Barnes on Games- Xia: Legends of a Drift System in Review, Moongha Invaders in Review, RESISTOR_, Secret of the Lost Tombs (again)

Barnes on Games- Xia: Legends of a Drift System in Review, Moongha Invaders in Review, RESISTOR_, Secret of the Lost Tombs (again) Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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X-X-X-Xia.

 

Let's make it official on Xia, shall we? Here's the review at No High Scores.

Like I say in the review, I don't have a fancy reason for liking this game so much. It's just fun to play. The components are fun, the mechanics are fun, the procedural narrative is fun. But what really gets me about is that the game looks and seems so complicated, but it's just not. It's simpler than Merchant of Venus and/or Firefly, really. It's clearly inspired by those games (and Merchants & Marauders) but it manages to do all of this stuff with some pretty slim rules, all things considered. I think there is something of an issue with repetition in the game, especially in longer sessions, and I kind of feel like it actually needs more content and not more of what is already there. It needs some diversity in the jobs, the exploration tokens and ship components in particular. Like, I think it would be cool to be able to things like mining tools that help fix your rolls if you go to mine or things that let you use certain resources to earn fame, money or whatever aside from just delivering it. But as it stands, I think this is an excellent low-complexity adventure pick-up-and-play. It is on the expensive side, but it is a very nice production. Those ships are so neat.

On the flip side, my review of Moongha Invaders is at the Review Corner. I wish that I had left this one in 2010 with good memories of a few good sessions. Playing it now, it comes across as a weirdly paced, poorly metered game that has sort of been outclassed by other games. It's definitely Martin Wallace in that it has a bunch of "almost good" stuff that doesn't feel fully developed. The game can be fun, and there are definitely moments but in 2015 I feel like a lot of the appeal of the game was because at the time it came out there wasn't anything quite like it. I absolutely hate the miniatures in this game too, probably more than I have ever hated miniatures in a game. They're ugly, cheap and smell like poison. And they also are WAY too big for the board, so when you are halfway through the game, there's sort of these aggregate piles of ugly, cheap, poison-smelling figures loosely arranged in and around the city boxes. The two player game is kind of dumb...definitely something to look at as a bonus rather than a selling point.

Level 99's Brad Talton sent some things over so I've been digging back into BattleCon...still a really, really good fighting game. I feel like I have TONS of it, something like 40 fighters. And they're all different. He also sent an advance test copy of Exceed, a new fighter they're doing that looks to be quite a bit simpler than BattleCon and more contained. But the best thing in the box is RESISTOR_. This game is awesome. It's a two player card game about Cold War supercomputers trying to hack each other. The twist is that the cards are printed on both sides and you can only see your side...and the back sides of your opponent's cards. So when they play a card, you know what is on the face down side and they don't. And flipping over cards is a key action, so there's a little memory element- appropriate to the theme! The goal is to complete a line from your mainframe to the other. Cool use of themes, awesome retro styling, completely original gameplay. And the packaging is really neat to boot.

I've warmed up to Secret of the Lost Tombs a bit, but man, it is a mess. I'll likely be reviewing it next week, but it's definitely a mixed notice. There are some things I adore about it, but it's such a sloppy and slapdash production that tries so hard to do it all that it misses what should be its focal points. In the scenario I ran last night, the explorers had to find and decode this cipher created by Benjamin Franklin to awaken this creature, the Wendego, that the Colonial army used against the British in the Revolutionary War. The British used this Kraken thing. So you decode this, and then you get to control the Wendego. And he battles the Kraken. Awesome stuff! Except that the game's content is all over the place and a given tomb has rooms from like four different cultures and time periods, and you might run into Dracula down there too. There's a big emphasis on exploration storytelling over monster-bashing, but the story is disjointed and without focus. And the characters...hoo boy...talk about unbalanced. There are a couple that are just WAY overpowered at the beginning versus others.  It's definitely worth checking out, another quality I like about it is that you can tell the designer is really giving it his all...he just needs to get out from under the shadow of Arkham and Betrayal at the House on the Hill. And reign in the story.

 

 

http://www.nohighscores.com/2015/10/08/cracked-lcd-xia-legends-of-a-drift-system-in-review/

http://www.miniaturemarket.com/moonghainvadersreview.html

Barnes on Games- Xia: Legends of a Drift System in Review, Moongha Invaders in Review, RESISTOR_, Secret of the Lost Tombs (again) There Will Be Games
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Posted: 08 Oct 2015 15:28 by Msample #212184
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The Moongha link doesn't work. Tried clicking on your name and it doesn't show up in the archives either.
Posted: 08 Oct 2015 16:03 by Frohike #212185
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Fixed.
Posted: 09 Oct 2015 08:55 by VonTush #212224
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I played the game a few weeks back myself...I didn't have the right mix of people. I loved the game but some walked way with a "Meh". So for me it is still holding up.

When the campaign launched I knew I'd be sticking with my old copy. The gaudy artwork and plastic didn't lure me in because it doesn't match the game. It gives this impression of action from the get-go, that you'd be stomping cities in no time. The old stylized art and duel-tone stickered wood discs let you know that it wasn't just a bash and smash. That there was going to be 30-40 minutes of movie before Godzilla was revealed.
Posted: 09 Oct 2015 10:12 by ubarose #212232
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VonTush wrote:
I played the game a few weeks back myself...I didn't have the right mix of people. I loved the game but some walked way with a "Meh". So for me it is still holding up.

When the campaign launched I knew I'd be sticking with my old copy. The gaudy artwork and plastic didn't lure me in because it doesn't match the game. It gives this impression of action from the get-go, that you'd be stomping cities in no time. The old stylized art and duel-tone stickered wood discs let you know that it wasn't just a bash and smash. That there was going to be 30-40 minutes of movie before Godzilla was revealed.

I still love Moongha.

I haven't seen the new version in person, but I am thinking that perhaps you are right; all the plastic monsters may set up the expectation the the game is a monster bash and smash. When I play my copy I definitely get the feel that the focus is on the players being Mad Scientists competing with each other, which may be why the slow build and the slight quirkiness of the game has never bothered me. Plus, I love the chunky blocks and how they feel and sound when you snap them down onto the board.
Posted: 10 Oct 2015 09:40 by DukeofChutney #212267
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The Moongha is the only KS game i have ever backed (its not quite here yet in the UK). Its two year delay doesn't really bother me, but i am not sure why I backed it, possibly your comments Micheal a few years back (oh the irony). When it finally arrives the question is whether to play it or try and hock it in shrink. Will probably give it a shot as it looks suitably trashy (though i do think the older version looked better in many regards) and im not too bothered by games feeling dated. I have noticed games feeling dated more though lately.
Posted: 10 Oct 2015 11:47 by wadenels #212270
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I don't have any bias towards the original Moongha artwork; I've never even seen it in person. The new Moongha is a good looking game. I don't know how the big chunky minis will work in actual gameplay, but they look good. The board, tokens, dice, and rulebook are all well done.

The oozy-smelly thing with the miniatures though -- I'm a little worried about that since my yellow Clash of Cultures pieces leaked yellow color all over the place.
Posted: 11 Oct 2015 21:34 by craniac #212302
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Wallace's stock has certainly dropped in the last few years.
Posted: 15 Oct 2015 16:21 by Stonecutter #212527
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Can someone post the link to the Xia review, both links on this page go to the Moongha Invaders review and I can't find it on MM.
Posted: 16 Oct 2015 08:14 by charlest #212572
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I played Moongha for the first time last night (no experience with previous edition).

My initial thought is that none of your complaints in the review resonated with my play. I see what you're saying but the impact and negativity was never present.

We played three players and turns went by so quickly it didn't matter that I needed to charge up incrementally or take awhile to deploy a monster.

The miniatures were fine and endearing. Love the 3D rubble and soldiers.

The Darkoors didn't feel like a distraction. Late game I needed some points and I made some clever plays by tossing down troops in a city to protect my Vampire. It also caused the push and pull of action selection to be more interesting as I wanted to choose to place heroes simply so someone else didn't drop them in one of my 3 vampire locations.

Similarly, I really liked the 3 city ownership/defense thing. I hate The Great Fire of London which does something similar because it gives you little recourse to protect your locations. I felt like I could do clever things here to steer people away from my locations like load up on troops or use my Moogre defensively (chasing monsters out of my cities).

The game was fast, about 75 minutes for us and it felt unique and different. Dug it and am considering picking it up (I'll do the hazmat work on your noxious fume box for $20 shipped).
Posted: 16 Oct 2015 12:10 by Ochobee #212593
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charlest wrote:
I played Moongha for the first time last night (no experience with previous edition).

My initial thought is that none of your complaints in the review resonated with my play. I see what you're saying but the impact and negativity was never present.

We played three players and turns went by so quickly it didn't matter that I needed to charge up incrementally or take awhile to deploy a monster.

The miniatures were fine and endearing. Love the 3D rubble and soldiers.

The Darkoors didn't feel like a distraction. Late game I needed some points and I made some clever plays by tossing down troops in a city to protect my Vampire. It also caused the push and pull of action selection to be more interesting as I wanted to choose to place heroes simply so someone else didn't drop them in one of my 3 vampire locations.

Similarly, I really liked the 3 city ownership/defense thing. I hate The Great Fire of London which does something similar because it gives you little recourse to protect your locations. I felt like I could do clever things here to steer people away from my locations like load up on troops or use my Moogre defensively (chasing monsters out of my cities).

The game was fast, about 75 minutes for us and it felt unique and different. Dug it and am considering picking it up (I'll do the hazmat work on your noxious fume box for $20 shipped).

I agree with this. Even though we butchered some rules, turns were fast and it didn't feel like things were bogging down by having to build things over multiple actions. I actually like the minis just because they feel like a throwback to the bright colored figures you'd get in a mass-market game from the 80's or 90's, and the clutter on the board was never enough to throw off your knowledge about what was happening and where.

Maybe it's just nostalgia for Barnes that's throwing off his opinion of how it plays against how he remembers it playing?