Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finally here: Swords & Wizardry Whitebox Set!

I'm way over due on this, but I finally received my Swords and Wizardry White Box a little over a week ago. Due to a mix up with the mail it didn't come, but then John, who's a stellar guy BTW, sent a new one and it arrived in good order.
As you can see it's PACKED with great stuff, including some character sheets, the primer guide, and even has an adventure module. The only thing not shown here is the pencil it came with, which, believe it or not, I thought was a great touch!
I've not seen the side box art shown too much on other sites, so I figured I'd show what a wonderful job the artist did. I already have some fantastic minis I'll make part of the set and I plan throwing a copy of Doug Easterly's Savage Swords of Athanor in there too.

Thanks again to Brave Halfling for making this available, I'm looking forward to digging in!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Game Review: Iconicia (The World of Rynaga)

I don't think I mentioned that I picked up this new game, Iconica, created by graphic designer Eric Torres. I'd read a review a while back on Wired's Geek Dad blog (see the link below for a solid review with more pics). It's a homebrew game strategy game that features gorgeous, original artwork by Torres, as well as a few crunchy block bits and dice.

Wired did such a great job with their coverage that I'd be just repeating most of what they said, but I can speak a bit about my own game session. I'd had it for a few months but Memorial Day weekend presented a great excuse to bust out the game with my pal Joe and take it for test drive.

Highlights of Play 
Basically, you build an army (a band of character templates) from three different factions that you use in combat. The starter set gives you enough cards to play three characters in what is essentially your army (read: deck). You play the cards face up and use small wooden cubes to denote certain effects (stun, poison, blindness, etc.) and a health counter. Each character card has six "actions" (1d6) they can perform in the game, but there's a catch!

Character actions are decided by dice, the strategy comes into play by deciding which character you're going to use AFTER the dice are rolled. This might turn some people off, but in fact it's a really interesting dynamic because there are only three actions to choose from...at least in the beginning. Once your army starts to dwindle, the real strategy is in trying to stay alive. The game compensates by allowing dying characters a "final act" of heroism to stave off the reaper and inflict one final blow on your sworn enemies. Or in this case Joe, because he played dirty and blinded, poisoned, and walloped my guys.*

There are enough in-game effects and events that can occur to keep players on their toes. I also enjoy the idea of mixing/matching cards to build your army, which I'd liken to the possible board layouts you can achieve in Settlers of Catan--different cards give your deck unique abilities.
*All three of my characters are poisoned (green cubes next to cards) and the center character is blinded (orange cube on face). The placement of the cubes is as important as their color in Iconica.
Perks and Extras
Our game session was quite long, mainly due to learning the rules, which could use a better tutorial. In the end though, we had a blast, and just look at the beautiful illustration and design by Torres.
The cards are glossy, high-quality cardstock and there's even a few card protectors thrown in for good measure. It's quite clear this game is a labor of love!
It's worth noting that Torres is constantly supporting the game with new character types, illustrations, and he even published a book to describe the setting of Rynaga. The game is relatively inexpensive, which made it really easy to purchase the basic, 2-player set as well as a few expansion cards. Torres has added team rules so more players can join in the fun--I'm looking forward to trying those out as soon as I pick up a few more cards. I also really like supporting a one-man game design operation. Torres sells the game, expansions, and extras on his Etsy site.

For now, I look forward to playing Iconica again, hopefully with more players!

Learn more:
Iconica Blog
Eric's Etsy store
Wired review
Boardgame Geek entry