This week my review is over at Miniaturemarket.com, and it's the new Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System title- Temple of Elemental Evil. Aside from that Magic/Heroscape thing coming out later this year, this was my most anticipated release of 2015. And I have to say that even though I really love it, it is a disappointment. This was a great opportunity to gently nudge the system toward a "2.0" stage. The new campaign rules are great and there are a lot of elements I wish were in the past games, but it comes across as a "1.5" version. The scenarios, for example, are much simpler and really kind of same-y- get to tiles 9-12, fight the boss. The town scenarios are a great idea, but they're really kind of dumb interludes between the usual hack and slash fare.
I actually haven't mixed everything into my giant pile of D&DAS fun, but there are some things that aren't going to mesh completely due to the campaign setup. One thing I love is that they did away with that obnoxious "roll a natural 20, level up" crap. You buy levels between scenarios along with various upgrade tokens that get more expensive for the party as a whole. You sell treasures back and can share money. I like that there are outcomes to scenarios based on how many healing surges you've blown, so monsters can level up with you and special cards get added into the decks. This is all good stuff.
But it also makes the game WAY too easy. Veterans won't break a sweat, even on the fire rune-inscribed tiles. After like six scenarios without a single death, it sort of felt like we were on easy mode or something.
Also, one last gripe, most of the monsters kind of suck. The cultists are boring. And you will be fighting them ALL THE TIME. You do get some fun elementals, a black dragon and this complete groaner- the doppleganger. Oh, that guy in your party? It turns out he was a doppleganger. ON THE LAST TILE. The real dude is back at the stairs!
I heard from none other than John Clowdus the other day, Mr. Small Box Games. I haven't heard from him in a while, was very happy to see him pop up. And he bore gifts. He sent me his new game Soulfall and the umpteenth edition of Omen, which looks like it scales it down a bit and gets it back to basics. Still love that game. Soulfall looks quite interesting, it has that "Clowdus touch"- strange concepts, intricate cardplay options and unusually evocative artwork. Review forthcoming on that one.
I saw the art for Lift Off and had to ask for it...it looks really cute. I played a solo test and it looks pretty promising. It's kind of a pseudo-co-op take on the Survive! style game (see also: Downfall of Pompeii) where you have these aliens trying to get out of their planets' core and on to various egress devices, each of which requires different kinds of cards to fuel and each of which can hold a different number of aliens. So you have to get your guys out there and onto these methods of escape and then sort of jointly (or not) fuel them up. There's some cool ideas here, but it is quite a bit more complicated than Survive! so I think it comes across as sort of an "advanced" family game. Which could be a really good thing. More on this one later.
Probably pulling the trigger on Forbidden Stars if some sales go through...*sigh*