Tag: Review

Wrath of N’Kai

After my review of Tales from The Crucible, Aconyte reached out to set me up with a new copy of Wrath if N’Kai by Josh Reynolds.

So here are some disclaimers which are always important to put out there first. I am a friend of Josh on Facebook, and whilst we aren’t beat buds, we do interact with each other and I consider him a class person, and I have very much enjoyed his work with Black Library.

Secondly I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let these things cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

So Arkham Horror is not a game I have actually played, I fancy it, but me and the Cthulhu mythos have never been quite on the same wavelength.

I have never read any H.P. Lovecraft books, my first exposure to them was at a small convention in London when I was about 12, it was actually a convention for Corps of Drums, not even speculative fiction.

Basically an older chap was reading a book and it lead into a discussion lead by a BAME person about the issues of racism in his work, and even the chap reading the book was pretty clear that there was some nasty racism in some of his work.

As I said I have never read any, that discussion put me off, but I have read stuff by other authors, never a novel, usually short stories and played games set in the mythos. I have so many Cthulhu expansions for games that one would think I am a huge fan.

I can play all of Munchkin Cthulhu, get all the references and jokes, but as I said never read a single Lovecraft story.

It’s a gap in my knowledge that I am actually going to try and fill, I was recently gifted an audiobook of the complete fiction of Lovecraft, so am considering giving that a listen, but I will admit the racism is something that I will be on edge about.

What is Arkham Horror

Anyway that put to one side, let’s look at this book, by first looking at the game Arkham Horror which is a cooperative game, originally designed by Richard Launius, and is now in its third edition which was released in 2019.

It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games, a subsidiary of Asmodee, and is set in 1926 in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Each player takes on the role of an investigator, who are working to stop the Ancient Ones, eldritch horrors which lurk in the void beyond space and time.

It’s a 1-6 player game and you work together to gather clues and defeat the evil of the Ancient Ones and save the world.

As I said I haven’t actually played Arkham Horror but I do own its spin off Elder Sign the cooperative dice game.

The Story

It’s a 1920 whodunit told mostly from the perspective of master thief Countess Alessandra Zorzi who arrives in the town of Arkham, hired by a mysterious cabal to steal a newly discovered mummy.

The eldritch prologue sets you up for some occult horror, but the book largely steered clear of that, which given that the protagonist is not that familiar with the intricacies of the occult makes sense.

The setting is deep and rich, with gangsters and bootleggers, all speaking with 1920s US slang. It’s a real atmospheric period piece that evokes the days of prohibition, with just a hint of eldritch terror and added tommy guns.

Alessandra herself is a very three dimensional character and extremely well developed beyond the trope of the aristocratic thief. We see her backstory teased out over the book, learning more about her as we go though, and as I said, she is more than just the trope.

Her driver Pepper was actually my favourite character in the story, they have their own secret, although this is revealed early on. They are full of spunk and as mentioned by a gangster they deal with, moxie.

It’s a really fast paced book, that I literally devoured over two sittings, one that got me 20% of the way in and the rest in an evening that kept me reading until 3am! I was just utterly drawn in by the story with its twists and turns.

As I said I haven’t played Arkham Horror, but I have played Elder Sign and I recognised lots of elements of that games story mechanics in this book.

And given my surface knowledge of Lovecrafts work, I did recognise a few little nods to those within the story that will please those who are more familiar.

There is a bit of a creep factor in there, and there were certainly bits that had my skin crawling just a little, but not so much to put me off. It’s very light in terms of horror, which makes it very accessible.

Conclusion

Personally I loved this book, it was a throughly enjoyable story which whilst grounded in the Cthulhu mythos, did not delve into it too deeply, nor did it require me to have more than passing knowledge.

In fact I think if a layperson was to pick up this book and read it, they would get on with it perfectly fine without knowing a thing about the mythos.

This book was great and for me it was a fantastic read. I particularly enjoyed a strong female protagonist who at no point needed any romantic entanglements, and the pulpy 1920s nature of the story was just delightful.

I really hope that the countess and Pepper return to Arkham for some more adventures, this is kind of hinted at, but please Josh, do it!


One Night Ultimate Werewolf Review

This is a version of Werewolf in which everything happens over a single night, if you are unfamiliar with Werewolf, then I guess I had better explain it!

Werewolf was originally called Mafia and was created by a Russian dude, Dmitry Davidoff in the late 1980s. In it people are assigned a role in secret and the game them works in two phases, the night phase in which people carry out their roles in secret, and a day phase in which people attempt to root out the werewolves in their midst.

In normal Werewolf, to win, the Villagers must rid the village of all evil doers, whilst the Werewolves must reach parity with the villagers.

There are lots of different roles which can change up how the game works, for example Tanners, whose win conditions is to be killed.

This version was originally designed as One Night Werewolf by Akihisa Okui and further developed by Ted Alspach and is published by Bézier Games.

The Jist

So in One Night Ultimate Werewolf, it strips it right down and does everything in one night phase and one day phase, with the villagers needing to kill a werewolf and the werewolves needing to kill a villager.

You are randomly given a card, which has 1 of 12 different roles on it, but what I am going to do here is tell you about the roles used for a standard 3 player starter game.

In this you will create a deck of 2 Werewolves, 1 Seer, 1 Robber, 1 Troublemaker and 1 Villager, you then hand a card out to each player, who looks at it, and then places it face down on the table. The remaining three cards are placed in the centre of the table.

Players then close their eyes, and an announcer reads out what happens, but you won’t need an extra player for that, as Bézier Games have developed an app which does it all for you.

The Werewolves will then wake up and look for each other, they then close their eyes and the Seer wakes up and can either look at a players card, or two of the centre cards, they then close their eyes.

The Robber then wakes up and can then exchange their role with another players role and view the card, they then close their eyes. At this point the Troublemaker wakes up, and then exchanges cards between two players.

Then everyone wakes up and you try and figure out between you, who are the Werewolves and therefore who should die.

There are other roles, for example the Drunk who wakes up and swaps their card for one of the centre cards, but doesn’t look at their new role.

You have five minutes to debate between yourselves who are the Werewolves and who must die, after which you all point at the player you wish to kill after a countdown.

Components

In the box you get 16 cards for the various roles, plus 16 chits for each role along with a rule book.

The cards and chits are punchboard as opposed to simple game cards, and so are very durable, we have had our copy since not long after publication five years ago, and it’s seen a lot of play, sure now some of the cards are showing a little wear and tear, but they still hold up pretty well.

The App obviously isn’t in the box, but I can’t mention components without talking about it, it’s great and means that your group doesn’t need an extra person to be the announcer which means everyone can play, and that is brilliant. You load it up, select what roles you are using and set it away, simple but brilliant.

And all of this fits in a super small box so it’s highly portable.

Look

The art is really fun, it’s not as serious as other Werewolf games and is in a cartoon style by Gus Batt, great artwork and suits the more simplistic, fun version of Werewolf this is.

What’s Good

I love this game, it’s a real favourite of mine, I love a good hidden identity game and this really ticks a lot of boxes for me.

It really gets your heart beating and the way you have to navigate the social dynamics of whatever group you are with adds a new twist to every game.

It’s wonderful to see a group think they have secured victory, only to have it snatched away from them by a sneaky werewolf who convinced them that they were an innocent villager.

What’s Bad

Werewolf had a lot of different roles for it, if you put a gun to my head and made me say something bad about this game, it would be that in order to get a bigger Werewolf experience, you need to add expansions, I mean I personally think Daybreak is an essential.

Final Score

I love this game, it’s one I can pull out again and again and again.

I love to play a full game of Werewolf, but this comes pretty close to that.

I give this game a solid 7.5 out of 10


I will not lie I have looked at other reviews to get an idea of how to write this, I am no pro, but there is a possibility that I may have been influenced by reading them and some stuff may have filtered through to this review.

If you do spot anything that could be seen as heavily influenced by what someone else has said, let me know and I will be sure to credit and link them.

Game Details
NameOne Night Ultimate Werewolf (2014)
Accessibility ReportMeeple Like Us
ComplexityLight [1.39]
BGG Rank [User Rating]396 [7.15]
Player Count (recommended)3-10 (4-10)
Designer(s)Ted Alspach and Akihisa Okui
Artists(s)Gus Batts
Publisher(s)Bézier Games, Lacerta, Playfun Games, Popcorn Games, Ravensburger, Reflexshop, Siam Board Games, UBO CnC, Viravi Edicions and White Goblin Games
Mechanism(s)Hidden Roles, Role Playing, Roles with Asymmetric Information, Traitor Game, Variable Player Powers and Voting

Kill Team

img_8384After a summer filled with releases for Age of Signar it’s nice to get back to 40k, and following Death Masque we get the return of the popular Kill Team game.

My first forays in the 40k universe were with games of Necromunda, I had a force of Enforcers lead by the corrupt Sargent Hill who liked to go into combat with a shield and power maul. The thing I liked about the game was that it was easy to start and quick to get on the table fully painted (though in my case quite poorly) and I enjoyed some awesome games with my Enforcers, small games in which every figure counted.
Kill Team is kind of like that in that you get a small squad of 200pts, which allows you to buy, 0-2 Troops, 0-1 Elites, 0-1 Fast Attack. There are a few more selection rules, namely that you need at least four infantry models, nothing with more than 3 wounds or hull points, no vehicles with a combined AV of 33, no flyers and no 2+ saves.
img_8385With a force selected using this rules, you then can play as a small band of troops doing quite cool cinematic missions lead by your heroic leader. This is a fast easy way to try 40k and may be a cool way to try out a new faction without investing a huge ton of money on a whole army only to find out you dislike it.
The rules have been released on Black Library, fully updated for 7th edition for the low price of £6.99 as an ePub, or if you bought the 6th edition version, it’s a free update. For those on iOS there is also an enhanced version for £7.99.
img_8387The box set I am reviewing comes with these rules in a handy booklet, and you get a an excellent two player set which also includes a full copy of the 40k rules with a Raven Guard cover, along with a set of Space Marines Tactical Squad and a set of Tau Fire Warriors, and you get all of that for £40. And that is excellent value, its about the price of a decent board game these days and is perfect for starting out with 40k and you don’t fancy the Dark Angels or Chaos Space Marines offered in the Dark Vengeance box. The only things you don’t get are dice or templates, but in fairness these are easily acquired elsewhere.
So getting back to the game, when you build your army there is one thing you should bear in mind, and that is that when you add dudes to your team, although they may act as individuals in the game, you still buy them as a unit, so if you only want say 4 Space Marines, you still pay the price for 5 of them, so mixing and matching units can get quite hard.
img_8388The model with the highest leadership becomes your team leader and gets what is in effect a mini Warlord trait, which is chosen exactly the same way, by rolling a D6. You can then nominate three non-vehicle models to be specialists, and you can pick from one of five categories, Combat (melee orientated), Weapon (shooting orientated), Dirty Fighter (dirty tricks), Indomitable (making the model a bit special), or Guerrilla (movement orientated). When you pick your specialist you then get to given them a special rule from the category, for example in the Raven Guard kill team data sheet included in the rule book, a model armed with a Missile Launcher, is an Indomitable Specialist and gets the Relentless Special Rule, meaning he can fire that Missile Launcher on the move. Now you only get one of each speciality so no giving yourself multiple versions of the same specialist.
The book also contains six special Kill Team missions which are played on a 4’x4′ board. The missions do have slightly different rules to standard games, for example, transports can carry multiple units, because each model is a unit all of its own. And some codexs get a tweak too, for example, Chaos Daemons don’t use the Warp Storm or Daemonic Instability rules, but they do get fearless instead.
img_8389There is a nice mix of mission in there, objective missions, assassination missions, get into your opponents deployment zone, but they are all quite fun and short in length, so you can easily play a couple of games in a single session.
The book then looks at what the next steps in Kill Team could be, for example it suggests tournaments, linked games, and multiplayer games. So you can see Kill Team offers plenty of scope beyond whats in the box.
Finally the book contains Data Sheets fro two pre-built Kill Teams built from the kits in the box, one a Raven Guard squad, and the other, a team of Tau Fire Warriors complete with Drones. This is a cool template to use, but does somewhat take away from the fun of building your own Kill Team, but for people new to 40k, they are perfect.
So whats my final opinion on Kill Team, well its good, its very good, its an excellent kitchen table/beer and pretzels wargame, its dirty and quick to play. But, and its a big but, like with all Games Workshop wargames, it all depends on the players, in the hands of most of the players I know, it will be fine and fun, but in the hands of the WAAC players, it will be broken very easily,  for example, taking an Eldar Hornet, which is perfectly acceptable for use in Kill Team.#
Its a great game, just be wary of who you play with!

8/10

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