Survive The Night: A Horror RPG Review

With Halloween approaching I felt this was the perfect time to cozy up to Horror RPG for a review. After some careful consideration and the irony of fate, I picked Survive the Night. It has been on my review radar since March of this year. While at MACE West I had the absolute pleasure of playing in a pick-up game of the RPG ran by DM Scotty (Linked to his video of StN). It left such an impression on me that I reached out to the creator and asked if I might have a copy for review. They were more than happy to provide me with one in short order. As fate would have it, I was unable to write my review of the game at the time. Now both the season and timing are perfect. Survive the Night just became available on DTRPG.

Can You Survive The Night?

Survive the night knows at its core it is a narrative one-shot horror game. It wastes no time like other horror products with things like a leveling up system. The Game Mechanics are simple, smooth and designed to get out of the players way letting the story take center stage.

Mechanics

The only dice you need to play is a single D6. With that one die, you can do everything in the game. At first, I thought rolling only one dice would bother me, dare I say even lessen the experience. Instead, it further pushed focus to the action taking place in the game. Dice rolls didn’t become an afterthought. They became exciting. Everyone at the table knew a roll of a six occurs great things are about to happen… Yet, that 1… Might be the roll that sends you to the grave.

Characters

There are four classes in the game and each class has three character types. These classes are by design Tropeish, further setting the atmosphere of the game. 12 pre-gen characters are included with the product if you want to just get right into the game. Or if you prefer you can make your own character via a point-buy system. Players assign a class and choose from a selection of 18 skill and 24 traits.

Narrator’s Guide & Adventure Section

The Narrators section is short sweet and to the point. There are no special rules that you need to know. All of the rules of the game are provided in the player’s section of the book. This section focuses as a guide to assist in running a session of Survive the Night. What you will find in this section are tips on controlling the mood and, setting the pace of play. This is important in a game where a total party kill is likely a great end to a fun night of gaming. The last section of the book is four full adventures spanning over 50 pages.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy a good horror one shot from time to time, but you do not want to learn another rules heavy system. Survive the night is exactly what you are looking for. The gameplay is fast and fun. It’s easy to learn in a matter of a few dice rolls. Leaving you all the time to dive deep into the story and lose yourself in the game. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this game.

First Looks Relics a Game of Angels RPG Kickstater

Relics by Tin Star games made its way onto my radar by way of Twitter recently. A fellow blogger and friend of mine pointed this project out to me when they had commented that they were still looking for another review or two leading up to their project launch on Kickstarter.

After learning in short back and forth with the developer that they were designing an RPG that was drawing inspiration from sources like:

  • Prophecy
  • Dogma
  • Wings of Desire

They had drawn further inspiration from Steve Jackson In Nomine I was eager to want to give this RPG a look. Now I will say that I was not able to give this product a full deep dive that others before me might have. I only had the product for a few days and I wanted to get a thoughts review out before or at the Kickstarter Launch for both the Developer and Backers. So lets get down to it.

First Impressions

This right off the rip is a very complete product. In years past with Kickstarter products often reviewers and backers would be told that the writer or developer has a solid outline and rule-set. This product is an example that these days are past. Weighing in at 275 pages of art free content in its current state. I imagine that this project will push well into the 300 page mark depending on if the Kickstarter will add content or not.

Relics is packed to the gills with depth. There is so much content to draw inspiration from that it is shocking that Tin Star was able to jam this much information in just 275 pages.

At the point where I thought i had have seen all that Relics had to offer me I was further surprised. At the back of the book is you are presented with a set of several ENTIRELY different set of setting ideas to run as settings for the Relics as further inspiration. I absolutely love this! Tin Star knowingly created a product that is deep and rich and then thrusts it into the owners hands and says.. MAKE IT YOUR OWN!

The Setting

Relics takes place in a world where you play Angles that have fallen to earth after god barred anyone from passing again through the gates of heaven. Now a mad race for immensely powerful relics has ensued and you are far from the only ones that are in search of these celestially powered items. This is a world where myth and legends real, but the real story behind their power was told by humans. Who could not possibly understand what it was that they were really witness too.

The tone of the game is a mature one with the understanding that this game takes place in a darker and slightly more gritty world than our own reality. The world is a complicated place the players may have been here for centuries, but they are still strangers in a strange land.
The book also goes into some detail about the following things and how they affect play in the game:

  • The Bible got most of it wrong
  • Strangers in a strange land
  • You can’t go home again
  • Fallen angels filled the world with magical items
  • An arms race has begun
  • Thou shalt steal
  • Angels are a product of all they remember
  • The path is unclear
  • Everyone wants you dead
  • You can’t trust anyone

The System

Relics is a narrative RPG that focuses on the players crafting and developing the story of their world at the table. The game encourages you to do much of this outside of the system itself. When the need arises the system that is used to resolve rules and outcomes is the Fugue System. This system was created by James Wallis and first appeared in his game Alas Vegas. It was released under the Creative Commons license.

The Fugue system has two main parts to it: it uses a tarot deck to generate random outcomes, and it is designed for the personas to begin as amnesiacs, who discover who they are through the play of the game. The personas in Relics do not have amnesia, but still use the concept of memories in the same way: flashback scenes triggered by players provide personas with character abilities they can then to use to impact on their environment.

Myself I have never used this system but I have always been intrigued by the idea of a Tarot card system. Something about it adds flavor that goes beyond just rolling dice. But I can not place much opinion of if it is really the case. So I will leave it at that.

Final Thoughts

I wish I would have had a little more time to dig deeper in this product, There was so much that it offers. But what I am sure of

  • I think this RPG offers a ton of Homebrew opportunity.
  • It has a creative Tarot Card mechanic to propel its narrative.
  • The Product itself offers a exceptionally deep setting to draw inspiration from.
  • My review barely scratches the surface of what this RPG offers.
  • It is already a completed RPG book short of artwork insertion.

Overall, If you have the money to spare this should be a kickstarter you will want to keep your eye on. Especially if you like narrative based games with alternative resolution mechanics and a ton of depth.

Dog Might Games: Countdown Action Edition Review

Above are my thoughts on Dog Might Games review copy of Countdown Action Edition. I found the game to be to be an excellent party game with a fun theme. One of the best features of Countdown Action Edition as a party game is that no one ever has to sit out till the end of the round. Many of these style games will have a players vote to remove “innocents” in an effort to find the villain or monster. In this game a player “Hostage” that has been released can be secured if the Action Hero thinks that he has made a wrong choice.

The Art

The artwork is wonderful and helps set that action movie vibe.

A Minor Issue I had.

There are only two concerns that I had with the game and both are rather minor.

  • Count Down To Action Edition requires 5 players.
  • There were a small number of cards that I felt broke the sense of theme and mood of the game in play.

Admittedly, the first issue is minor as it is a party game. I only mention it because it impacted the timing of this review. I took it to a local board game night and my own weekly RPG group when I received my copy. Both times I was able to find 4 of us that were willing or eager to play but had issues tracking down a 5th player. I doubt this will happen for most of the time, but it was worth mentioning. Also this comes with the territory of party games.

So really the only issue I would say that I took with the game were a small number of cards that I felt took us out of the moment. There were 5 cards that asked players things like:

  • Who do you think will win the game?
  • what is a card that you passed on?

A similar things along this line. As I say in my video, my suggestion is to just remove them from play if you want deeper RP. Or Keep them in if you are more of a strategy gamer.

Do I recommend it ?

As Far as party games go I highly recommend this one. All of the elements are there to get that thematic RP fun going while playing a wonderfully 80s themed Action movie. You heard it here Dog Might Makes more than just good boxes. Thanks Lumberjacks!

Hands On Review: Fragged Aeternum A Fragged Empire Setting

Fragged Aeternum is a relatively new RPG Product in the Fragged Empires product line by Wade Dryer. Aeternum is the City Eternal, believed to have been built by Celestials even before the age of men. This Gothic “Ecumenopolis” a city spans the breadth of the planet. Some even suspect that Aeternum may go on in every direction without end.  

Before we get into this review we need to touch on a few things regarding Fragged Empire and Fragged Aeternum. I will begin by telling you what Fragged Aeternum is not. Fragged Aeternum is not part of the Fragged Empire universe, but it utilizes the Fragged Empire Core rules. It does make some modifications to speed gameplay. Because of this Fragged Aeternum is NOT a stand-alone game! The Fragged Empire Core Rules are needed to play this game. So for those familiar with Fragged Empire what changes can you expect.

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Changes

 
Simplified Rules

Aeternum has been built around dramatic combat and the use of momentum to propel the story forward. But just because things have gotten simpler they have not gotten easier. Combat is deadly and players should learn to accept that death is part of life in Aeternum. Additionally, players will see that much of the FE resources have been trimmed away. Gone are Ships, Trade goods, and Ammo. Lastly, RoF is gone along with many weapons that just would not fit the setting and there are fewer actions.

Death

As I mentioned above death is part of life in Fragged Aeternum, your players will die and die often. In Fragged Aeternum you play the role of the Tethered. Tethered individuals are bound by powerful magic of the celestials to return again and again to face the foes of humanity. Do not confuse the Tethered as divine beings. The Tethered are immortal men that face Fiends and Evils again and again. In addition to being human themselves, they wage battle against unspeakable Fiends. Immortal or not in time they can break and give into madness.  


Other Changes


Many of the remaining changes that you will encounter from FE to FA are mostly cosmetic. The Attributes are different but work the same as intended and many skills are gone, new or re-skinned from FE. The two last changes of note that I would like to point out are that Fate is gone from the FA and the mechanics of Strong hits are used for Momentum points.   

There are other changes that could be noted but these are the ones that stand out to me, the most that I feel should be mentioned if you are interested in taking a deeper look at Fragged Aeternum.

With that out of the way let’s now take a deeper look at Fragged Aeternum. In Aeternum there are four forces at play in this setting. The World itself, Tethered, Celestials and Fiends.

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Fragged Aeternum Setting

Now that we have touched on some of the key differences that set Aeternum apart from Fragged Empire lets take a look at what makes the world of Aeternum tick.

The World of Aeternum

Aeternum is a world-spanning gothic cityscape backdrop for a world where life is hard and death is easy. Death is not the end for a denizen of Aeternum because once your body falls to the ground and your soul claws its way free of its old shell. Then it will either drift skyward or twist and crawl the earth to become a Fiend. The grim fact is far more people who meet their end claw their way into the depths to rise as Fiends. It is up to the Tethered to keep them at bay.  

The City itself spans the known world, crisscrossed with rivers, lakes and massive district-sized parks. The districts themselves are separated by massive walls and gated entrances. Many of these districts are independent towns and in some cases, collections of towns could align with their own city-states.

Life is still not easy, yet without the careful planning of the Celestial Architects to bring balance to Aeternum, there would not be enough food or water to go around. Why they do what they do no one really knows. But they have a vision and are not interested in sharing.

When the people of Aeternum need metal they have to scavenge them from abandoned parts of the city, or in times of great need, Underneath it. In the labyrinth of ruins that the city has been built on top of for as long as humans can remember.

The Tethered

Tethered are men and women who have bound their souls to powerful artifacts known as the Great Lanterns thereby allowing them to cheat death. Granting the Tethered abilities far superior to average humans in addition to near immortality. When a Tethered falls his soul returns to the Great Lanterns and he is again reborn. Thus making Tethered the best defense for humanity against Fiends and all other horrors in the world. It is assumed that the players are all Tethered in the game.


Celestials

Beings of incalculable power rarely descending from the heavens to walk the world for any reason. So powerful are these beings that they are capable of destroying entire districts in their encounters with Fiends. The goals of the Celestials are known only to their fellow Celestials and it is rare to receive anything more than cryptic or mysterious information when they do choose to offer it.

Fiends

Born from the stuff of twisted nightmares, madness, and the souls of humanity it is thought the first Fiends came from a world that is believed to exist beneath the world of Aeternum. Like Celestials, Fiends are capable of corrupting and destroying entire districts if left unchecked. There is little solid understanding of the true motivation of Fiends as any that study them either go insane or are discredited and cast out and shunned.

To complicate this no two fiends are alike in appearance or motivations.

Magic and Technology

Both of these things exist in Aeternum. Clockworks, and Cogworks and even Golems can be found in the world. But Golems are things forged from magic crafted by skilled craftsmen and given life by rare magic.

Magic itself is beyond the common man; often called Warlocks or sorcerers or in some cases Witches. Magic is widely feared no matter its use or intent.

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My Thoughts

Fragged Aeterum is a wonderful dark gothic setting that allows you to go to some very dark places at the table. One of the best parts of Fragged Aeternum is the fact that by its very nature players are pitted against forces, factions, and consequences that often are larger than the characters.

The Tethered are beyond death, yet they can’t just throw their life away in a conflict against the power of the Fiends. Death is not without consequence because the players are fighting to protect something worth more than their own lives. They are the first and in many cases the only line of defense for mankind. If a Tethered falls in battle frivolously the result may be the loss of an entire neighborhood or even the loss of a district. More importantly, these neighborhoods and districts are filled with mortal souls many of whom will descend only to return as Fiends themselves. Because of this, even the Immortal Tethered have to weigh the options of their actions in the game.

I know that Aeternum was inspired by the Soulborn games like Dark Souls and such. But I would like to go even more old school as an example of what it must be like to be a Tethered.

I think it’s kind of like the old video game Gauntlet. Not the new one or on a console or PC. I’m talking OLD School… That reaction you had when you dropped a quarter in the machine and took your first steps and realized that your health was already ticking down. Additionally, there was little you could do to prolong your life in Gauntlet. So each life became a race against the Reaper. Get the most of each life you had before you had to resign to death and punch another quarter in the machine to continue your quest.

When you sit down and start a session of Aeternum you know it is not a matter of if you will die, but how. Knowing this you must struggle to make each of your immortal lives matter. Unlike other RPGs where player death is the main threat, in Aeternum you may not die but comes with consequences. Depending on how you live each of your lives and when and how you die can have a vast impact on the world of Aeternum.

My Ranking

Aeternum is not going to be for everyone, but if you are a fan of dark gothic and stories that go well beyond the scope of the player characters themselves you are going to get hooked hard by this setting. It has a powerful feeling that at the table it plays in a very “go big or go home” fashion.

I know it has been cited that it was born of the Dark Souls genre, the setting also reminds me of Malifaux in its supernatural gothic artwork and vibe.

The Fragged Rules are solid and in Fragged Aeternum the FE resource system has been pulled out of this setting, I mention that as the FE resource system was a good solid mechanic but one that personally I was not a huge fan of so I see this as a bonus. Overall it’s a faster smoother game with a great backdrop for high fantasy games.

D20 #16-19Considering all of this, I have to say that my Runkles Ranking for Fragged Aeternum is Outstanding. And not just for the reasons that I have listed here, but because in its 165-page count it is absolutely stuffed to gills with information. More than I could cover in 3 blogs.

View my Rank System Here

 

 

Closing Thoughts

Much of this is because to run Aeternum it requires the Fragged Core book. This is also my only issue with Aeternum, as a Fragged Setting book you need FC to run the game. Forcing new FE players to have to make two purchases to get in on this game.

If you are interested in picking up a copy of Fragged Aeternum you can get it at the following link

DTRPG: Fragged Aeternum

If you have played FA or have any questions or thoughts on the setting please feel free to comment below

 

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Review: Spy Master RPG by CM games

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Spy Master

By: CM Games Author(s)
SymattCarl Matthews
Rules System: System 21
Page Count: 79
Get it on DTRPG
PDF Cost: $9.95
Soft Cover Cost: $29.99 (currently On sale for $19.95)

Spymaster RPG
Recently I have had the pleasure of being given a copy of the RPG Spy Master to read.  It was given to me for review and at the time I had a lot on my plate between a convention, the holidays and real-life work and out of state visitors. I politely informed Symatt that it would take me a little time to get to the review and it definitely did.

Straight off I can tell you, my readers, Spy Master was more than worth the wait. I am glad that I sat down to read this book when I had the time to fully take it in for what it is and I totally enjoy it and what it brings to the table!

Spy Master is a rules-light setting where you are playing International spies. Right off the bat, this caught my eye as I do enjoy some good spy games antics. Yet sadly, often they are bogged down with too much crunch to enjoy. Refreshingly, this is where Spy Master stands out from the crowd!

Spy Master is at its heart a love letter to the James Bond era of suit wearing, casino royale backdrops of cash guns and high stakes adventure. Spy Master thrives in a world where your so good you not only confront the bad guy at his own party, you sit down with him over drinks and tell him just how you are going to take him down to his face over a game of cards.

How is it played?

Well, the absolute best possible way that a 1970s spy movie game could ever be played that’s how WITH CARDS! You read that right, In Spy Master, if you want to complete a task in the game you’re playing Black Jack against the Director (GM) that is some awesome shit right there! Honestly, I tweeted out when I first saw the cover of the game that if this game did not play with cards I was going to be heartbroken.

Spy Master characters have 4 Attributes Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs & Spades each represents something different in the game.

  • Diamonds: All Intellect skills
  • Hearts: All Emotional Skills
  • Clubs: All Physical Skills
  • Spades: All Dexterity Skills

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When you make your agent you simply draw 5 cards and place the best 4 where you wish. These are assigned they are the base card in any task you attempt in the game. So if you have a 10 in Clubs. Before you draw any cards you always will have a 10 base skill in physical tasks.

Agents also have 4 chips! During a scene, a player can opt to throw a chip and discard a card that they have drawn and draw a new card to replace it in their hand. Each scene these chips refresh. You can only cash in chips once per card but you can spend as many chips as you like during a hand or scene.

Agents (players/Main Characters) have 21 health. All other Thugs (minions) have the value of the card they draw in health.

Setting the Scene

The Cards handle all the heavy lifting in the game from assisting in setting the scenes and how everything from bribery to fisticuffs is resolved. Yet the understanding that not every action needs to be a game of Black Jack between the Director and the player’s Spy Master also makes use of Static Difficulties to keep the pace of the game moving. At any time the Director can instead set a static target that they players simply need to draw against to complete a task. This is a great tool to keep the pace of the game going between dramatic moments at the table I think.

My Thoughts

This book could easily have been only 10-15 pages of content and still been very good. One of the reasons why this product is very good is because of its length. At 79 pages The team took their time giving plenty of detailed example of gameplay for many aspects of the game. This is tremendously helpful. It hand delivers the game feel of Spy Master to the reader so you can fully understand what they are giving you beyond just, Hey here is an RPG that uses Black Jack instead of D20’s.

The last half of the book walk Directors through writing adventures in the Spy Master setting with plenty of tables and even more examples to help you along the way. Much of the content in these pages of the book is ripe to be minded for just about any modern game. A lot of thought went into what is presented to the reader. The book wraps up with a sample adventure, examples of SOLO play, leveling up and how to use Dice if your too stubborn to use cards.

Runkles Ranking

It has been a long time since I have been this impressed by a DTRPG product sent to me out of the blue and I have had many sent to me in the 4 years I have been writing these reviews. I love the feel of this setting and system. While I am not sure how well it would hold up to extended gameplay in part due to its rules-light system. I love it for its rules-light system!

D20 #17I am going to give it a 17! It is an Outstanding product,  Any product with a rank of 16-19 is a cut above the rest. These are must-have products. Often products of this level strike a chord with their audience and Spy Master will hit that sweet spot for Bond loving Spy gamers. The book is an easy read & page-turners that you find yourself reading from beginning to end.

If you are a fan of rules-light systems, Spys and Black Jack. You would be a fool not to give Spy Master a Try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hands-On Review Dog Might Games Dice Tower

Once again Dog Might games return to Kickstarter with a very strong product for their fans. This time around were taking a hands-on look at their Traveler Dice Tower.

 

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Dimensions. Dice Towers measure approximately 6″ x 3.5″ x 1.75″ and are designed with a modest footprint to fit at your table. All wood is hand selected for durability, beauty, and a lifetime of gaming.

Size of Dice. The Traveler is designed to roll a standard set of polyhedral dice (where the D20 is approximately 7/8″ at it’s widest point). It easily rolls standard sized D6 dice.

Wood Options. The Traveler comes in over 20 different wood options. All Designs and Engravings are available above any Tier above Whitewood. To learn more, check out our Log Blog or take a look at our Lumber Options.

Magnets. The magnets are 0.25″ rare earth neodymium and give a satisfying snap when closed (they are incredibly strong!).

Storage. The top and bottom breakaway portion of the Dice Tower can be flipped in position to hold up to 20 dice internally.

Sculpted Design, Engraving, and Felt. Every Dice Tower (with the exception of the Whitewood tier) comes with your choice of Sculpted Design on the back, choice of Engraving on the front, and choice of Felt color. There are 30+ Sculpted Designs and 30+ Engravings to choose from.

Dog Might Games launched their newest Kickstarter at the beginning of November and sent me a review copy shortly after. It made it to me on the 10th of November just in time to make the trip to Mace Con in Charlotte North Carolina. Over the course of the next three days I had the pleasure to play and run games with new and old friends and show of this wonderful new Dog Might product.

One thing quickly became apparent, any time the Traveler Dice Tower hit a table at the con there was immediate interest in it. The box itself is beautiful and eye-catching and at the first sound of the magnets snapping together, it always drew a satisfying reaction among fellow gamers.

The quality of the wood is top notch, Dog Might Games never skimps when it comes to making a solid product. Even with this small dice tower, the box feels in every way solid and sound. By now if you have seen any of their past product you know that the sculpted designs look great on their products as they have got this down to an art. I chose the Celtic design for my review copy and I am both pleased with the look as well as the feel of the pattern.

As far as engraving work goes this was the first time I have ever received a DMG product that has been engraved before. I am pleased by the result, the engraving of my logo is crisp and easy to read from the table even with a darker wood option like the redheart tower came in.

Dog Might Mentions that the dice box has a small footprint at your table with its dimensions of 6″ x 3.5″ but the forgot to mention that these are the dimensions of your Traveler in storage version. When assembled for use at the table the footprint shrinks further to 4″ x 3.5″!  Now, remember you can roll up to 7 dice at a time in this footprint. They pushed the envelope a bit on tablespace saving with this project!
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What did the con attendees think of it? Overall impressions by everyone who saw it at MACE this year were overwhelmingly positive. Roleplaying gamers fell in love with it, Board Gamers that were playing games with dice loved it. The small amount of space it takes up was often commented on by the board game crowd. Finally, in the games, I ran during the convention, when I brought it out to show off everyone felt it was excellent. One of my players even backed the KS while we were at the table playing at the game table! Another informed me later that day that they had backed it as well. To me that speaks volumes as to the quality of this tower!

Dog Might Games says you can fit 20 dice inside the Traveler and I saw a review video where they fit 21 dice inside of the traveler and the box held them just fine. I personally only recommend 7-10 dice even though It can indeed hold more with no threat of falling out of the box.

For me, it is a matter of opinion as just one a set of 7 pollys is easily loaded into one side of the dice box leaving you with room for a couple more dice in that side. This allows you to simply snap the other lid into place and you’re on your way.

If you do indeed want to put more dice in you can but you have to set the box down and begin arranging them to fit before snapping the top into place. It’s up to you if you want to do this. I just preferred to only fill the one side.

Runkles Rank?

When it comes to my decision on this product’s ranking I started off with stacking it up against a standard dice tower. When stacked against an average dice tower it surpasses it in every way.

  • It is sturdier
  • It has a minimal table footprint
  • It serves double duty as a Dice Box & Dice Tower.
  • It’s expandable with the Component Collector
  • It does everything that a standard dice tower can do and more.
  • To top it off it also looks damn good while doing it!
  • Very competitively priced compared to other wooden dice towers.

Personally, I have to say, by itself alone you could rank this at a Nat 20 easily. When to the extra mile for $2 bucks and add the magnets to make it compatible with the Component Collector ( BTW, A Dice Tower Add-on for the CC was highly requested) You make this product a slam dunk in the trend of Dog Might Games highly customizable product options.  So my ranking for the Travelers Dice Tower is a NAT 20!

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You can find Dog Might Games Product on Kickstarter right now for a few more days by clicking on their logo below.

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Fun Note
I have a friend that has looked at nearly every Dog Might Games product I have ever reviewed, overwhelmingly he is often underwhelmed by their amazing works. Often saying things like “It’s just a box”. This time he said he gave this product his seal of approval. That’s it a home run of a review from my buddy Modoc!

 

 

Kickstarter Hands On Review: The Mimic Chest

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The Mimic Chest

At first glance, it looks like a normal treasure chest. Roll high enough in perception, and you can see that it’s actually a precision-crafted, compact, durable, magnetic transforming caddy for all your tabletop game gear.
-Polymorph Crafts.

Out of all of the blogs that I’ve written, and all of the Kickstarter reviews that I have done, The Mimic Chest has been the single most up-and-down roller coaster ride of a Hands-On review I’ve ever written.

Oh, Mimic Chest how I love you and hate you! This rollercoaster ride began with the honor of me being given one of 12 pre-release Kickstarter Mimic Chests by Polymorph Crafts. My little mimic crawled his way to me at a snail’s pace as all of the other reviewers got there before me, I don’t blame Polymorph Crafts I blame the postal service and my Mimic. I don’t just say this in jest, Polymorph Crafts themselves have humorously told us that our Mimics have personalities, and damned if I don’t agree.

Polymorph Crafts even went so far as to include a thank you for adopting your Mimic pamphlets in the box when you receive it in the mail. The pamphlet jokes about Mimics being hard to rehabilitate and that you’ll need to spend some extra time with your Mimic when it arrives so that you can imprint on each other and get along. Well, I’ll be the first to tell you that mine arrived with the spirit of Loki the trickster God in him because it sought endlessly to aggravate me in the beginning.

I was overjoyed when I  pulled my Mimic Chest out of its box, unclasp the straps, and watch it explode my hands as I tried to disassemble it properly the first time! Undaunted I picked it back up, reassembled it only to prove that my ogre hands we’re just going to break it into a million pieces a second time! My Mimic would go on to mock me until I learned just how to remove it from its magnets and assemble it properly.

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Needless to say the early going between me and my and my box was a rough one, but not without reward. With The Mimic comprised of over 200 magnets holding it together as you work with it each time you set a piece into place, there’s a satisfying snap of the magnets as they come together. As you become more proficient with assembling and disassembling your Mimic its hard not be slightly awed by the fact with the exception of the Dice Tray this thing is completely held together by MAGNETS!

After repeating this process several times with the Mimic I set up the Dice Tray and Tower. I wanted to test the sturdiness of the Tower’s magnets when a handful or two dice were rolled down it. I also wanted to be sure that when dice rolled into the tray from the tower that they would not simply bounce clean out of the tray. I was pleasantly rewarded with an unexpectedly satisfying sound that the dice make when they roll down the tower. The icing on the cake was my first single D20 roll that many of you may have seen by now, was a Nat 20!! Again, The Mimic mocked me!

As it turns out my mimic does not like to be criticized, and I’m a reviewer, that makes our relationship a tedious one. Because as soon as I found the first Flaw in my mimic, it threw a tantrum and broke on me. You see I had noticed that the coasters for The Mimic needed more magnets to keep ogre handed users like me from just destroying the top portion of The Mimic when they tried to disassemble it.

With just a few extra magnets, (I know it already has 200 magnets in it and I’m suggesting extra magnets!) The result of a few more magnets would provide the dice and pencil vaults a much stronger hold making it less likely to collapse as easily. I promptly reached out to Polymorph Crafts to point out this discovery. Polymorph kindly inform me as I was typing out my observation that they recently had discovered the exact same error and we’re already implementing a fix! Sadly, I was probably not going to be able to get the new coasters with the right magnets for my pre-release review copy.  My Mimic Chest didn’t like that answer and took it upon himself the break his carry strap tossing a bad rivet.

The Polymorph Crafts Team was quick to Send me out a new strap and since they needed to send me a strap they tossed in the improved coasters with the magnet fix as well! A few days later the straps and coaster arrived, I snapped the new coasters into place in my Mimic and at that point, everything changed. Gone were the mocking collapsing into pieces when I would try and pick it up. With my new well behaved Mimic in hand I decided it was time to take it to the FLGS for everyone to get a look at. While there the Mimic behaved PERFECTLY! 8 out of 8 times total strangers would take his straps off and full break him down and put him back together. Gone were the explosions of wooden bits everywhere. My Mimic was a whole new MIMIC!!

My Thoughts

Right out of the gate I will say this The Mimic Chest is impressive, I mean it’s a box held together with 200 magnets it’s hard not to be impressed by that! Initially, when I first opened up the box and began to use it I was very frustrated with this product. I think that fate may have intervened for both Polymorph Crafts and Runkle plays games in the fact that the rivet on my case broke. Providing the opportunity for me to get a new strap and them to send me the new coaster. Because of this simple little coaster is the linchpin in the entire product in my opinion.

The Mimic Chest pre-updated coaster was a fragile pile of Lincoln logs waiting to explode at the first chance that you would bump the magnets out of position. Post adjustments, it is a far superior far sturdier product allowing you to even grasp the top of the chest and slightly twist and remove all of the vaults at once intact, a feat that before that change would have sent wood flying in every direction.

The Vaults

The mimic chest comes with 5 vaults, three dice, and two pens. The dice vaults are bored with 7 dice slots. The pencil vault can hold four Staedtler dry erase markers or 5 mechanical pencils comfortably inside. Each of the vaults comes with a placard that has two grooves cut in it for cards. They do the job very nice job as card stands. When not in use as part of the mimic they the placard and the vaults can be merged to form a Nifty little card rack.

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The Coaster

The coaster is two pieces of wood snap together with two magnets on the inside and 10 magnets on the outside, when it’s on the box it’s these five magnets that form the arch support for the dice vault. Now I’m not a master woodworker but I am friends with a few. I know that the polymorph craft Team says you can use the coaster for your drinks. They assure me that the 5 layer laminate plywood plus the stain layers and the varnish that they will be using will be enough to protect your coaster.

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I’m not going to say they are wrong as I do not have any woodworking skills. I will strongly say that personally, I will never put a drink on my coaster nor would I suggest you do this either. This product will cost you too much money to take the risk of even a minor amount of warpage unseating your magnets properly and ruining your box I just can’t agree with them on this.

NOTE: Since I do have a “Spare” coaster I have thought that I might do a bit of a stress test with it and see how it holds up to drinks.

The Dice Tower & Tray

The Dice Tower assembles with the satisfying feel and it locks onto your tray with magnets. I rolled handfuls of dice down the Tower with no unseating of the magnets. The tray is an excellent rolling bed and I never had any dice hop out of the box when rolled down the tower.

The Strap

What can I say Polymorph Crafts are woodworkers, not leatherworkers, but they are learning. Personally, my strap did break while my box was empty. My mimic chest had a thicker leather strap that was riveted and the rivets did not seat properly resulting in blown rivets because of the thickness of the strap. Polymorph Crafts informed me that it is not the normal strap they use and promptly sent me out a new one. Since the arrival of this strap, I have put nearly 5 lbs of things in my Mimic and he has taken it like a champ.

All Things Considered, if you put any amount of stuff in this box, pick it up by the strap but I would carry it by the bottom of the box as the strap is not secured to the mimic so much as it is just wrapped around your mimic. There is some slight shifting when you try to walk around just holding it by the strap. For safety’s sake and your Mimics health hold it from the bottom if you have to carry it anywhere.

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The Wood & Magnets

The Mimic will have two types of wood, the standard Mimic will be crafted from high grade 5 layer plywood quarter inch thick with three layers of stain three layers of varnish. This is the Mimic that I have and the plywood is quite sturdy. (Above talking about it falling to pieces was not a joke) The premium mimic will be made of solid Woods like Walnut, Maple, and others and I wish I could have seen how sharp that product would have looked.

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Sadly I can’t give you a full opinion on how the finished basic mimic will look because the finished Kickstarter Mimic will be dipped in stain and varnish and have multiple layers of each. Where my pre-release Kickstarter was made to get to me quickly for review and only had one layer of each brushed onto it. Resulting in a different appearance than what will be delivered to backers. I can say this, I know that the product backers will receive will be better than my preview box.

Functionality

At the end of the day, there is only one question it all comes down to.

“Is The Mimic Chest functional?”

When I showed it to board gamers, they liked it but many of them said they couldn’t see using all of its features for any one thing. But they could see using all of its features for different things.

When I showed it to card gamers I got much the same reaction as they felt they could only use the vaults and the placards and nothing else.

When I showed it to the miniature Gamers there was interest but they were concerned where they would put their figures to keep them from falling around in the box. Sadly I didn’t have a Hero vaults to show them.

When I showed it to role-playing gamers, it was very well-received. With only comments that it was too small to put books and maps inside being their only criticism. Many wished that you could not put everything you needed for a game in the box.

So I decided to tackle that opinion and see if they were in fact right. Now I will be the first one to tell you, a book will never fit in here. Nor will you fit a large tablet inside, but it does fit a Kindle and D&D Beyond works well with a Kindle. It’s also worth noting that later this year wizard of the coast is putting out a Kindle tablet specifically for Dungeons & Dragons oddly enough.

So I grabbed up my Kindle and a bunch of role-playing products and I stuffed 5 lb of stuff inside this box! Enough for a full 4-player game and everything that the players would need as well the GM’s things. I packed in it 5 sets of dice, 5 mechanical pencils, Dry Erase Markers, A pocket fold up Maps a dozen or so dry erase cards! I also fit inside Mini figures cards of numerous variations. The Kindle as well as a stand for it and a portable battery pack with charge cord. In short everything, you would need for a game night.

So is it functional? Absolutely.

Con’s

Interestingly enough, when I started this review the cons were more about the mimic chests functionality. But these things were addressed in a brief back and forth chat with the creators. Leaving The Mimic Chests only real flaws to come forward after its structure was proven sound.

There’s is only one real thing that the mimic suffers from, and that’s it size. it’s big it’s bulky but it lacks the dimensions to hold larger gaming products that the role-playing gamer would want to take with him to game night. The Kindles a nice tablet but it’s not a great gaming tablet. The iPad Mini makes a far better gaming tablet and it’s only slightly bigger.

The mimic is also barely too small to fit Game Mastery card maps fit inside. This slight tweak would have made it a perfect case for a GM on-the-go had it been a hair bigger. Game Mastery Maps fitting in the Mimic would have provided a huge library of options for the box. That said if you are a theater of the mind group the lack of a Map is of no real issue to your group.

Lastly, because the case can still collapse if you grab it wrong and fall apart, I wouldn’t recommend storing a tablet in it unless you are very careful and put the tablet glass side down definitely.

Runkles Ranking

This ranking was not an easy one for me to come too. I had to take several things into account that I don’t normally consider during a review. In the past, with other products, I usually sent the premium version of the product to get a full idea of just what the finished product will look like. In, this situation I got a Mimic they said was a 93% complete product. That’s okay yet, in the end, it affects my rating potentially because I don’t have that last 10% for me to see in my hands. Often I am given things that are closer to 99% of the final version for review.

But it’s not all that bad because I got to see the customer service side of the company while I was dealing with issues that arose like the strap and the coaster. Their speedy response and willingness to pay attention to feedback overall boosted my opinion of the company greatly.

So taking those things into account my ranking for Runkle plays games review of The Mimic Chest is only an 11.

Remember a ranking of a 11 is Average. My Ranking List can be found HERE. The Mimic is unique, and it does what they say it does, the product has a ton of potential when you take into account the Hero Vaults. I was not given Hero Vaults to sample so I can not count for them in my review.

NOTE: The new Coaster weighed heavily in this decision. Had I finished this review with the coasters that were given to me at first I would have only given the Mimic a Ranking of a 8 at most. 

The factors that hold me down from giving the Mimic a higher rating of maybe a 14 or more are the following.  In my eyes is due to size, the unfinished state of the product and the choice of laminated plywood. The plywood is excellent but it’s just not Heirloom woods. Understandably this was done to keep costs down and make it a product more accessible. Remember in several attempts to just HANDLE the Mimic it fell apart in my hands.  Often nearly EXPLODED into pieces.

I am fairly certain that many people that back this product will probably feel that the Mimic is at least a 16 or 16 if they purchase the premium woods. Understandably this will be due to the fact that I know the finished product will be superior to what I have in front of me right now. So I can only base my rating on a sample that is NOT production ready.

I’m proud and honored that I had the opportunity to be one of 12 people to give The Mimic chest by Polymorph Crafts a review.

You can find them in The Mimic Chest on Kickstarter right now. They were fully funded Kickstarter day one! Go take a look at it, follow it, and adopt one.

Until next time gamers!

You can find their project on KS here! Let them know I sent you!

The Mimic Chest Kickstarter