Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tannhäuser Tuesday - Incoming!


Here is your Tannhäuser upcoming product update...

The Natalya Hero Pack is on the truck and headed to stores! You should be able to buy this NOW.

 Operation Hinansho is on the boat and should be in store before the end of the year.

The Matriarchy Troop Pack is still listed as being at the factory, so who knows...



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pulp of the Week - Doc Savage 29



July, 1935 - Quest of Qui

The opening of Quest of Qui is a classic.  A Viking Longship drifts lifelessly alongside an eighty-foot yacht. The passengers and crew of the wealthy ship come out to have a look. Then, startlingly, Vikings pour out of the Longship's hold and swarm the yacht, forcing everyone aboard to trade ships. The yacht cruised to parts unknown and the Longship, after much struggle, arrives at a harbor on the tip of Long Island.

That same night, William Harper Littlejohn was at the movies and saw footage of the ship in a newsreel. His expert eye gave him little doubt that the ship was authentic. He left a message on Doc Savage's answering machine and headed to Long Island in the morning.

Thus begins the 28th supersaga, a story of ice, snow, near freezing and falling in ice crevasses. Oh, and lost civilizations, but you probably already figured that out.

Quest of Qui is more prime goodness from Street and Smith. It was great to see Johnny get the opening scene, using all his archaeological knowledge and to be recognized while he is examining the Longship.

From the scene where Johnny is at the movies - "William Harper Littlejohn was a very erudite gentleman, but he occasionally attended the cinema for relaxation." - we can see that movies then were kind of like television is now. It has the perception of being for the masses, whereas in fact, almost everyone watches TV.

The Hidalgo Trading Company is firebombed, destroying all of Doc's planes.

There is also a rare scene where there is a bit of racism sneaking into the text. Doc asks Ham if he has cold weather clothes. "Brand new," Ham admitted. "Made by the best fur house in the city. No crude Eskimo work on them."

The story also mentions a passenger "Tri-motor biplane." I hadn't heard of such things, but here you go… Well a model of one anyway...
Quest of Qui also features the expression, "Nerts to you!" meaning "you get nothing," or "up yours."

Doc also does one of the most amazing things he has ever done in one of these stories. He shoots the wiring off a plane engine that is circling high overhead. He wanted to bring it down, but at the same time be able to fix the motor and use the plane. That is good shooting!
I'll give Quest of Qui an 8 out of 10. It has some great stuff, but there is way too much floundering in arctic snow. It gets repetitive. And Johnny is wearing just a jacket with blankets wrapped around his feet. While people get cold, there are no repercussions for not being well enough equipped. 
The pulp cover by Walter Baumhofer is a head shot of Doc, which may have been created for other purposes and reused here. The pulp interior illustrations are by Paul Orban. 
The Bantam paperback cover is by James Bama and is one of the great Doc covers. There was also a Golden Press edition, which has a beautifully composed cover by Ben Otero.

Once again, a big thanks to Chris Kalb's 86th Floor website for the interior illos...



Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pulp of the Week - Ganymede by Cherie Priest



Author Cherie Priest returns to the Clockwork Century in her new book, Ganymede.  This marks a glorious fourth book in the series. In Ganymede, Priest turns her eye again to Andan Cly, the airship Captain, and sometime pirate, introduced in the excellent novel Boneshaker. If you have not read Boneshaker, go buy that book, read it, then read Ganymede.

In this adventure, Captain Cly is trying hard to escape his pirate ways. He gets a mysterious offer from an old flame from New Orleans, Josephine Early, who is in need of an airship captain. But Cly is looking to settle down a bit in Seattle, finding himself attracted to the local Sheriff (remember the end of Boneshaker?), but decides to take the offer which when finished will allow him to pick up a load of supplies that Seattle desperately needs. Cly and crew take his airship to New Orleans, but as it turns out, Josephine doesn't need his ship at all. She wants Cly and his crew to pilot a captured ship prototype and deliver it to the Union forces. She is hoping the new ship's capabilities will bring an end to the war.

New Orleans is a city occupied by the Texians on behalf of the Confederacy. Rebels are fighting this occupation, but the battle is tough and Texas is looking to rout the rebels from their hideaway in the swamp. Josephine and her brother are part of the rebels.

I loved the interplay between Andan Cly and Josephine Early. They have the tug of lost love and the reality of the now. Can the flames rekindle, or not. Josephine runs the Garden Court Boarding House which is better known as "Miss Early's Place" and the home of "Miss Early's Girlies." Josephine is a great character; tough, sassy and vulnerable. The scenes with the two of them are outstanding.

The novel is chock-a-block with other great characters, some new, some familiar. There is Ranger Korman from Dreadnought, Josephine's rebel brother Deaderick, a few of the "Girlies", Airship Naahmah Darling crew Huey and Fangand, and mysterious voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau. Rest assured, there are rotters here, their presence has spread to the bayou, though the locals call them zombis (not a typo) not many of them are convinced of their reality. Hardly anyone knows about or believes the zombis exist.

There are air pirates and sea battles, and tons of inventive adventure in between. I loved this book and will not spoil it in this review (as usual). Cherie Priest has delivered the goods here and I look forward to further books in the series.

The cover once again is by Jon Foster. He has done all four books in the series.

I give Ganymede a 9 out of 10.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Game Spotlight - Dungeon Run


Dungeon Run is Plaid Hat Games second outing with a big box game. They entered the game market with 2 small starter packs for Summoner Wars and when the game exploded, they were ready with lots of well play-tested expansions and then this summer, the Master Set, a big expansion in a big box with room for everything you already had for Summoner Wars. 

Now they have published a greatly expanded version of Mr. Bistro's print-and-play game, Dungeon Run. Why are you running, you ask? Because your friends are trying to kill you.

Here's why... Your party enters a dungeon for the ultimate prize in all of Itharia - a Summoning Stone.

Yes, Dungeon Run is part of the Summoner Wars Universe. Here you will battle Goblins, Ghouls, Ghosts and scads of things that don't begin with G, like Mummies, Skeletons, Fire Drakes, and Mole Ogres. The character that exits the dungeon with the Summoning Stone wins.

The credits of this game reinforce the fun factor. Designer: Mr. Bistro (fun name). Producer: Colby Dauch (Summoner Wars designer). Editor: Chris Dupuis (Heroscape fans will remember Sir Dupuis. He also worked on a little thing called Risk: Legacy...

The art is by Summoner Wars artists John Ariosa and Sergi Marcet and the figures were sculpted by Chad Hoverter.

Where the P-n-P version was a solitaire game, Mr. Bistro expanded the published version into a competitive / cooperative hybrid that is a whole lot of fun. There is a ton of options available which should keep the game fresh through many plays.

As an example, you can play with 1 to 6 players. There are 35 different encounter cards, 8 base characters (each with 10 different ability cards available), 26 treasures and artifacts, 4 bosses (the big baddies in the Dungeon), and 26 dungeon tiles.

The players can charge in and attack the dungeon together, or they can attack each other. Usually it will be some of each. Some of the baddies are tough enough it is worth it to help each other to kill it, especially the big game ending creatures, the Bosses. They are tough, but you don't want to weaken yourself too much fighting the Boss, because after the Boss is dead you will be fighting the other players.

Of course you could try to kill the other players first, but that may make it a whole lot tougher on yourself.

As the game goes on you will defeat monsters and disarm traps. You can trade the cards you earn to level up and make yourself more powerful. You do this by trading 2 of the creature and trap cards you have earned and drawing 2 ability cards - but you can only keep one. The other is discarded out of the game.

When more than one character is in a particular dungeon space each player can chose to assist, sabotage, or do nothing when the other character is in combat.

Dungeon Run is one of those games that creates stories that you will remember long after the play is over. There is yelling, cussing, and laughing. If you haven't figured it out yet, I think it is a great game.
Adding to the quality of the game are the terrific components, starting with the shiniest box I have ever seen. The cards are durable linen finished, the tiles and counters thick, the figures are great, and the art and graphic design sell the theme. There are 20 dice included as well. I happened to get a review copy from Plaid Hat Games, but you can pick it up at your local store or internet retailer. Miniature Market has it for $33. You get a lot of fun for that cheap a price.

Did I mention the figures are great? Yep I did and I'll do it again. The figures are great and Plaid Hat Games should be proud of the quality of this game. I am not alone in loving this game. 

Drakkenstrike said, "Dungeon Run was really one of my favorite games to be showcased at the 2011 Origins game fair… When having sat down at both events (Origins and Gen Con) to play demonstrations of the game with my wife, we agree that this was the best light dungeon crawler out there…"

Tom Vasel recently ranked Dungeon Run as the 48th best game of all time and said, "I love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love this game. I really, really do. The components, the miniatures are great, the variety is huge… The characters are very different, the combat system is neat, and the backstabbing element is huge…

There you go. If you like fun, this is it. Fun.

The game can be played by 1-6 players, but I would recommend 4 as the sweet spot. The solo play is ok, but it is much more fun with other people to mess with.

You can buy Dungeon Run Here.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tannhäuser Tuesday - Operation Hinansho Detailed


Operation Hinansho

This expansion contains:

Two-Sided Map :

Kitamon Research Base in Japan

Union Airplane Crash Site on Okinawa Island

The new maps have paths that follow a new basic rule - if the base of a character can fit in the space between two circles without touching them, then they are NOT adjacent.

 New Rules for the new map features and tokens.

Bunch of Tokens including those for new rules like Volatile Rubble, Locked Wooden Doors, and Locked Reinforced Doors. There are also the full Faction Tokens for the Shogunate - Objectives Tokens, Command Point Tokens and Flag Tokens. The remaining tokens are for Story Mode, and Covert and Gate tokens.

New Circle Types:

Locked Door
Sniper Circle
Covert Circle
Volatile Circle

There are a number of new circle types in this expansion.

Locked Doors
When a Locked Door token is on the appropriate circle, the door is locked and characters may not move into that circle.  The Locked Door tokens contains 2 skill icons; green and red. If a character adjacent to the locked door has a skill matching the green icon, they can spend one movement point to open the door. If they do not have that  skill, the door is unlocked by using 3 movement points.Anyone next to the door can spend one movement point to close it and it is locked again. Any character adjacent to the locked door with a matching skill to the red icon may try to smash the door, permanently destroying it. Reinforced doors require the Mechanic skill and Wooden doors the Athletics skill.

Covert Circles and Tokens
Now they're getting tricky. Covert circles can target Sniper circles if their icons match in color. They may also target characters in circles that match the color of the covert targeting icon (green in the example picture. Additionally, the character inside the covert circle can be targeted by anyone they can target, BUT… only Natural 10's count as hits when attacking the character in the Covert circle.

Just to make it more fun, grenades thrown from a Covert circle and using the Covert ability don't bounce. Grenades thrown at a Covert circle follow the normal rules.

There are also Covert Tokens that can be placed in certain scenarios.

Volatile Circle and Volatile Rubble
Before they are activated, characters pass through these circles normally. Once activated, all characters that share the volatile path take three automatic hits and a volatile rubble token is placed in the circle. Any character that passes through this rubble takes 3 automatic attack successes (in addition to the movement penalty of the rubble.)

Gate Tokens
You can now connect two maps together using these new tokens. Put two maps next to each other and place a couple of these tokens down to bridge the gap between the two maps.

I think you could also use these to connect the stair cases on the original maps to allow an upstairs and downstairs to be easily identified…

The rest of the rule book is not included, but the Gate Token section mentions you can play these big double maps with "Large Teams" - 5 Heroes and 4 Troops, or with 4 teams.

The Cost
I am not sure why FFG did not release the Shogunate items as one big box set like the Matriarchy, but it probably has to do with price.

$29.95 - Operation Hinansho
$12.95 - Iroh
$12.95 - Mizu
$12.95 - Itami
$19.95 - Troops
$85.85 - Total - I don't think the included Equipment Cards raise the price by $25.90 over the Novgorod set which is also a full Faction. Being able to buy them piecemeal also spreads the payment out into manageable chunks, instead of the one big hit.

$59.95 - Operation Novgorod
$69.95 - Base Game

Operation Hinansho and the Matriarchy Natalya pack are currently listed as being 'On the boat' which typically means 4 to 6 weeks.