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Age of Conan news...bad???

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04 Feb 2008 10:17 #1806 by Michael Barnes
Over at BGN they've posted some news regarding the hotly anticipated AGE OF CONAN coming from WAR OF THE RING scribes Nexus...and it doesn't sound so good.

Check this out:

Conan is pretty much a “force of nature” which players try to push in the right direction through an auction system.


The words "Conan" and "auction" shouldn't be in the same sentence in a rulebook or description of a game, unless you get to bid X number of enemies driven before him or Y number of the lamentations of their women.

I dunno...supposedly it's all based on the WotR system, and I do like the idea that Conan is a mercenary (although in the description it sounds _a lot_ like the GROO card game from many years past). Really, more disappointing to me is that's lost a player somewhere and is now a 2-4 player game since Nemedia is now some card deck rather than a playable faction...I hugely prefer games like this to accomodate 5-6.

I want to be excited about this. I want a great Conan game. I want Nexus to hit another WotC-caliber home run- not another MARVEL HEROES ground rule double.

Let's see what happens...

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04 Feb 2008 10:31 #1807 by Ken B.
Ha! From my "AT Radar" article from last summer...


The only thing I'm worried about is getting a big-time "Groo" vibe when playing the game--"Conan's coming! Hide the livestock!" "Did I err?"--so I'm hoping that Conan's bursts of violence will be devastating as opposed to comical. CROM!




As far as controlling Conan, if he is to be a force of nature as it were, there are two choices. Deterministic/random game control (Shadows Over Camelot, Lord of the Rings, Fearsome Floors) or an auction. That's an inescapable evil. You can't have a player as Conan because EVERYBODY wants to be Conan. Then you end up with something ridiculous like the Conan CCG where there are like four or five Conans in play...reminds me of the very bad The Crow CCG from years ago. "I'll play Vengeful Crow". "I'll play Moody Crow". "I'll play Jim Crow." "SAY WHAT?!?!"

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04 Feb 2008 10:51 #1809 by Chapel
Michael Barnes wrote:

Over at BGN they've posted some news regarding the hotly anticipated AGE OF CONAN coming from WAR OF THE RING scribes Nexus...and it doesn't sound so good.

Check this out:


The words "Conan" and "auction" shouldn't be in the same sentence in a rulebook or description of a game, unless you get to bid X number of enemies driven before him or Y number of the lamentations of their women.


Conan, working for the highest bidder, and you think this is an oxymoron? Have you not read the Conan books? Conan IS a mercenary, a pirate, and an accidental hero. That's his M.O. He is the archetype for the Han Solo's of the world, and I think that's exactly how he should be played.

As for the number of players, 5 would have been better. 5 should be the norm nowadays.

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04 Feb 2008 11:28 #1811 by Michael Barnes
Hey, I'm just questioning the mechanic...it may turn out to be the perfect depiction of the character.

Yeah, sure, Conan's a mercenary and there is a degree to which an auction makes perfect thematic sense. What really makes a difference is if Nexus handles the auction in a way that is entirely thematic...which is definitely not impossible given their track record. I just don't want to see it turn into some kind of goofy mechanic that winds up being too gamey- like the auctions in any given Martin Wallace game.

Actually though, PRINCES OF THE RENAISSANCE had a pretty interesting mercenary mechanic...I really liked how strong military players could set up fights that they had no territorial stake in that they could then sell off their services to the highest bidder. It wasn't an auction (although the rest of the game is rife with them), but it captured that idea incredibly well, I thought. I guess in AoC's context something like that would still require player control over Conan, which is definitely not the way to go.

Really, this opens up a larger, much more interesting questions (heh heh, the ol' Trojan Horse)...as much as we rail against auctions, what are themes, ideas, and concepts that can be accurately portrayed by auctions? DUNE is yet again a good example of auctions that work in a thematic sense...not only in the treachery cards, but the combat is really a blind bid auction after a fashion ("how much are you willing to lose to stay alive", so to speak) and really any game that has a point-based voting element like TI3 has auctions.

Heh, I do remember Ken mentioning Groo before...at least in this the players will have some control over the rampaging barbarian.

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04 Feb 2008 11:49 #1818 by Ken B.
The auctions work in Game of Thrones, even though the theme of them breaks down if you start to think about it too long.



"Periodically, we shall all gather together, flex our muscles that we gained by sitting in our castles and rubbing one out, and work out who's the best in each of three key categories. Then, it's back to battle, gentlemen."

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04 Feb 2008 11:59 - 04 Feb 2008 11:59 #1823 by Chapel

Actually though, PRINCES OF THE RENAISSANCE had a pretty interesting mercenary mechanic...I really liked how strong military players could set up fights that they had no territorial stake in that they could then sell off their services to the highest bidder. It wasn't an auction (although the rest of the game is rife with them), but it captured that idea incredibly well, I thought. I guess in AoC's context something like that would still require player control over Conan, which is definitely not the way to go.



Well if you really wanted to keep it thematic you should add elements beyond even a straight auction. Like "pressgang" or "Drugged Drink" or "Kidnap Bêlit". There should be ways to trick Conan beyond monetary reasons alone. How you would introduce those elements are another story.
Last edit: 04 Feb 2008 11:59 by Chapel.

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04 Feb 2008 14:30 #1835 by Shellhead
MWChapel wrote:

Well if you really wanted to keep it thematic you should add elements beyond even a straight auction. Like "pressgang" or "Drugged Drink" or "Kidnap Bêlit". There should be ways to trick Conan beyond monetary reasons alone. How you would introduce those elements are another story.


That would be great. Instead of simply bidding with money or resources, players could have cards that have a thematic title like "Drugged Drink", as well as a point value for bidding purposes, and a potential backlash effect if they succeed in controlling Conan for a turn, depending on the card.

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04 Feb 2008 14:41 #1836 by Michael Barnes
Look, as long as there's a card where Conan gets confused trying to split seven gems two ways I'll be happy.

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04 Feb 2008 16:37 #1844 by Mr Skeletor
Maybe there is no auction mechanic, but BGN was trying to explain the game in terms that their audience could understand. Like that time rolling on the to-hit table became drwing a chit from a bag.

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05 Feb 2008 04:51 #1879 by schlupp
I read the description on BGG and think the game sounded awesome, despite potential auctioning (which I agree could really capture Conan's character very well).

But what do you guys think of the Campaign system? In case you haven't seen it, on BGG there is a more detailed description of the game:

...
Game mechanics

Inspired initally by the best-selling War of the Ring game, Age of Conan has grown much during development, to adapt to a different setting and different mode of play. Age of Conan portrays a slow attrition of multiple forces striving to increase their power and influence, where the adventures of an individual hero can make the difference. The core mechanic is still based on a modified Action dice system, adapted to work with a single pool of ‘Fate’ dice available to all players. Also worth mentioning here is the all-new "campaign system" – where the military subjugation of an indipendent kingdom depends on a series of linked battles, so that an extended effort is needed to overcome the many neutral powers of the Hyborian Age.
...


That sounds like a fresh idea to me, which makes a lot of sense.

4 players only is unusual nowadays, but maybe there is potential for 5-6 players in a possible expansion later on? Personally, I can't wait for the release. Give the guys some credit.

P.S.: This one and "Age of Piracy" are the two games I am certainly getting this year, provided they will be published someday...

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05 Feb 2008 10:05 #1902 by Michael Barnes
Huh...that does sound pretty awesome, I really like the concept of a more formalized system for extended campaigning. That is a pretty fresh idea, it'll be interesting to see how that changes the scale of the game's battles...if they're smaller but yield larger results as an overall function of success, that could be something really cool.

Oh, they've got the benefit of a doubt from me as it stands...I just got nervous seeing "Conan" and "auction" in the same sentence and not in regard to a slave auction of some kind.

I think the idea must be to include Nemedia and maybe another kingdom in an expansion...as it was described, Nemedia was basically reduced to some card deck to that incorporates other smaller nations. So it seems like the potential is there for the to be include. But hey, Nexus guys, if you're reading this just put 'em in the main box and expand something else!

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05 Feb 2008 11:12 #1920 by Kriz
Replied by Kriz on topic Re:Age of Conan news...bad???
I'm very hyped about this game...Age of Conan is the game I am looking forward to the most. This will be very playable in my group, not to mention I'll have a specific reason to use Conan movie quotes, which I use all the time anyway.

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05 Feb 2008 11:28 #1923 by Chapel
Michael Barnes wrote:

Huh...that does sound pretty awesome, I really like the concept of a more formalized system for extended campaigning. That is a pretty fresh idea, it'll be interesting to see how that changes the scale of the game's battles...if they're smaller but yield larger results as an overall function of success, that could be something really cool.


You should take a look at Barbarian, Kingdom & Empire . It has an interesting campaign system that allows players to enter and exit at any time, and pick up as a raiding barbarian horde elsewhere on the map. The Conan system of course may have nothing in common, but if you want to see something different over the typical linear conquest game, this would be an interesting side note.

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06 Feb 2008 00:38 #2004 by metalface13
I think some kind of auction mechanic for hiring Conan makes perfect sense since he is a mercenary. Conan fights for whoever can give him the most booze, money and booty. He doesn't fight for causes. Since he's a "force of nature" and given Conan's wanderings I imagine he kind of pops up in the different players territories and if they have enough of a given resource can attempt to use him to whatever ends.

As for 2-4 players, that doesn't bother me. Don't most games that play in the 5-6 range falter in the 2-3 range? I find it hard enough to get more than 3 players together for any decent ameritrash game. So 2-4 works great for me.

Also, I'm sick of everyone knocking on Marvel Heroes. I think it's a seriously under appreciated game.

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