Articles Reviews Barnestorming #36- Dungeon Run in Review, Amy, Jekyll

Barnestorming #36- Dungeon Run in Review, Amy, Jekyll Michael Barnes Hot

Written by Michael Barnes     January 12, 2012    
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dungeon_run2011 leftovers and the worst video game of 2012 in Barnestorming #36

On the Table

Here’s a 2011 leftover- my Dungeon Run review. I had it done when I submitted Super Dungeon Explore, but we just went with that one.

Dungeon Run, as you may or may not know, is another fine example of a hometown F:ATtie making good. This time, it’s our very own Mr. Bistro and he done good. It’s also the latest game from Colby Dauch’s Plaid Hat Games and it takes place in the Summoner Wars world.

It’s a solid dungeoncrawl with a Betrayal at the House on the Hill-style twist. Which means that it does require players to play in the spirit of the game for it to really work. Gamers that don’t get into the potential nastiness of it aren’t going to get as much out of it. I’m not too partial to the combat system and I worry about its prospects in the marketplace against similar games, but there are a couple of pretty smart differentiators that make it worth checking out. I’ve liked it enough to keep it and hope for an expansion, so that counts for something.

Just don’t play it with six, no sir. Four is best.

Got the new Evo tabled the other day and it’s good. It’s funny to see how Keyaerts has developed over the years…which is to say, not really all that much. A lot of his core ideas that are in Small World, Vinci, and Olympus are in Evo. There are some minor rules changes, but I didn’t really notice them. The artwork is a vast improvement.

I’ve also got a new Worthpoint article up, this one about the “Magic Rush” in the mid-1990s.


On the Consoles

We did our year’s best thing at Gameshark. I can’t believe someone put El Shaddai on their list. No accounting for taste and all that.

I just played Amy for a review. And…well, let’s just say that Bill let me issue a rare “F” grade. There’s also a review up of this rip-off Tekken package that came out a while back It's tagged "Tekken your money".

I’m also reviewing Choplifter HD. If you liked Choplifter in the 1980s, you’ll like this. It’s pretty fun. They did overcomplicated it a little and it certainly did not need zombies, but the core gameplay is there and it’s still about picking up little guys in a cool helicopter and dropping them off somewhere.


Even more new stuff…New World Colony, which is a decent original IOS board game…Star Marine: Infinite Ammo, which is a Contra-like game and pretty good…Super Crate Box which is fun but not as good as its imitator, Muffin Knight.

I’ve been playing a little Hero Academy too. It’s hard to say right now, but it could turn out to be pretty neat. It’s a Summoner Wars-style board game but it’s multiplayer only, which kind of stinks if you don’t want to wait for someone to take a turn. There’s only two factions, but if they expand on it, it might get interesting. It’s developed by ex-Ensemble Studios people who made Age of Empires and Halo.

But most IOS time is going straight into Ascension. I have 18 games running right now. It may be my favorite app of all time at this point. It plays so, so freaking well on iPhone or iPad. Plus, the more you play it the better it gets as more and more subtle strategies reveal themselves. Playing it through the asynchronous multiplayer lets you play way more than you likely could in real life, which increases the experience you can have with it and it’s a lot easier to get to higher levels of play. Another way that IOS is a huge boon to board games.


On the Screen

Haven’t watched a whole lot this week, but I did catch Murder by Decree, a 1979 Sherlock Holmes picture directed by Bob Clark (Porky’s, A Christmas Story, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things). Christopher Plummer as a strangely warm Holmes, Jehmzzz Mehzzzuhn as Watson with Donald Sutherland, David Hemmings, and Genevieve Bujold in the cast as well. It’s a Holmes versus Jack the Ripper thing.

The interesting thing is that there are a lot of echoes from _this movie_ in From Hell- both the Alan Moore comic and the Hughes Brothers film.

Notes such as the grape stems, the psychic angle, the Freemasonry connection…there’s even a couple of shots such as the red-hued opening vista of Whitechapel that are awfully familiar if you know From Hell. Not that this is a bad thing and it doesn’t diminish from Moore or the pretty decent film that has very little to do with the book, but it’s noticeable.

I watched the first episode of Steven Moffat’s Jekyll as well and it just didn’t click with me. There’s some decent acting, but it feels rather contrived. Hyde is a proper horrendous cad and a total prick, which is cool and all but nothing can ever top the pre-code Rueben Mamoulian version of the story with Frederic March as Jekyll and Hyde…it’s bawdy in that wonderful pre-code way and has a manic energy that can’t be beat.


On Spotify

Nope, still don’t like “The Suburbs”.

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Comments (20)
  • avatardragonstout

    Worthpoint article link: gold-rush

    I have a friend who buys small Magic collections from people who don't know any better for $10-20 and finds over $500 of cards in them *all the time*. Drives us up the wall, we don't know how he does it (just eBay and craigslist), though he says it's very time-intensive. He'll share once he retires from that pursuit. Neither he nor I recommend doing it without knowing what you're doing; he looks for very specific things. After a particularly insane haul this friend got, I told another friend who got dollar signs in his eyes and immediately turned a $100 bill into close to $0 buying a Magic lot. I'll never forget his question to me that made clear, a little too late, that it wasn't going to be a sweet haul: "what do you think 'expansion set symbol that looks like the world' could mean?"

  • avatarAncient_of_MuMu

    Consider trying the second episode of Jekyll and giving up after that. From memory I thought the first episode was weak and boring, but have fond memories of the series as a whole.

  • avatarSpace Ghost

    Yeah - be damn careful when trying to find "diamonds in the rough" with Magic cards. This is especially difficult with older cards because the market penetration of knowledge is deep given the internet and big card traders -- like Coolstuff and StarCity.

  • avatarmoofrank  - Jekyll

    The other caveat about Jekyll is that it isn't a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson's book. Part of the charm is that you really aren't sure where it is going to go.

    ...and come to think of it, the plot does veer a bit into the ludicrous. But so gloriously and unashamedly so that I just went with it. At that point, it is kind of taking a modern twist on a lurid penny dreadful or something.

    ...or maybe a graphic novel.

  • avatarozjesting

    My current drag with Acension is the new clock thing. I just failed to complete a game with a local fattie because of failed alerts on my holiday phone and simply because I was losing 12+ hours a turn due to time difference in Aus.

    Great game, I love it, but having such a small amount of time to complete makes it near impossible...esp in 3+ player games.

  • avatarSagrilarus

    To what level have Magic cards been counterfeited? My boys have counterfeit Pokemon cards and Pokemon's value is significantly less than Magic's.


  • avatarBlack Barney

    lol, AMY is SO awful. I played the entire demo last night (it was soooo long). Truly terrible.

    That New World Colony game sounds wicked fun. I wish more games like that would come out for WP7

    Choplifter was one of my favourite games as a kid. I found Choplifted HD to be lacking. It was fun ferrying dudes back and forth but there was too much action-focus whereas the original game was about AVOIDING engagements much more.

  • avatarSpace Ghost

    Sag - usually only the out-of-print Vintage stuff is counterfeited. You have to be very careful with the Power 9 or any of the old cards that are on the "don't reprint" list -- I would never buy a Black Lotus or Mox off of the internet without it being a very trusted store (and these are anywhere from $800 - $1200 for the black lotus and +$300 for all the moxen). I haven't seen any newer stuff counterfeited though.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Barney, what really shocks me about Amy is that it made it through Microsoft's QA and approval process. I can't believe someone didn't say "hey...this really isn't up to standard". I also can't believe the publisher and developers were OK with releasing it in the state it's in. I'm sure with money and time invested in something like that it's hard to just pull the plug...but damn, somebody really should have pulled the plug somewhere along the line.

    It _looked_ promising, and there was some buzz about it. It was tipped to be a return to classic survival horror. As soon as I saw it was coming this week, I told Bill I wanted the review. Wow, what a letdown.

    That's exactly my problem with Choplifter HD- too much of an "action/shooting" focus. The parts where you're just picking up dudes and dropping them off rocks. Shooting stuff sucks.

    I might draft a couple of you guys to be consultants for me when I do some of these "valuing Magic cards" articles.

    Tommy- do I have you on my Game Center list? If we can coordinate, I'd be willing to do some real time matches with you.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT  - re:
    Michael Barnes wrote:
    Barney, what really shocks me about Amy is that it made it through Microsoft's QA and approval process.

    Uh, Barnzebub, have you never heard of that thing that came out a while was called VISTA or something?


    I have about as much faith in M$'s QA process as I do in the US Government's ability to pay down the debt in my lifetime.

  • avatardragonstout

    Ghost is correct that there are no more than 20 Magic cards that I would ever worry about being counterfeit (though you should also watch out for inking the border of an unlimited or chronicles card to make it look black). I bought Power 9 off the internet, but also have a series of counterfeit detection tests I did on all of them. I find eBay pretty secure thanks to Paypal guaranteeing your money back. If anyone cares, I'll post the tests, and if someone REALLY cares I'll send you my blacklight and jeweler's loupe for pretty much whatever it costs to ship them now that I don't need them anymore.

    The only counterfeit card I ever bought was a Timetwister (also Power 9) that I bought in person before I was worried or checking for counterfeits, and in retrospect it was a really blatant one, no need for any of my tests. Those motherfuckers who sold it to me should burn in hell; it's a long story, but let's just include that when I brought to their attention that they'd sold me a counterfeit card, they told me to go fuck myself, and then essentially bought it back for super-little as long as I didn't claim to anyone that it was a counterfeit. Wonder if they then sold it to any other suckers. They're a store in San Francisco, "Cards and Comics Central". They spit on the idea of customer service, you can check out some Yelp reviews.

    The only explanation I can think of for Pokemon cards being counterfeited is that they're being poorly counterfeited by jackass kids, like Magic cards also were back in the olden days.

  • avatarSpace Ghost

    I think ebay is fine too -- that is where I got some of my power 9 as well (3 moxes). BUT, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who didn't know what they were looking for. And, if the price is not in the ballpark of what you would expect to pay, I can almost guarantee that it is not what you think it is --- there was a period of time when a bunch of kids lost a lot of money buying cards listed as

    "Ersatz Mox Pearl"

    or some such. They didn't know what Ersatz meant -- definitely some shady people out there.

  • avatarscreamingtruth

    Hey Barnes thanks for putting up the Dungeon Run review. You know I was pretty shocked after DR's reception at the convention demos that it fell flat for some reviewers. But I think you have the right of it in your review. We built those little cartoons into the rulebook and tried to word things in such a way as to convey to players that the game works best if you are mean to each other. At the demos we had so much more control over prodding players in that direction. I think this is the reason that there are so many split opinions over the game. Bistro tells me he's working to address a lot of what fell flat for people for Dungeon Run 2, I'm expecting this will include those friction creating moments that help drive the players towards the fun.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Thanks for chiming in Colby- always glad to see you around these parts.

    Yeah, I think the root of it is that there simply needs to be more friction points for the concept to work. Somebody (I think it was Pulsipher) commented here a couple of days ago that you can never rely on players to play "in the spirit" of the game...which is why you'll get some groups that totally get it and make the most of it. Like in our first game, my friend Pierre literally took one step into the dungeon and beat the crap out of me, setting the stage for an entire game of trash talk and rivalry. But I've played it too where people don't really "get" the co-op/competitive aspect of it. There needs to be more guidance toward that style of play in the mechanics, rules, and card text.

    One thing that would help is if there were more instances (traps, monsters, or events) that both _require_ collusion and affect all players. Likewise, the temptation to do bad to others needs to be greater.

    Cosmic Encounter is probably the best model in any game ever for handling alliances of convenience, which is what Dungeon Run really needs to promote in its gameplay.

    Thinking about it, Cutthroat Caverns actually does this well too because of how it concept is "killstealing"...there's some of that built into Dungeon Run with making item pickup a seperate action, but there's got to be more.

    I think you're right on the money about how when the game is "in the wild" you're going to get those split opinions. Because people may very well not be playing it "right".

    I'm really interested to see what shape Dungeon Run 2 takes- there's so much I think you guys did extremely well and it is a good game, but it's also one where it's not hard to see where there's some room to sell the concept even further. And _that_ will be what differentiates the game from the competition.

  • avatartin0men

    I found that I enjoyed Jekyll pretty consistently. Especially mid-arc. But that the end sort of wandered into the weeds. It's definitely worth putting an extra epi in, to make sure it's gotten a fair shot.

  • avatarMattLoter

    I was about to say something about Cutthroat Caverns too but you basically said it already. Comic is another great example of a game that totally blows if you just play it like a Euro cube pusher. Same is true of games like Intrigue or I'm The Boss, or even Werewolf, but in those games it's a lot clearer to the player that the social metagame component is key.

  • gschmidl

    I hadn't heard of Amy since yesterday and now there are two "fuck this game" reviews in as many days.

    Of course, it's yet another goddamn zombie game. How is this theme still not dead? Why are they adding zombies to Choplifter? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE

  • avatarMr. Bistro

    Like Colby said, Dungeon Run couldn't have gone any smoother at GenCon, but in that environment we controlled the "feel" of the experience. I get how some groups may not be as naturally drawn into the interaction. DR2 offers some dynamic enhancements in that area, while still leaving players with all of the choices Dungeon Run 1 offers.

    I'm quite excited to show what is in the works for the follow-up. The new dynamics are simple but meaty, and blend really well with the base game. It's going to give players more of what they want, without just being more of the same. My goal is to provide a hefty but simple toolbox for kicking your friends in the nuts.

    Thanks for the review Michael.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    So the million dollar question- is DR2 a full-fledged standalone sequel, a 2nd edition, or an expansion?

  • avatarMr. Bistro

    Definitely not a second edition.

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