Not enough ability to choose item rewards. We often find there aren't many wands or cloth armor sets in the game, and mages often get mail while pallies get useless cloth.
-The game forces you to use a set amount of energy randomly determined, rather than strategically used (as in the WoW BG).
-Not enough lore/theme in the game. The lore text in the quests is fine, but there simply isn't enough variety to allow for the oozing of atmosphere ala Prophecy. One simple solution might be to introduce a variety of variants to the game, something more lored than the monthly League scenarios FFG puts up.

There are probably fixes for all these problems, but at the moment the game seems mostly to be fun only for me, my friends often try to edge away from playing it, which is a bit sad given that I bought all 8 character pack expansions after much deliberation.
 
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