Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Last Thing You Want is a Big Mouthful of Nerve Puppet

Last night we had a big ol' game of Duel of Ages. It had been a while (easy to tell by how often we had to refer to the rules), but it was a good game none the less.
4 hours
4 platters
10 characters per side
all challenges in play

It was Easy+????? vs Shemp and Kozure.

Where to begin?

I was surprised that even with this many characters, and this much time, that none of the special keys where finished. The Royal Tournament, always popular, was nearly won by both sides at various times. The rest, however, barely passed their 2nd to 3rd spaces. Still, characters had unusually good luck acquiring weapons properly suited to them (Bill Cody got a Varmint Rifle, which was eventually passed on to Kidd, Redlegs got a pretty lethal spear, Dr. Penopolis and the bike to compensate for his slow move, etc). By contrast, all characters had unusually BAD luck completing challenges (a black challenge survived multiple attempts, as did a few blues). Not surprisingly, it was also the night of highly improbable rolls (Kozure rolled 3 12s when attacking, losing a powerful weapon every time. 36x36x36=46,656. Sheesh!) ????? missed almost all of his targets by 1. Whenever the Whyp Vypyr attacked the Martians, they each rolled 10 and missed.) Lastly, it ws the night of the Nerve Puppet and Crack-Whore attacking the Bengal Tiger. A fight which seemed to go on for quite some time, but produced little results...

It was a tight game the entire time, but in the end our team (Easy+????) won 3 to 1 (I think).

MVP: Ygunna Gecha. With her poisonous fingernails, she knocked out a few opponents, and placed fear in the rest.

LVP: CRACK-WHORE (Kraator). Coulda, shoulda, woulda. This guy sure tried to beat up a lot of folks, but never really did. I think the nerve puppet did more damage.

MAP:(Most Annoying Player). 3U. Of course. Annoying.

MSPP (Most surprisingly Powerful Player) Dr. Pennopolis, or Dr. Panopticon as Shemp called him. Not fearsome, exactly, but very powerful with white idea,+2 on all adventures and various other special abilities. Slow, and not too strong, but still maybe unbalanced.


  1. ~Linkified!~



  2. You know, I needed time to think about this last session. Previously, I'd suspected that it would take a four-hour game of Duel of Ages to avoid that feeling of being cut-off part way through - the last session, however, did away with that suspicion.

    My new suspicion is that any game of Duel of Ages, no matter how long (even 12+ hours) will still feel like it was interrupted in the middle when the time ends.

    I think that my old complaints still stand - too many resource cards, and they are too difficult to come by or trade, for how important they can be to the play of the game. Also, there is too much variation in the usefullness of resource cards for my liking - but maybe that's just me.

    In a mostly unrelated point, I wanted to describe this game to someone, and was almost totally at a loss - how would any of you do it? I settled on this:

    Duel of Ages is a war/strategy game, but featuring individuals with varying abilities as opposed to generic troops. All individuals are divided into two teams, which then try to complete the greatest number of side tasks, while also trying to kill each other. So there's a lot of dice rolling. And the different individuals and tasks are from across the entirity of possible time, which can affect things, somewhat.

    It's not a very good, or at all concise, description. Certainly doesn't make the game sound as fun as it is. Is it just me? Or is the game really that much of a muddle, that an easy description isn't there? And is it the muddle factor that makes it cool? Or had I simply not had enough coffee yet at the time? Just wondering, you know?

    PS - I purposely avoided looking at the marketing type descriptions of the game - after all, we've played it, and should be able to describe it, eh?

  3. DoA is quite hard to describe. To be entirely honest - it IS quite a muddle. Things are too unbalanced and random to have it resemble anything like a German, symmetrical, predictable strategy game.

    This is, of course, what I like about it. As nice as German games are, life is rarely fair, predictable or evenly balanced. People start out with distinct disadvantages, run into unexpected and random successes or failures, and don't necessarily get what they deserve for their game play.

    While unsatisfying at the worst of times, and hardly efficient in the best tradition of German games, it's a welcome change - an injection of life and unexpectedness into a games night. I love German games, no doubt about it, but once in a while I like a good dosage of asymmetry and randomness.

    My quick, one sentence DoA description:

    Duel of Ages is a battle royale of characters and equipment from all across time and space, trying to beat each other in battle as well as in quick one scene adventures inspired by movies, television and books.

    As for the night’s game itself, it always amazes me how long you can play and still feel as though things are not entirely finished. Even playing for four hours, we were really just getting rolling. This did feel, however, a little more complete than usual.

    One thing we might try next time is to limit the keys to just the standard labyrinths – no Field of Honour, no Ruins of Cany XII, no Royal Tournament. I think we might just have a chance at completing a game.

    Another possibility is to pre-equip all the characters with weapons which are suitable for their eras and personas. I suggest laying out all of the equipment cards, sorted into piles by type, and selecting cards for each character. We can judge, as a group, which equipment is best for each character, and any disputes can be resolved by die roll. I recommend one weapon for each character, and one other suitable item of any type – armour, mount, equipment, etc.

    This way, we begin the game with equipped characters, there is more of a “theme” and the action is more intense right away. Of course, due to the higher likelihood of casualties, we’d have to start with more characters.

  4. Hey, those are excellent suggestions. I would be all about trying to play DoA - Kozure style next time.

    More time - More lethal - More final!

  5. Like I was saying, I was also surprised at how little was accomplished int he time we had. While I still feel that a game with all keys can be played in that amount of time (because it allows more characters to play into their strengths), using Kozure's rules should be interesting. Looking forward to it!

    Regarding the description of the game...

    Shemp's is, like he said, not very compelling.

    Kozure's is definitely more compelling, but even though it's technically accurate it doesn't match the game in my mind.

    To describe the game to someone (as opposed to writing a commercial blurb)I would say:
    " Duel of Ages is a game where two teams of characters from across time and space face off in an "arena". The goal is to survive combat with the opposing team while succeeding in various tests of skill found in the many labyrinths on the board. the team which has the lead in the most challenges and has the most surviving characters at the end of the time limit wins."

  6. Incidentally, for future posterity, the background to the title of this blog stems from me targetting the nerve puppet with the bengal tiger pet.

    We imagined that nerve puppet wouldn't taste very good at all to a bengal tiger.

    Hence, the last thing you need is a mouthful of nerve puppet.