Saturday, July 9, 2016

Duel of Ages II is a delightful Across-Time-and-Space Sci-Fi Skirmish boardgame

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love alternate Earth and mixing of genres stuff.. Fantasy wizards using sub-machine guns, Nazi Androids jacking into the net, Confederate Aeronautical and Space Administration ships colonizing the asteroid belt, Halfwit hobbits in powered armour, Klingon Jedi Knights... you name it.

Duel of Ages II by Worldspanner scratches that itch for me.. big time.

The premise is, it's the far future, and there is a holodeck-like entertainment that pits characters from across space and time at each other.. You control a group of them to fight the other team in fights to the death, as well as reach objectives..

All kinds of characters..

Here is a sample.. Aliens, robots, athletes, unicorns (!), perky space cadet, etc..

Fashionable rocket boots.. lol..

My friend Jim and I played the first two tutorial games two years ago, but we were so busy with other games, we did not continue playing it, until today. It was so long ago, we forgot the rules and started again with the first three tutorial missions.

Jim and I were assigned, per the tutorial scenario, unlikely teammates.

One of my teams had, for example, Annie Oakley, Pat Garret, Geronimo and a fantasy barbarian pitted together..

Another one of my teams had a 16th Century woman, Kit Carson, a barbarian, Martians, General James Gavin of WW2 and some sort of Amazon.. All working together!

Jim too, as my opponent, had equally strange bedfellows on his side.. A football quarterback, Davy Crockett, a mercenary and a daredevil.

And in another instance, I killed 3 from Jim's team.. an Alien, an Android and ... William Wallace!

This strange mix of allies alone makes me love the game..

Even better though to sweeten the gaming experience, was the strange mix of weapons your guys get after successfully meeting challenges the holodeck computer throws at you in equally unlikely encounters you wouldn't normally meet in a role playing game, let alone in real life.. Encounters for example, where you can bump into groupies followed next by going into a space bar..

The weapons range from everything from knives to exotic ray guns.. 

Knives, swords, etc, are common and can hurt the other player as my Spartacus did, killing two before he was killed...

Jim and I though, found ranged weapons deadlier.. Annie Oakley with a flintlock pistol, killed 2 or 3 of Jim's guys before she was killed.. My fantasy barbarian with a ray gun was equally a force to be reckoned with. .

Other times, your guys can be left hauling junk around.. my space diplomat got frog toxin once but no blade to poison with, and a medkit. A shame really, as he had an exceptionally high wit, which would normally give him an edge in melee combat by going first.. 

Another time, my tough guy only had a sword though I wish he had guns, guns and more guns!..

Still, when unlikely things come together, they can mesh well.. My Geronimo ran around with futuristic L-Wave grenades, which he used to effectively kill one of Jim's characters.. 

But this is not simply a straight wargame... Every character has about a dozen RPG-like attributes and both Jim and I were caught off guard sometimes as your character may not be smart enough (or too primitive ) or strong enough to use the equipment the holodeck-like computer gives you..

Here, Geronimo's strength of 6 and Intellect of 5 met the requirements to use the L-Wave grenade's minimum 2 Strength and 4 Intellect to use.

Another time however, my brainy space faring Martians were smart enough to use the long bow (their 7 intellect vs the 2 minimum required to use it), but evidently, they have puny arms and were too damn weak to pull the bow (2 vs 4 minimum).. Where else but in someones dream or in a holodeck would "little Green Men" from Mars run around with just a long bow like it was Agincourt or something..

The game mechanic thus simulates the entertainment value of such strange circumstances you can only find in a holodeck environment.

And there are reminders that you are in a holodeck. Some weapons have a "K" designation, which means if they are used to kill another character, the weapon disappears from their hands afterward, which would not happen in real life, but would in a holodeck trying to entertain the unwashed masses watching across the galaxy.

The first tutorial, Jim and I learned melee combat. In the second, we learned range combat.. In the final tutorial, we had to break into each other's bases, blow things up and take prisoners. Even if you were successful in doing so, your character was teleported out and plunked out in one of the many teleportation (?) domes that populate the holo-environment. 

The game has the usual line of sight, movement, and opportunity fire rules you would find in other games.

All in all, an enjoyable game for those who love to mix up genres like I do. Jim said  he enjoyed the game as well. We promised though, that this time, we will continue with the other missions in the base game and the Master set, which I have both.

The Master set is packed with more terrain, cards, characters and equipment and promises hundreds of hours of play. I look forward to it.

Cry Havoc and let slip the holodeck scum!

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