Review: Tyrants of the Underdark

I’ve read a bunch of R.A. Salvatore’s “Drizzt Do’Urden” books set in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting.

I think I’ve read 40, but there are probably 40 more (editor’s note: That’s probably an exaggeration) and I’ve always enjoyed the world-building Salvatore has done with the series, almost even more than the characters.

Drizzt is a Drow (Dark Elf), a former denizen of the underworld that’s fittingly called “The Underdark.” He’s an outcast from Drow society because it is pretty much a cesspool of evil scheming and betrayal and they worship the evil spider-goddess Lolth.

Since Drizzt has his own game, why not play a game where you get to be a conniving betrayer who’s looking out for your family’s interest and trying to bring down the other noble houses among the Drow?

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Now you can, with Tyrants of the Underdark (2016), the deck-building area control game designed by Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson, Andrew Veen with art by apparently nobody (I think it just spontaneously appeared on the cards in some miraculous event that should probably be canonized) and published by Gale Force 9 and Wizards of the Coast.

(Literally, the art credit on Boardgame Geek is “N/A”)

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Should We Be Playing at War?

For my 100th post here on Dude, Take Your Turn, I wanted to do something a little different than what I’ve done previously. Tackle a bigger subject.

As I was thinking about what that might be, a couple of things happened.

First, as some of you may know, I’m a member (and now Patreon Supporter!) of the Stately Play web site, one of the best online communities and news sites for mobile and computer games (especially board game adaptations).

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Speaking of Stately Play, this image is from their site

In one of the forums discussing the release of Afghanistan ’11 (a “sequel” of sorts to Vietnam ’65 by Slitherine), a member said the following:

“I can’t begin to imagine why someone would release a game like this. 1400 civilians were killed in the year that this game starts.

The airstrikes they talk about in the game trailer often hit civilian targets and 2011 also sees an increase in the use of suicide bombers and IEDs.

Its an absolute tragedy of a conflict and someone at Slitherine thought it would make a “fun” game? WTF is the matter with them?”

Then, I read a review from The Player’s Aid of a game called Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62 published by GMT Games.

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This is a game about the war for Algerian independence from France and the insurgency that arose during the war. Terrorism is a legitimate tactic in the game.

In the review, Grant says the following:

“I love the use of Terror when playing as the FLN as it truly is the only real tool that you have to affect the Government and ultimately win the war. I say that I love using the Terror Ops but I really cringe each time I have to use them as it feels wrong, both morally and ethically, but this is one of the great design elements of the game. Making you think before you act. A lot of times in regular hex and counter wargames, I usually don’t think anything about bombing civilian centers or cities, as there really is no negative effects upon the psyche for doing so. But in Colonial Twilight, the game is so visceral and emotionally evocative, that I actually feel that I have to tread lightly when I am bombing cities as I think about the consequences of my actions through collateral damage.”

Both of these came in quick succession for me, and it made me realize that it would make a great topic for a 100th post.

Should we be playing at war?

(I’m not saying Grant’s statement is against playing at war, as obviously that would be misconstruing it since he is a wargamer. It just made the topic come to my mind)

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New to Me – October 2017

Welcome to this month’s New to Me post, as discussed on an episode of the Boardgames in Bed podcast (not this month’s, but the concept of “New to Me” games)

It was looking like a lean month for new to me games in October. That changed on the final weekend, where I played two of the best new games I have played in quite a while.

That gave me a total of six new to me games, maintaining my Cult Leader status!

Why don’t we start with the good stuff and head downward?

Time of Crisis (2017 – GMT Games) – 1 play

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This is a game that I have been wanting to play since somebody mentioned it on their “new to me” post on BGG a few months ago.

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First Impressions – Custom Heroes

“Crafting” cards is becoming a new fad in boardgaming, though I think it’s mainly AEG who are doing it.

Games like Mystic Vale, where you can gain cards and then improve them, are starting to become more prominent.

Last night, I got the chance to try one of the latest card-crafting games, Custom Heroes. The game is designed by John D. Clair with art by Matt Paquette and the game is published by AEG.

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This is more like a normal trick-taking game than most others in the same genre, in that you are playing cards to the table and trying to “win” the pile (not quite a trick, but I’ll explain), all the while buffing up cards with improvements that will change how they act.

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Review – Valley of the Kings: Last Rites

In Ancient Egypt, the land of the Pharaohs where whoever died and built the best pyramid was seen to be the most dope ruler in all the land, sometimes it wasn’t just what was buried with you that made the difference.

Sometimes it was who you were buried with.

And these people didn’t have to be dead ahead of you either.

(I’ll stop and let you think about that for a moment)

It’s definitely not something you want to think too hard about when you’re playing the latest version of Tom Cleaver’s Valley of the Kings.

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Valley of the Kings: Last Rites is the second standalone expansion for this wonderful deck-building series. When I say standalone, I mean it too.

While there are rules for mixing and matching the cards in the various expansions, I really have no interest in doing that. I like to play each set individually.

As noted above, Valley of the Kings: Last Rites is designed by Tom Cleaver with art by Banu Andaru and published in 2016 by AEG Games.

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Sony Pictures looking to get wood for sheep in upcoming Catan movie

(yes, sorry, I went there even though it’s an old joke)

Movies based on video games have been coming out a lot over the last few years, even though most of them bomb.

But a movie based on a board game? How does that work?

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Hopefully it’s full of wooden buildings!

Sony is looking to find out as they negotiate for the rights for Catan: the Movie, based on the 1995 hit boardgame designed by Klaus Teuber. This is the game that many non-gamers are familiar with, at least as far as the name goes.

So it kind of makes sense that if you have to choose a boardgame for a movie to appeal to more than just gamers, Catan would be the first one you look at.

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Review – Iron Curtain

The Cold War has always been an interesting topic for me. As a child of the 70s and 80s, I grew up during the height of it, when TV-movies like The Day After and World War III (damn, David Soul could act) made us wonder if nuclear annihilation was going to be coming soon.

(Of course, we didn’t have any incidents that literally made us as close to nuclear war as the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 60s, but that didn’t stop the fear)

Many games have been made simulating the Cold War and various aspects of it, most notably the GMT Games favourite Twilight Struggle. That game was the first time I knew of a card-driven game where cards had faction-specific events, and if you played your opponent’s event card, they chose whether to implement the event or not.

So when I heard that Jolly Roger Games and Ultra Pro were coming out with a quick 20-minute Cold War game called Iron Curtain, and that they were offering review copies in exchange for honest reviews, I knew I had to jump on it.

I’m glad I did.

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That is a big box for a bunch of cards

Iron Curtain is a 2-player game designed by Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen with art by  Jessica R. Eyler and David Prieto.

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