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  Hall or Nothing Productions  This is a little information that Hall or Nothing Productions sent me. You will see they have a lot of RPGs a...

Hall or Nothing Productions Hall or Nothing Productions

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


 Hall or Nothing Productions

 This is a little information that Hall or Nothing Productions sent me. You will see they have a lot of RPGs and Historic games already published and a lot more planned. I will be reviewing their 1565, St. Elmo's Pay in a bit. 

Illustration from their upcoming 1066, Tears to Many Mothers

"We’re a passionate indie gaming studio based in the North of England. Since 2015 we have been developing and publishing immersive thematic games. Amazing artwork, achingly beautiful music, and award-winning game designs are our hallmarks. 

Our unique Fantasy Quest Games – Gloom, Shadows, and Call of Kilforth – deliver an unparalleled RPG fantasy tabletop experience in one sitting, including hundreds of remarkably unique cards to create luscious living worlds for bold adventurers to explore. Whereas our richly detailed and lovingly researched Historic Epic Battle System games breathe exhilarating life into critical conflicts throughout history offering slick war-gaming combined with the gorgeous aesthetics of modern, non-collectable card games.

And if you want to experience the apocalyptic, haunting beauty of the world’s end, look no further than our very first Veil Odyssey Game, the monochromatic masterpiece that is Veilwraith and our latest game in production, Kreel Manor: Citadel of Horrors, The Dungeon Crawl Card Game is a prequel to the award-winning Veilwraith and is an all new epic fantasy adventure in the Kilforth universe, for 1-3 cooperative players (up to 4 with expansion) where players become the legendary champions of bygone times, embarking on a doomed quest to save the world."

Hall or Nothing Productions:

Hall Or Nothing Productions - Tabletop Games, Board Games

Veilwraith video:

1565, St. Elmo's Pay video:

 STARGRAVE: THE LAST PROSPECTOR from OSPREY GAMES Stargrave  transports the fantasy RPG  Frostgrave  lock stock and barrel to a science fict...


For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



Stargrave transports the fantasy RPG Frostgrave lock stock and barrel to a science fiction setting.  Behind it all are Joseph McCullough, the prolific writer and creator of these two worlds and many other novels too and the publisher's Osprey Games.

Though RPGs are very much the outer rim  of my gaming world, how could I resist the kind opportunity given to me by Osprey Games to preview this latest expansion to the Stargrave canon, especially when I discovered that it's due to be released on 28th April - my birthday!

In case any of you are totally unfamiliar with its origins, I'm going to start with the briefest of outlines .  This core was presented in a substantial hardback book that gives you all the background, rules, stats and scenarios etc. Thematic art work and photos of diaramas taken from games adorn and enliven the text.  We're dealing with a small unit, miniatures skirmish game set in a typical devastated and blighted galaxy.  The rather long subtitle to the core game says it all- Science Fiction Wargames in The Blasted Galaxy.

There is a substantial gallery of miniatures that have been sculpted purely for this game, but it really is one game where you can bring virtually any existing figures, terrain and buildings you possess to your gaming table.  

Your first task is to create a team made up of a captain, first mate and assorted crew then follow through the scenarios.  Like most RPGs, the wealth of written material provides an excellent resource to create your own scenarios.

A free supplement introduced solo play, while the first published expansion, Stargrave: Quarantine 37 , landed your crew slap bang into a deserted research station where you can compete through the scenarios against other crews in two mini-campaigns or take on a solo mini-campaign.

The Last Prospector, the second supplement similarly presents a range of new elements and a new region of the galaxy to explore.  The presentation is a glossy softback book of 86 pages. The introduction had me hooked at once.  Though only two pages long, in it Joseph McCullough gives us a clear, succinct explanation of his intentions and inspirations.  Three things leapt out at me.  

Foremost was his desire to explore the connection between the genres of science-fiction and the western.  This is a pairing very familiar to me as were his seminal references to Star Wars and especially Firefly, the sadly curtailed Josh Wheedon series and the film Outland which, as he notes, has often been compared to High Noon Firefly in particular struck me as a particularly important influence on the geography and geopolitics of The Last Prospector.

The region in question, the Honoreb System, has become a backwater of the galaxy, though still a mineral-rich asteroid belt.  Among its locations that will feature in the scenarios are Penthalia Station, a once vibrant and important hub, now largely decaying and derelict; Honera, a steamy jungle planet with originally three enclosed bases and Saint Mollia [or "Molly" for short] a vast titanic though abandoned ore carrier.

Next to seize my attention was his desire to depart from the linear progression of so many, many RPGs.  Instead the Campaign provides a ten scenario arc of which only the opening and final episodes are fixed.  The other eight can be played in any order.  The suggestion is that the game players take turns choosing a scenario usually based on what each thinks will be most immediately advantageous and suited to the qualities, powers and abilities of their crew.  My own instant reaction was, at some future date, to offer up this order to the random gods of the dice world! 

The third detail that I was highly enthusiastic about is summed up in the following extract"...instead of a focused narrative , this campaign is based around a mystery and a location ... to solve the mystery, the crews must travel all over the system , searching for clues."  Great idea was my immediate reaction - a game with not just sci-fi, not just westerns, but a whole touch of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective too.  Sadly this was my one disappointment.  The disappearance of the old friend, the eponymous Last Prospector and his rumoured "big score" are simply what Alfred Hitchcock would have called the McGuffin.  In other words they are the motivating trigger for the game's plot that sends your crews hither and thither across the Honereb System.

Just one of the many pieces of artwork that enliven the text

At this point, I think  one other sentence from the introduction is important to quote: "I leave it up to the players to fit my work into their own imaginative framework."  As Joseph McCullough stresses in his introduction, it's entirely up to the gamer whether you stick closely to his detailed descriptive script or not.  This is very important comment for the whole creation of your table-top, as you'll see in the next section where I explore some of the scenarios.  The fact that all bar the grand finale of the game is designed to be played on a 3'x3' table is a big plus for the gamer with limited space. However, the setup for many of the scenarios could task the physical terrain resources of the average gamer.

The fixed opening Scenario of the Campaign screams its influence from the classic western mythos in its title: The Barfight!  The setup specifies the classic bar down one edge of the gaming table and various other familiar accoutrements such as tables and chairs.  However, later scenarios grow more taxing in their requirements, such as a cavern floor with an upper level shelf running all around the edge of the scene.  This is where the comment about using your own "imaginative framework" applies - in other words "do the best with what you've got".   I've got to say that the suggestion of using 3" strips of paper didn't appeal.  So, substantial quantities of packaging from a recent home purchase, plus extensive Stanley knife work, are going to be pressed into service. 

The transformation begins!

Similarly, broken bits of polystyrene are in the process of being transformed into rocky outcrops that may serve both in some of the underground locations and on the planet's surface.

However, the thick jungle of a scenario like The Devil's Punchbowl will stretch my current resources considerably, though it will be one of the cheaper to beef up.  Though behind my nascent rocks lurks one of the rare items that I possess which I need to greatly expand and spend on to furnish my jungle settings.

On the other hand, left-over creations made for my son's long past days of Warhammer 40K and Necromunda, plus my own Deadzone 2 building collection will certainly feature prominently in other scenes, as will many of the figures pressed into service from those games. 

The one above I particularly like and feel it will work both in a jungle setting and also can be adapted to serve as a mine entrance.

Before looking at the typical Scenario outline, it's important to explain a narrative feature that I strongly like.  This region of the galaxy is split between six factions each with their own ideals, culture and needs.  Each player's crew will be affected by their shifting "standing" with each faction that will be affected by how they perform in each Scenario.  Outcomes will be positive or negative and, not surprisingly, will bring rewards or disadvantages that feed into other Scenarios.*[see below]   This adds a lot of colour to the story and game play - a definite winner for me, as it also sits well with the "western" influence, making me think of the factions successfully played off by Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars!

Each Scenario is presented in a well organised pattern:-
A brief narrative introduction to set the storyline scene.
Crew - these details usually introduce specific factors that may change the constituents of your crew, introduce limitations, exceptions, additional equipment or even additional units.
Set-Up - outlines the terrain/physical details to create the scene, the placing of loot tokens and the positioning of figures.
Special Rules - fairly self-explanatory!
Faction Advantage - changes in each player's crew standing with the factions in the game and the benefits and disadvantages resulting [*see above]
Outcome - what may generally be summed up as victory conditions, in that this section tells you what you'll gain or lose by certain actions.
Loot and Experience - usually this results in players rolling on the core game book's tables for these two factors plus special ones just for this supplement.

The typical start to a Scenario's organisation

As you'd expect with any supplement, there are new additions to all elements of the game.  They start with new backgrounds and powers for the two most important characters in each player's crew, your captain and first mate.  There are new soldier types , ship upgrades and advanced technology, a series of new attributes and in the section labelled Bestiary there are ten new creatures that you'll encounter through these Scenarios.  I'm not quite sure that a Foreman or Miner would be too happy finding themselves in a chapter entitled Bestiary or be lumped among "creatures"!

One of my favourite figure illustrations

All in all this is a very attractive and well produced addition to the Stargrave canonThere's plenty to read and its well illustrated with many exemplary photos and artwork.  The Scenarios cover a good range of situations culminating in a lengthier three-part finale and as the author observes, there are plenty of hooks and dangling storylines in the narrative to chase down by creating your own scenarios.  

With the Western influence in mind, I can already envisage a captain and first mate with five other crew members finding themselves called upon to defend a rag-tag group of isolated and down-trodden settlers from the brutal oppression of the nastiest elements of one of the system's six factions.  My captain might just be called Chris!

So, look out for Stargrave; the Last Prospector and its publication date on 28th April!



It's been said that variety is the spice of life. If that's true, then Tales of Maj'Eyal (ToME) might be one the spiciest dis...

Tales of Maj'Eyal Tales of Maj'Eyal

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


It's been said that variety is the spice of life. If that's true, then Tales of Maj'Eyal (ToME) might be one the spiciest dishes ever served up. A roguelike that has been around since 2012, but continues to get significant updates and expansions on a regular basis. Like other roguelikes, ToME involves creating a character and then attempting to beat the game. As a feature of the genre, you can expect to fail much more often than you win. Every run is a bit different, though the overall structure remains the same, leading to endless replayability.  Each run of the game begins, of course, with a selection of your character's race and class from an impressively large menu of options. Assuming you have all the DLC, which I'll go ahead and say now you should get if you like this game at all, you will have 16 races and 35 classes to combine as you please.

Interestingly, when you first fire up the game, you'll only have a handful of options to choose from, and must unlock the rest. As you might imagine, the starting choices will be familiar: various types of humans, elves, and halflings for races, and several flavors of warrior, rogue, and mage for the class options. After a few runs at the game, you'll unlock some more choices, each more exotic than the last. It's practically a spoiler to mention what they are here, but suffice to say that they are wildly different from what you start with. Manipulating time and space, harnessing demonic forces, becoming a champion of the light or a bringer of darkness, there's something for everyone here. 

Once you choose a race and class, you'll get a chance to drop a few points into your skills. Every class has more skill tracks than you'll know what to do with. Even within one of those 35 classes, you'll still be looking at building a unique character each time you play. Each track has four skills within it, which are only unlocked by investing points in the earlier skills and investing in the relevant stat (Strength, Dexterity, etc.) and each skill can be upgraded multiple times, increasing effectiveness with each point. Of course, you won't have enough points to get everything, and so you'll have to focus on what you really need. 

ToME gives you so many options, that even if you play the same class several times, you'll want to play around with different builds. There are entire skill categories that you might ignore or invest heavily in, depending on what kind of character you are building. You can also gain new skills from items and quests, allowing you to do things normally impossible for your class, and perhaps opening up a powerful new strategy. After you've gained a few levels and conquered some dungeons, your skill bar will be filled out with tons of options, so many that it can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, unlike many other roguelikes, ToME actually has a user friendly UI that makes life easier. For one, you can play the entire game with just the mouse if you want to, no need to memorize a dozen hotkeys just to navigate the menus. Rather, ToME works much like any standard turn based RPG, and even goes a step further by giving you options to automate some of your skills. For example, you can set some of your attack moves to always fire when an enemy is next to you, going off every time its cool down timer ends.  Just like that, you can save yourself hundreds of clicks and button presses.

Like most roguelikes, ToME is light on story and you won't be diving into any deep dialogue trees with the NPC's, but there is a surprising amount of lore to discover throughout the world. Hints and rumors will lead you to secret locations which often lead to the unlocking of a new class or race. In all of the dungeons you will find trails of notes that tell a story, usually in the form of a diary of some adventurer who came before you. These are a clever way of adding to the history of that location, and often give you a heads-up about the dangers you will soon face. And you will face danger after danger. Giant sand worms burrowing in and out of the ground, skeletal mages shooting lightning, massive trolls that can knock you across the screen, and endless other horrors. Unlike most other roguelikes, ToME has a variety of difficulty settings that can take the edge off a sudden death. You can play one-life hardcore permadeath if you like, but you can also play a more forgiving mode where you have a limited number of lives, giving you the chance to respawn outside a dungeon that you aren't ready for, or jump right back in the fight if you think you can win. 

Another neat thing that ToME does is allow you to connect with other players, even though the game is single-player. You can choose to create an account, which tracks all of your runs on the official website, and also puts you online when you play. This lets you see when other players earn achievements (there are hundreds) and when they get killed, sometimes at embarrassingly low levels that give you a chuckle and and at high levels that will make you cringe at the loss of a good run. You can also chat with them as you go, asking for help in real time or congratulating someone else when you see they did something noteworthy.

If you are a veteran roguelike player or thinking about dipping your toes into the pool, or if you've never even heard of them but enjoy action RPG's or turn-based tactical games, you should give ToME a shot. The game can keep you occupied for potentially hundreds of hours, it can run on practically any computer, and you can even play the core game for free! The paid version unlocks a few extra options, and the DLC of course adds a lot of content, but more than anything, spending some money on the game rewards years of ongoing work by the developers.

ToME is available for free from the official website and can be purchased (for additional features and support of the devs) along with the DLC on Steam.

- Joe Beard 

Reynard  By Hyper Fox Studios There's one thing I love about indie games, they delve into the world of old school graphics and a...

Reynard Reynard

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Reynard By Hyper Fox Studios

There's one thing I love about indie games, they delve into the world of old school graphics and aren't defined by the stunningly realistic mainstream games that we are all used to in this modern age. Reynard will give you a nostalgic trip back to the past with it's 32-bit game style and Legend of Zelda feel, this RPG/Dungeon Crawler isn't one to miss out on. 

You play as a little fox and when you first start the game you're greeted by his friend Hammlet who helps you through the tutorial (he's is a pig if you haven't already noticed the pun in the name) and he helps you find the ropes with his sarcastic but lovable dialogue. After you complete the tutorial at the start, Hammlet's wife Prascilla is kidnapped and all he seemingly wants you to do is go and save her, as every time you talk to him this is all he mentions. 

This game is filled with little secrets from the developers of the game. A lot of RPGs do this quite subtly by using a 4th wall break, however the developers and all of the team at Hyper Fox Studios decided to do it in a simple way. They placed a book inside your characters house, that is filled with the developers names, kind of like the credits at the end of the game, but this is a charming way to do it and it's great for RPG fans who love to roam around finding easter eggs or finding hidden secrets that have nothing to do with the story. 

The dungeon crawler aspect of this indie title is pretty much the same as most games with a similar sort of story and mechanics. However using the keyboard to move and shoot enemies with your arrows can be quite tricky if you haven't got the timing right, as they tend to come at you quite fast and it's easy to die in the dungeon if you're not paying attention.
There's plenty of things for you to destroy in the dungeon besides enemies, you can destroy pots (this reminded me of The Legend of Zelda a lot) which then reveal health items or other items you might find useful on your travels.

The music in this game is almost hypnotic, it's quite relaxing which is ironic considering it's all about searching dungeons, however it still fits in with the game completely. It can get a little tedious at times when it's played on a loop but it's a great soundtrack for the game nevertheless.

You really have to learn some tactics in the dungeons because sometimes when you go into the next room it can be filled with monsters and other times there's none at all (from the dungeons i've encountered in the game, it's filled with giant rats who just want to kill you). I find it funny the main character is a fox, because it's this cute little animal going off to save other animals/creatures. However, he's so distinctive in his role and you don't see very many 32 bit style dungeon crawlers with the main character being a fox, it just feels right. 

If you're someone who loves collecting, searching continuously, or is just a fan of RPGs then this is the game for you. Reynard is available to buy now on Steam.

Avernum 3: Ruined World is the latest release from the prolific mind of Jeff Vogel over at Spiderweb Software. The game is actually a r...

Avernum 3: Ruined World Avernum 3: Ruined World

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Avernum 3: Ruined World is the latest release from the prolific mind of Jeff Vogel over at Spiderweb Software. The game is actually a remaster of a remake of Exile 3 which came out way back in the 90's. Although the game isn't entirely new, it has been greatly improved and expanded on since those previous releases. Mr. Vogel has spent literally decades pumping out these kinds of RPG's and mastering his craft, and it shows in this newest release.

If you aren't familiar with the series you might be wondering, if this is Avernum 3, what happened in the first two games? Well, there isn't nearly enough time to explain it all here in detail, but we can hit the highlights and bring the story up to where Avernum 3 begins. The series is set in a fantasy world where an all powerful Empire controls the known world with an iron fist and sends those it doesn't like into exile in an underground world, Avernum. This world is made up of massive caverns that stretch on for miles and are helpfully lit up by glowing flora. As more and more people are teleported down into this subterranean continent, they eventually begin to build up a civilization of their own, with towns and forts spread across the land. Forts, because Avernum is of course filled with dangerous beasts and other races which aren't too excited about sharing their home. 

In the first game you play as a group of exiles freshly sent down into Avernum where you must learn about the land and find your place in it. Over the course of the game your party proves its usefulness and eventually takes part in finding a way back to the surface and attacking the Empire. Spoiler alert for a 20 year old game: the story climaxes with the assassination of the emperor on the surface. Skip ahead five years and the story of Avernum 2 begins, the empire strikes back (heh) at the Avernites, and your party must find a way to survive and defeat them. This involves making new allies and solving other conflicts so that your side can win the war. Avernum 3 picks up ten years after the end of that war, and the Avernites, after a long period of peace, are preparing to return to the surface in great numbers. Before that though, someone needs to explore the surface and see what's what. That's where you come in.

Avernum 3 opens with your party of adventurers being selected to head up to the surface following loss of contact with the first group of explorers. Your orders are simple but broad: go to the surface, learn everything you can, and then report back what you find. Stepping out into the sunlight is a very cool moment, where you can imagine the joy of your characters as they see the world they were banished from for the first time in many years, or perhaps ever. You'll have to imagine it, since as you might have noticed from the screenshots, Avernum is not a series to be played for its stunning visuals. More on that later though. As your group heads out into the world, you quickly find that there was a reason that the Empire has gone quiet for so long. Various plagues of monsters have overrun the world and have the people there on the verge of collapse. Hence the title, Avernum 3: Ruined World. Instead of fighting the people and soldiers of the Empire, you'll soon find yourself helping them out. This isn't purely out of altruism, the people of Avernum want to colonize this place, and that can't happen if it is a wasteland of monsters and destruction.

So that covers the broad strokes of the setting and the opening situation of the game. I don't want to go any further, since the story quickly throws some curve balls at you that add plenty of intrigue to your mission. Just a teaser though: you'll find yourself heading back down into Avernum to inquire about some rather unexpected oddities you discover on the surface. I also must admit that I have not finished the game, since it has a ton of content and there was no way to come anywhere near completing it in time for this review. However, I have played a few of the other titles from Spiderweb Software, and they are very consistent in their quality, so I have no doubt that the game only gets better as it goes along. 

Let's visit the topic of graphics and sound. This is no Witcher 3 or Pillars of Eternity, the graphics here are very simple, and the sound effects and music are minimal at best. There is very little animation and not much in the way of flashy spell effects. I completely understand if some people find that to be a deal breaker, there are tons of gorgeous RPG's out there to spend your time on if you want some juicy visuals to go with your questing and monster slaying. All of that said, the game does a lot with what it has. The environments have been created with a high level of care, and are filled to the brim with little details. The world feels very lived in, despite having only bare bones graphics. To help fill in the gaps for your imagination, text boxes frequently pop up to set the scene as you enter different areas and encounter NPCs. These descriptions, along with the large volumes of dialogue you will read, are all very well written and form the heart of the RPG side of the game. Without the high quality text bringing the mostly static visuals to life, the game would be a lot less enjoyable.

As you explore the game world, you will meet many interesting characters who have a lot to say about who they are and what they do. These little bits of flavor breath life into the story, as they help you understand the culture and day to day life of this fascinating landscape. Some of these people will have quests for you to accomplish, like in any good RPG. One thing I love about this game is that it uses the old school system of forcing the player to actually pay attention to the dialogue in order to understand where they need to go and what they need to do. There is no quest compass to mindlessly follow to a destination, you will need to be able to read a map and follow directions in order to find your way around. 

The quests are usually more interesting than simply going somewhere, killing something, and coming back (though there is a fair share of that). Often there will be some kind of twist that makes things not as simple as they first seem. This goes double for the main story quests. As you go about adventuring, the world itself will change around you. Things can improve where you help out, and get worse elsewhere as time passes and crises remain unresolved. As mentioned, I have not come close to finishing the game, as there is a ton of world to explore and quests to complete. If you explore every nook and cranny of each dungeon (which you will want to do to find the numerous secret rooms containing treasures and story bits), it will take many dozens of hours to do everything.

The other half of the gameplay I haven't discussed yet is the tactical combat, which you will experience a whole lot of. It uses an old school system of characters taking turns using action points to move and act. You begin the game by building a party of four characters with basic abilities, and then growing them however you see fit over the course of many combats and quests. Although you can pick from a dozen starting classes, in reality all characters have access to the same options for advancement, letting you tweak things however you wish. I began with a classic group including a warrior, a rogue, a priest, and a mage. 

There are about 60 different skills and spells to learn, as well as a large collection of passive stat upgrades which will help you define your style as your characters get stronger. The combat starts off pretty simple, but as things move along you will have to deal with a variety of enemies that use different tactics and force you to think and adjust your strategy. I found that although the combat isn't nearly as intricate as something like Divinity: Original Sin, it is still a lot of fun and makes for hours of satisfying gameplay. As soon as you start to feel cocky, you'll round the corner and find yourself facing some new horror that can wreck your day if you aren't careful. There are also plenty of boss fights and unique situations to break up the standard monster slaying.

Customizing your characters includes dressing them up with all sorts of gear including weapons, armor and accessories that you can find or purchase. You can also use trainers to advance particular skills even higher, for a hefty fee. Crafting includes creating high powered weapons and a wide variety of stat boosting potions. There's a little bit of everything here you would expect from an RPG, and between all of it you can mold each character to suit your personal style. A glass cannon mage, a dual-wielding rogue, a paladin, a buff casting priest, pretty much any classic archetype can be created with the options available to you.

If you can look past the graphics and sound, there is a very solid RPG adventure here to enjoy, which will suck up many hours of your time. There is a fascinating world to truly explore along with your characters, as they wander into a place they know little about. 
When you first step out into the surface, you really have no idea what you will find, and don't even know what direction you should head in. What you do find will push you to keep going and see what happens next.

Avernum 3: Ruined World is available on Steam, Humble Store, GoG.c or or directly from Spiderweb Software.

There is also a demo available if you want to dip your toe before diving in!

- Joe Beard

After a reviewing a couple of heavier wargames, I decided to spend some time with something a bit, ahem, lighter weight. Light Appren...

Light Apprentice Light Apprentice

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


After a reviewing a couple of heavier wargames, I decided to spend some time with something a bit, ahem, lighter weight. Light Apprentice is a "comic book RPG" that has been available for tablets for a while and recently got a PC release. I thought this game was worth doing a quick review on because it tries out several neat ideas, though the final product left room for improvement.

"Comic Book RPG" perfectly describes the format of the game. The story is told through comic book style panels and dialogue bubbles that appear one after another. The game then seamlessly transitions into gameplay using the same comic book panels. Moving around and interacting with environments is done in the style of point-and-click adventure games. Click on a door and your characters will run through into the neighboring comic panel, which works really well. There are puzzles to solve, but they are mostly of the simple "find the missing gear and put it in this slot" variety. There are also a few secrets scattered around if you take the time to really inspect each scene. 

As with any comic book, the art style is important here. Light Apprentice succeeds in having a style all of its own, which can be beautiful at times. As someone who does enjoy reading comic books and graphic novels from time to time, I enjoyed this aspect of the game probably more than anything else.

As you explore the game world, you will often run into enemies that must be fought to progress through the area. These encounters are pretty basic turn-based combat endeavors. The key twist being that every action involves a simple quick time event that will determine how powerful your attack, healing spell, etc. is. These are very simple, as the game was originally designed for tablets. Each one is distinct and can feel somewhat rewarding when done perfectly. However, I wouldn't blame you for getting tired of them after a while.  Your characters begin with only a couple of options in combat, but over time gain quite a few different abilities. At the normal difficulty you will need to make use of your abilities efficiently or else you will have trouble with most encounters. You can't just spam basic attacks over and over and expect to have much success. In the campaign there is no opportunity to grind levels, which means some encounters were extremely frustrating until I discovered that it is possible to access a series of "quests" (basically just additional combat encounters) from the main menu. These let you fight various enemies and get more experience and loot. You will probably want to do these to make the main story line much easier to progress through. 

The story and dialogue is where the game lost me really. This feels and looks like a game for kids, which is fine, and something that I can take into consideration as I play. However, the way the game tries to convey it's message feels like I'm reading a political blog post written by a teenager. The game tackles the issue of environmentalism, which is something I praise it for since that is an important issue to me and uncommon in the gaming world. That said, the game is more than a little heavy handed in how it goes about this. After your character wakes up in a world of magic and monsters, you will be called upon to stop a greedy corporation from fracking for shale oil and polluting the local water supply. There's no metaphor here, that is literally the situation. For me, it's way too direct and breaks any sense of immersion in the world. Give me some kind of allegory that fits the setting, instead of shoehorning real world headlines into a fantasy universe.

Overall, Light Apprentice does a lot of interesting things. It has point-and-click adventure elements, a comic book style that is wonderfully adapted for gaming purposes, and a fresh theme. However, all of these elements are executed in a fashion which feels just a little too childish and simple for me personally. It's not a bad game by any means, but there probably is not nearly enough meat here for experienced RPG players. I hope to see the developer continue with this series and grow both as an artist and story teller. This game series is planned to have two more volumes, and I would be interested to see how those turn out.

Light Apprentice is available on Steam, and also on iOS and Android tablets.

- Joe Beard

Torment: Tides of Numenera by inXile Entertainment The very start of the game after you have landed  Torment: Tides...

Torment: Tides of Numenera Review Torment: Tides of Numenera Review

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The very start of the game after you have landed

 Torment: Tides of Numenera is the newly envisioned child of the game Planescape: Torment. Planescape: Torment was a story driven RPG with one of the best stories ever written for an RPG. Planescape : Torment is widely considered to be one of, if not the greatest, RPGs ever made. Let's take a look and see how its progeny measures up to the sire.

Character creation screens

 The first thing you should know is that there is going to be a lot of reading involved while playing the game. Of course, this was to be expected knowing the game's history and the fact that the game was touted as a thinking man's RPG, compared to just a hack 'n' slash one. 

The first appearance of the 'sorrow'

 The world of Torment comes alive with every step and piece of dialogue. NPCs are not just there just for mundane tasks to level your character up. They, and the world they inhabit, seem to be a living breathing place. All of the characters that you meet have their own stories, and most importantly, their own needs and wants. They will lie to you, (of course you can lie right back) and attempt to use you for their own ends.

an execution

 The game succeeds in creating a beautiful strange new world to explore. One of the big differences it has from most RPGs is the character's lack of knowledge: of himself or of the world he hurtles toward in the beginning of the game. The background story the player is given is minimal, and it is meant to be that way. You have no idea of who or what you are, let alone what your purpose is. Some gamers might be put off by the lack of: ' X fathered by Z, and is supposed to free the world from the tyranny of Y'.  Torment really brings you back to the age of exploration RPGs, compared to the spoon fed ones we have become used to. Every one of your actions count, from the beginning scene to the end. Thank goodness it is not the late 90s or you would have to keep a notebook to write everything down.

Here you can get flesh modifications

 This is definitely a first for me - an RPG that can be played through with no gratuitous violence. Torment is a bit like a Platypus, you really don't know where it actually belongs. The graphics are beautiful and the story is very compelling. Hours will slip away as you move your character through the world. If it was a normal RPG it would be excellent, but it is not normal. To play this game you have to forget all you have learned in the now 'cookie cutter' world of RPGs. Hit points, warrior class, and magic mean nothing inside this game. You will learn words like glaive, esotery, and fettles. The game and game play has as many choices to go through as a restaurant menu and more. Each encounter is a microcosm of the entire game. Do you fight, bargain, or just talk; choices, choices, and more choices. The game's flow chart must be amazing to look at. Normally an RPG's replay value is not that great, although I have played a few a couple of times through again. Torment's replayability is very high. 

Wandering through the first city

 The game's story is compelling to go through. You start the game hurtling through the abyss of space toward something, and there your in game choices begin before you even land. You find out that you are a 'cast-off' from the 'changing-god'. You were literally the last body that this 'changing-god' inhabited. The changing-god discovered how to be immortal by moving from one body to another. You are just one of many cast-offs who strangely become sentient once you are cast aside.  Your antagonist is the 'sorrow'. It is intent on destroying the changing-god and anything that he has touched, meaning you. You are presented with two NPCs who seem to detest one another. They are even worse than an old bickering married couple. Then it is off to the races. You will strive to understand what and who you are, while also trying to figure out where in this new world you belong. 


 Playing as a straight combat oriented character is not frowned  upon by the game, but I think you would miss a lot of the game's substance, nuances, and story lines. It has been stated several times that you can complete the game without any combat whatsoever. That I wouldn't know about, although I have used combat less in this game than any others. My natural tendency with some NPCs, especially threatening ones, is to cleave their skull. 

 To really try and explain the game would hardly do it justice. It would be like sitting through a lecture on a piece of art, instead of just admiring it. 

 This past year and the beginning of this one has proved to be awash in cerebral games. People who enjoyed Planescape: Torment, along with newbies, are in for a great ride.

 There is one other thing about the game we have to discuss. This was a Kickstarter game, actually the most backed one to the tune of four million dollars. The Devs changed some of the goals after the amount to reach them had already been met. I have included this link to a Q&A the Devs did with Eurogamer, so you can hear their side.


Battle Brothers, from Overhype Studios, is a game which, upon playing for the first time, my immediate reaction was to wonder how in the...

Early Access Preview: Battle Brothers Early Access Preview: Battle Brothers

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Battle Brothers, from Overhype Studios, is a game which, upon playing for the first time, my immediate reaction was to wonder how in the world no one had made a game quite like this before.  It can somewhat be described as a mash-up of concepts from games like Mount and Blade, Darkest Dungeon, X-COM,  and Final Fantasy Tactics. If that gets your attention, by all means go buy the game right now, because you will love it. Come back and read this while it downloads.

The game puts you in command of what's left of a company of mercenaries, immediately following the death of your captain and most of your fellow mercenaries in an ambush. You start off with three decently equipped soldiers and a limited supply of funds. You then set out to make your way in a randomly generated world full of opportunities. Movement on the campaign map is very much like that of Mount and Blade, with your company represented by an icon traveling the world and encountering other groups of people, be they trade caravans, peasants, or bandits. Combat takes place in turn-based battles on a hex-based grid. I'll save a more detailed description of the gameplay for my review when the game is closer to release (there is one last big patch coming before then). Today I simply wish the regale you with the tale of my first campaign. 

Battle Brothers uses the "Busts of soldiers bumping into each other" art style. Which works nicely here.

Following the previously mentioned ambush and near annihilation of the Battle Brothers mercenary company, the survivors resolved to rebuild and hunt down the murderous bandits. Unfortunately, the only volunteers willing to join our force were a couple of bored villagers, the town drunk, and a vagrant or two. Fortunately, these men came cheap, leaving me with enough money to buy them some gear. Even a stone-cold mercenary captain can't send men into battle wearing tattered rags and wielding wooden sticks. He can't have his investments *ahem* loyal soldiers cut down in a single blow.

We had to travel to a larger village down the road to find better weapons for the men. This gave me time to get to know them better. Each man had a story to tell. Some were simply bored with the life of a peasant, feeling they were destined to travel the world and do something greater. Others were down on their luck after repeated misfortunes, and saw joining a company of mercenaries as a chance to climb out of the gutter. I sympathized with their tales, but, honestly, I needed warm bodies to fill the ranks and they were the best I could afford.

What happens when you bump into an orc raiding party before you are ready.

After assembling all the men and equipment I could afford with my starting funds, I returned to our previous employer who sent the company after those bandits in the first place. He would pay good money to have the bandit leader killed once and for all, and knew where the scumbag was hiding.

My rag-tag band tracked the bandits to their camp and moved in for battle. The ensuing chaos was almost too much for my untrained soldiers, but with superior numbers we were able to overwhelm the bandits and take out the leader. Sadly, he was able to cut down one of the original members of the company in the melee. Another man, the beggar from the village, was wounded so badly that he would never be the same with a sword or spear, but I still needed him in my fighting line until I could hire a replacement. Regardless, victory was ours, as well as the loot and payment that came with it. With these new funds I was able to hire and equip a couple of new men. I also treated the company to a round of drinks at the tavern to lift their spirits.

We were still a pitiful looking rabble, but we were able to find work escorting a convoy on a journey that would take a few days. I negotiated with the caravan master for some funds up front, and used that restock our food and medicine supplies. Along the way we were attacked by some roaming highway men, but came out victorious once again, though battered and bloodied by the fighting. After reaching our destination and getting paid, I decided to let the men rest for a couple of days. I also picked up a few more pieces of gear, including some real armor. Well, leather armor. Chainmail and plate was far beyond our current budget. 

The world map of Battle Brothers will be familiar to anyone who has played Mount and Blade.

Once everyone was healed up, we took another contract escorting a caravan back towards where we started out. This time there were no bandits. We were still paid in full, despite only marching for a few days. Now that's my kind of work. This pattern continued for a couple of weeks. Escorting caravans and tracking down thieves. Despite humble beginnings, my company was starting to come together. Most of the soldiers now had real weapons and armor, and some were becoming much more proficient at combat. I had also lost a couple of soldiers here and there, but each town along the road had its share of desperate men looking to join for one reason or another. Overall, things were looking good. My over-confidence would be my downfall.

Having gained a small reputation, we were offered a lucrative contract by a local lord. He wished us to go on a lengthy patrol of the roads to several nearby towns. We would be paid a moderate amount for this, but, more importantly, would also be paid a bonus for each bandit head taken along the way. The men buzzed at the thought of slaying every bandit we could find along the roads. 

The first leg of the patrol was uneventful. Not a bandit in sight. Myself and the men were disappointed. Our payday would hardly cover our travel expenses if the rest of the patrol went like this. Little did we know we were about to walk into the hornet's nest.

Our maps showed most of the surrounding area, but one uncharted region lay between us and our next destination. No matter, we were a company of killers at this point, and no bandit mob would be able to take us. Venturing into the unknown, we finally stumbled across some bandits. It was a small group, no match for the dozen men now under my command. We struck them down and moved on, looking for more victims. Another group appeared, slightly larger than the last. We fought a good fight and wiped them out, suffering only a few injuries. The men were giddy at the thought of the ever growing payment we would receive in a few days.

Yet another group of bandits appeared, just a handful, and we swooped in. To our shock, these bandits were not the usual mangy lot, they were real fighters and carried real weapons. This proved a tough fight, despite our 2:1 advantage in numbers. A couple of my men fell in the fighting, and more were wounded. We survived though, and could carry on. A little further and we would be out of this wild area. Then we saw it. An abandoned fortress turned into a bandit stronghold. That must have been where all the bandits were coming from. The lord who hired us would want to know about this.

Just before we cleared the uncharted area and made it to safety, another bandit party found us. This one was almost as large as our force, and was as well equipped as the last group we fought. We had to run, contract or not. Unfortunately, we could not run fast enough. The group caught us and surrounded my company in a forest. Attacked from all sides and hemmed in by trees, the men were unable to support one another. They fought valiantly, but were cut down one by one. In the end, every man on each side was dead or dying, save two. The last surviving member of my original company was still standing, a crossbowman who had saved the day more than once. With his last crossbow bolt he had cut down an axe-wielding bandit, but his luck ran out as another bandit rushed forward through the mangled corpses. My soldier pulled out his knife, all he had left to fight with, and stabbed uselessly at his well armored foe. Seconds later he was slain. My mercenary company was completely wiped out, just like that.

Battle Brothers promises to be one of the best strategy games coming out this year. It's got a bit of RPG, a bit of team management, and lot of tactical combat. The full game promises to have world shaping events and quests for your mercenary company to participate in, but the game is already a massive success in my eyes simply based on the core mechanics. It very much captures that feeling of freedom and choice that you get in Mount and Blade. Traveling around from village to village, recruiting men, buying equipment and supplies, ultimately creating a deadly fighting force. Except here it's done even better. Every soldier has a back story and individual stats, as well as special traits. Almost everything in the game uses procedural generation, but it doesn't feel like it.

I did not know very much about this game going in, having simply not seen it mentioned anywhere. However, I was completely blown away by my initial experiences. The game is still in early access, but is completely playable and feels very polished. Once it comes out the price will go up, so if you think you would like it at all I seriously recommend picking it up now.

Look for my full review in the next few weeks!

- Joe Beard

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Wasteland 2 Director's Cut by InXile Entertainment  Wow, can it really be almost thirty years since the first Wastelan...

Wasteland 2 Director's cut Wasteland 2 Director's cut

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



 Wow, can it really be almost thirty years since the first Wasteland came out? 1988 is a large milestone for me; it is the year that I was exactly half the age I am now. What a difference in the world and games from then to now. I haven't replayed the original Wasteland It just wouldn't be the same. I just want to be left with the memories of wandering the first Wasteland and losing a large chunk of my life to the incredible story and game play.

  Oh well, back to the present. It seems strange, but it almost seems that despite the years as I fire up Wasteland 2, I am back in the wasteland without any amount of time passing in between. Oh sure, the graphics are much better, but we expect that in games now. It is sort of remembering an old TV show in color in your mind when you know it was only in black and white.

 I chose to go with a preset party instead of using all of the different options to choose your parties looks and abilities. It being my first of probably many run-throughs I have no idea how important each skill is or might be. 

 The second thing I do is something so stupid and newbie-like that the game should just shut down in disgust. Your party starts at a funeral for Ace, who is another ranger, and general Vargas gives you a quest to complete what Ace was working on before he bought it. I then choose to do the idiotic. Instead of searching every inch of the ranger station for anything and anyone, I gleefully traipse out into the wasteland with my party. I then decide to make mistake number two. Instead of following the quest and starting my adventure where the general told me to go, I branch out. You get two distress calls on the radio one from Highpool and the other from the Ag Center (agriculture). I choose to go the the Ag Center. I'll not bore you with my constant death and the fact that my all of my party is now poisoned by monstrous spores. Suffice to say my party staggers out of the Ag Center and then I finally come to my senses and return to the Ranger Center. After picking it clean and adding a new member to my party, I head back to the Ag Center.

 The funny thing is, I know how to play RPGs, whether first person or top down like Wasteland 2. I have thousands of hours in them and know that you should search every area with a fine toothed comb, looking for that last tin can. I really think I had temporary insanity because of all of those hours I played in the original Wasteland. It was so much like going home that the ever-present dangers of the wasteland seemed insignificant compared to being out in the desert with my party again. I waited so long to play Wasteland 2 that I just wanted to be out in the new areas etc.

 So, is the game different? Of course; what or who wouldn't be different after almost thirty years? Is it hard? You betcha. Will you lose yourself in the game play? Again, a resounding yes. The hours of play will shoot by as you try to open one last door or decipher another clue.

 I promise the reminiscing is over. At the start of the game, as mentioned, you have the ability to hand pick every aspect of your parties characters. The other route is to pick a pre-made party. it is your normal RPG character creation setup. You can choose to start making a character into  an armored anchor for the rest of the group, or create a stealthy more 'brainy' character. As far as the game goes, again like all RPGs, save and then save some more. You never know what or who is lurking over the next ridge. On your way to your quest objectives there can also be chance encounters. You can choose to fight every time and build up your points to level up your part members or try to avoid them. In your wanderings, you will  also uncover different oases. Use them. The small deviation from your route and the chance of an encounter is worth the risk. Wandering about the wasteland without a full canteen of water is hazardous.

 The UI in the game is functional, and you have all the info you need at your fingertips. I'm one of those gamers whose motto is "manuals be damned". So I know that the UI is pretty intuitive and easy to catch onto. The maps and routes to your different quests are well done and easy to follow. You can decide to pick an easier route through irradiated territory or take the scenic route. The whole game can be played from the stealth or 'bull in a china shop' angle, or any sort of in between. In the beginning, as with any RPG, pick up every item you can. You have a stash at the Ranger Center to keep all of your items that might be needed at a later time. Hoarding in real life is very bad, but in RPGs it is essential. You'll never know when you need that artificial leg.

 The different characters that can join your party are an interesting lot. If your leadership skill is too low they will go rogue on you during encounters. They do have different reasons for being with you or helping you on quests, so remember that they might not always be there.

 The voice acting is good. I only had one problem and that was with a character that can join your party during one quest. The character in question sounds like either you or she are on quaaludes when she is talking. For the most part you will be reading most of the interactions between your party and others. The story line is pretty good with some very good moments of twists and turns. You are sometimes allowed to take whatever action you want, but like most RPGs, some actions cannot be taken, no matter what homicidal thought is running through your brain. Unlike other RPGs, I have not found a 'useless' skill yet. All seem to have some benefit to having or a hit for not having a particular skill. Alarms, lock picking, and your various weapon skills are self explanatory. You can also be a 'smart ass' or a 'hard ass' in some conversations which will open up whole new dialogs for you to explore. 

 So, to wrap it up, where does Wasteland 2 stand? Is it an also ran or the proud offspring of its grand old dad? In my eyes Wasteland 2 can hold its head up with the rest of the family. Indeed, it is much better than most of the originals off shoots.

 AMD cards had a problem running Wasteland 2 when it was first released, and to be honest I was getting CTDs trying to play it. I am happy to announce after updating my video drivers I have not had any problems running the game since then.

 After all of my death and near death experiences, I restarted the game and instead of using default characters, I chose to make all four of my own. Now that I have a feel for the game and how I want to play it, deciding to start over and build the characters the way I want was a no-brainer. A few other tips: make sure you reload after every encounter; also, throw some skill points into bladed or blunt weapons. Ammo is like gold, so it is best to conserve it at all times. One point about the game, a lot of it is in making choices. You will not be able to do everything and save everyone. Time is also your enemy; it is not like some RPGs where you can return to a quest line at anytime and everything has stayed still while you did a few others.

 Here's to wandering another wasteland when Wasteland 3 gets released. I know I, and many others, will be happy to be out with new Ranger buddies.


 Game: Wasteland 2 Director's Cut
 Game Developer: inXile Entertainment
 Date of Review: 11/11/2016