Arena Review tagged posts

Arena Review: Dungeon Roll – A Dicey Dungeon Delve

I’m a big fan of  games that take the dungeon delving pleasures of D&D and distill it down into a simple form that lets me get that RPG fix when I only have a few free minutes. All the better when I’m on the go.

There are plenty of mobile games that scratch that itch, but not many tabletop games, as most of them have long setup, game times or require many players. So when Dungeon Roll popped up on Kickstarter, with promises of fast dungeon delving game play, a solitaire component, and a fantastic price point; I couldn’t resist becoming a backer.

Suggested ages: 8 and up
Number of players: 1 – 4 players
Playing time: 10 – 30 minutes
Contents: Core Game 7 white party dice, 7 black dungeon dice, 1 10-sided level die, 36 treasure tokens, 24 experience tokens, 8 hero cards, 4 player aid cards, 1 rulebook and 1 book of heroes. Kickstarter Bonuses included: Dragon’s Lair card, Graveyard card, Expansion pack 1 – with 8 additional heroes, kickstarter exclusive character – Guild Leader, 1 additional white party die (for Guild Leader), 2 additional black dungeon dice, and a mimic box variant container.
Retail price: $19.95 – available on Amazon.

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Arena Review: Ascension Rise of Vigil


Since it debuted, Ascension has quickly become one of my favorite games. It perfectly hits the balance of a card game and Magic, with just enough resource management to make me constantly want more. So when Ascension Online was announced, I backed it without a second thought – especially since it included a physical copy of the newest expansion: Rise of Vigil.

Suggested Ages: 13+
Suggested Players: 2 to 4 players (5-6 players when combined with any other Ascension)
Playing time: 30 minutes
Contents: 259 cards, 50 honor tokens, gameboard, full-color rulebook, storage tray
Retail price: $39.99 available at

Between the two core sets and two expansions, Stone Blade Entertainment has really begun experimenting with the core of Ascension. The same basic game principles are there: using runes and power, you fight monsters and acquire new heroes. But there is a twist: there is a new resource, called Treasure.

Want to win a copy of Rise of Vigil? Well, we’re giving two sets away along with some other great prizes!

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Arena Review: Cards Against Humanity Third Expansion

In our initial review of the card game Cards Against Humanity, we commented that one of the potential issues is a level of fatigue that can set in from playing the game too often. One of the best solutions to this issue is to simply issue more cards to help keep the game fresh. Coming off of PAX EAST 2013, a third expansion for the game has been released.

Cards Against Humanity is a party game for horrible people. Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.

Suggested ages: 17 and up
Number of players: 4 to 20+
Playing time: 30 to 90 minutes
Contents: 112 cards (75 white and 25 black, 8 blank white cards, 4 blank black cards)
Retail price: $10 on Amazon
*Note: This expansion requires the core game to play.

Cards Against Humanity has become one of my go to games for large gatherings. The rules are simple, there’s really no need to keep score, and the game is social enough that over a dozen people can play at the same time, with no real change to game play. Trying to “win” isn’t really part of the core experience.

Right in time for PAX EAST 2013, a third expansion to the adult themed card game was released. If you’ve played the core Cards Against Humanity, you’re about to get more of the same. There are no new mechanics, card types or anything that changes the original experience. Something that was true about the last expansion as well. Players still play topic cards (white cards) in order to answer questions or complete sentences Mab Lib style (black cards). The cards are then judged by one player and a winner is selected. Rinse and repeat.

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Arena Review: DC Deck-Building Game

Deck building games may have finally gone mainstream. In the span of a few months, Marvel and Upperdeck teamed up to produce Legendary while DC Comics and Cryptozoic joined forces for the blandly named DC Deck-Building Game.

I wish I were kidding.

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Arena Review: Ascension Immortal Heroes

I love Ascension. I honestly don’t think there is any game I play more than it. The combinations of deck building, card drafting and battling all happening simultaneously (and super easy to clean up) makes it my go to game whenever possible. But there is one catch:

No one will really play Ascension with me anymore.

The iOS version of Ascension is my go-to game. Waiting for the bus? Play a game. Riding the bus? Play three games. Sitting in my car waiting to pick someone up? There’s another game. I play a lot. And this means that when I get the chance to play the physical game, my friends quickly grow tired of the competitive battling and prefer more co-operative games. Then I force them to play more.

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Arena Review: Mummy the Curse


I finally did it. I Kickstarted something. Seems like the internet has been abuzz with Kickstarter for a while but I wasn’t sure how to get started. However, White Wolf‘s new electronic distribution arm the Onyx Path has been doing a series of Kickstarter campaigns to finance the production of new sourcebooks and I’ve been getting really excited about this business model. The first project I backed has finally come out and it’s pretty amazing: Mummy: the Curse.

A lot of people probably see the title and think it’s either A) a joke game, B) suited for just one story, or C) both. I’m not going to lie, there is less room for breadth-of-play here than with other World of Darkness Games but it’s still pretty amazing. I’ll let the Introduction get you excited instead of explaining myself:

Inhuman immortals—some called the “Arisen,” others “Shuankhsen”—walk these crowded streets, as they have since before Rome ever paved her own. They are the last remnants of a bygone age and empire, refusing to let slip their grip upon a world that has long since moved on. They are at once ancient and terrible, innocent and proud, isolated, tragic, and obscene. And at their very core, they are relentless.”

Genre: Occult horror
System: New World of Darkness
Potential Library: Small (just the core book so far but six sourcebooks planned)
Publisher: White Wolf / Onyx Path

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Arena Review: Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game

I’ve always balked a little bit on dueling miniatures games. Partly because restricting a game to 1 on 1 doesn’t really do a lot for me when hanging out with a group of friends, but also because I’ve never found them a lot of fun. But I love Star Wars, so when the X-Wing Miniatures game was released, I was somewhat interested. Then I saw the ship models and everything changed.

Suggested ages: 13 and up
Number of players: 2
Playing time: 15 – 20 minutes
Contents: Rulebook, Quick-start rulebook,  1 X-Wing and 2 Tie Fighters with stands & bases, ship tokens, dice, range ruler, obstacle markers, maneuver templates, 3 maneuver dials, damage/upgrade cards, ship cards, action tokens, mission tokens.
Retail price: $43.99 available on

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Arena Review: Scion

In Brief

Scion is a game with a peculiar and fun history, as well as an ambitious and engaging story. In most Roleplaying games you start off as a pretty average person (often with some small extras that other people can’t do) and you try to work your way up to larger-than-life, chatting-with-the-gods hero status. In Scion you start at that point and increase in power until you become a god yourself.

Your character is the offspring of one of the gods from any of the real-world mythologies. The little bit of divine power you inherit gives you the ability to act above-and-beyond a normal human which you use to defeat monsters, save towns, cure cancer, etc. Do this well enough and you join the ranks of the gods themselves.

Genre: Epic divine heroes
System: Revised Storyteller System (same as Exalted)
Potential Library: Moderate (3 main books, 4 supplements, 3 SAS scenarios)
Publisher: White Wolf

The main conflict in the game is between the gods and the titans, terms borrowed from Greek legend but applied to all mythologies. In the dawn of time the titans were in power but were such evil bastards that the gods rose up and threw them out of existence. This isn’t so permanent for a primeval hunger, however, and the titans have been biding their time in the spaces outside the universe, only to return recently with a vengeance and a desire to unmake the world. As if this wasn’t enough, there are threats from rival pantheons, corrupted gods, legendary beasts, and even human ambition to contend with. Sound exhausting? It is, but then again you have superhuman stamina so you can probably take it.

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Arena Review: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

In Brief

You don’t have to be a comic book fan to have a soft spot for Marvel superheroes. Whether you watched the X-Men cartoon show from the 1990s, the newer movies like X-Men or The Avengers, or even something farther off-canon like X-Men Evolution, you likely have a very distinct idea of what sort of character you’d be playing in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. This product hit the market like an electric shock and almost overnight it became a sensation that people have been talking about. The system is interesting and new, the material iconic, and the presentation professional but still the attention it’s received is really worth a look.

Genre: Action superhero
System: Unique dice pool system
Potential Library: Small (3 products so far)
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions

The system developed for this game has a few items definitely worth mentioning. First, it works off of dice pools but unlike games with similar mechanics like ShadowrunWorld of Darkness, or Burning Wheel nearly every type of common polyhedron is used from d4 to d12. Strong powers use bigger dice and weaker abilities use smaller dice. This deceptively simple mechanic creates a game that is both craftily design and relatively easy to remember. For example, every hero and villain has a d6, d8, and d10 associated to different affiliation categories: namely, “Solo”, “Buddy,” and “Team.” If you’re playing Wolverine, you’re strongest as a Solo loner (using the d10), almost as good integrated into a team like the X-Men (using the d8), and worst when it’s just you and one other (using the d6). Isn’t that just… awesome?!? So simple yet so powerfully iconic and subtly tactical. It instantly gives you a mechanical incentive to play Wolverine as the type to ditch a partner or to leave his team behind to scout out some threat. He just isn’t as effective when he has to watch out for others.

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Arena Review: Zombicide

I’ve been actively trying my best not to get too taken over by Kickstarter campaigns. That would work really well, except for the fact that game designers keep releasing awesome products again and again. But when it comes to Zombicide, I really owe all of it to Tycho over at Penny-Arcade for adamantly pushing it in the spring. Who can say no to hordes of undead endorsed by Tycho?

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