The one thing that I hate about the winter we have had so far is that being on the East coast we haven’t had any really snow for nearly 8 years now. By real snow I mean snow that closes roads and gets you days off work. Oh other parts of the country are getting that sort of snow heaven, but not us on the protect desolate wind swept East. So when it started snowing yesterday morning I wasn’t holding out much hope for it sticking around.
Oh yeah before I start SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!! I’m going to be discussing our second game of Gloomhaven. I’ll try and not spoil too much. But there is always the chance that I will put my foot in my mouth and ruin things for those that want to play the game and avoid spoilers. So I’m saying now, if that is you, stop reading NOW! And come back for my next post when it appears, or go off and read some of my old ramblings.
Right off we go then..
I braved the snow storm (I don’t know how I typed that really, because that is so inaccurate) to get to Justin’s so that our band of adventurers could continue their journey in the Gloomhaven universe. If you remember our heroes had entered the Black Barrow and met some resistance. Which we overcame. Being fool hardy we decided to travel deeper into the barrow, into the Barrow Lair!
Upon entering the lair we were greeted by 4 Bandit Archers, who were using a couple of traps to protect them from us just rushing in and kicking several shades of brown stuff out of them. Before the mission I pulled an objective that said I had to either cause a trap to go off, or disarm a trap. The only other option I had was another objective that wanted me to finish the mission with a low health. I hate those ones, they are particularly bad for a magic user like Glamdalf. So I had no option really but to take the trap based objective and hope that we ran into some traps. Luckily there were these 2 right in front of me. There was talk from the others of using abilities to draw the archers into the traps and set them off. I did not want that. These it turns out were stun traps. Probably the safest ones I could trigger and not take damage from. The combat went easily our way, indeed my fellow adventurers did pull an archer into one of the traps. There was one left, I had to manoeuvre Glamdalf so that she would trigger the trap and allow me to complete my objective. Charlie was looking at disarming the trap on his turn. Luckily I had priority, and ran into the trap, setting it off. Mission complete, now we just needed to beat the scenario for me to get the reward.
While the majority of us were resting, Charlie’s character decided to run into the next room. She was left alone briefly to face the Bandit Commander and 2 Bandit Archers. The Commander was a beefy enemy to take on with 40 health points. Plus it’s first special ability meant it jump to an unopened door and open it. I should point out, only the Commander could open these doors. Obviously there was not going to be anything good in these locked rooms. Like all fantasy dungeon crawling RPG tropes, most likely lots more monsters. The Commanders other special ability allowed them to spawn an elite living bones. Our mission objective was to kill the Commander Boss and all revealed enemies. This had the potential to snowball out of control very fast.
We were keeping on top of things, got rid of the 2 archers, made some damage on the Commander, when he pulled his first special ability. Rats. Well not rats to fight, what we were getting was a room with 3 living corpses in. Luckily the Commander was blocking them from getting out.
But a couple of turns later, his second special pops up. We had a room full of living corpses hiding behind the Commander, we’d been trading blows with him, and now we were getting an elite living bones joining the party. Things were still manageable. Possibly. Then the Commander pulled his special again, a second door open. 3 more living corpses about to come into play. Oh and there was a treasure chest in the new room.
We needed to kill this mission off quick, but not before we grabbed the treasure chest. Which I did, and I was rewarded with 10 gold for my troubles. The problem was I was running out of cards in my hand, and discard pile. I’d already pulled Glamdalf’s party trick of returning the cards in the lost pile to my hand. I was on a very short clock before my character would become exhausted and be out of the mission.
It was going to be very very close, but it would be possible for the last couple of creatures to be killed before I would become exhausted. Justin was being very very helpful at this point. Suspiciously so even. But the play worked out, and we completed the mission before I became exhausted. Just. Then our secret mission objectives were revealed and Justin had the one that said there must be no exhausted characters. I can’t remember what Edmund had for his. But Charlie had one that said he couldn’t pick up any coins, which he naturally completed. He got 2 ticks on his character sheet for that.
After selecting our next destination, and completing a city event, buying some equipment (that gold sure burns a hole in your pocket), we packed away the game.
There was enough time after all that fighting for us to play Escape the Dark Castle, a new game that Justin had received in the week.
Escape the Dark Castle is a co-op adventure game. Each player takes turns in reading the top chapter card from a 15 card deck that represents you all adventuring through the castle before taking on a big bad boss. Some of these chapter cards will have to be tackled by the person reading the card, whilst others will involve the whole party.
So what did I think of the game? Once we sorted out how to play the game. Which was about half way through (that’s the draw backs of learning as you play!), I can see this being challenging. And to be fair it was a pleasurable experience. In fact the game play almost reminds me a bit of the One Deck Dungeon game. Although I do have some concerns about the production side of things.
The chapter cards are pretty large, and the quality of them, especially the black backs reminds me of London Second Edition, and the problems that they had. I would want to sleeve these cards. But where I’d source the sleeves I don’t know. I fear that the backs of these cards will mark easily, and I could swear that one was already showing signs of wear! The quality of the dice wasn’t great either. They were a nice large size. But the ink on them was already looking very tired and rubbed off.
There are a lot of chapter cards, so there would seem a lot of replay ability. Which I like. 6 or 7 end level bosses. So once again a little variety there also. Add in the item deck, and the random draw from that. No two games should be the same.
But the biggest drawback for me for the game, even more than the production issues has to be the art. I’m not a fan of it at all. In this day and age there is no excuse for this art at all. It reminds me of a GCSE art project, or art from of the 80’s role playing video game hint books I used to get. I just don’t like it. I think the art is nearly enough to put me off playing the game again. The experience of reading the chapter card, and overcoming the challenge revealed, just gets ruined by the drab, amateurish drawings.
Nice game. Crap art.
After defeating the castles big boss, it was time to go home. Outside it was raining, and all the snow was melting away. I was right not to get my hopes up for a snow day.