Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Barbarian

And I set a new record with timely game collection updates. Well, considering that today I'm writing about the other half of the two-game set I mentioned yesterday, it's not quite the same thing as writing about two completely different games. I choose not to focus on that, however. I choose to focus on the fact that The Barbarian is one of the lamest games I have ever played. Let me recount my pain.

The backstory for this game is that some barbarian prince dude is wandering the wastelands looking for the old magic sword and shield of his grandfather. If he finds them, he can conquer evil and reclaim his father's kingdom. Of course, there are monsters in the wastelands, and monsters exist to kill good guys, so they attack on sight. The game board consists of a road running through the middle of the board, and three different wilderness areas on each side. Each area contains from one to five monsters (the fewer monsters each area has, the tougher they are individually), as well as a possible location for the sword or shield you are looking for. Gameplay consists of moving the barbarian around the map to try to find the sword or shield. Each time you enter a wilderness area, all monsters in that specific wilderness move to attack you. You fight them and move onto the space that may contains the sword or shield. You either find nothing, find an item, or get cursed, which slows your movement to half normal.

Combat is very basic. The barbarian hero and all the monsters have a toughness rating. To make an attack, roll 2d6 and match or exceed the target, to give the target one wound. Basic monsters are killed by 1 hit, while tougher monsters take more hits to kill. The barbarian hero takes 20 hits to kill. This seems way high, but you will need it. This leads to the first thing I didn't like about this game: it is all random. You roll dice to fight, but there is a distinct lack of strategy or tactics about it. You just roll dice until one side is dead, and then move on to the next wilderness area, where you repeat the same process. The way the game tells you to position the monsters on the map, you are close to guaranteed to need to fight all of them. The only choice you have as the player is in what order to tackle them. That's pretty lame. The second thing I don't like is that the rules appear incomplete. For example, in the combat section of the rules it mentions that adjacent monsters can gang up to fight the barbarian, but then it never mentions what effect this has on the game. So they can gang up, but it doesn't mean anything. That's pretty stupid. Just like this game. I can't imagine ever playing this game again.

I should note that the rules provide for two ways to play the game: solitaire, and as a two-player game. The two-player game has one player being the barbarian, and the other player running the monsters. With the distinct lack of tactical complexity here, the end result of that would be two bored players, rather than just one.

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