Played Duel of Ages II over the weekend and what a trip that was. We played through two of the learning scenarios and although I haven't added the adventure challenges I can see where this game is going to be something special.
It's so fantastical and it just oozes theme. You're playing fiction and non fiction characters from across four ages Ancient, Colonial, Modern and Future. It reminds me of Riverworld where people from all ages are crammed into a single arena.
The premise in Duel is that you're living in a future where you can enter a machine and assume the personality matrix of number of these fantasy, sci-fi, historical or fictional characters (Roy Rogers or Robin Hood anyone)? Beowulf, Pat Garrett or Little Annie Oakley -- she's awful good with a gun!
You land in an arena and hook up with other team members to accomplish quests while staying alive in a deadly contest that awards points for combat, for taking down parts or all of the enemy's base, for gaining Lith's (a Gamemaster) favor and for going on and completing adventures.
There's only five points available in a typical two player match.
Which team wounded the enemy the most, captured the most prisoners, took down most locations in a base (there are seven) gets.....ONLY 1 point.
Which team gained Lith's favor? -- 1 point. Which team had more markers on an Adventure? 1 point. Who successfully impressed the most denizens in the land? 1 point. That's it. No victory point salad here. One task may involve two hours of gameplay but only 1 team gets its point.
This game looks and feels a lot like Earth Reborn without all the chrome. Moving, fighting and shooting feel the same but the process here is far more intuitive and streamlined. The game tells its own little stories that are the product of game play, not flavor text. The fighting is not predictable so it's dangerous although better equipment definitely influences the odds. You don't go into fights unnecessarily. Even when your opponent is outmatched, he can still get lucky and deliver a debilitating hit just like real life. That's why you need your teammates.
It's combat driven but you won't score most of your points fighting. You'll score them on adventure challenges so it's about more than fighting. There are places to go, people to see, riddles to solve. The game is played in teams that can field as little as six or as many as 12 or more characters a side. You get to pick up lots of very cool weapons from across all four ages.
Bigger teams = bigger maps (they're called platters). The adventures take place on the "keys' that link these maps together one of which is your "Base" where you can get healing pick up items and imprison members of the opposing team so you can "interrogate" them for their items. This game is less work (there is some work) than a wargame and a helluva lot of fun. It feels pretty epic when you're playing and it's very playable. It could be an Earth Reborn killer for me. I'll have to judge it on future plays. You learn it in scenarios like Earth Reborn but there's less of them and they're a lot faster to get through.
Four learning sessions should do it. I think this one's a keeper.