Day 2 of Gen Con kicked off with an event I’d been looking forward to since the first day I saw it listed as available on the Gen Con website – a playthrough of Too Many Bones by Chip Theory Games. Too Many Bones is a cooperative dice-builder RPG. The game is driven entirely by an encounter deck, so there is no need for a GM of any kind. Each player takes the role of a Gearloc, the race of beings that populate the world. Each Gearloc has its own focus and plays differently than the others. There are 7 playable characters to choose from (from Boomer, who makes and throws grenades, to Patches, the group’s healer and poison expert, to Tantrum, a tiny little ball of rage that loves to just dive in and hack at the enemy), each with their own custom set of dice. The experience was just as much fun as I thought it would be. Though we did not have time to play through the entire campaign, we got a good taste of combat and how the encounter deck drives the story along. During our game, I played as Patches, and was responsible for making sure my team stayed healthy enough to survive our battles against goblins, orcs, dragons, and golems.
Having backed the game on Kickstarter prior to Gen Con, I was excited to finally get my hands on the dice. I look forward to receiving my copy of the game later this year – currently scheduled as a November release. While the Kickstarter is well over, you can still pre-order your copy of the game here. And I’d highly recommend doing so. Please feel free to post comments below asking any questions you may have about this truly wonderful game (that flew under the radar at Gen Con, most likely because it was not available for sale at the Con).
From the excitement of Too Many Bones, I headed straight to my next event (barely getting there in time to start because I had to fight through the crowd waiting outside the yet-to-be-opened doors of the exhibit hall to get where I needed to be) – a learn to play session for One Deck Dungeon by Asmadi Games. One Deck Dungeon is a 1-2 player cooperative dungeon delve card game. You take on the role of an adventure diving deeper and deeper into a dungeon of your choosing. The game uses cards as your obstacles (both monsters and traps) and dice for you to roll to defeat these challenges. Each dungeon is three levels deep and ends in a boss fight. I took on the role of the paladin and we heading into the dragon’s lair. I really enjoyed the mechanic of the deck itself being your timer. Every time you took an action (opening a door of the dungeon, or exploring to find more doors, for example), you would discard cards from the top of the deck. At the bottom of the deck are the stairs leading down to the next level of the dungeon – which, of course, is more difficult than the level you were just on. My partner and I managed to make it to the dragon at the end of the dungeon – only to be completely annihilated by it (because we failed to save our potions and ‘wild’ dice for the final battle).
I was then one of the lucky 1,200 people who got to sit in on a live taping of The Dice Tower with Tom Vasel, Sam Healy, Zee Garcia, and Eric Summerer, and some special guests (such as Eric Lang and Stephen Buonocore) There was singing, jokes, announcements by publishers, and several raffle prizes. I’m glad I made the choice to attend. It was a very fun experience filled with a lot of laughs. They even sent a ‘spy’ to Fantasy Flight’s event so they could update those of us who chose The Dice Tower over Fantasy Flight. It ws pretty funny to listen to Tom’s unimpressed tone with each announcement that was tweeted to him as the show went on. For me, the highlight of the event was Sam and Zee singing a song about games that last too long (something Zee abhors) to the tune of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. An instant classic!
Next up, I got to play Epic Resort from Floodgate Games, a game of managing a resort where heroes come to vacation. The game combines deck building with worker placement and a tiny bit of resource management. You upgrade the locations of your resort, as well as your workers to staff each location. Everyone begins the game with a basic beach and a tiki hut. As you go through your turns, you’ll upgrade these locations to others with special abilities and more victory points. You’ll also attract heroes to your resort, and use them to help fend off enemy attacks as your try to lure tourists to your various locations. In the end, the best resort manager (the person with the most victory points) is declared the winner. I actually pulled out the victory in a VERY close game (final score was 20 to 17 to 13).
With my scheduled events over for the day, it was back to the exhibit hall to see what trouble I could get into. I fond myself at the Steamforged Games booth, where I had the pleasure of getting to demo the upcoming Dark Souls: The Board Game. Now, as I mentioned above, I am really looking forward to getting my copy of Too Many Bones. However, after playing the Dark Souls demo, this is the number one game I want in my collection! The gameplay feels very true to the video game, and I absolutely LOVE the way the boss AI deck works. For the demo, I fought against the Dancer of the Boreal Valley. The Dancer has an AI deck of 12 cards. However, only 5 of those cards are used during each fight (meaning the boss reacts differently every time you fight him). Once all 5 cards have been played, the deck simply flips back over (without reshuffling the cards). This allows you to plan your moves based on what the boss will do next (assuming you’ve paid attention to its movements). The boss also takes its turn after each player (so the turn order is player 1 – boss – player 2 – boss – player 1 – boss …). This mechanic makes it more difficult for the heroes to succeed (much like the video game). Playing as the Herald (and with the assistance of another person playing as the Warrior), I was able to get the Dancer down to only 6 hit points (form his starting 35) before being killed. I had an incredibly fun time playing this demo, and would have played again had there not been a gigantic crowd waiting to get their turn. After I died, there was a definite feeling of “I need to try again.” That’s always a good way to feel when a game is over. The game will have many, many bosses (and mini-bosses and other monsters to fight), each with a unique AI deck. There will be an absolute ton of replayability when it releases early 2017.
After completing the demo, I took some time in the exhibit hall to pick p a couple more items. I grabbed a copy of Tides of Madness from Portal Games (more Cthulhu!), as well as the liberation logbook from Too Many Bones. This logbook, though not adding any gameplay to the game, is an absolutely stunning piece. It is a leather-bound journal designed to bring you even further into the world of the Gearlocs. Each page was also hand-scorched using a blowtorch to give it a unique look and feel. Because it does not add anything to the gameplay, I had not included a copy of the logbook with my Kickstarter pledge. However, after seeing the book during my morning playthrough, I had to have a copy. Again, if you have not done so, take a look at Too Many Bones.
I then headed back to meet up with friends for a short gaming session. We, again, played Potion Explosion, an incredibly fun and colorful game from CoolMiniOrNot. The game is pretty simple from a gameplay perspective, but involves some deep strategy. You’ll have to plan your moves in order to maximize the ingredients (marbles) you collect and which potions you can complete. Your completed potions can then be used to give you special abilities (which usually results in being able to take extra marbles from the tray. I really enjoyed playing this game, and I look forward to having it hit the table with my kids very soon. I was not very lucky this game, leading to me taking quite the beating, finishing last place. This loss brought an end to day 2 for me. Until next time, thanks for stopping by.