Duel of Ages: Mercenary Camp
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(Worth 1,495 Funagain Points!)
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War is hell... so pay someone else to fight it. At the Mercenary Camp, hire henchmen to take the field against your enemies. But don't delay -- the mercs deal only to those with serious intent and ready cash...
(This review assumes that you already know how to play Duel of Ages)
This is my favorite expansion (aside from expansion #2) for Duel of Ages. Not only does it add 2 very good rules to the game, but adds a nice little key, the Mercenary Camp. For those who can only buy one of the smaller expansions for Duel of Ages, this is the one I recommend.
The Mercenary Camp is a new adventure key that is shaped just like a labyrinth. It is very similar to the Lith Alliance provided in Set 2. Instead of running into the labyrinth to the end to the challenge, the test takes place at the beginning of the camp. The tests, in order are: Contact, a green wits challenge; Proof, challenger must lose a ranged or melee card; The Test, a yellow strength challenge; Negotiate, a yellow wits challenge; and The Deal, challenger must lose 2 ranged or melee cards. Once one team moves their marker to The Deal, they have the opportunity to hire mercenaries. Each mercenary is progressively more expensive, and therefore better. Also, the team whose marker is further in the Mercenary Camp at the end of the game gets one victory point.
Two new rules are provided with this expansion. The first is henchmen. The mercenaries acquired in the Mercenary Camp act as henchmen, and some characters start with henchmen. Henchmen act like independent characters, except they are subservient to another character. If their boss character dies, so do they, along with all their equipment!
The other rule is the addition of poison. Four new equipment cards have poison, as well as a character. Poison adds extra damage to one attack. Unfortunately, poison only affects living characters, so you can't poison your opponents renegade robot.
Some great new characters come with the expansion! Here is a short description of each, with my take on them.
Adigan the Mouse, the Bold Midgeling - A ferocious fighter who can move quickly. But I really don't like him because he deals out small amounts of damage and dies easily.
Baron von Krule, the Master Villain - Starts with an equipment card and a henchman, and has the ability to really disrupt the opponent's game with a devastating (although hard to set up) ability.
Daria Dugrebsky, the Countess - She's weak and not really good. But she comes with two henchman, and if you draw Grok and Beowulf to be those henchman, the opponent surely won't be laughing!
Diaz El Gato Montes, the Blademaster - 'You killed my father, prepare to die!' Diaz is an ordinary Joe Bloe without a weapon. But give him a blade, and he is the best melee fighter in the game.
Dr. Pennopolis, the Mentor - He's certainly nothing special, with some of the worst stats in the game. However, he can permanently improve his teammates stats, as well as give cards to people anywhere on the map. One of my favorite characters, but very easily killed.
El Cid, the Tragic Hero - A good fighter, and rises from the dead for 4 more rounds - which can be quite useful!
Gregory, the Healer - I laughed at this fellow when my opponent used him, as he can only heal, and never attack. But if you roll a '7' to hit him, your character joins his team! When one of your best characters snipes Gregory and ends up joining his team, then sniping your own characters, you gain a lot more respect for the chap.
Hamid Al-Duri, the Survivor - A good character who can easily pick up cards. The problem is that he will never share them with allies. Regardless, I really like using this guy.
John McGiddey, the Crafty Peasant - This guy is very similar to Agent 911, able to make opponents hit themselves. John is a better fighter, and I prefer him usually.
Kidd, the Outlaw - Kidd is a decent shot, but also has a special hideout on the board where he is safe, cannot be hurt, and can even heal! Just make sure you put the hideout in a convenient space, or you'll regret using Kidd.
Merissa of Ravenna, the Revered Icon - Not only does she get a henchman, Merissa is very difficult to hurt and/or kill.
Mogred Ghan, the Crime Lord - He gets 2 henchman. This necessitates him having poor stats, but he also comes with a floater that allows him to move fairly easily. Of all the people who get henchmen, I like him the least.
Mr. Catskill, the Vigilante - His stats get better every time an ally dies. For this reason, I usually target him first, and find that he's not that big of a threat that way.
Piccolo, the Dodger - A superb fighter, but he always hits last. That coupled with poor damage, and weak stats makes him one of my least favorite characters in the game.
Princess Sunglow, the Dainty Princess - She has the worst stats in the game, hands down. But, she can always ask for imprisonment over death, gives +1 to all allies when in prison or dead - and can turn honorable allies to her side just by being in the same space. She brings more fear into my heart on the opponent's team than some of the massive heavy hitters.
Sheridan, the Cavalryman - He has very good stats, and when on a mount, or with a weapon, they get even better. One of the most solid characters in the game.
Thotus, the Pulsating Brain - His stats really, really are bad. However, he can shoot mind control at people and take them over. It's powerful, but reversed when he dies. I like using his ability, but it's hard to keep him alive.
Whip Vypyr, The Agile Alien - Very fast and very difficult to kill. Doesn't deal out much damage, however, so I don't usually find it too useful.
Ygunna Gecha, the Bad Girl - She can deal out extra damage with her poisonous attacks. She can also steal cards, and has okay stats.
Zygoid, the Vegeton - A very hard creature to kill. But it deals out so little damage in return that I don't find much use for it.
There are also many equipment cards added in this expansion. Some of my favorites include the poison cards, the Zenith mirror, and the Helm of Poloneus, which protects the user from Mental Attacks.
This is a fine, fine expansion, with Venatic Games high quality. I recommend this expansion highly!
Sadly there's still there's not much of a game here, despite the heap of game components (and big boxes) this system has accumulated.
As I've said before, I'm really not sure what the audience for this game is supposed to be. Certainly not Eurogamers; certainly not recreational family gamers; and certainly not people with an interest in preserving their sight. One hypothesis is 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). Avoid!