Category Archives: Reviews

Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion Delivers a Very Mediocre Adventure

Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion

I’ve never played a game of Gloomhaven. I’ve heard good things about the legacy dungeon crawler but it’s a commitment I don’t have time for. Beyond the fantasy setting, I know little of the world and after reading Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion, I’m not sure I know all that much.

Welcome to the City of Gloomhaven. A city we don’t get to see much of as a lot of the comic takes place within a bar. The Jaws of the Lion are a the top of the hierarchy of the city, but their latest job goes sideways. Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion takes us through the group’s adventure in segments told from a different member’s perspective.

I’m not sure if it was high-hopes for a new comic series based on a board game or the interest in a “new” property being expanded to comics, but the potential of the debut issue feels squandered. Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion is one that feels more focused on fans of the property than an introduction to that property for all, that also is entertaining for fans.

Written by Travis Mcintire, the comic has a fine concept, a band of adventurers talking about a job gone wrong. But, there’s little setup and little to make us care about the characters. The adventure is just that, a fairly generic adventure with a different set of characters. We’re not given much background on any them, their powers, race, really anything. Unless you know the world or the specific characters, it all feels a bit lost. There’s some personality in each but beyond one’s unique dialogue they’re all pretty basic fantasy characters with a different look.

The teaser text for the comic hinted at punk bands, drug dealing street gangs, and a dark God sleeping underneath the city. None of that’s really here at all. There’s some things danced around but as far as the city, we see the inside of a bar and the direct outside of it again leaving us with a very generic premise of a comic.

With art by Tyler Sowles and lettering by Justin Birch, the art too is interesting but doesn’t quite click for me. The design, class, and race of the characters are something that appealed to me. But the action itself felt a little lackluster and the scenes within the tavern outright boring. With a story that doesn’t give much background about the characters, the art needed to deliver a bit more to clue readers in. Birch’s lettering stands out a bit for its unique style concerning one character made of bugs. That was the most intriguing design of the entire comic.

Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion had a lot of potential as a comic. Something different such as an introduction to the game and its elements might have stood out. But, as presented, this is a pretty boring presentation of the world and its characters. Any interesting elements feel sucked out leaving us with a generic fantasy story that’s been done so much better elsewhere.

Gloomhaven created by Isaac Childres
Story: Travis Mcintire Art: Tyler Sowles Letterer: Justin Birch
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Source Point Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Source Point Press

Review: Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3

After the shocking reveal of the last issue, it’s hard for Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3 to top it. So, it doesn’t even try. Instead, the issue focuses on the battle ahead in its two stories. It also continues to deliver insight into the champion and leader of the Ultramarines, Marneus Calgar.

Writer Kieron Gillen continues the dual narrative focusing on the kid that “Marneus Calgar” was and the man Marneus Calgar is. It’s an interesting use of the two time periods as Gillen shows the growth of the character in subtle ways. In the past, we have a green individual who is full of heart but not wise on tactics. In the present, Calgar is a brilliant tactician but also somewhat cold.

The dual stories provide an interesting balance to the issue. We get to see growth in the character from youth to adult. It also dials things back in some ways from the previous one. It’d be difficult to top that issue’s reveal so instead Gillen doesn’t even try. Instead he focuses on Tacitan and where he came from to where he is now using the reveal to further the story. That allows a shift in the narrative in that Calgar’s estate goes from a location to defend due to nostalgia and it being “home” to it being another tactical tool to use. The switch goes from defending one’s home to a cold, calculated move. It’s a great shift that forces you to rethink the first issue and the estate’s introduction.

Gillen does shift things in some ways using the visuals. Games Workshop is known for its violent imagery and while the series has danced around it, Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3 ups the action. New shocking reveals? That’s been done. Now it’s time for the ultra violence. Bodies explode in red explosions as Calgar and his Ultramarines light up the enemies. Bodies drop in the past as Tacitan uses his wits to escape the worshippers of Khorne. Blood flies in crimson glee.

Artist Jacen Burrows handles the violent dance with colors from Java Tartaglia and lettering by Clayton Cowles. Burrows and Tartaglia delivers over the top imagery as bodies explode from bolter fire. The issue almost makes up for the lack of violence in the previous two. It’s over the top in a humorous way delivering more of the violent imagery Games Workshop and Warhammer 40,000 are known for.

What the artistic team and Gillen really pull off is the awe of the Space Marines. The introduction of the Ultramarines to Tacitan is done so in reverence and almost angelic reveal. The scene is handled in a surprising way for multiple reasons. We get to see the abilities of just one Ultramarine but for those that are long time 40K fans, we question actions too. Tacitan has been “exposed” to the corrupting powers of Chaos and yet is saved by the Ultramarine instead of being purged as a possible heretic. There’s more to this story and hopefully Gillen addresses what feels like an intentional decision.

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3 doesn’t bring the surprises like the previous issue but it ups the action. We get crimson gore flying across panels in a dance of explosions. We get to see Calgar, in both ages, do what he does best, kick Chaos’ ass. The series has been a fun one for me as a long-time fan for Warhammer 40,000 and with each issue the creative team has upped the fun bit by bit.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jacen Burrows
Color: Java Tartaglia Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #2

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #2

It’s rare where I get to a moment in a comic and make an exclamation out loud. Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #2 delivers a “holy shit” moment that’s sure to send shockwaves through the Warhammer 40,000 fandom. It’s an unexpected reveal that changes everything we know about a character.

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #2 is based on the tabletop miniature game by Games Workshop. It follows Marneus Calgar during his “modern day” battle against the evil forces of Chaos Space Marines. It also has the character reflecting on his childhood and how he became a Space Marine. It’s an exploration of a time we know little about the character. In the game, his recounted exploits are his time as a Space Marine and the numerous heroic moments he participated in as he climbed up the leadership to be the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines.

Gillen fleshes out the history of Calgar as he is trained by Crixus before he undergoes his tests to maybe become a Space Marine. As a young man, not even a teenager, he’s put through battles and training that risks his life. He’s joined by three friends and numerous strangers who come and go in their training. It’s a perilous journey and we see the nobility of the young man as he keeps his eyes on the goal of becoming a Space Marine. In every scene, at every move, there’s a chance of death or injury. We read to see what carnage awaits him in his training and how the character takes his first steps into legend.

And then Gillen delivers a twist that’s unexpected in every way… One I’m not spoiling.

Jacen Burrows‘ art has grown on me. Joined by Java Tartaglia on color and Clayton Cowles on lettering, the art is pretty solid when it comes to the past. The Chaos Space Marines are still lacking in their menace but overall the art feels a bit tighter and improved on the first issue. While it’s still not the grim dark of classic Games Workshop art, it also delivers just enough to fit as a Marvel comic. There’s some fantastic panels though that are sure to inspired model makers in recreating scenes or poses of characters. The past sequences do stand out though as Burrows seems to be a bit more comfortable winging it with a time and world that’s not as based on design and art we’ve seen over and over. The coloring too is a bit darker fitting the “mood” of Warhammer 40K a bit more.

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #2 delivers one hell of an ending. I gasped out loud and immediately had to check to make sure this reveal was brand new. It completely upends so much of what we know making Marneus Calgar much more than Captain America in Power Armor. This is a second issue that completely outdoes its debut and should create a hell of a lot of buzz.

Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jacen Burrows
Color: Java Tartaglia Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 10 Art: 8.5 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Unboxing/Review: Infinity: Betrayal

The world of Corvus Belli‘s Infinity comes to comics with Infinity: Betrayal from writer Víctor Santos and artist Agustin Graham Nakamura.

In a hidden base deep in the jungles of planet Paradiso, Imperial Agent Adil Mehmut must determine whether his prisoner, special operative and former hero Ko Dali, is a traitor to her country and the whole human race, or an alien that has impersonated her to divide humanity.

We open up and show off the “limited edition” release which includes an exclusive miniature of the protagonist: Ko Dali.

Get your copy:
Game Nerdz
Miniature Market
Corvus Belli

Corvus Belli provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Constellations – the Game of Stargazing and the Night Sky Review

Constellations: The Game of Stargazing and the Night Sky is a card-based game that gives 2-4 players the chance to explore our amazing night sky, the science and mythology behind stars and constellations, and have fun competing as they piece together the constellations in the night sky as they collect the correct star cards.

Based on real science and constellations players draw Star Cards, which represent the seven types of stars classified by astronomers. Each constellation requires a unique combination of star types to place in the sky.

A great game that combines STEM and games this is one that you’re able to learn while you play!

Orders yours now!

 

Xtronaut provided Board Game Today with a FREE copy for review
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Quarto is a Micro Game with Lots of Strategy

Quarto is an abstract strategy game featuring wooden pieces where your goal is to get four in a row based on various characteristics of the pieces. Think tic-tac-toe to the next level.

For 2 players, the game is for those ages 6 and up and takes about 20 minutes per game.

We run you through why we picked up the game at PAX Unplugged and why you should make it a part of your game collection.

You can buy two version:
Regular or Mini

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Board Game Today does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Review: Dead of Winter #1

In the pantheon of heroes, none are more lovable and loyal than everyone’s beloved good ol’ dog, Sparky. Surviving in the wintery apocalypse of the undead, this former TV star turned zombie killing machine just wants to make friends and be a good boy. As his fellow survivors scavenge for supplies in the frigid wasteland, will Sparky be able to protect his companions from threats both undead and not yet undead?

The smash-hit board game Dead of Winter by Plaid Hat Games comes to comics courtesy of writer Kyle Starks and artist Gabo. For those who don’t know, Dead of Winter is a tabletop cooperative board game where teams of individuals have to work together with a twist, each has their own agenda, and that agenda might not be the best for the group.

I myself haven’t played the game but have circled it enough times to get a general sense of what’s going on without the fine detail (and this is one I eventually do want to get… but the pile of games already!).

This first issue dives into the world with the various personalities from the game including its break out star Sparky and translates the game itself really well. Starks does a solid job of capturing things from the game in a way that players will appreciate it and new readers will just enjoy it (searching the police station and grocery store are examples). The comic is decent creating a new addition to the saturated zombie market and doing just enough to create a unique view of it all.

The comic achieves that uniqueness by focusing on translating the game. In the game you’re limited to actions such as scavenging, attacking, clearing trash, moving between locations, etc. and this comic has each of those moments making it feel like decisions are being made in a game. What also works is that each character introduced has their own personality in a way that it feels like a group of people sitting around the game table tackling a scenario. Its translation of the game experience creates a bonus in many ways. Whether more mechanics, like secret win conditions, will be introduced and if they are how. Those secret win conditions are simply enough motivations for each character and how closely the comic will adheare to that is unknown.

There’s also the focus on Sparky who plays a big role in the comic and gives you a loveable dog to cheer for. There’s been a few “animal” focused comics lately but here we see man’s best friend front and center and kicking lots of ass.

Gabo’s art is the interesting aspect of it all. There’s obviously many other zombie focused comics out there and this one takes a different turn with a more cartoon aspect to it. Not only is the grittiness diminished due to that, but it also deviates from the board game’s art. I’m a little torn about it actually as the cartoon(ish) look takes away some of the tension but if the comic mimicked the game art, it’d just look like every other zombie comic out there. Instead we get something that feels like a cross between Walking Dead and Plants vs Zombies. By the end I didn’t notice it but towards the beginning it stood out.

The first issue does a good job of capturing the game and gives more than enough nods to it so that long time fans will be satisfied and it’s done in a way that’s not overwhelming for new readers. The comic has a grasp of what makes the game special in many ways and overall the success of the series will rest in how it translates all of that as the series goes on. So far though, it’s really getting me to want to finally dive in and play this game that I’ve heard such amazing things about, watched play, but never had a chance to play myself (Gen Con here I come!).

Story: Kyle Starks Art: Gabo
Story: 8.05 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.85 Recommendation: Read

Originally posted on Graphic Policy.
Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set – Basic Action Dice Part 2

keywordsThis February sees the newest release for WizKidsDice Masters, Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set. The first starter set has an Iron Man focus introducing new mechanics.

I’ll be reviewing a group of cards a day until the whole set is completed and then general thoughts on the whole set. But, beyond discussing the cards and how they fit into the Dice Masters game, I’ll also focus on the characters themselves and if the card reflects their comic history.

Up today is the rest of the set’s Basic Action Dice

surprise-attackSurprise Attack

Art: Gabriele Dell’Otto, Secret War #1

Card playability: For a card like this I’m not as impressed by the ability as the cost. To pay 2 energy to then be able to get 2 energy down the road is helpful, though if that’s your goal there’s some Basic Actions that only cost 1 to do that.

Generally, there’s a lot of cards that are similar and are either the same cost, or cost 1 die more and do much more.

“Shocking Grasp” which costs them same does 1 damage and if it KOs a character that die then goes to the Prep area. I like that a bit more than this, but there’s a chance of dealing 2 damage.

Overall, this card may become a bit more important once set rotation becomes the norm, but as is, there’s better options out there. This could become more valuable the more we see “Iron Will” crop up in the game.

 

upgrade-fortificationUpgrade – Fortification

Art: Greg Land, Iron Man #1 variant

Card playability: I feel like there’s something missing when it comes to this Starter Set and the cards marked “Upgrade.” I’ve looked in the rules and there doesn’t seem to be anything specific regarding this wording. My gut says “Upgrade” basic action dice are meant to stay on the table like we saw dice being equiped with the D&D sets… but that’s another discussion.

“Iron Will” is a pain in the but ability in this game. The short version is a die needs to be damaged twice to be KO’d. So, to be able to give a character die that is pretty solid. But, looks like you’ll need to make sure it’s a SHIELD character or you’ll lose some life.

I like the idea of these upgrade Basic Action cards, I just want to see them actually be like equipment we’ve previously seen.

upgrade-proton-cannonUpgrade – Proton Cannon

Art: Lan Medina, Iron Man: Rapture #4

Card playability: The card “Hulk Out” is the same ability and the same cost except that it’s until the end of the turn, but there’s no KO chance.

With that being said, that makes me think the “Upgrade” Basic Action cards are meant to stay on the board much like equipment in D&D.

If this card does stay on the table then it’s an improvement on “Hulk Out” and I might go with it over that card instead. Overcrush can be a big deal in this game, so to have a die that “permanently” gives the ability like equipping a character die that could be a pretty big deal.

I’d expect a clarification over these “Upgrade” Basic Action cards.

 

upgrade-smokescreenUpgrade – Smokescreen

Art: Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata, Iron Man 2.0 #10

Card playability: Again, a cheap Basic Action die and if this is meant to be like equipment, then I like it a lot more than if it’s just for one turn.

This is a pretty cheap way to give a character die a little bit of a boost for the attack and there’s the bonus of getting them through unblocked if they’re a level 1 MASK character die.

I like the concept, but again it’s a big deal if this die stays out there or goes away at the end of the turn. At a minimum at least you’ve got a die that has some uses and also can get you two generic energy.

 

upgrade-unibeamUpgrade – Unibeam

Art: Roberto de la Torre, Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #26

Card playability: Similar to the card above, this one gives +2A instead of the +1A for the same cost. Instead of the possibility of bein unblockable this one possibly can give “Fast.”

Quite a few of the characters in this starter set are geared towards going on the offensive, so this is a die that adds to that focus.

Again, it’s not clear if this is supposed to be like equipment or not, but we’ll see if there’s further clarification. If it does stay like that, I’m much more gung-ho about this Basic Action card. If it’s for one turn only, I’m not quite there.

 

Final Thoughts: I expect “Upgrade” Basic Action card to get clarification or to be changed down the road to be like equipment which is something that’s not quite as present in the Marvel/DC aspect of the Dice Masters game. If so, the worth for all of these will increase.

 

WizKids provided Graphic Policy with FREE product for review.

Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set – Basic Action Dice Part 1

keywordsThis February sees the newest release for WizKidsDice Masters, Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set. The first starter set has an Iron Man focus introducing new mechanics.

I’ll be reviewing a group of cards a day until the whole set is completed and then general thoughts on the whole set. But, beyond discussing the cards and how they fit into the Dice Masters game, I’ll also focus on the characters themselves and if the card reflects their comic history.

Up today is some of the set’s Basic Action Dice!

armor-warsArmor Wars

Art: Brandon Peterson, Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #3

Card playability: A Basic Action that’s very specific to this set it allows you to KO a target character die with “Suit Up.” Each player then loses 1 life.

Unless you’re playing a team with “Suit Up” or know you’re facing one, it just doesn’t feel like you’d really need this.

The situations are limited, but to KO your own character and deal damage then be able to role that character next round could be handy.

 

cone-of-coldCone of Cold

Art: Adi Granov, Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2 #1 variant

Card playability: That’s a lot of damage to deal for a 3 cost Basic Action Die. To potentially knock out three different character dice in a turn is impressive.

There is a limitation in that you can only use this if there’s three different character dice, so you may need to do some damage to your own to really get a lot of use out of it.

But, to be able to do damage to a whole bunch of character dice and then also boost an attack for a blocked character is solid. This is all about offense and at a pretty decent price.

hypervelocityHypervelocity

Art: Francesco Mattina, War Machine Vol. 2 #8

Card playability: New ways to do damage and get players to lose life is good by me. I like the idea of forcing players to attack and know that this being out could have greatly changed how things would have played out. Even forcing a Sidekick to die can really change a game, and if you were to wipe out their character dice, you’re guaranteeing two life gone each turn.

I have a feeling this card will get some clarification, but the way I read it, if you don’t role a star, this die is staying on the board and becoming a thorn in your opponent’s side (and yours potentially).

 

one-against-manyOne Against Many

Art: Juan Doe, Iron Man: Legacy Vol. 1 #3

Card playability: Expensive by cool is what I think about this Basic Action Card.

To be able to do lots of damage easily, that’s a good thing. If this was a 4 cost die I’d be super excited about it, but the 5 reflects at potentially how big a deal this could be.

Though lots of games tend to go quickly now, to be able to do a lot of damage quickly and combo this with other dice that allow you to duplicate it, make this a Basic Action Die I expect to see in some builds.

 

smashSmash!

Art: Doug Braithwaite, Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 #74

Card playability: Similar to “Power Word Kill” but this one is just level 1 character with a possibility of a level 2 character. It’s two less to purchase so you take a chance on the level 2, but it’s cheaper to buy.

The global is interesting in that you can prevent a blocked character die from dealing damage. I like that and we see these Basic Action cards focused on that sort of function a bit. It’s a simple Global, but the simplicity will force your opponents to really think about attacking and blocking.

 

Final Thoughts: All five cards are pretty solid and for the most part introduce some new Basic Action Cards to the game. None are too specific to this set, and all could have their uses depending on one’s build.

 

WizKids provided Graphic Policy with FREE product for review.

Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set – War Machine

This February sees the newest release for WizKidsDice Masters, Marvel Dice Masters: Iron Man and War Machine Starter Set. The first starter set has an Iron Man focus introducing new mechanics.

I’ll be reviewing a group of cards a day until the whole set is completed and then general thoughts on the whole set. But, beyond discussing the cards and how they fit into the Dice Masters game, I’ll also focus on the characters themselves and if the card reflects their comic history.

Up today is War Machine, the second time the character has appeared, the first being Avengers vs. X-Men.

Art: Salvador Larroca, Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1 #513

Comic origin: War Machine refers to the Iron Man armor mostly worn by James Rhodes. A Marine, who eventually works for Tony Stark and Stark Industries.

When Stark had to step aside due to drinking issues, Rhodes stepped in to the role if Iron Man.

Rhodes wore the original outfit off and on for some time, and after Stark “died” the War Machine armor was created.

Rhodes’ role has been all over the place as War Machine, acting as an Avengers, working for the US government and military, to being a solo superhero.

Rhodes recently was killed while battling Thanos during the start of  the Civil War II storyline.

Live action version: James Rhodes and War Machine have been depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Terence Howard and Don Cheadle.

war-machine-model-11War Machine: Model 11

Card playability: A cheap version of War Machine the previous were all 5 SHIELD to purchase. A little cheaper to field, with stats that are a little weaker than the previous version, this War Machine is all about a cheap addition to the Iron Man team affiliation.

There is “Fast” which is a decent addition for a relatively cheap die which allows you to deal damage before non-Fast characters in combat. With ok stats for attack and defense, this is a card and die that you can get out on the field relatively easily.

Card vs. Comic: The Model 11 was the original version of this armor that Tony Stark wore before more weaponry was added in later models for Jim Rhodes. So, this card having little as far as capabilities fits really well. This is the “basic” version of the armor and the card reflects that.

 

war-machine-jrxl-1000War Machine: JRXL-1000

Card playability: A little more expensive to purchase than the “Model 11” card, this is still cheaper than previous versions of the character in the game.

Like the “Model 11” this version has Fast which reflects the offensive capabilities, but it also has “Suit Up” with Iron Man and  also if it’s at level 1 Sidekicks can’t block it.

That star ability is rather blah due to the fact that “Suit Up” places the die in at Level 2. But, there’s not too many Iron Man dice I’d want to “Suit Up” with. The 3 cost Iron Man has 4A and 4D at Level 2, so it’s a decrease in attack, but gaining Fast.

Card vs. Comic: “Suit Up” along gives the card an ability that works really well with the Iron Man character in comics where different suits are used based on needs. The inclusion of “Fast” fits the offensive capabilities and it’s Level 1 ability feels like it fits the character taking out lower level drones in a comic.

war-machine-rhodeyWar Machine: Rhodey

Card playability: At 4 SHIELD to purchase, again this version of the character is cheaper than the previous set’s take on it.

I do like this version which again has “Fast” but also does damage to your opponent when you KO an opposing character die in combat. To be able to do 2 damage on top of KOing an opposing character is nice and at Level 1 the character die is now 3A instead of the previous version’s 2A.

This version is clearly about getting it in combat, doing damage first, and then doing additional damage to your opponent. Getting it out early to take on Sidekicks is solid and out of the three, this is one I really like.

Card vs. Comic: Like the other two this does have a lot that reflects the character in comics. Again it has “Fast,” but the additional damage really reflects how much firepower this character has and the damage he can do.

 

Final Thoughts: All three are interesting additions to the Iron Man world of Dice Masters. Each has their good and bad and all three are worth working with to see how they do in an Iron Man team. I particularly like “Rhodey” with the additional damage it does when you KO an opposing die. Any damage is a good thing.

 

WizKids provided Graphic Policy with FREE product for review.

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