Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Time Is Running Out – Doctor Who: The Time Wars review

Always, and I repeat this, ALWAYS be careful when you pull a game off the shelf that doesn’t have a person’s name on the cover.

This isn’t me being snooty, by the way. Sometimes you may be lucky and find something a bit special – a lot of quality early designer board games didn’t credit the person who came up with them, which is a bit of a shame. However, in recent times, the trend has been to actually let players know who came up with the game that sits before them so we can praise (or bemoan) them. A new game, let’s say anything released past 2000, that doesn’t say who’s responsible though? Caveat emptor – in other words… buyer beware.

If you’ve been reading The Little Metal Dog Show since the beginning, you may remember I outed myself as a Doctor Who fan from Day One after reviewing the rather splendid Adventures In Time and Space RPG. It was wonderful, steeped in the mythos of the Whoniverse, and really showed that the developers (the guys at Cubicle 7) cared about their subject matter. Recently though, I played another Doctor Who game that has had a little less care and attention paid to it. It was called Doctor Who: The Time Wars Family Board Game and… well, to be frank, it stinks. I’ve been told by a fair few readers that I’m perhaps a little too positive in my reviews. Looking back, I kind of agree, but I plead the following – I’ve only felt compelled to write about games I enjoy playing. Hopefully this one will balance out the positivity of the last year because this game really deserves a kicking. Let the beasting begin!

Bow ties are cool.

I was initially excited – after all, it’s a trivia game about Doctor Who! I know loads about Doctor Who! Well, actually, it’s only about the latest season of the show (which saw the introduction of Matt Smith as the Doctor and Karen Gillan as his assistant Amy Pond), so Mystery Designer X has limited themselves from the start there. At the start of the game, players are assigned a target amount of monsters to collect by taking a card – this will be a combination of Weeping Angels, Silurians and Daleks. Answering a question correctly will win you one, two or three monster cards which (hopefully) will have the monsters you’re looking for – collect the set and you’re a winner. The main selling point of the game is the ‘innovative’ board which flips over. It’s a bit tricky to describe, so I’d suggest checking out this picture.

The flippy board. Which flips. A lot.

It’s a little like a hardback book with a single page that turns back and forth. Spaces all over the board are linked by little bridges with a few special areas which are the only places you can answer the game’s questions. If you’re on the correct side of the board (with the flippy overlay), these spaces are separated by little walls, but the question spots are accessible – on the opposite side, they will have walls around them that are impenetrable. You’ll have to wait until the overlay comes to your side.

So far, so inoffensive. But then you start to play it and everything falls over, because this game is terrible. It’s packed with problems on many levels. Let’s start with the gameplay, because surely if that’s good, certain things can be forgiven? Well, no. The Time Wars is a dog – it’s slow and dull and… just poor. You move pieces around the board trying to get to the few spots that allow you to answer a question – even then you may not be allowed to because the board has flipped, locking you out of the space you wanted to head into. You can also be trapped in a question space if the board doesn’t play nicely – one person I was playing with was stuck for four turns in a row, an incredibly frustrating experience. Also, despite being billed as a Doctor Who trivia game, a fair few of the questions aren’t about the show. There’s many that just make no sense whatsoever and seem to have been thrown into the game to serve as filler. For a game that is aimed at families, much of the trivia is going to be far too hard for kids to play. Churchill’s middle name anyone?

Gratuitous pictures of Amy Pond will make everything better.

The production quality also falls flat. The board itself looks nice enough, but the flippy overlay refuses to lay flat no matter what side it’s laid on. Perhaps with extended plays it may be better, but it’s annoying. The various monster and question cards are printed up on some of the cheapest stock I’ve ever seen in a game, reminiscent of the football stickers I collected as a child. They’re possibly the flimsiest cards I’ve even seen in a board game, just showing how little care has been put into it. There’s this constant nagging feeling that it’s just been chucked together in a couple of hours. There are printing errors, spelling mistakes, stuff that’s incorrect – Starship UK (from the episode ‘The Beast Below’) is referred to as Spaceship UK throughout, for example – and (worst of all) it has absolutely nothing to do with The Time Wars. They’ve barely been covered in the show itself, so why this game is using the name I have no idea. This is a terrible game, a lazy cash-in that will be played once and passed to the nearest charity shop. Avoid like the Altarian Plague.

Doctor Who: The Time Wars Family Board Game was released in 2010 by Imagination Games – no designer has been credited, surprisingly. Between two and six can play, and it’ll cost you between £15 and £20 (which is much better spent on something like Doctor Who Uno, which is at least vaguely entertaining and comes in a Dalek shaped box).  There’s also the excellent Unofficial Collectible Card Game which I really recommend – it’s a labour of love and great fun to play.

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News & Stuff – 9th July 2010

What’s better than sitting outside in your local beer garden? This week’s Little Metal Dog News, of course!

It’s actually a bit of a slow news week, but what’s out there’s pretty interesting. First up – brought to my attention by LMD listener Roger Faires – is a top idea from TerrorBull Games to finance their next release as well as put a bit of money in the pocket of Amnesty International. The makers of the infamous War On Terror (as seen on everyone’s favourite geek extravaganza The IT Crowd!) are offering up the chance for members of the playing public to appear in the next edition of the game. The six different note denominations will each have a different picture chosen by the winners of a selection of eBay auctions that are currently running (and here’s a link to one of them!). They end next Friday (July 16th) at noon GMT – winners of the auctions will get their own collectors edition of the game as well as the fame and glory of being on the bank notes. It’s a great concept and I hope that TerrorBull raise a bundle for Amnesty – it’s an incredily worthwhile charity! I’ll get in touch with the guys at the company after the auctions are complete to see if we can show off who the winners are – so for now, go and bid! Bid now!

Next up, Summoner Wars. One of the most entertaining games I’ve played recently, Colby Dauch (who appeared on the show a while back) has released an onslaught of news from Plaid Hat Games regarding some new expansions. I recently got my hands on both the Vanguards and Fallen Kingdom decks and they’re both excellent additions to an already great game. The forthcoming premium board is also pretty much ready to roll and should be in the hands of those who pre-ordered by September at the very latest. While Summoner Wars is perfectly good with the included board, a heavy duty hard board will certainly be another welcome addition. For more regular updates from Colby, he’s updating the BGG page with alarming regularity.

It seems that a week can’t pass without mention of some awards, and this time you’re getting a double header. The recent Origins expo in Ohio, USA saw some interesting games get the nod in a range of categories. Check out these for a random bunch:

  • Best Board Game went to Games Workshop’s Space Hulk (seriously? Yes, it’s good and all, but you can’t buy it!)
  • Best Card Game – Poo: The Card Game from Catalyst Games (looks… interesting!)
  • Best Children’s, Party or Family Game – Looney Labs’ Are You the Traitor?  (simple Werewolf / Mafia style goodness) 
  • Best Historical Board Game – Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! from Academy Games (looks to be insanely well respected, but way beyond my brain!)
  • Best Historical Miniature Game Rules – Wings of War: WWII, Deluxe Edition by Nexus (a load of fun, even better with mini planes all over the table)
  • They’re actually a pretty good bunch, but the selection of Space Hulk surprises me greatly. What was basically a limited edition, uber-expensive reprint is worthy enough to be deemed Game of the Year? Interesting. Especially considering the Games Workshop aren’t the most popular company out there…

    Anyway, more awards. This time, the annual ENnies (aka the Gen Con EN World RPG Awards) nominations list are out as of today. While LMD mainly focuses on board and card gaming, I must admit to enjoying a bit of tabletop RPG action and there’s not much better than curling up on the sofa reading through a hefty manual. Looking through the list, there’s a fair few interesting looking games there, but I was particularly pleased to see UK based company Cubicle 7 up for their excellent Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space set – there’s a full review on this very blog too! However, if anything deserves to win, I really really want Lucha Libre Hero to pick up an award – building characters based around Mexican wrestling? Who wouldn’t love that?

    And that’s your lot for now. The next episode of the podcast is currently being edited and tinkered with – there’s an interview with Mathew Anderson from Petroglyph Games (makers of the upcoming Graxia releases as well as the Panzer General series) and a huge – and really entertaining – chat with Antony Brown from Dice Maestro. You’ve got to listen, it’s brilliant. Mental, but brilliant. As well as that, Chris will be returning to help me out with your questions, so drop me a line at littlemetaldog@gmail.com  – cheers as always!

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    Time to pretend – Doctor Who RPG review

    As well as covering board games, I really want to show different ways to play here on The Little Metal Dog Show. With that in mind, here’s a look at the Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space RPG, released in 2009 by Cubicle 7. Following the recent rebranding of the show after Matt Smith took over as the Eleventh Doctor the whole thing is due for a reprint, probably in the summer as that’s when the current series will end. However, this is only going to be a cosmetic thing and won’t be any different to the edition already available (which, being based on the Tenth Doctor, has David Tennant adorning the front of it). 

    Shiny Timey Wimey Stuff

    So, what do you get in the (rather expensive, at least here in the UK) box? Well, thankfully, a fair bit. Two books – the Players Guide and a huge Gamemaster Guide – plus various pre-made and blank character sheets, a set of six d6 and a pile of other bits and bobs explaining stuff like what an RPG actually is, a sheet of Score Points (more in a bit) and Object Cards. When you open the box, you can immediately see two things; first, the production values are really high. It’s very pretty indeed, filled with loads of photos, and printed on high quality paper. Second, this isn’t really for the hardcore RPG player – flicking through either of the books reveals that it’s an accessible game that is aimed at fans of the show, the majority of which will be young kids who want to have fun pretending to be the Doctor and their assistants while trying to defeat the Big Bad Guys.

    Time for some reading. Time! LOL, etc.

    As with most standard role playing games, the action is all controlled by one person (the GM – they totally fluffed the opportunity to call that role The Master), who in turn aids and hinders the players as they make their way through a set adventure. Players can either choose one of the pre-made characters from the series (of which there are many) or create their own using a simple points system which can be spent on Skills, Attributes and Traits. After everyone has settled on their character, away they go into a timey-wimey rollercoaster of… well, whatever the GM has dreamed up. There are two pre-made adventures included in the package, along with a decent selection of ideas for the GM to produce other stories with – and as the game is based in the Whoniverse, players can not only travel anywhere through the galaxy, they can also play anywhen in time.

    Adventures In Time And Space is based on a simple rule; roll two dice, then add Attributes, Skills (and Traits if needed) and try to beat the target set by the GM. As the game is dependent on good narrative skills, results give you a bit of leeway in storytelling. Straight answers are infrequent – there’s a lot of “X happens, but Y follows as a consequence”… all the better to move the story on! If something does go badly, you can spend the previously mentioned Story Points that you’re allocated at the start of the game to improve your situation, helping things go that little more smoothly. Actions performed by characters are divided into four types and always happen in the same order; Talking happens first, followed by Running (invariably down corridors), Doing and Fighting. Of course, there isn’t a huge amount of combat in the whole Doctor Who genre – the emphasis is on using your intelligence to solve the situation. As such, this is an RPG that is suitable for any age group, but definitely not for those who think the show is just for kids.

    Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space is a little on the expensive side. If you pick it up make sure you’ve got some fans of the show around to play with and that you’ve all got plenty of imagination. Everything you need to play the game is included in this single package, but it’ll help if everyone has had a read through of the player guide so pass it round before you start – even if you’re using the pre-rolled characters from the series. It’s an easy to use RPG system that will be accessible to even younger players, and the game universe is so wide ranging you’ll never run dry on ideas. There’s also a thriving online community that is full of ideas and new storylines for you to try. If you’re a fan of the show and fancy throwing yourself into the mythos a little more, you won’t go far wrong with this excellent pack.

    Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space is published by Cubicle 7, is priced around £35-40 in the UK and is probably best played by four to six people. Cubicle 7 will also be printing expansions covering companions, alien races and UNIT – all are due to be released by summer 2010.

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