Black Lives Matter and Anti-Racism

Although Pen and Lead has been silent in regards to articles recently, I wanted to affirm that I support the Black Lives Movement and am firmly against racism. As future media on this blog is concerned, I will take action to increase and promote BIPOC and the content and products produced, designed, or made within the gaming world.

This blog is not a haven for racists.

DGS News January 2020 –

DGS Games updates us on what’s happening in 2020. Mathew Green returns to the team and a new model, the Ghora, is being released for their Shakrim faction.

In addition, they are doing something new at worldanvil.com and adding all of their content there. https://www.dgsgames.com/dgs-news-january-2020/

Tabletop Analytics Kickstarter Top Grossing Trending

via Kickstarter Top Grossing Trending – Tabletop Analytics

Tabletop Analytics takes a look at the top-grossing live game projects on Kickstarter right, with the following in the top five:

The Baron’s War set in the years of 1215-1217 of the Magna Carta conflict, this miniature game features 28mm miniatures.

Aeon Trespass: Odyssey is a 1-4 campaign game that includes giant monsters. They’ve easily surpassed their $50,000 goal.

Board Royale: The Island Survival Card Game is almost 3x its funding goal of $30,000

The Forbidden Lands RPG has an expansion called the Bitter Reach Campaign and Reprist that is 965% funded.

Lastly, is Gugong: Panjun Deluxe expansion that included four expansion modules and a big box for Gugong.

 

Pen and Lead At Gen Con Con 2019

Pen and Lead will be at Gen Con 2019 this year and Bob would love to say, “Hello” to anyone who will also be there!GCLogo

Bob is volunteering with Ares Games either doing events in the event hall or doing demos at the booth, #341.

AresLogo

If you are there, please send a message and let’s say, “Hello!”

via Gen Con LLC | Gen Con 2019

Review of Starlight Stage from Japanime Games

A Review of Starlight Stage by Japanime Games

A Review by Chris Page

[Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the publisher but I have received a promotional copy of the game for this review.]

Product Name: Starlight Stage
Publisher: Japanime Games
Mechanics: Card Game, Competitive, Set Collection
Cost: $24.99
Genre: Anime, Pop Culture, Music, Pop Idol
# of Players: 3-4
Time: 30-60 minutes
Ages: 10+
Designer: Hironatsu Yamada

Starlight Stage is a 3 to 4 player game (3-5 with the upcoming Shining Star expansion) for ages 10+ where you are recruiting idols for your talent agency. You win by having the most fame points at the end of the game. This is done by recruiting stronger idols to your agency and sending them out to do different types of work for you, called assignments, which range from a drama appearance (1 fame point) all the way to the Starlight Stage (the only nonidol 5 fame point card currently in the game).


The game is similar to a deck-building game where you draft cards to a pool with your resources in hand. However, instead of the cards going to your discard and then slowing filtering into your hand, only idols that you purchase go to the discard pile, the rest go face up in front of you, either granting you fame points in the case of the fame cards or granting you medallions, which they call achievements, in the case of some event cards. The currency, which they call talent, takes the form of musical notes (Music), hearts (Charm), and diamonds (Acting), while the achievements use the same symbols but look like they are on a coin.

There are three different pools of cards; Idols, Fame, and Events.

The idols are the cards that give you talents to use to buy and are the cards where you will spend both your talents and your medallions. You can only ever use 1 idol card at a time except to buy event cards where you can use multiple idol cards to buy a single card. Also, you can only ever buy a single card each time you take a turn.

To play, each player starts with 1 each of the 3 starting idols. On their turn, they must play an idol to do something if they have an idol in hand, otherwise, you are required to pass. There are 4 different assignments you can take each turn: Acquire an Event Card, Reinvent an Idol Card, Acquire a Fame Card, and lastly Take a Lesson. The first three actions are fairly simple to understand. The last action, while still simple, can change what you are able to do down the road. For the assignment Take a Lesson, you send an idol you have in hand to gain a token that is used just like a talent from an idol. The talent that you pick however does not have to be the same as the talent of the idol you used. This can allow you to play a starting idol which only has one talent on the card and then use your talent tokens to buy bigger cards that you normally wouldn’t be able to buy with a starting idol.

The group that I played the game with so I could write this review are anime fans so they really enjoyed the art on the cards. The game played simple enough that it would be easy to break out and teach a new player/players but still have enough strategy in how you play your cards and which actions you take that it wouldn’t be boring for returning players that have already played the game a couple of times. I look forward to seeing what the upcoming expansion will bring to the game besides the 5th player and hope that I can get the group to play this again soon.

Find the game at Japanime Games’ website here:

Starlight Stage

On Boardgame Geek here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/247790/starlight-stage

Review of SAS Interactive’s Carthage

Carthage Review

Carthage by SAS Interactive

A Review by Bob Nolan

[Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the publisher but I have received a promotional copy of the game for this review.]

Product Name: Carthage

Publisher: SAS Interactive

Mechanics: Boardgame, Competitive, Deck Building, Miniatures

Cost: $49.99, Amazon

Genre: Historical, Roman

# of Players: 1-5

Time: 30-60 minutes

Ages: 13+

Designer: Luke Sienen

Can you survive the Carthage theater and gain enough glory and survive the day? Find out in Carthage the miniatures board game from SAS Interactive.

Introduction

Carthage, is, at its core, a deck-building game. The cards in your deck (and in hand) are action cards that allow your gladiator to move, attack, or gain favor to help defend against other actions on a hex-based map of a small arena. It’s a take-that game where players try to attack their opponent’s models while gathering glory to buy new cards. The winner is the player who has the last model standing.

Components and Artwork

The artwork in the game is very thematic. Player cards have unique artwork on them and evoke a feeling of being in a gladiatorial arena. The cards also fit the theme and although nice, don’t distract you from gameplay. The artwork on the board is nice, and the hexes and other bits are easily distinguishable. As a color-blind gamer, I did find the red line two hexes in from the outside edge of the arena hard to find, although, that small issue didn’t bother me in the gameplay at all.

 

The components are nice and have a good tactile feel. You have cards in hand, you can buy cards, the cubes are nice as ways to track armor and glory. I find all the components of good quality. Although subjective, I didn’t grab any of the pieces and think there were shortcuts made in production.

The miniatures are made of plastic and come with colored hex bases so you can distinguish which character is yours in the arena. Although they won’t be winning any awards, they are detailed and interesting enough that the casual gamer should be satisfied while a more discerning hobbyist might find interest in painting their models.

 

The tokens used are good, thick, cut and punch out without ripping or tearing. The game board itself is durable and will stand enough use and normal wear and tear.

Game Play

Each player controls a gladiator that must survive the arena in order to win. Gladiators have their own decks of unique cards which are used to perform actions. However, the decks for each gladiator are the same. I think the designer lost a chance of interest at the point by not making each deck unique to the specific gladiator. Although all the decks are the same, the deckbuilding mechanic helps alleviate this issue to a small degree. I think, though, that it was a lost chance at making the game more interesting. Although there was this lost chance, players can choose to play with the unique equipment rules, which are unique to each gladiator. This does help, but, although it adds some depth to the game, adds an aspect that isn’t needed if the gladiators had their own unique decks.

The gladiators have their player boards that show armor, which is essentially their health, and the amount of glory they earned and spent. In addition, the player board has a spot for your deck and discard pile. Each gladiator starts at 20 armor, and once they lose all 20 points of armor, they are eliminated.

There are three main phases in Carthage:

  1. A theater phase
  2. An action phase
  3. Favor phase

In the theater phase, the top card of the theater deck is flipped and sets the mood,

the scene, or theme for the current phase. Some examples of the events on the theater card include “Bellows for Blood” which immediately grants all players +2 glory, “The Will of Hannibal” which says that the players with the most armor lose 2 armor. All theater cards affect players in the arena and can cause some surprisingly interesting situations to occur- Especially, if, in the middle of a game, one player has a lot of armor and has to lose some armor, or, a card causes characters to gain extra movement. The theater deck (event deck) has become a standard part of a lot of modern games and provides appropriate tension during the game.

The action phase is where players draw five cards from their respective decks and plan

which cards to play. These cards are important as they tell you what your gladiator can do- from moving, attacking, or gaining glory, you have to decide which cards to play and when. The first player will play their first card and move their miniature, doing damage or moving hexes, then the next player can play their first card, activating their miniature, and so on, until every player has played one card and activated their miniature. Every player gets a chance to play all five of their cards.

Although every player will play their five cards, you will not be able to use each card. Sometimes, you’ll have fewer cards with movement so you’ll have to keep your gladiator in one place while your opponents move around the arena. Timing is important so you have to plan your card in reaction to what other players play. The cards are supposed to mimic the actions your gladiator performs in the arena, but, you can’t always anticipate or react to your opponent’s exact moves.

The action cards make the game very tactical and strategy is key- Learn to use the right action card at the right time to destroy your opponent’s armor for the win.

In addition to moving, attacking, and gaining armor, the action cards can also gain you Favor. In phase 3, the Favor phase, you use the favor you earned in the Action phase to buy new cards to your deck. This is an opportunity to make your deck special and unique. As stated before, all of the decks for each gladiator are the same, but, the deckbuilding and purchase of cards will make the game more interesting and challenging, not only for you but for your opponent.

Game Design

The design feels as if the deck-building part was tacked on to an arena combat game. With only a few rounds before one of the gladiators is killed, the players do not have much time to modify their deck.

The game does play smoothly and it appears care was taken to get the gameplay right, the phases and stages flowing, and a feeling for gladiator combat.

The deckbuilding does not get in the way of the gladiator combat.

Conclusion

I played the game several times and although I did feel the deckbuilding aspect was tacked on, I recommend the game for those who like the verses of gladiator combat. The miniatures look good on the board, and the players in my group enjoyed the aesthetic, the gameplay, and the design.

To find this game on Kickstarter, visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sascreative/carthage-easy-to-learn-easy-to-die

To find this game on Board Game Geek, visit: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/224403/carthage

Or, click your way to the Carthage homepage here: http://www.carthagegame.com/

Sword and Sorcery Ancient Chronicles Preview

The Sword and Sorcery Facebook group has published an image of some of the new miniatures found in the ancient Chronicles sword & sorcery expansion.

Ancient Chronicles resin miniatures

What do you think, are they cool enough?

Click the image to be taken to the Facebook group.