And now for something incomprehensible..... Our Games Editor checks-in with a review of the latest games (and books) being offered by the Guardians of Order--but it's once again written in that strange language which only appears to be English! (Heck, it's not even written for our dimension as they seem to have one-dimensional dice in their world!) So beware, this one's for those games people, who love this stuff and reviews like this!
Guardians of Order Game Review
Can you speak this language?
Our Games Editor checks-in with a review of the latest games (and books) being offered by the Guardians of Order--but it's once again written in that strange language which only appears to be English! (Heck, it's not even written for our dimension as they seem to have one-dimensional dice in their world!) So beware, this one's for those games people, who love this stuff and reviews like this!
The Guardians of Order have unleashed supplements to their already excellent Sailor Moon RPG. There are four new additional books which should be of interest to non-gamers & gamers alike. The books are "The Complete Book of Youma, Volume 1," "The Sailor Scout Character Diary," "The Knight Character Diary" and "The Dark Warrior Character Diary" and are reviewed below.
A fifth book, "The Complete Book of Supporting Characters, Volume 1," was not submitted (or more than likely, not ready) for review.
First up is a new, simple game which may be of interest to newbies.....
The Sailor Moon Button Men Combat Game
This is an interesting dice game which incorporates characters from the first series. On the surface, the game appears to be pretty simple: each character has a particular set of dice listed on their button, which you roll and then use in different combinations to defeat your opponent. However, once you start playing you find that with the way it's set up, there are a lot more strategic choices to be made.
The rules in a nutshell: Each character has a set of "Starting Dice" and a set of "Reserve Dice." At the outset, both players roll their starting dice and put them in a row. They now take turns using their dice to 'capture' enemy dice. There are two ways to do this; one is to take one of your higher dice and use it to defeat one of the enemy's dice that is showing a lower number, and the other way is to take two or more of your dice and add them up to exactly equal one of the enemy dice. Each die you attack with has to be re-rolled, and if your opponent has knocked out one of your dice then you can bring one of your Reserve Dice into play. Whoever captures all of their opponent's dice wins the round. You do this three times, and the winner of the game is whoever wins two out of the three.
There are some kinks in this, however. Most of the characters have a special ability listed on their button; for instance, the Negaverse Warriors can use their power to reroll one of their dice or force an opponent to reroll one of their dice (the number of times they can use this depends on the character) and the Scouts can all summon Tuxedo Mask to distract the enemy and let them take another turn once per game. Also, there is a Shadow Warriors button which behaves very strangely; it takes a mastermind to use it correctly, but if it's done right it's a very powerful piece. The rules are explained in more detail in the booklet that comes with each pair of pieces.
Even within the bounds of simple die-rolling, various strategies become apparent. For instance, if you have a set of very high dice showing, you could elect not to bring out your Reserve Dice when you lose one of your active dice; then the enemy may not be able to attack you at all. You may also want to use medium to lower-value dice to attack rather than a high die, since you'll then have to reroll the dice you attack with; if you reroll the high die and it comes up low it will be easy pickings for the enemy, whereas if you reroll a bunch of low dice they might all come up high.
One promising aspect of this game is its portability. All you need to play is a bunch of dice and one or two of the buttons. One of those military surplus belt-cannisters should serve as a perfect carrying case. Finding other players of the game, say at an Anime Convention, should be pretty straightforward too; the game buttons are actual buttons that you can wear on your shirt, so if you walk around wearing one (or two or ten) somebody is bound to challenge you to a game. I can just picture everyone sitting in line for the Costume Contest playing this to pass the time.
The only drawback to this game, which might make it tough for the mass market to get into it, is the sheer volume of dice that the game requires. Raiding the RISK box won't save you this time, either; the dice you'll need are of all the types that should be familiar to players of RPGs other than Big Eyes Small Mouth: 20-sided, 12-sided, 10-sided, 8-sided, 6-sided, 4-sided, 2-sided, and even 1-sided. (2-sided is a coin, 1-sided is the Mysterious One-Dimensional Die; it's always a one, and can't be rolled. A gum wrapper with a big "1" on it works great.) In order to be able to play all of the characters, each player will need three of each of these types of die, except for six-sided (you need four of them-- this is where you pilfer the Yahtzee set) and the two lowest-value dice (which you need one each of; they're only used by the Shadow Warriors piece). Your local hobby or comic shop will probably be very happy to sell you all of these; they should cost less than a quarter each.
Luckily, even after finding all the Dungeons & Dragons dice I've accumulated over the years to be woefully insufficient, I discovered a slightly more tedious method which requires only one of each die. Turning a piece of lined notebook paper sideways, you can label a set of columns with each die that you're supposed to have. Make sure to mark which ones are Starting Dice and which are Reserve Dice. Then, roll the dice you have and write the results in the proper columns; by reusing the same dice you will only need one of each. Play as though the numbers in the columns were the dice you had sitting out, crossing out each number when you have to reroll the die it's on and scratching out the entire column when a die has been eliminated. Remember to keep track of which dice are 'active' and which are still in your reserve. Both players can even use the same set of dice in this way.
The Button Men pieces come in packs of two. (Thoughtfully, each Senshi is packaged with the villain that they were in love with back during the Silver Millennium before the Earth was taken over by Beryl & Company.) Each pack costs US$6.00 comes with a booklet describing the game rules and the special abilities of the characters it contains.
The first thing in the book is a nice big stat sheet to keep track of all your character attributes, sub-attributes, etc. After that is the fleshing-out part; there are 40-50 different sections for character background, from a blank family tree to a section on goals to a likes/dislikes chart. This could be a great stepping-stone for newer players who are used to making a stat-based character and haven't tried really rounding one out; just filling in all the prompts here should result in a pretty well thought-out character. This of course makes the character ten times as much fun to play; if the only time your character gets noticed is when it's your turn in combat, then a fleshed-out background is just what the doctor ordered. For those who like to round out their characters already, this section will help you remember all the stuff you came up with as well as giving you new ideas.
The third part of the book is the actual 'diary' section; here is where you can record game notes ("What did he say the name of that legendary mountain was again?"), some small maps, and of course a running record of what your character has been through. ("Aha! I remember you; you're the guy who tried to steal the Silver Crystal last year! In the name of the moon...") One nice thing about this section is that on all the even-numbered pages, there's a full-page 'watermark' image of a Scout, Knight or Dark Warrior (depending on the book). Each image is different, and some of them look really nice.
Lastly, there are some black-and-white sketches of characters from the series which you can cut and paste into the character sketch box at the beginning of the book, then color in. There are even 'template' pictures in the Scout and Knight books, which have the appropriate outfit drawn in but the face, hair and colors are left out so that you can design a "Sailor Khyron" or whatever that will fit in with the others.
At US$6.00 or so a piece, I'd definitely recommend getting one of these for each character that you plan to play extensively. The kind of background info you can generate with one of these books can really perk up the gaming experience for everybody.
Veena is the angel-like monster with big gold shoulder rings from Episode 24, "An Artful Attack." She draws things in the air with qills from her feathers and tries to flatten Sailor Moon with them.
The Complete Book of Youma is a great guide for both Game Masters and general fans of the show. Do you remember Veena? If you're racking your brain right now saying "I should know this!" then this is the book for you.
This book contains information on every youma (monster) found in the first two series--including those from episodes that were cut from the English version. Each youma's powers, appearance, and personality is described. There are also stats for use with the RPG, which should be a great resource for Game Masters; no more creating overly powerful monsters and having to come up with creative ways on the fly to keep your players from getting slaughtered. Similarly, it's agonizing when the characters are waffle stomping all over your beasties that you took so long to plan out but made a bit too wimpy. The Complete Book of Youma gives you stats on all the monsters that were created by the same guys who balanced the game in the first place; if the players haven't gone too nuts with their Unique Attributes then these should be just right for their listed power level. This also gives you about 75 examples from which to derive your own evil creations.
All Guardians of Order products may be ordered from their webpage: http://www.guardiansorder.on.ca