Sunday, February 6, 2011

Guest Review - Thunderstone: Doomgate Legion

I've got a special treat for you tonight - a guest reviewer! Come to think of it, since that means I didn't have to write the review and got someone else to play the game for me, I think that's a treat for me. Anyway, my old man really likes Thunderstone, and I don't. So I gave him my copy of Thunderstone, and then Alderac sent me expansions. I gave him those, too, because he lives like 1500 miles away and I can't exactly borrow it back for the weekend.

So please give a warm welcome to our guest reviewer, who is doing me a big favor and writing my column for me tonight - my dad!

Right up front, I take it for granted that if you’re reading this review you already own Thunderstone, and take it a safe assumption you already own the expansion Wrath of the Elements as well. That’ll save us all a lot of needless explanations and we’ll understand just what I’m referring to.

My first thoughts when I got Doomgate Legion was, “Hmm, just like the last expansion.” When I opened it up, I was confirmed – at first sight it’s REALLY like the last expansion. A solid box with great inserts and such, just like the box to Wrath of the Elements. If you have all the games in the series so far you’ll now have two extra boxes, since all the cards fit in either WotE or DL – I know, because all mine are in the DL box now. Not that I mind the box and inserts, but you may end up with a collection of boxes. OK, enough about the box. As I perused the cards I was anxious to get them on the table. Lots of new cards and lots of new ideas – so in this respect not so much like the last expansion. Thunderstone should never get boring.

The rules: Look just like the previous rules, and these rules fit in the box. The writing has improved, IMO, over the first game, so they’re pretty darn clear to understand. And the rules seem easier this expansion.

Now, about the rules, I have a thought of a not-so-positive nature; did anyone proof-read the rules?!? Thunderstone is a slick product, and I’m fairly impressed with the quality of the cards, but the little glitches in the rules are just stupid. For example, I spent a long time looking for the Bodyguard. You know what? There is no Bodyguard!! He’s a “Border Guard.” Jeez Louise! This should have been caught in the rough draft of the rules! And I took a long time finding the Squire – BECAUSE HE’S THE “Doomgate Squire”! In the future, you ought to be able to find some homeless guy with time on his hands to proof-read your rules.

The cards: I’ve read some disparaging remarks regarding the art work of Thunderstone. Some guy says they look like comic book art. I don’t see it, but . . . what’s wrong with comic book art anyway?!? Some of the cards are maybe a bit dorky, but all-in-all I think they look great for the theme. No complaints on my part.

I noticed in one post the reviewer mentioned that his cards were about 1mm larger than the original cards. Not so with mine – I checked. My Doomgate Legion cards are exactly the same size (and color on the back as far as my failing eyes can make out) as the original. Everything fantastic so far.

Some of the new concepts: Well, Disease is a major new change in this box. Holy smoke, but if all your monsters lurking the dungeon are from DL, be prepared to take a lot of Rest actions. Most of the new monsters seem to infect heroes with something in each battle. And there’s now an assortment of diseases, so you don’t just lose attack points. Like I said, be prepared to Rest fairly often. All-in-all, I’m not overly taken with the variety of Diseases, but maybe the one game I’ve played didn’t have a sufficiently shuffled deck. But I have to say, I think the idea of monsters infecting heroes with diseases is clever and is well done.

DL also has Treasures that are lying on the floor of the Dungeon and, when a monster is killed or sent back to the bottom of the dungeon, they appear, and the player who moved the monster just picks it up. Kind of like, you just killed this monster and behind his dead body you find the valuable treasure. Very clever concept, and I like it. Also kind of cool that the treasure doesn’t go in your discard pile but stays on the table in front of you, so you can use it’s special effect on demand. (I can feel a house rule developing here – if you send a monster back to the bottom of the dungeon and a treasure appears, you don’t get to take it. I play with guys who might just do this very thing to find a treasure.)

There’s a “Spirit Blast” card you can buy in the village that seems kind of odd. You see, if you play Spirit Blast in a battle, for each XP you have saved up, you get an attack point. I can see someone developing a strategy by not cashing in his XPs, but I and all the guys I play this game with level up our heroes as soon as the opportunity presents itself, so Spirit Blast didn’t see much action in the game we played with it on the board.

Well, I don’t have a lot to say about various heroes and monsters – you can read other reviews to get the details. But the variety of cards for Thunderstone just keep expanding, so you could play this game for many years and play a different game each time. In fact, this might just be one of those games that, if you were stranded on a deserted isle and could only have one game, this is the one you’d choose. (Well, for myself I have a different game passion, but I can see someone choosing this one.)

Now we can sit on our doorstep and wait for the delivery of Thunderstone: Dragonspire. The box shown for this next expansion looks fantastic, and the new concepts I’m reading about have me anticipating this one. Of course, it means my box collection will be growing.


Awesome art (even if it does possibly look like comic book art).
Great new concepts that add to the game.
Same great quality of product.

Stupid glitches in the rules. You can do better than that.

If you're going to buy Doomgate Legion, I sure would love it if you get it from Noble Knight Games. It would also be great if you told them I sent you:


MikeP said...

Nice review! It's interesting to see a similar style in your writing, although I don't think I've seen "Jeez Louise!" in any of Matt's reviews! Thanks again for the review and I look forward to more in the future!

Matt Drake said...

Yeah, my old man isn't quite as comfortable with profanity or hooker jokes as I am. Maybe because he used to be a Baptist preacher.

Wind Lane said...

I loved that some of his turns of phases are so obviously the origin of your style of turn of phrase. Good review and still entertaining.

Roothgard said...

Thanks for the review ! It was great ! :)

Now we know where Matt took his sense of humor !

=+=SuperflyTNT=+= said...

If only I'd have been able to get my dad to play games with me...

Great review, and the "Old Man" (TM) sounds like he's a hell of a guy, Matt.

Todd Kadrie said...

Excellent review! Inspired me to pull out TS & Doomgate Legion and place some solo last night!

Man I wish my old man played games ( well, games other than *golf*), and was half as cool as your dad clearly is. :D

We demand more reviews from Mr. Drake!

Matt Drake said...

He'll be reviewing Dragonspire, at least, and I'll see if I can't bend his arm to write a few more, if he's up to it.