Wednesday 27 November 2013

Blue Wizard is about to DIE!!!!! (short AAR and thoughts on the game)

We were both a bit frazzled last night, so Steve and I opted for a light game. This was just the opportunity I needed to drag out Blue Wizard is About to DIE!!!! This is a game based around the old Atari favourite Gauntlet, so I was quite keen to try it out, because I had fond memories of spending all night playing Gauntlet with my mates. I bought it from Wargame Vault as a pdf and printed all the components a couple of weeks ago. Now I had the opportunity to see how it actually played.

The game can be played with 1-5 players. Players take the role of Amazon, Barbarian, Elf and Wizard. Each character has three lives, so when you die you are not out of the game immediately. If you use up your three lives, you must buy a new one by putting 50 gold in the slot or you are out of the game. In some variants, one player can take the role of Sorcerer and takes responsibility for moving all the monsters and generally being mean to the characters.
Amazon, Barbarian, Elf and Wizard stand ready to enter the dungeon

Characters are rated for the number of attacks they may make each turn and the amount of damage they can do. Amazon has a low power short range attack and a medium power melee attack. Barbarian is a total melee monster but has no ranged attack. Elf and Wizard both have low power melee attacks and good long-range attacks. Each character also has a special attack, which costs gold and health points to use but can prove quite devastating. Note to self: do not fire a lightning bolt at an adjacent monster. It hurts!

All characters move the same distance, but their speed is represented by the directions they may move in. Amazon may move in any direction. Wizard may make one diagonal move and may pass through one wall per turn. Barbarian and Elf may not move diagonally at all.

They must make their way through three dungeon levels filled with Grunks, Slimes and Spooks to find and defeat Sorcerer on the fourth level. On the way, they can search treasure chests for power-ups and healing, while trying to avoid the dreaded Freeze Trap.

The game is played semi-cooperatively. All players are on the same side but only one can actually win, while it is possible for all of them to lose. The winner is the character with the most gold at the end.
Level 1: Amazon and Wizard work together to clear their side of the dungeon. Barbarian is happy on his own, while Elf is trying to steal all the treasure and avoid the Grunks.
Monsters move towards the nearest players and attack them with little strategy and lots of brute force. They spawn each turn in the corners of the dungeon level and move towards the nearest character. If they end their move in range, they automatically do damage.
Level 3: Spooks, Slimes and Grunts everywhere! Tough level.
The Game
We had a thoroughly enjoyable game. Levels 1 and 2 went well for us. The monsters spawned and were killed at about the same rate. We found some treasure and moved on. Then we hit Level 3 and suddenly the flood-gates opened. We were swarmed by all types of monsters and all the characters lost lives trying to get through from the entrance to the exit portal. We should have had a couple of characters stand on portals to slow the rate of advance but we were not cooperating well, as we tried to get each other killed and take the magic items that the other dropped. Eventually we did it, and fought Sorcerer on the fourth level. After the difficulties of Level 3, Level 4 was almost an anti-climax. Sorcerer did little damage and we wore him down quickly. Victory was ours and Wizard won by having the most gold, despite having blown himself up with a lighting bolt at one point.

The Verdict
It was good fun. The game took longer than expected, but it worked well. The rules required some interpretation in places. They are short and to the point, but could have done with a bit more explanation in places. Aesthetically, the printed components are nice, but I was glad that I had dug out some figures to use instead of the character counters. Next time I shall dig out figures for the monsters too. Using figures lifted the game visually. It also leaves me tempted to produce the dungeon levels using my Hirst Arts moulds. That said, I think this is an occasional game, and not a regular game, so the effort is probably not justified. It is still a very good value-for-money game. At £3 (plus ink and card), I feel like I got a pretty decent product. I shall dig it out again next time we are too frazzled to play something more serious.

Thursday 14 November 2013

So, umm, I wrote a book ...

Over the Summer, a friend and I wrote a book about Vikings. It will be published in March, but is already up on Amazon for pre-order. If you already know a lot about Vikings, then this is the book to buy your friends to get them interested too. If you know little or nothing about Vikings, then this is the book for you. It's a general history with pictures and pull-out sections to illustrate all the points made. It also includes ideas for places to visit that are related to Vikings, so you can investigate their haunts in more detail. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

The publisher's blurb:
'From the remote and unforgiving landscape of northern Europe, the Vikings voyaged to far-flung areas of the world with extraordinary consequences. The Viking Experience examines the origins, explorations and settlements of these seafaring people, exploring their impact on the world as colonizers, craftsmen, traders and state-makers. This highly illustrated book provides a revealing portrait of the Vikings incredible legacy with a collection of facsimiles and translations of rare documents, including: Drawings and photographs from archaeological dig sites An extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, describing a Viking raid on Lindisfarne The Sk√°lholt map that marks Norse discoveries in the western Atlantic A page from the Stockholm Codex Aureus, an illuminated manuscript that was looted by the Vikings The Vinland map showing Norse exploration of America as an example of recreated Viking history.'

I really have to admit to being a little giddy and excited about this. :)