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Category Archives: Reviews

GrogHeads Reviews Mansions of Madness 2

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The second part of our Weekend of Madness ~

Avery Abernethy, 5 August 2018

I’ve played Mansions of Madness 2 (MM2) with a group of five random people at a MACE gaming convention and solo at home.  MM2 provides a unique board game experience.  At $90 retail at Amazon, it is also the most expensive board game I’ve ever purchased.

In MM2 you are playing a character with a set of skills.  Each player (up to 8) has an investigator avatar.  If you play solo, the manual suggests picking two investigators to run.  My solo game used only the core MM2 set playing “Cycle of Eternity.”  My convention game with random strangers had five characters and used an expansion.

MM2  provided one of the best solo board game experiences I’ve had.

Players cooperatively attempt to solve the mystery.  The investigator’s goal is unknown at the start of the game.  You begin with limited information in a single room with closed doors and potential clues.  Game setup requires starting the computer app, selecting the scenario, and indicating to the app which investigators are playing. After this information is inputted, the app displays the initial room setup and provides starting information.

The core Mansions of Madness 2 game comes with four scenarios of varying difficulty.  MM2  provided one of the best solo board game experiences I’ve had.  The app provided background sounds.  I had no idea what would happen when I opened a closed door or made a game choice.  Because the app ran the mystery, monsters, puzzles and other aspects of the game, it was a very immersive experience.

GrogHeads Reviews One Deck Dungeon

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Small stature. Big fun? ~

Avery Abernethy, 1 August 2018

One Deck Dungeon is a simple one or two character dungeon exploration game.  The two character game can be played either cooperatively with another person or both run by the same individual.  The game centers around rolling a handful of color coded die to overcome encounters.  The more experience your character has the more dice they obtain and the more ways they have to increase die values, swap dice of different colors, or gain additional dice.

The game mechanics are simple.  You pick either one or two characters from five choices (Fighter; Mage; Thief; Paladin; Archer).   Each character has different starting attributes on four different variables (melee, magic, nimbleness and health).  Different colored dice represent each attribute.  Next you pick an opponent as the “boss” of the dungeon out of a set of choices.  Bosses are rated at different difficulty levels and each changes the characteristics of the overall dungeon challenges.

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A(nother) Review of Cruel Morning: Shiloh 1862

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Another look at Tiny Battle’s ACW game ~

Jim Werbaneth, 27 July 2018

Cruel Morning Cover Color

Cruel Morning Cover

The Battle of Shiloh was a harbinger of the bloodbath to come in the Civil War.  It also marked a turning point in the leadership of both sides.  Albert Sidney Johnston, one of the most highly-regarded Confederate generals at the start of the conflict, was mortally wounded, rendering him a “what if” in a theater characterized by rebel generals who were mediocre at best; how could the war have progressed had Johnston remained alive and in charge, in place of Braxton Bragg, Leonidas Polk, John Bell Hood or Joseph Johnston? On the Union side, Ulysses S. Grant prepared poorly, and was caught off guard by the Confederate onslaught. However, he recovered, and his Army of the Tennessee did not just survive, but with the aid of Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio, went on the offensive on the second day of battle. Despite heavy criticism of the early stages of the battle, a temporary sidelining afterward, Grant and his career survived, and he went on to become the premier, even definitive, military leader of the Civil War.

Cruel Morning is a brigade-scale treatment of Shiloh, on a time scale of daily turns.  The footprint is small, with an eleven by seventeen-inch unmounted map.  From its small size and relatively low unit count, one would expect it to be a fast-playing, easily-accessible game.  However, the final project ends up as something different.

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Thunder in the East: A First-time Player’s Perspective

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Our guest author takes us to ConSimWorld Expo for a report on VPG’s upcoming east front mini-monster ~

Christian Snyder, 21 July 2018

I recently had the amazing opportunity to sit down with some good folks at ConsimWorld Expo’s Monster Conand play Frank Chadwick’s Thunder in the East for the first time; it was fantastic! Full disclosure: I am currently awaiting my Kickstarter copy of the game and had seen some Vassal play prior to arriving in Tempe, Arizona. Seeing the game on videos and reading the rulebook, however, are nothing compared to sitting down to play with the printer’s proof copy at the show. Since the game is not available, this is not a review, but a first impression focusing on what impressed me about seeing, playing, and meeting the development team for Frank Chadwick’s ETO Vol. I: Thunder in the East.

Frank Chadwicks ETO Vol I thunder in the east

Frank Chadwick’s ETO Vol I: Thunder in the East! Nice maps, charts and counters!

Thunder in the East is a dynamic, action packed game covering the entire Eastern Front of World War 2 in six scenarios starting with the German Operation Barbarossa and ending with the Soviet Operation Bagration. You can do each scenario singularly or start a full campaign from these points with incredible systems for morale, seasonal activities, economy and unit reorganization. My experience consisted of three playthroughs of Operation Barbarossa using the optional and campaign game rules. For each of our playthroughs, we were typically unconcerned with capturing Moscow. However, to capture Moscow, along with Stalin, would have been a scenario automatic victory.

GrogHeads Reviews Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition

Can the update & enhancement bring the game up to modern standards? ~

Avery Abernethy, 30 June 2018

Baldur’s Gate was originally released in December 1998.  It was a tremendous financial success selling more than a million copies worldwide.  It was also a critical success earning a GameRankings score of 92%.  I bought the game when it was first released and later the expansion Tales of the Sword Coast.  I ended up replaying the game many times.

Minsc also has many memorable dialogue options including “Butt-Kicking for Goodness.”

An Enhanced Edition of Baldur’s Gate was released in January of 2013 on Steam and www.gog.com.  The Original edition of Baldur’s Gate was removed from the market. Baldur’s Gate has one of the most memorable characters in computer RPG history, Minsc the Ranger with his companion Boo the hamster.  Minsc obtained Boo after a severe head injury, thinks Boo talks to him, and that Boo is a “space hamster.”  Minsc also has many memorable dialogue options including “Butt-Kicking for Goodness.”