Monday, March 4, 2013

Impromptu Game Night

This past Saturday we held an impromptu game night at our home with Noah, Jason, Beck and myself. It was a blast! We played three games: Domain: The Warlock's Challenge, Betrayal at House on the Hill and Bohnanza.

Domain is a 1-4 player dungeon crawl game published by Hobby Products. It is printed in both English and German. In Domain, you take on the role of an adventurer who has decided to brave the labyrinthine dungeons of the Warlock Algrim in the hopes of escaping with one of his four magic treasures.

The game is fairly straightforward: You travel through the dungeon and lay down new tiles as you go. When you reach the central treasure chamber, steal a treasure and escape. During the game you will fight monsters, set off traps and perhaps encounter the nefarious Algrim himself!

The mechanics are sound, although in the opinion of myself and my fellow players, they could use some work. Since the game is tile based, it is possible for one player's portion of the dungeon to be built with no access to the treasure room, forcing him to backtrack and then venture through another player's tiles, a long and often arduous process. In one game I found myself barred from the treasure room altogether, as falling debris, walls, and undead monsters blocked my path! (Undead can only be destroyed with rare special weapons) The largest complaint seemed to be the monsters in the treasure room itself. With an initiative of 40, and beefed up armor/defense, they are nearly unbeatable, requiring a player to either grind out extra levels or use magical means to bypass them. Since so many of the available experience points/magical items/spells are random and hard to come by, luck of the draw plays an overly significant part in your success or failure.

Drawbacks aside, the game is still pretty fun and sometimes the random nature can lead to surprises. During the last game Beck's character, "Lady Vikingchick" was a mere two spaces away from victory when a rock slide blocked her exit, allowing Noah's aristocratic, "Sir Brutaldude" to escape with the magical grimoire and win the game! I'd rate Domain: The Warlock's Challenge a 3 out of 5 stars.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a survival horror game where up to six explorers find themselves within the confines of a haunted house. During their wanderings, one player will eventually become The Traitor, falling victim to the evil influence of the house. The traitor can take the form of anything from a giant spider to an entranced convert seeking to summon an elder god. Once revealed, the remaining explorers must do everything they can to stop the traitor and escape.

The game is tile based and features some interesting mechanics. The presentation is good and the idea that any of your compatriots can become the enemy can be nerve wracking at times. Once revealed, the traitor is presented with a booklet describing what they must do to win. The explorers are presented with a similar booklet, which also dictates their winning condition.

The information presented in the booklets was the primary complaint at our game. We were presented with the elder god scenario. Our goal was to steal an evil tome from the traitor and destroy it before she could summon the evil deity. Her goal was to summon it and kill us.

We were successful! Jason managed to sneak in via a magic elevator and snag the book, he then made a run for the chasm where he would destroy it. Following his theft, Back summoned the evil one.

There was a pause at the table...

We were confused. Our booklet told us that she would use the book to summon the monster and we had just stolen the book! How did she summon the monster? What we discovered was that HER booklet stated that she could summon the monster even if she didn't have the book! We realized that it was just part of the mechanics, but it just seemed... cheap.

Other than that, the game was pretty fun. I'm interested to see what the other scenarios are. I would give Betrayal at House on the Hill 3 out of 5 stars.

Finally we played Bohnanza. A farming themed card game where each player takes on the role of a bean farmer. The idea is to sell your crops just the right time to yield the greatest value, while doing so you are trying to horn in on your opponent's profits by forcing them to sell early and lose money.

The game was great! The instructions were a it confusing, but once we got past them we really got into the flow. We only played one game which was unfortunate, as we didn't really get into the flow until about half way through. The art on the cards was sufficiently comedic and the turns go around relatively quickly. I would rate Bohnanza 4 out of 5 stars. 

And just to update from the last post, There didn't seem to e enough interest to warrant setting up a Kickstater. Thanks to everyone who spread the word though!

Until next time, happy gaming!


  1. I have been finding betrayal really hit and miss right now. When i first played it, I must have had half a dozen kick ass games, all well balanced between exploration and excitement, with a final showdown that rocked. These day, I'm lucky if half my games end like that, the rest have the bad guy popping up very early on, and the final showdown being totally one sided. I still keep playing it though, as when it's good, it's amazing.

  2. I hear what you're saying. Heck, our biggest buzzkill is that we've played the game three or four times now and the same player has always ended up being the traitor!