Tag Archives: Portal

One Big Family – Legacy, The Testament of Duke de Crecy review

Legacy COVER

While there are plenty of family games out there, there are few that actually emulate the whole idea of having one of your own. Released at Essen 2013, Legacy from Portal Games aims to do precisely that, placing you at the head of a French family around the early 18th century – just before everything kicked off with the revolution. The game’s full title – Legacy, The Testament of Duke de Crecy – does a great job of telling you what you’re aiming to achieve, and designer Michiel Hendricks has created a wonderful game where you’re looking to solidify the future generations of your family.

Boiling it all down, you’re looking at a worker placement game where you’ll be looking to pull in Prestige – which converts to points throughout the game’s nine rounds – and Income. You’ll also have handfuls of Friends cards which will bestow special abilities as well as hopefully extend your family – something that you’ll soon learn is vital if you’re to come out on top. Among the actions that are available to you, the one that will invariably be used regularly is the ability to Marry (or arrange a marriage for a child in your family which will happen at the start of the next generation). A successful pairing means that a Friend becomes part of your family – complete with any bonuses they bring with them – and a child is immediately born.

Children, as you’d expect, are what drive the game. Each couple can potentially have up to three offspring, all of whom will hopefully be married off themselves, creating more children who will be married again… but it’s far from an easy task to build up the generations! Life has a nasty habit of getting in the way, and each Friend who finds themselves engulfed by your ever growing family could also have made some poor choices that may hamper your progress in the game. Yes, they may have become a successful pawnbroker and made a lot of money (thus boosting your income) but who’d want a person of that calibre on their family tree? Your Prestige drops as your reputation at the court becomes the subject of gossip! The only thing to do is to woo the beautiful but poor debutante, improving your standing but costing you a small fortune…


A small gathering of Friends. The gold coin is the dowry you receive (or pay!) before the marriage is… ummm… “consummated”.

Also on offer are Titles that can be bestowed upon whoever you please, and “Contributions to the Community” that will show off your family in a good light. Both options are expensive but vital for success and they change from round to round, becoming more powerful and more pricey. By the time you reach the endgame though, you’ll surely be well on your way to being the head of one of Europe’s most respected and wealthy dynasties, so the opportunity to put on a Grand Ball or throw a Banquet will be a mere trifle! Well… hopefully. There’s the question of purchasing mansions and setting up your brood with businesses as well, and funds can occasionally get a bit tight; you’ll have to make the call on where the money goes, and keeping up that reputation is an expensive matter!

There’s also the secretive option of Undertaking Missions, where cards are drawn that will potentially grant huge bonuses throughout the game. This could be along the lines of ensuring there’s a certain amount of Artists or people from a specific country in your family, and the moment a target is reached you flip the card and reveal the bonus. The Missions can also be used to evoke the powerful endgame bonus that is given to you in the form of a Patron card – these are handed out at the start of the game and offer a potentially game-changing amount of points should you meet their challenging requirements.

As you can probably tell thanks to all the florid language, I’ve found this mix of Worker Placement and Desperately Managing To Balance A Bloody Load Of Stuff really rather entertaining. As is now traditional with Portal Games, it’s a lovely thing to look at – the art for all of the Friends is unique though the Sons and Daughters they spawn are not, sadly – still, you can’t have everything and I can see why that choice was made from a gameplay point of view. As the game progresses and this immense tableau starts to spread out before you, passers by are drawn in almost magnetically, wondering what on earth is going on and why you appear to be building some sort of pyramid while you rant about needing more money to give your great-grandchild the mansion they so desperately require. All the while your opponents are mocking your decision to marry off the youngest heir to the Gardener’s daughter but you did it anyway because love must prevail and it’s the only card you had at your disposal that worked…


Vive la France! Allez les Bleus!

And it’s this back and forth that makes Legacy so damned delightful. Every time I’ve played the game, intricate stories are woven as more and more people are added to the players’ families, and the tales of how they became a part of your clan (as well as the effects of their joining) become these glorious, ridiculous tapestries from a bygone time. Sure, it can be played as a straight Euro where you’re all vying for points, but for me the pleasure is not just found in the actions that are happening on the table itself but also the creation of this unique and sprawling bunch of lowlifes and thieves, artists and princesses who come together as one massive family – assuming you play it right. Legacy is very much a game where what you put in is repaid ten-fold, a game where if you play the role as much as the game you’ll have a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Legacy, The Testament of Duke de Crecy, was released at Essen 2013 by Portal Games. Designed by Michiel Hendriks between two and four people can play with games taking around 60-90 minutes. There is also a single player version of the game in the box which I’m yet to try – sorry! A copy will normally set you back around £35, but Gameslore will sort you out for a mere £29 – a bargain price for the opportunity to choose your family for once!


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Episode 68 – Essen 2013 Day Zero – The Show Before The Show!

In something of a turn against what I’m used to when attending events in the UK, security at the Messe for Spiel 2013 were utterly delightful and allowed me access to the show floor before it opened to the public. This first episode of the Essen 2013 Specials is a compilation of interviews from the world’s biggest games show on the final set-up day. A quick apology – my mic was playing up throughout the day so the sound is somewhat fuzzy but I hope that the quality shines through!


Direct Download – http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/wxzh7/LMD_Episode68.mp3 (also available through iTunes, of course)

Dennis and Rainier from TF-22 – http://www.tf22.de/

From Japon Brand we have Simon Lundstrom and Seiji Kanai (Seiji Kanai!) – http://japonbrand.gamers-jp.com/

Ludicreations’ own Iraklis – http://ludicreations.com/

Konstaninos Kokkonis from Artipia Games – http://www.artipiagames.com/

The Z-Man himself, Zev Shlasinger – http://zmangames.com/home.php

Designer of CV from Granna, Filip Mulinski – http://www.granna.pl

Owner of MAGE Company, Alexander Agrypolous – http://www.magecompany.com/

R&R Games owner Frank talks about their new games – http://www.rnrgames.com/

The Portal Legend! Ignacy Trzewik – http://portalgames.pl/en/

One episode down, three (possibly four!) to go…



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Episode 49 – Essen 2012, Day Four

And so we come to the end of The Little Metal Dog Show’s coverage of Essen Spiel 2012! This episode covers the fourth and final day of the show with interviews with some big names in gaming as well as some new faces. From Stronghold Games’ Stephen Buonocore to Joost Das from brand new company Fablesmith, you’ll feel just like you were there. Or it’ll sound like it anyway… In order, prepare to hear the voices of the following:

Christopher Badell from Greater Than Games, creators of Sentinels of the Multiverse – http://sentinelsofthemultiverse.com/

Gordon Lamont (the ‘Gor’ in Fragor Games) talks Spellbound – http://www.fragorgames.com/

Simon and Tak from Japon Brand – http://japonbrand.gamers-jp.com/

Battlefoam’s Romeo Filip discusses their insane level of expansion in the past couple of years – http://www.battlefoam.com/

Andrei from NSKN Legendary Games – http://www.nskn.net/en2/ 

Wrong Chemistry designer Tony Cimino gets scientific – http://www.magecompany.com/

Joost Das from Fablesmith talks about his brand new game, Oh No! Invasion! – http://www.fablesmith.nl/

Ignacy Trzewik gets excited about his new stuff from Portal – http://www.portalpublishing.eu/

Nate Hayden from Blast City discusses Mayan prophecy – http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamepublisher/7052/blast-city-games

Stronghold Games’ very own Stephen Buonocore (of course!) talks about everything – http://strongholdgames.com/

If you’d like to download the show directly, click this here link: http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/i3rgcw/LMD_Episode49.mp3

Back Keep Running! now on Kickstarter! Have a look at the KS page here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/108292040/keep-running-a-quick-and-nasty-card-game-by-michae

Josh Mannon’s excellent looking Skies Over Danbury is here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jbmannon/the-skies-over-danbury-dungeon-world-adventures?ref=live

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Love Machine – Neuroshima Hex review

I finally got my hands on a copy of Neuroshima Hex a few weeks ago and was pretty shocked to discover that it was originally released way back in 2006. Based on the long running Polish RPG Neuroshima, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where technology has run amuck leaving humanity trying to live from day to day while avoiding the murderous machines. Think of it a bit like Terminator mixed in with Mad Max and you’ll get the picture.

Neuroshima Hex is a war game abstracted into the extreme where up to four factions strive to defend their HQ for as long as possible while still being as aggressive as possible. The different armies each have their own abilities and skills, The Outpost being the last of the good guys, attempting to keep humanity going through guerrilla attacks. The Hegemony are their flipside, valuing strength and throwing themselves into close combat as they struggle for power. Moloch, the big bad of the piece, is the machine based army responsible for wiping out most of humanity and looking to finish the job, while Borgo is the leader of their mutant offspring that wants to grab power for itself.

Each player begins with a stack of hexagonal tiles, taking their HQ piece and placing it on the board which is made up of nineteen hexes. Around the outside of the board numbers count down from 20, representing the “health” of your base – should this hit zero, you’re out. At the start of each turn, a player draws three tiles from their stack and must immediately discard one. You may then play them or hold on to them for a future turn, but the most you’ll ever have available to you is two per turn.

There are two different overall types of tile – Units and Actions. Units are the ones that will fight on your behalf. All you need to do is place them on the board and wait… Looking through the tiles in your army, you’ll notice that there’s a fair few symbols to get your head around but don’t fear; you’ll understand them pretty quickly. Attacking will either be melee (signified by a short, stumpy triangle) or ranged (a much longer, thinner one). If you see a net on your tile, it immediately stops any tile the net is pointing to from doing anything. A cross means that your unit has toughness and can take more than the usual one hit. There are even some tiles that bestow boosts to adjacent units, but there’s one thing you really need to pay attention to: the all-important Initiative number.

Every unit that’s able to attack has an Initiative rating and once the fighting starts you’ll see how important it is to consider them. Working from the highest number downwards, all units will attack at the same time – all 3s could go first, then 2s and so on until you get to the bases which are ranked at 0. After each Initiative phase, any units that are destroyed are removed from the board immediately – see why you have to pay attention now? A poor placement could mean that your well prepared plan falls apart in no time at all…

The Actions are much simpler to get your head around, being that they’re one off events that you trigger by discarding the tile. Some are unique, but most of the time you’ll see actions that allow you to move units, push them back or – most important of all – start battles. Throwing one of those into the mix will set off the chain of events that will see countless tiles on the board getting removed. You can also start a battle by filling the board up, so don’t get too attached to any units as it’ll be rare that they’ll actually last more than a few turns!

Artistic! (Photo by blakstar from BGG)

Depending on how many people you play with, Neuroshima Hex can feel like totally different games. With two it’s filled with tense, almost chess-like decisions and small moves; everything feels significant and you’re constantly looking for a chink in your opponent’s armour. Three and four player games are much more chaotic and are often joyously ridiculous – when you see that battle tile get flipped and all of a sudden fourteen tiles immediately disappear from the board, you’ll break down into fits of laughter more often than not.

This latest edition has space on the board for the placement of more tiles (perfect if you’re looking to introduce a fifth or even sixth player into the mix – there are expansions that allow for this) and rules for setting up scenarios. There’s a vibrant community online who create whole new groups and set-ups for other players to experience, so be sure to check them out. The game is nicely produced – the only minor downside is that I’d say the art on the tiles is functional rather than gorgeous, but in all honesty you’ll be concentrating on the icons more than anything else. Every faction also gets its own player board detailing exactly what tiles they’ll be getting which is very useful indeed.

Despite being really easy to get into, I have a feeling that Neuroshima Hex isn’t a game for everybody. When there are a lot of tiles in play it can become something of a brain burner as you attempt to work out exactly what Initiative level each unit is at and in what order things will happen on the board. You really need to think ahead as much as you can, reacting to what the other players are up to and thinking as tactically as possible, so if you enjoy that kind of game experience I’d thoroughly recommend it. Just don’t sit around the table to this one if you know the kind of people who get riled when their long-planned strategy doesn’t pay off! You may well see a table get flipped…

Neuroshima Hex was designed by Michal Oracz and works with between two and four players. The English language version is published by Z-Man Games while Portal handle the original Polish version. Games will take a maximum of an hour (and are way shorter with only two players). If you fancy a copy, get on over to Gameslore where you can pick one up for £32.99.

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She’s In Fashion – Prêt-à-Porter review

I’m sitting here thinking about theme. Looking through my collection I see plenty of science-fiction stuff, lots of fantasy games and – Tom from The Dice Tower will kill me for this – even a couple of trading in the Mediterranean affairs. Us gamers like to stick with what we know and designers are often happy to give us what we like. Sometimes though? They love to surprise us.

Ignacy Trzewiczek is one such chap. You may recall the interview we did with him on the Little Metal Dog site recently where he mentioned a game that he developed in conjunction with the National Bank of Poland that would hopefully give players an insight into how finance works. And the setting for this game? Why, the high-flying world of fashion, of course!

Theme, as we all know, is important. A game may be as solid as anything but if the theme doesn’t grab players a game may well flounder. With Prêt-à-Porter proudly fashion based it may well lose a few players from the start – but if you disregard this game just because you think it’s about making clothes? More fool you because Prêt-à-Porter is pretty damn good.

You’re actually running fashion houses over the course of a year in this cut-throat industry. The game is divided into four phases, each one representing a three month period that culminates in one or more fashion shows. By opening new offices, taking on better staff and establishing new brands and outlets, you’re able to take on contracts to bump up your short term profits to keep you going.

During the first two months of each phase, you need to concentrate on a two pronged attack. Yes, improving the status of your company is important, but so is developing your staff and buildings. The down side is that these will cost you more and as you have to pay wages and bills at the end of each month it can become quite the battle to balance your books. Thankfully you have the option to take out a loan as an action during your turn – if you screw up though, you’ll be forced to take one at a higher rate.

The Polish edition of Prêt-à-Porter - very stylish, of course.

The fashions shows are what you’re really aiming for, though. The choices from your collection that you decide to show at the end of each of the four phases will be graded and hopefully awarded stars – and these are what you’ll fight your opponents for. Stars will gain you more money than the opposition, allowing you to improve your company and leave the others in your wake. As the year moves on, your company grows, hopefully earning more money and expanding your staff and holdings. At the end of the game the stars you’ve gained are converted into points and added to any special features that you’re able to score – and whoever has the most is the winner. Nice and simple.

Well… I say it’s simple, but Prêt-à-Porter isn’t. Though it’s relatively straightforward, there’s a wealth of options for you to choose from on your turns. As there are so many different ways in which you can expand your company, each one granting bonuses but also causing issues that you’ll need to cope with. It’s very easy to overstretch yourself and spread yourself thin, so you’ll need to give it a couple of plays before you work out the strategies that really work for you.

Prêt-à-Porter may well be set in an industry that some will claim isn’t interesting to them but do not be deceived – this game is hard as nails and will punish anyone who treats it lightly. This is the kind of eurogame that will require concentration from the off and lots of forward planning. You’ll need to have a solid idea of what you want to do for each of the seasons and just go for it – however, on the flip side you’ll have to be adaptable in case your opposition scuppers your plans… and they will. What happens when the other guy gets the building or materials that you wanted? You’ve always got to be ready to change your plans but thankfully the game offers you alternative routes to your ultimate goal – it’s not always easy, but hey! That’s business.

You’ll notice I’ve not talked about the production quality… well, I can’t really. My copy of the game is an English language prototype – the full version will be released at Essen 2011. However, this is 90% of the way there and I can safely say that graphically everything is nice and clear. The board in particular is very well laid out and the whole game has a clean, modern look that really conveys the sense of style. Iconography is clear and crisp throughout which really helps in a game that has a lot going on.

Polish Prêt-à-Porter is ready to roll. It's not as complicated as it looks. Well, perhaps it's a little complicated.

It’s not an easy game to win. In fact, it’s not an easy game at all, but there’s an incredible level of satisfaction when you just manage to plan everything well, hold it together and break even from month to month. Actually winning the game? It’s like being visited by unicorns delivering platinum cupcakes filled with cash.

The unicorns have never come to my house. They will one day, but until then there’s this incredibly challenging game that rewards players who throw themselves headlong into it. Here’s hoping that Portal get the success it deserves from this fantastic game.

Prêt-à-Porter was originally published in Poland in 2010 by Portal. Designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek in conjunction with the National Bank of Poland, the English language version of the game will be available from October 2011 following its official launch at Essen – pre-orders can be placed right now. Work it!

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