Summer is well and truly here at the Dicebreaker office, with the team attempting to stay cool in their own ways. Though the heat is scorching, hiding inside has allowed Dicebreaker to play various tabletop titles, which we’ll cover here in the latest entry of our weekly summary series.
From adventures across Middle-earth, to battles in the city Gloomhaven, to standoffs against dangerous monsters, the Dicebreaker team have definitely been going on adventures beyond the safety of their summer bunkers.
If you’ve been equally seeking to stay cool indoors, you might have also been playing some tabletop games yourself - let us know what you’ve been playing in the comments below or on Twitter @joindicebreaker.
What We’ve Been Playing - June 16th 2023
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
Our adventures in the world of Gloomhaven continue, as my friends and I work our way through the scenarios within the spin-off board game - Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. Having left the safety of the tutorial scenarios far behind, we’re now in the weeds of the fantasy board game and are feeling the heat.
Jaws of the Lion sees players taking control of one of four characters, each with their own deck of cards that they must use to complete various scenarios that take place in the city of Gloomhaven. Every scenario has its own unique set of goals, with players needing to work together to achieve them and survive the challenges they face therein. Players need to choose two cards from their hand every round, selecting a top action from one and a bottom from another.
The importance of collective strategy is becoming more apparent with each new scenario, as they become more difficult. It’s impressive just how Jaws of the Lion requires players to strategise together, as we’ve managed to squeeze out a victory of scenarios that are on the precipice of failure simply by putting our heads together. The wonder of clinching a win from the ‘jaws’ of defeat hasn’t yet lost its shine.
This most recent scenario saw us facing off against a terrible horror, with the requirements of killing it forcing us to think carefully about our priorities. Though combat is undoubtedly an essential part of Jaws of the Lion, sometimes who not to fight is just as important as who to leave alone. It’s this clever approach to game design that makes Jaws of the Lion more than just another dungeon-crawling board game, as every single encounter feels unique - rather than just an excuse to move miniatures and roll dice.
I’m looking forward to the scenarios, and the strategies required to complete them, getting even more complex and satisfying and we continue on our journey through Jaws of the Lion.
The One Ring Roleplaying Game
I’ve had the pleasure of finally getting to play The One Ring RPG this week. Myself, playing an elf from Lothlórien, and two dwarves have set out on a quest to track down some of the missing Palantíri, or Seeing Stones. We’re playing in the time after Bilbo returned to The Shire and is living peacefully, but the first rumbles of the enemy have started.
For any Lord Of The Rings fans, getting to play in the world is such a delight. Meeting characters you love from the films teamed with exploring aspects of the world you’ve always wanted to see more of has been great. However, that alone isn’t enough to sustain a game.
Luckily, the mechanics are considered, thematic and surprisingly easy to understand once you start playing. Like with most new RPGs, filling in the character sheet took some time as I got to grips with new ideas about stats and feats, but once we got into the actual game they all came together into a system I’m really enjoying. You roll a D12 as your standard die and add a pool of D6’s depending on the level of skill you have for weapons in combat, or general abilities like exploring, hunting, or even songs. Of course my elf has been singing to every person, horse, and tree they meet along the way and so far has rolled well to do so.
So far I’ve defeated some goblins and orcs, met Gandalf, and had stew in The Prancing Pony so I’m excited to see where the game goes next.
I’ve been taking a look at Wilderfeast, the upcoming game best described as a Monster Hunter tabletop RPG. While I can only say so much right now - expect my fuller thoughts on the website very soon - I’m really enticed and excited by what I’ve seen so far of designer KC Shi’s colourful culinary adventure.
While Wilderfeast does do the hit-big-monster-with-bigger-sword epic battles of Monster Hunter and its ilk, it’s also a gently pensive game about maintaining harmony in nature and living alongside animals - rather than simply exploiting them for meat and resources.
This can be seen in the game’s literal Harmony mechanic, which tracks the impact of the human players on the world. While they have the power to kill and cook creatures (itself framed as euthanising beasts afflicted by an incurable frenzy, rather than slaughtering them just for the hell of it) to gain their powers, drawing on your wild side too often risks throwing the world into disarray.
Behind the game’s interesting exploration of our relationship to flora and fauna is an intriguing original dice system, which uses a pool of six-sided dice determined by the player’s choice of the ‘style’ of their approach - for example, being precise or swift - and modified by its pairing with a particular skill, such as searching, grabbing or offering assurance.
At least one success is needed to activate a separate d8 ‘action’ die, which is rolled to then judge the quality of the success - from partial to critical. Turning to your wild side can replace the d8 with a d20, but with a great risk of failure as your pool of d6s is reduced - representing the difficulty in controlling your unrestrained power.
The action-packed tracking and combat is stirred together with the game’s central focus on food, with missions punctuated by snacks, meals and bigger feasts. Your oversized weapon is even a cooking utensil! Whether to recover stamina or gain brand new powers, cooking food is made suitably loving, with the ability to mix together ingredients collected during your adventures and produce unique dishes for you and your companions to chow down on.
The culinary delights of Wilderfeast’s One Land setting deliberately echo real-world food, with the Sen Coast found in the core rulebook mixing the geography and climate of southern California with the cultural influence of four regional Chinese cuisines. The game’s monsters recall the likes of Monster Hunter’s beasties inspired by real-life creatures, feeling grounded despite their fantastical size and abilities.
I’d admittedly be a sucker for “Monster Hunter as a TRPG” either way, but Wilderfeast so far appears to be a carefully considered, beautifully constructed exploration of nature, humanity’s impact and utilising - without exploiting - our relationship with animals that just happens to wear its influences on its Kakwari-skin sleeve. I’m looking forward to discovering more of this game and its world ahead of its release.