Friday, April 10, 2015

Topdog's Tome of Terrible Treasures (Part Two)

You thought the Apparatus of Kwalish was a bit odd?
Naive fool.
Welcome back to a second instalment in my series on ludicrous magic items.
Let us see what is available for your adventurers to plunder this week...


This plaster gnome knows the way…

Twice per day, you may ask this gnome a navigational question, and it will point the way for you.


Exactly what it says on the tin.

+2 to all martial arts checks, only wearable by females, wearer always counts as -1CP for wounds, but can roll the full number of dice in checks.
(I've always found it bizare that, according to RPGs and the popular media, women are fully capable of complete mastery of the martial arts while wearing six-inch stilettos and the skimpiest possible costume. This is my answer to how it's done.
An explanation of the rules for non-DiceChucker players: You get a bonus on martial arts attacks, but always count as having taken one wound. In D&D terms, it would limit your maximum HP to about 1/5 less than normal)


This wonderous feline always looks terribly impressed by anything you say or do.

So long as the cat is around, you gain a +2 bonus on any attempts to impress, convince or negotiate. The cat just looks SO impressed by all your suggestions.
(My cat was giving me more than usually pitying looks when I came up with this one, making me think about how wondrous an item a cat who actually looked impressed would be...)


A mighty brass instrument with strange powers.
While the Trombone is being played, both it, and the player are invisible.


Wheat is for chumps.

Contains a bound spell, which can be used once to turn it’s target into a Coeliac (a person who is allergic to wheat)


A blackened metal tube with a wooden grip at one end, and loud honking coming from within.

When fired, the Duck Gun shoots a duck at hypersonic speed towards it’s target. This is always fatal to the duck.

DL: 5, RNG: 10/15/20
(DL: 5 is a fairly hefty damage level. It's more than a crossbow, getting into the realms of +1 weapons.)


A strange tome, seemingly made from the flayed faces of people…

Each of the 100 pages of this book is a face. They can be removed and worn as masks, granting a +4 bonus to anything which would benefit from a mask.


Apparently, this was a wand of sleep which got somewhat mis spelled…

Magic wand; TN:12 magic test to use. Target is either turned into a sheep for D3 hours, or put to sleep for D3 hours.


Because wizards love bad puns.

This is a lime. You know, the fruit. When you poke it hard, it casts a powerful, greenish light for one hour. It is otherwise completely the same as any other lime.


A mighty glove made from iron, studded with runes.

The Gauntlet must be worn at all times to function. It grants a +1 bonus to AL. Once per day, the wearer can point at something, and it will be immediately flipped upside down.
(Just imagine getting this one off during a boss battle... suddenyl Nagrath Z'zokk the Undead Lich of Unspeakable Evil is standing on his head... or even better, getting it off during a SEA battle - suddenly the Prince Arethustra is upside down, sending all her crew to a watery grave...)


This mighty shield comes complete with little legs…

AL: 2. Grants soft cover (-3 to hit with ranged attacks)
The Animated Tower Shield does not need to be carried. It will always move with it’s owner and position itself so as to give the best protection.


Cheating at fantasy athletic events is nothing new. Shen Tee Lai just did it in disturbingly small shorts…

+1 movement.
-4 penalty to persuasion, diplomacy etc. against members of the same gender. +4 bonus against members of the opposite gender.
(This is an in joke against one of my friends, well known for his habit of attending Warhammer Tournaments in the shortest of shorts as a way of distracting his opponents.)

What strange and arcane items await in the next installment? Only time will tell, dear readers, only time will tell!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Top Dog Reviews: But Wait, There's More!

I've just realised that I am in the interesting position of having been a huge fan of the original print and play version of But Wait, There's More! and also having a brand new, shiny copy of the Kickstartered version. Methinks a review and comparison is in order!

But Wait, There's More is a game about advertising. Specifically, it's about those terrible late night shopping ads. The idea is pretty simple, a product card is selected for the round - it might be a knife, it might be a frying pan, it might be a wagon. Then all the players select a feature from their hand of cards - possibly 'remote controlled', maybe 'with wheels' and has thirty seconds to improvise an ad for the resulting product. At some point, they MUST say 'But Wait, There's More!' and draw a random feature card, whicb must be added to the product. So you could end up advertising a remote controlled wagon... WITH WHEELS! At the end of each round, players vote on which they thought was the best ad.

So, what was changed for the Kickstarter version?
Well, for a start, all the product and feature cards are new. This cuts both ways - I play with a teen aged group, and some of the old features, such as 'closed circuit TV' and 'closed captioning' kept giving them trouble. A few other features were a bit old school, thanks to the march of technology. 'With QWERTY Keyboard' is probably not such a selling feature anymore. On the whole, the feature cards now read like sales pitches, instead of just naming a product. This helps integreate them into your pitch faster, and they are all now things which you would expect to see on late night shopping ads. The thing is, far fewer of them make sense with the products. Since the whole point of the game is advertising ridiculous combinations this isn't too bad.

The voting mechanic has also changed. In the past, each player had one vote, which they gave to the best ad in that round. The winner was the first to win three rounds. Now, each player is dealt a hand of vote cards each round, and gives their favourite speach the '3 votes' card, their next favourite the '2 votes' card, and so forth. The game ends after three rounds, and votes are totalled up. I like this system more - it means you can reward more players, and it also means there is more tension since no one knows how many votes they have until the end of the game when the cards are turned over and totalled.

Another very handy addition to the game is the egg timer. It's a little thing, but since this is a boxed game, not a Print and Play anymore, they can include an egg timer which makes things easier. Timing 30 seconds on a phone was always a bit of a pain, the egg timer is much more convenient and easier to see for all players.

With the changes to the core mechanics of the game out of the way, what else has been added? Well, the kickstarter includes one new mechanic, and an expansion. The new mechanic is the 'Tell us more' card. This card goes to the player who's birthday is closest, and can be played after any other player's ad. Basically, the victim of the card has to turn over a third feature card and keep going. They can then keep the 'Tell us more' card and use it when they want. The expansion, called 'That's the best part' adds a set of yellow cards. Each player gets two of these at the start of the game, and they are not replaced during play. They are also played after an ad, and all ask a question such as 'what happens if I eat it?'. Then you have to say 'That's the best part...' and turn the problem into a selling point. There is no limit to the number of these cards you can have played on you - I have had a round go for almost five minutes having been hit with 'Tell us more' and six or seven 'That's the best part' cards. It was an amazing product, but it gave me a sore throat...

The PNP version of But Wait, There's More was a popular fixture of Gippsland Gamers. The Kickstartered version looks like taking on the very same place in our hearts. The game is always highly entertaining, it never outstays it's welcome, and it's very easy to learn. This is currently my favourite party game, but that might be somewthing to do with being a Media/English teacher. The new version tidies things up, has excellent presentation, and comes with the excellent expansions AND the invaluable egg timer - what more could a man want?

But Wait, There's More (Toy Vault edition) scores:

Clarity of rules:
Excellent. The rules are short and sweet, so there is nothing to get confused by. The rules as written suggest that you replace your whole hand of features each round, but we've house ruled it to only replacing the ones you don't want, like the PNP edition. Sometimes you just KNOW the feature will work, but not on the product in play...

Learning curve:

There's really not much to learn, and it can be easily and quickly explained in a minute or two. The real trick lies in learning how to speak for thirty seconds - once you get that timing right there's no stopping you.


Like all party games, this would depend on your group. People who do not like to talk will hate this game, but with the right group it's amazingly entertaining. Our group does contain some fairly shy people who dislike public speaking, but when we play, they tend to get caught up in the fun and really get into it. Obviously, this game requires a certain level of speaking skill, it's not something you should play with small children for instance.

Replay Value:

Sure, there are a limited number of combinations in the product and feature cards, but the number is pretty damn huge. We've been playing this game every other week or so for over a year, and I still get loud requests for it to hit the table. Sometimes we play two or three times in a night. Any game which involves crazy combinations of unlikely things tends to be pretty replayable, and this one is no exception.


The box is solid, the cards are colourful, the text is clear. The presentation is not going to set the world on fire, but it does it's job. The old PNP used a bunch of different fonts on the feature cards, the new version sticks to just one, which helps clarity. The only thing which annoys me is that the cards are all the mini sort, and I find them hard to shuffle... It's a bit bland, but you're not really looking at the components, you're listening to the other players, so it doesn't hurt the game.