Duel of Ages: Worldspanner
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Behind the stunning artistry of Duel of Ages lies an epic, deeply intriguing strategy game that will capture your attention for years to come.
Build the uniquely modular game map to your own advantage, thwarting the enemy's attempt to do the same.
Accept a random roster of heroic characters, each with radically different abilities. Discover a way to turn this diverse group into an effective team.
To survive, your team must acquire strange and deadly equipment by confronting the illusionary guardians of the labyrinths.
But through every minute of play, the enemy will be uncomfortably close, hounding your team as you hound theirs...
With character teams, equipment, and even the map itself changing from game to game, you will discover a unique experience with each play.
No matter your gaming background -- be it roleplaying, hard-bitten wargaming, or relaxing nights with family or friends -- you will find an enjoyable experience that is easy to learn, fun to play, and rich with imagination.
My son and I have finally found a game that we both can relate to, play and enjoy. I get my tactical and strategic fill...and he gets to 'Grok' me to his heart's content.
Duel of Ages is a great game that is sound in its mechanics and yet is compelling in each game that is played. I love the tales my son gets to tell Mom about how 'Grok' hit 'Tex' while riding on the mountain bike. I also like the fact I do not have to explain spell casting, vampires or scantily clad women to him...we get to enjoy having fun without mature themes.
Venatic delivered a game to my family with this title. I am looking forward to getting the expansions.
As a prelude to next semester's psych thesis, my group is profiling game interaction within a college environment. We are limiting to tabletop games, because the rest of the mob is concentrating on computer gaming.
Summer break prevented us from getting any further than one week's profiling with five games. We went with variety -- in so far as games we knew, given short time. Duel of Ages was one of those games
College dorm sociology places young, hyper-libido members of the opposite sex in close proximty to each other. Social awareness is perhaps the highest in their entire life. Social energy, especially among the female sector, shoves many other less-social activities aside.
In general, males have a strong pull towards competition and challenge. This is especially true of computer gaming, which acts as a strong 'hermit' effect. To phrase it acceptably, men tend to want to hole up to fight whatever 'dragons' challenge them, and see women only for 'quality' time. Women are quite the opposite.
Duel of Ages was chosen because no-one had yet played it. One player had purchased the first two of this series. This was the only copy we had, so our games were limited. We played with the expansion only after our profile was complete.
Among males the game was received initially with mixed emotions, I think because there were some rules confusions that held us up. We also played with only one character each, which meant some players were kicked out quick. Regardless, recruitment ability was strong for the game, with interesting characters, artwork, and gameplay (once we got it right).
The game proved to have very high holding power, however. Of the five, it was the most requested for replay. Also, a few players who had initial negative reactions became much more positive about it. At the end, it became the most uniformly liked among male players (#3 among female). The game also produced 'obsessors' similar to Warhammer and Magic.
I recently received Sets 1 through 3 of the game myself. It surprises me how engaging the game is. I have not seen the game in about three days now, with it being borrowed by my younger brothers and their friends, and my uncle, who is big into games. They won't stop talking about it (which gets clucks from my aunt :) ).
I personally think the game is fascinating. It is easy to play, but changes every game. Based on our dorm room experience and that at home, this is definitely a game I'll be asked to play for some time to come. My friends who stayed for summer school are suffering gradewise because of it :). Highly recommended as a college game, but (like most games) only in the men's dorm room.
Duel of Ages requires a review because it has accomplished something that I was not sure possible. It has pulled my attention away from computer games, and returned me to this fantastic hobby.
DoA is a sport played out there in the future. It began as a military exercise to train this huge space being called Lith what humans and fighting is. She does not understand these things because she is solitary, and huge.
This is weird, but it is a fun weird. Lith has little impact on game play, but is (according to the DoA website), apparently a foundation on which a series of games and expansions to DoA are planned.
Players divide into two teams. Each team receives a random group of characters. The characters are from four ages and all walks of life ancient barbarians, colonial trick shots, modern detectives, future aliens, and so on.
Teams then build the map, using big hexagonal platters and small triangular keys. Both teams try to make the map beneficial to their teams strengths.
The game then goes into game turns. Each team begins bringing characters onto the map, two at a time. The teams move and adventure, alternating until time runs out. Combat in the game serves to hinder and reduce the ability of the other team, but adventure success determines victory.
In the basic set, there are five victory points to be gained. You can gain only 1 Victory Point for combat, no matter how many enemies you eliminate. You gain 4 Victory Points for adventures, 1 for each of the four labyrinths. In later sets, there are additional victory points for other adventures, so combat is definitely not the path to victory except as a means of slowing down the enemys adventuring.
I have now seen many attempted comparisons of other games to DoA. I will not try to do this, because I simply do not know any close relative to DoA. It is a griffon:
Computer game: I have seen DoA compared to a first-person shooter. I can see that slightly. I think a much better comparison is to third-person RPG games like Baldurs Gate a diverse team attempting quests in the face of opposition. The reason is because the path to victory in DoA is not combat (like a shooter), but accomplishment (like Baldurs gate).
Team sports: DoA is played by two teams. Always two teams. It also has a time limit. When the whistle blows, the team with the most points wins.
RPG: DoA is definitely not an RPG in terms of game play. But, combat is most like D&D or the D20 system than anything else. And the characters, equipment and environment have the personality felt when playing an RPG.
Wargame: There is an emphasis on combat in the game. While adventuring is dealt with at an abstract level, combat mechanics are more detailed. Also, the turn-based mechanics are similar to (but much simpler) than ASL or other old AH-style tactics games.
Manufacturing: The manufacturing is good enough not to hinder play once you know how to flatten the platters. But it is not the same as that feel of a Rio Grande game.
Character count confusion: It was difficult to determine from the rules how many characters you should play with. After many plays, I understand the flexibility of this now. But, the rules should have given suggestions to avoid the confusion in the first place.
Male-emphasis: I agree with Maritime that few games are clear attractors to women, and DoA is no exception. My daughters and wife like to look at the game, and wrinkle my Appaloosa card :), but play only out of politeness.
Access: I can teach this game to anyone, including non-gamers.
Replay Value: I am cheating a little on this review, because I do have the full game series. But I cannot imagine this game ever getting stale. The situation is so different on each game map, character team, equipment, adventures, people that I must coordinate with on my team, and so on.
Luck Balance: In my first few games, I was not sure about the luck element. Now, I am delighted with this aspect of the game. I can win consistently, but cannot assume the win. DoA uses dice, but there is not a single mandatory dice roll in the game. Dice rolls occur because you or your opponents strove to make something happen. And the dice are often mitigated. If someone kills one of your characters with a lucky roll, they lose their weapon. Characters are traveled around the map through a dismissal roll. But you have from two to four locations to choose from as a result of that roll. Also, luck can be scaled by using less characters (around 4-5) and adventures (Set 1 only). This gives my son a better chance at victory without me having to sandbag. Against my hard-core group, I can play with 10-12 characters per team, with low luck effect.
Finesse: This is the very interesting aspect of the game. The game has a combat emphasis, and yet combat is not the main strategic emphasis. The better I get at the game, the less I resort to combat. With the characters from the whole series, there are so many means to use good team management, trickery, and maneuvering to win. It is quite enjoyable to play against a fragger and see the sudden realization on his face when he realizes he is about to lose badly.
Engagement: This is the pro that has brought me back into the hobby. As my son grew older, he became heavily engaged in computer games. I wanted him to find other forms of enjoyment. We would play Carcassonne, Axis & Allies, and Settlers. He liked these games, but they did not strongly capture his interest. DoA is different. It has captured his attention, even at the cost of computer gaming. In my opinion, this is the finest father-son game ever produced.
Suitability: The game has no gore or other adult material. It is perfectly suitable for any age, which was my reason for trying it out in the first place. I can count on one finger the number of combat-based games that do this.
Other Game Aspects:
Age of Players: The game recommends 12 and up. The producers should have given a split rating. It is easy to teach this game to 10-year-olds. But I think most 12 year-olds would have difficulty learning this game on their own. I think 9+ for play, but 14+ for learning.
Number of Players: The game gives great flexibility on number of players. Honestly, though, I think that more than 5 players on a team would be too much. Just physically, the board is too small!
Length: I do not agree with the ideal of games lasting less than an hour. If that were universally true, all entertainment forms would follow that pattern -- the best movies would be 30 minutes. A game like DoA should be movie-length, because in a sense the game has a plot, and characters develop a little line of personality through their events. Considering the old AH games I used to play or even Risk or Axis and Allies (not to mention Talisman), the 2-3 hours length is quite trim for the type of game.
Replayability: The highest Ive ever seen outside of RPGs, as described above.
Strategy: A management game, not a grand overriding strategy game. Many little decisions rather than a few large ones. It is not a game that a player would plateau on, where he could not become any better.
Luck: The DoA website talks about an 80/20 rule, that says a good player can win 80% of the time. That would be about right for the high-character games but games with a few character and labyrinths is much more luck-based. I like the 80/20 idea, because pure strategy games (like chess) are more like work to me, just another logic problem to solve.
Downtime: Some, but not much. The out-of-turn player is active for combat, so he cant let up. Also, when playing on a team, what downtime there is is filled with frantic decision-making, winks and nods.
Elimination: Elimination of players is nearly nonexistent. If a player gets his characters killed, a partner simply hands off a character to him.
Social Strength: DoA has no negotiations, instead having cooperative team play. I like this better than something like Settlers, where Dad always gets hammered by the Thief :). The interaction in DoA teams is cooperative (and fun!), not cutthroat and confrontational.
Art: Unless you absolutely hate 3D art, this is truly great art for a game, as others have pointed out. It probably is a great draw to CCG players.
Any game that can compete with computer games has something going for it. Duel of Ages is able to grab the attention of both me and my son.
I am new to this community and not a hardcore gamer. My review is not based on a comparison of other games to Duel, but my impressions of playing the game and the observations of those I play with. So please read it in that context.
First Impressions of the game:
What I was most impressed of at first with the game is the artwork. The grapics on the cards and rulebook looked very nice. I also thought the idea of intermixing eras was very clever. As a literature major in college, I always wondered what Beowulf would do on a jetski with a photon blaster.
The only initial complaint I had were the little cardboard character pieces. The come in a sheet all connected. so when I tried to take them apart, the little corner would sometimes tear a little. On a bigger piece, that would be alright, but on a little chracter piece it was a little frustrating. In the future, I would suggest seperating the pieces with an exacto knife.
Playing the game:
The first time I played DoA Worldspanner, I did so with one of the Venatic employees, Josh Evarts, so I was fortunate to have that first hand training. My learning curve for the game was probably a little shorter than most, but my experience has been that people with any type of analytical mind pick up the game quickly. I have played the game approximately 25 times since it came out in March, and these are my thoughts:
Pros of the game:
I like the diversity of the characters. Every time I get a team of completely divergent characters with different strengths and special abilities. That means I don't know my strategy for any given game until the game starts. It stresses the ability to think quickly and analytically. It also makes knowing all chracters, weapons, and objectives essential. When you play against a clock with so many missions, you must prioritze quickly, and corectly, or you'll lose.
I also like the camraderie of playing with and against other people. Now that may true of any game ever made, from Taboo to Titan, but what makes DoA stand out to me is that the engineering of Duel allows for epic momments which can either completely boost your psyche when things are not going well or completely shatter morale. It is fun to watch the opposing team quiver and it hurts me to my gut when it happens to me (as it did last night, tragically).
Cons of the game:
The accumulation of equipment. The only probably with getting gear is that sometimes it takes an hour before decent equipment can be had. Now if you're playing a two hour game, that sometimes feels like too big a part of the game. If you have one team with great melee skills and another team that really needs equipment to be successful, than you really have a problem. I can't think of a way to fix this, and it has only happened once, but it was very frustrating. Again, though, the diversity of the game is what I like the most, so I shouldn't complain, but I hate losing, so I'm bitter.
The dice. Now before I start on this I know true-gamers will probably dismiss me just for being shallow enough to complain about this element of the game but I think I must. I have renamed my two blue angles the 'Sirens' because they might sound beautiful, but in the end, lately, they have ultimately caused my gruesome death. Character health is sometimes a little low, so someone can pot-shot with a lucky roll and kill a superior player. Granted that attributes to those epic moments I just referred to, but still sometimes the balance of the dice is not quite right and may affect strategy more than neccessary. If you can consistently roll under 6 combined on two 6-siders, than you can consistently win the game. And I know the averages are that dice always balance each other out over time, but just sometimes it doesn't feel that way.
I really enjoy playing the game. Every person I have taught the game to (8 so far) have really enjoyed the game. It is not too hard to pick up mechanics and the exploration and development of strategy is very fun to do as a team and afterwards with competitors. I play with one of my coworkers (who is actually serving as feedback for me as I write this review) and we spend a couple hours a day just talking about the game and strategy.
Having been a boardgamer, wargamer, role-player, Magic the Gathering player for well over 30 years (starting with Avalon Hill's Blitzkrieg and working up all the way to ASL), I can wholeheartedly state that their is no finer boardgame in existence than Duel of Ages.
Playing 14 characters against 14 characters over 7 platters is a thrill unparalleled in my previous gaming experience ---- and
I've had plenty of gaming thrills being the only 3 time winner of AH's Rail Baron at the World Boardgaming Championships held annually at Baltimore, MD. Also, at the same tournament, I was the GM for Kingmaker for 9 years.
So I'm a heavy-duty gamer who has experienced the entire spectrum of gaming (except for miniatures), and there is nothing else out there that matches this game in excitement level, replay value, variability of tactical choices, artwork of the finest quality, an elegant combat system, opportunities for statistical rankings of unique & sophisticated characters, and tons of equipment cards.
What Magic the Gathering is to collectable cards, Duel of Ages is to boardgames --- a giant leap forward incorporating the best elements of some of my personal past favourites such as Magic Realm, Titan, ASL, Roborally and even elements of collectable cards, role-playing and German style games.
Finally, in my opinion, it is also the best solitaire game I've ever experienced surpassing Formule De, ASL, and Kingmaker --- and the reason it's better is because there is so much to do on each and every turn when you play 14 characters against 14 characters to the best of their ability (and recording the success or failures of each character both in combat and adventuring in order to eventually compile detailed histories and ratings for each of the 136 characters!!!).
See Rail Baron at www.boardgamers.org
My favorite part of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was when Ghengas Khan was skateboarding around with a football helmet on, wielding a baseball bat. I found humor in the situation, and remember thinking that if Khan was around today, that's probably exactly what he'd do. Now there is a game that accurately simulates that same feeling.
I first heard of Duel of Ages (DOA) when perusing the Gathering of Friends reports. I saw that their was a game that was playable from 2-16 players. This is a rare thing in games, so it immediately caught my attention. I searched for it here on boardgamegeek, and then found the official site. One thing led to another, and soon I purchased the game, and have read quite a bit of it.
It's gotten a lot of loud hype, but is it worth it?
The short answer is YES! YES!, OH YES!
And now for the longer answer. If someone asked me to describe DOA, I would describe it as a cross between Mageknight, Cosmic Encounter, Frag, Squad Leader, Warhammer, MTG, and an RPG. That may make it seem as if DOA has spread itself across too many genres to be good at any of them. Quite the contrary is true.
A short description of the game: The players are split into two teams (don't have to be even): black and white. Each team controls several characters. These characters range from four different eras (ancient, colonial, modern, future) and real life (Buffalo Bill Cody, Geronimo, Willaim Wallace, etc.) to fantasy (Joshua the superhero, Grok, etc.) Each character has a set of stats for health, damage, speed, wits, aim, etc. They also have special abilities that make them unique. The teams then maneuver these characters through challenges and adventures, while fighting off the characters of the opposing team. After a predetermined time limit, the game ends. Victory points are determined by how many characters are remaining on each team and how many adventures have been completed.
Now for some points in the game:
1). Variety: This is the true scope of the game. If you just buy the basic set (which should satisfy most people) you get enough characters and equipment that I'd think you'd have to play the game scores of times to ever run across a duplicate situation. If you buy 1 expansion (or even all of them) the combinations are so many that I don't think you will ever have the same game twice.
2). Balance Issues: According to the designers, every character in the game is very balanced (with the exception of one weak character - who I haven't figured out yet). Some characters come across as weak or useless, but all characters have moments where they shine! It's amazing how you can use each character differently - and almost none of them feel as if they are carbon copies of other characters. As you play the game, you will feel yourself growing attached to your characters, and will hate to have one killed, stolen, or imprisoned.
3). Fun: Many, many games are considered great by the gaming public. Some games are really, truly great games - but just don't have that 'Wow' - fun factor. Frag is a good example of a game that has the fun factor, but is not a very well balanced game. DOA, however, not only has the fun factor down - it is a very well balanced, smooth playing game. There is almost no downtime, and you are drawn into the story of your characters. After games, instead of talking about the mechanics, I'll say things like - 'Remember when Geronimo unleased the tiger on the Bladed Terror and the Bladed Terror shreaded him? It's a good thing that Jedadiah Smith was able to take his helicopter to the top of the ridge and draw a bead on the Bladed Terror with his pistol!' You find that each game becomes a story, an adventure, one that you will immediately play again. And every character might have that moment to shine: Where the mountaineer climbs up the cliff to escape the raging monster, where the kung fu master was mind-warped by Jolie, where several players tried to get through the insane dungeon of Geoff and failed, where Tex was able to raid the enemy base of all their valueables. It's just that fun. You'll be talking about the game afterwards for days - and it won't be hard to get players to try it again.
3) Genres: I think this game will appeal to people of many gaming genres. CCG players and Cosmic Encounter fans will like the diversity of the characters and equipment. Strategy and War gamers will like the tactics used on the battlefields. Theme enthusiasts will like the excellent background story and the story that each game becomes. Board gamers will be enamored by a solid game system that seems to have no gaping flaws or is 'broken'.
4) Support: The author and producer of the game are very involved in the community. They have the best board game site I have seen for a specific game, ever. It has all the rules for the game and its expansions so that you can read them before purchasing. It has the statistics for EVERY character, and pictures of many. They are quick to respond to emails, and will help with questions and ideas. They encourage people to send in their own artwork and ideas, that might even get used in the game!
5) Artwork and Bits: Contrary to what Cheapass games says - most people love beautiful bits and artwork. I have pulled the Cannes game out many times, only to continually put it away because the artwork is so bad. I like to see nice bits and artwork. It helps immerse one into the world of the game, and makes it generally more fun to play over all. This game does not disappoint. The boards (platters and keys) are beautiful, with many different scenary items and 'cookies' scattered across them. Each card has stunning artwork - especially the item cards. You might catch yourself staring at the weapons and animals, because they look that good. The labyrinth cards, the hero cards, the backgrounds - all are exceptionally done. The method used to do the artwork is fantastic. As for the cardboard counters for the heroes - they are nice, but I wish that they had been two sided, as it takes a good bit searching through them to find your characters for each game. I helped by writing the characters' names on the backs, and you only do this once a game, as you set up - so it's a minor quibble. The boards were bent a little, also - but the publishers have apologized for this mistake (at the printers) and have corrected it for future editions.
6) Luck and Strategy: I'm not a huge fan of games with no luck (Chess, etc.) because in life, strange things can happen. I'm also not a huge fan of games with all luck (Yahtzee, etc.) because I want to have a lot of control over the game. DOA fits well between the two. There is a lot of dice-rolling, but you control the events surrounding the dice rolling. For example, Grok is a very strong character - good at fighting. However, he is as dumb as a brick. I could send him on a wits challenge, hoping against hope that I'll roll a '12' - the only thing that would work - but it would frankly be stupidity (just like Grok!) on my part. He's much better used on the field, whacking away on other characters. Each character has a use, and a good commander will stick them all in the right place.
7) Expansions: This immediately turns many people off to games - its why many of us boardgamers stopped collecting CCGs. Set after set would come out, with better and bigger characters, etc. But with DOA, all you need to have fun is to buy the original set. Then, after that, you can pick which one of the 7 expansions (more to come, I think) to buy. Each one is different and adds a lot to the game. Set two adds some more maps, characters, and team bases. If you buy any expansion - this is it! Set three adds so many maps I doubt you'd ever want to buy more. Sets 4-7 each add a pile of characters and weapons and equipment. Each expansion also adds a 'key' - a small board piece with special rules. You can mix and match these as you please - all are very well balanced, and nothing really throws off the game that much.
8). Money: The game is a bit expensive - but it is good quality, and you'll certainly get your money's worth playing it. And it's not expensive at all when compared to other games with similar components.
9). Rulebook: Not only are the rules available online, but the rulebook itself is well-written, well designed, and easy to use. There are some small reference cards to help remember the charts, but the charts are so easy to memorize that you probably won't use them after one or two games. The rulebook is short, funny, and not confusing at all (like many other rulebooks). I was able to teach the game in fifteen minutes, and during the game - we consulted the rulebook twice - pretty good for a ninety minute game.
10). Time: Time is variable in the game - the game ends when you want it to. We played a 90 minute game last night, and it went quickly. We could have easily played for 2 or three hours. You could play a 60 minute game, but I don't think it would be as much fun. This may detract it for some people, with a time reference of 2 - 3 hours, but the time went fast, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
11). Humor: I'm not always a fan of Cheapass or Steve Jackson components, but I love their humor. DOA has great components, and is saturated with humor. We laughed many, many times while playing.
I could talk at great lengths more about the game - but I want to go play now! I'll close by saying this - check out the games that I rank highly here on boardgamegeek, and compare your ratings to them. I rank this game a '10' because I'll play it anytime, any day, anywhere. If I had to descibe this game in one word, I'd say 'fun'. Do yourself a favor - play this game, and you'll have fun too.
I don't want to overhype this title, but I really like it. It is a low complexity tactical wargame, with a bunch of sci-fi/fantasy elements. The game plays quick and I really enjoy going around the boards to find items to build up my character (dice rolls vs a skill ratings). These places you go to serve as tactical positions on the map to fight over.
You have to know what kind of game this is. If what I described above is of interest, consider it.
So, to sum up: Take Squad Leader (with about 1/3 the rules), mix in Magic and Cosmic Encounters and set the game to play along the lines of Frag. A local wargaming group got interested in it, and is looking to play it the next meeting.
My group finds this game to be fun and exciting to play. The variety with all the characters and equipment, keeps it fresh each time you play. I think that it is a value as well, considering the obvious care that went into making this game. By the way, I had the PLEASURE of dealing with the customer service people at Venatic and this company is the most gracious I have EVER dealt with. I will purchase more of their products on just that alone, as I am rest assured that they put that they care about their product.
Sadly there's really not much of a game here and what there is is both bizarre and fails to live up to the expectations raised by the apparently (see below) cool graphics and the hype on the game's website. I'm really not sure what the audience for this game is supposed to be. Certainly not 'German' gamers; certainly not recreational family gamers; and certainly not serous thinking gamers. I'm left thinking that this is aimed at people who just want something cool and game-like to collect, but even here it fails: the graphics (for all the hype, and claims of the creators to being graphic designers) are terrible stock CG stuff, weirdly colored and shaded (a real problem on the gameboard), and outright confusing during game play. The basic game has very little of interest, but I wanted to like this game so much that I ended up getting the entire package in the hope that the expansions would rescue the system from its dull beginnings, but to no avail -- the expansions joist add complexity without improving the game at all.
I really wanted to. I read all the rules at the DOA website, looked at descriptions of the company and the game, planned to buy the expansions, etc etc. But when I actually played DOA, it just sort of all fell apart. The game is kind of divided between little quests and shooting people, both of which translate into rolling dice. So you get a lot of use out of the dice. Others have complained about the complexity of the melee system, which honestly never bothered me.
I guess my main complaint is failed expectations. I expected this game to be a wild free-for-all with lots of cool gear and great heroes doing cool things; and there is some of that. But (in the first pack anyway) most of the gear is just variations on a gun, and a few movement modifiers, and the fact that the pieces are very small and shoddy compared to most Rio Grande-type games also is a factor. If I'm going to spend good money on this I would like it to last a while. I'm sure there is neat stuff in the expansions, but my budget doesn't allow for seven expansions. I've also heard that there is now a kit so that you can make your own cards and characters, and that sounds like it could be fun.
Now don't get me wrong. If you live in a dorm with lots of guys and you all like gameing, get this game. You WILL have fun. But if you are a little older, married, and looking for something for you and your wife and friends, this probably isn't for you. Many things about it make it a 'cult-classic' type game, not a 'risk' or 'scrabble' or even 'axis and allies' type game.
I'm not saying that this game is bad, I'm just saying be careful, and don't get your hopes too high, and think about who you will be playing with.
I was so excited to get this game. I ordered it direct and, after all the hype, was really expecting something great. What I got was a severe dissapointment.
I consider myself a 'hard core' gamer, meaning, I really like games. I like to like games. A new game I like makes me so happy. With all the raves I have read about DOA I was sure it was going to be fabulous. I talked it up to my gaming buddies. We couldn't wait for it. After 2 plays we just decided it wasn't that good. I mean, the components issue I can get around (and yes, it is bad), but the game is just not fun. I will hit some categories.
1. Pregame/endgame- The pregame pretty much revolves around getting your characters to the dungeons to get equipment. There is no kind of strategy to beating the dungeon, it is just a 12 space or so path with a challenge at the end. The challenges can be amusing, like making a final shot in a basketball game, or cooler like fighting some beast, but it all boils down to a dire roll the same as everything else. People usually avoid fights in the beginning because they are trying to get equipment. The power of the characer is basically gouverned by what equipment they pick up, even though some are natuarlly better in base stats at some kinds of functions (ie range battle, melee, etc).
The endgame is, well, there isn't one. You either loose when all your guys die or when a predetermined time limit is up. You then score depending on of you have more guys left than the other team, or if you have completed more challenges in the dungeons. That's it.
Rules/Bits: had to re-read the whole manual after one play. Couldn't find material easily during game. The manual looks well designed but it isn't. I won't mention the maps, as they have been maligned enough. I will say that all the horror stories are true. Graphics are nice. Character counters are hard to find on the board, but not too bad.
The combat system is cumbersome. 3 different chart checks? Come on. I get that you would memorize it after the fifth or sixth game in a week, but it shouldn't take that much. Easy -----> complex is the best equation, not the other way around.
Oh, the graphics an the cards are cool, but are all CGI. I personally like hand drawn art, but thats just me.
Anyhow, not one guys in my group had fun playing this. One guy thought he liked it and then changed his mind. We got to the point where one guy got a rifle, a remington .223, or some such. It had nine range and 1 damage. 1 DAMAGE! I had shurikens that I THREW that did more than that, not to mention my antique pistol. '.223 is the same round they use in M16's,' he said. 'It is killing people as we speak!' That was it. We put the game away. There was no recovery at that point. It didn't bother me, but he flipped.
I hear that the 1st expansion makes the game alot better, but I payed forty bucks for the basic set, why should I have to pay another forty to make the game playable? What if it still sucks? I will be in eighty bucks for nothing. Anyway, some people love this game. You may be one, but really see if you can try a game before you buy it.
Worldspanner is a mix of ideas that are cute but add up to nothing in the end. And boy, is it made poorly.
I had been to their site, got all hyped, and I really can't help but wonder if every review here was written by someone who works for the company. They really beef up parts of the game that are just... not there.
Its not that its unplayable, its just... who wants to?
The geomorphic map design is fantastic, however.