Ruination Battle Cards – A Review

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Now I think it’s fairly common knowledge that I’m not a massive fan of collectible card games. There’s 3 reasons for this:

  1. The absence of dice
  2. The absence of models
  3. The utterly twattish way I’ve seen some people build their decks.

However, whilst at the Bournemouth comic expo I spotted a familiar face. It belonged to the incredibly tall and extremely friendly Samsun Lobe, the man behind the Dying Star trilogy of books that the failed Kickstarter of the same name was based on.

Whilst the team behind the game are hard at work redoing the models and buffing up the rules for another run at Kickstarter (next year I believe) Samsun has been busy developing and putting out a collectible card game based on his second trilogy of books called Ruin.

Now before I get accused of betraying my principles and such this collectible card game uses, wait for it…dice. But more on that later.

The Ruination Battle Cards starter set that I was able to get my mits on comes with two decks, some spells, a game mat/board/sheet/thing and the aforementioned dice. It’s all nicely presented with foam inlay to keep everything nice although the cut out for the foam is a little snug which makes getting the cards in and out a slightly stressy experience. I was worried about ruining them.

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Part of the reason for that is that the cards don’t have rounded edges which makes them prone to foxing and excessive wear. And whilst production value is high the card feels s little thinner than other games – of any type – so a little more care will be needed in terms of keeping them nice.

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Although it’s care you won’t mind taking because all the cards are beautiful. There’s a lovely blend of conventional artwork and renders but all of it looks fantastic. Granted, there’s no associated fluff with the starter set so until you read the books or go to the website the various characters and spells aren’t going to mean…anything at all. Which is actually a bit of a shame. A leaflet on the world of Ruin would be a welcome addition to the starter set, just to wet your whistle.

To put it in context it’s like having Space Marine models without knowing anything about Space Marines. Yes they’re cool looking models but so what? Although at least with a deck of gaming cards you can at least muddle through a game.

And on to the game itself. As mentioned you get too decks and boosters are available so you have the option of building your deck as you see fit (grumble grumble grumble) however – and this what stops the game from being a duel of dickishness is the a combination of the cards and the dice.

The cards, like the time-honoured game of Top Trumps, has multiple values. Six in point of fact. So (and I think you can see where I’m going with this) in a game of Ruination a dice is rolled per round and that value determines the stat you compare. The weaker card is defeated and the winner stays on and the dice is rolled again. Spells can be used to augment the result but as you only get eight they have to be used sparingly.

The multiple profiles and the dice role means that building a deck is an agonising process as you need a firm strategy weighted by the law of averages both in terms of what cards you take but the order in which you stack your deck. Some cards are the proverbial Top Trump and nigh on unbeatable whereas others are much more of a risk. Which I like. The dice adds in that level of unpredictability that prevents the kind of power gaming that’s always put me off this kind of game.

The incredibly easy mechanic means that you’ll be playing within minutes and each game will be fast paced and actually a lot of fun. And for those gamers who don’t always have much time or want to smite a colleague over a lunch hour, this is ideal.

Ruination Battle Cards is actually a lot of fun. Am I a collectible card game convert? No. Will I play this? Yes. It still needs that last little spit and polish – mainly in the form of some kind of background sheet – to make it perfect but broadly it’s there.

You can purchase Ruination Battle Cards from Samsun Lobe’s website priced at £20.00.

Dying Star Oblivion – An Interview

Unless you’ve been ignoring these last couple of weeks – which is entirely likely – you’ll know I’ve been banging on about a game on Kickstarter called Dying Star: Oblivion based on the fantasy trilogy by the awesome Samsun Lobe.

67aaab7ae5942e67c6be3bd4f94384c9_largeFollowing on from my post about the kickstarter and the Dying Star giveaway I’ve had a chat with the chaps at Superfluid Industries about their game their hopes and their dreams and what they look for in a man. Okay not the last one…

TSC: Guys, thanks so much for agreeing to the interview. I appreciate you’re a tad busy at the moment. So, Dying Star Oblivion has been on kickstarter for a few days now. What prompted you guys to create a game in the first place?

SI – Moley: To be honest I’ve always made games. I think my first one was when I was about 8 and then the first I finished was when I was around 13 or 14. But with this game I think that my skills, with the help of John to balance things out, have reached the point that the game can stand on its own merits. I create games simply because I love them, they’re the perfect way to socialize for me and they’ve always been a major part of my life.

SI – John: I have personally been working on home-brews and small games projects for a large portion of my life in the hobby. With varying degrees of success, and so it isn’t so much about being prompted to make a game, as it is finding the right someone to make a game with. In this case, Moley and I have created a game that we think is fit for sale, and have the opportunity to do so.

TSC: Ahh, so a match made in heaven. Eye meeting across a busy gaming table and all that. For those that haven’t heard of Dying Star Oblivion tell us a bit about the universe.

SI – Moley: I’ll let John field this question as he’s better at describing the universe to people than I am.

SI – John: The Dying Star setting is a kind of dark but not hopeless future, where great feats of technology were once possible, but the knowledge to recreate them is mostly lost. The setting has two planets; the first is the slowly-freezing planet of Gebshu, much like our own Earth and its terraformed desert moon Son-Gebshu. Aquatic humanoids the Kekken share the oceans with the ocean tribesmen of the Enki and the Eberus, while The Merthurian Horde and their Shektar Cavalry prowl the freezing waste. Above the waves, hidden in their fortress city, the Magta hide from the world while the mysterious Precusors sleep beneath the Ice, all the while the three factions of the Imperial Dumonii squabble over succession and the resources of both worlds.

Most of the setting is viewed through the eyes of the protagonist Var, as he goes on an adventure unlike many that I myself have read before, and the motivations of each of the races and factions are well-defined. It feels more fantasy adventure than sci-fi or space opera, and the pieces of technology still working from interesting anachronisms rather than magical McGuffins.

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Guardian

TSC: Christ. There’s a lot to it then, but that can only be a good thing long term. Tell us about the kind of game Dying Star Oblivion will be?

SI – Moley: Once again over to John.

SI – John: Dying Star Oblivion is a miniature skirmish game that is designed around small forces clashing over key objectives. Model counts are low but, depending on faction, can be from three to nineteen figures per side. We also have everything you need to field a unit together in the box, including all relevant cards and options sat on the sprues, ready for play. Finally, we are looking at a number of high-quality plastic resins for our miniatures, so that the models you buy are something that I would be happy to put on the table myself.

TSC: Sounds ace. So it has the flexibility to be a game that could be played over a lunch hour or an evening. And I love the fact all the options will be on the sprues. What kind of game play features sets Dying Star Oblivion apart from other similar games?

SI – Moley: And John again….

SI – John: Setting it apart from other similar games, Dying Star Oblivion is designed to be played on a small area, with relatively little clutter on the table. All rolls use 2 D10’s per player and games resolve quickly due to the aggressive and decisive nature of the rules and the source material. It also has a set of army creation rules that promote the use of themed forces, instead of purely focusing on the most competitive of all possible choices.

TSC: So a game for the narrative gamer, but still something punchy enough for the hardcore gamer. So, how did the project come about and did Samsun Lobe take much convincing?

SI – John: I’ll let Moley Field this one, as I became involved in the project a little after its original conception.

SI – Moley: One of my many jobs has been running a small laser cutter making things from wood and plastic for various people. Samsun wanted some wooden pendants making for the release of his new series Ruin and so asked me, after receiving the pendants, if I knew anyone who could make games, I replied ‘Yes. Me.’ and the project went from there. The rules took around 8 months to reach the point of being playable in a way I was happy with and then from there John and I have been slowly altering them to make the final game.

TSC: So it was it just a case of right place right time rather than being specifically being drawn to Dying Star?

SI – Moley: That’s pretty much it. Samsun asked us to make the game based on Dying Star.

SI – John: I actually got to read the source material a little bit before I was brought on to the project, as Moley originally wanted a second opinion on the way some things within the series could be transferred into a miniatures game. The Series itself was a fun read, and memorable enough for me to be able to talk about the bits I like or don’t like at length.

TSC: Tell us a bit about yourselves; what’s your background in wargaming and what kind of games float your boat.

SI – Moley: I was made to be my older brother’s opponent at 40k when I was about 4 years old, back in the Rogue Trader days, and I never really stopped. I’ve played just about everything that I’ve managed to get my grubby little hands on from GW to Rackham and back again. For me at the moment the ability to transport things trumps most considerations between games of the same type so I prefer card games and skirmish games simply because I don’t have a car and don’t want to carry a dedicated miniatures case with me in addition to my normal bag.

The biggest thing I enjoy with games is interesting interactions, as I’ve always designed and wanted to design games I tend to pull things apart mechanically and see how they tick before looking at the wider game overall. I’m sure I could bore the arse off of most people discussing Rule Depth vs Breadth and Complexity as a requirement for emergent play but I’ll keep that under my hat for now.

SI – John: I’ve gamed since I was about 14 after encountering a games store in Weston-Super-Mare and picking up some miniatures and a copy of Hero Quest soon after. Since then I’ve played a bit of everything, I ran demos of Hordes for PP at salute one year and was part of a massive game of Warmaster at Gamesday as well. Nowadays, I play Warhammer and 40k and Battletech and Dystopian Wars when I can find the time. It’s not all toy soldiers for me though, CCGs and LCGS are fun, and a board game or RPG is often preferable, especially if you’re somewhere new. I like games with a lot of tactical depth to them, but often spend way too long agonising between different choices in an army.

TSC: Dying Star Oblivion has some pretty diverse looking factions. Can you tell us more about them?

SI – Moley: And back to John.

SI – John: The factions in Dying Star Oblivion are based on the cultures and races that the main protagonist of the series encounters. And the brief manner he does so has given us a lot of room to explore which is really exciting.

There are two amphibious factions, and the Kekken get some really interesting units dredged up from the bottom of the sea.

The Merthurians and the Magta are going to have some quite striking figures on the tabletop, with bear cavalry on one hand and a faction of 54mm scale giants on the other.

The Dumonii, Murai and Virtues all look at human factions from different angles, with varying degrees of training, equipment and specializations in order to make them all a unique playing experience.

Finally, the Precusors are a mysterious force of disturbed automata, with some cool mechanics and a visual twist to remove them from the traditional ‘cogs, gears and junk’ kind of robots.

dominator sculpt with card vesion 1Dominator Render

TSC: An army of 54mm Giants. Umm…sold! If the kickstarter is successful what can we expect from Superfluid in the near future?

SI – Moley: We’ve got plans for making all sorts of traditional games so Boardgames, Card Games, Collectable Games, Miniature Games and RPGs. We’re primarily going to be focusing on games based on Samsun’s, and possibly other authors, works. Games with a gothic and quiet horror theme and games which parents can play with their children to introduce them to gaming in addition to creating “normal” games interests us. Like all gamers we have more ideas than we could ever produce but we’d like to use Superfluid as a way to showcase the best of our ideas to the gaming world.

SI _ John: We are ready to move some games design projects out and onto release as soon as we can to be honest, everything from miniature games like Dying Star Oblivion, to stand alone RPG’s and self-contained card and board games. We would also like to produce a Living Card Game at some point in the future, but that for the moment is a little way off. As a father, I’m also looking forward to working on some games for younger gamers, as I’d like my daughter to share in my hobby without it being too much at once or too complex for her.

TSC: So plenty to be keeping you awake at night then? What’s the one model you’re looking forward to producing the most?

SI – Moley: It sounds corny but the first one. As soon as that figure is made, cast and in my hand I’ll know that the game is real and that means more to me than anything else.

SI – John: To be honest, I’m really looking forward to them all being produced, and ready for shipping! Before then, I really want to see how the Magta and Virtues turn out, especially the Void Concubine and Guard.

TSC: I admit, I can’t think of a model I’ve seen so far that I’m not looking forward to seeing. Guys it’s been a huge pleasure learning more about the Dying Star Universe and all that Oblivion has to offer. Good luck with the kickstarter, thanks for the exclusive artworks and I hope to catch up with you again soon.

If you’re interested in pledging on the Dying Star Oblivion kickstarter page click here.

Dying Star Oblivion Giveaway

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about the Dying Star Oblivion Kickstarter from Superfluid Industries. Not being one to leave you lot alone with an idea I’ve been a busy bee in an effort to make this game the success it deserves to be.

As such, I’m very excited to announce that, in association with Superfluid Industries and Samsun Lobe I have nothing less than the Dying Star trilogy of novels to give away signed by the man himself.

Trilogy

And just to sweeten the deal, Samsun, being the thoroughly nice chap that he is, has offered to personalise the signing to which ever lucky bastard wins.

All you need to do to get your hands on this fantastic set of books is answer the following question.

What is the signature solo force for the Merthurian Horde?

The answer can be found on the Dying Star Oblivion Kickstarter page. And heck, if you fancy pledging to get your hands on some pretty sexy toys, then why not?

To enter complete the form below, including your name, email address, Twitter feed if you want, and the answer.

A winner will be announced on Friday the 14th June 2013 so get over to the site and get entering.

Ts & Cs:

All entries must be received by midnight UK time Friday 14th June 2013 after which a single winner will be chosen.

1 entry per person.

1 winner will be chosen and notified by email.

No discussion will be entered into, my decision is final.

The prize may not be exchanged for its cash value or an alternative.

Dying Star Oblivion on Kickstarter

Another a week and another wargaming kickstarter I hear you say. Well yes, but we at The Shell Case don’t showcase any old tat; we have a far more sophisticated palate and so only waggle our searchlight on the shiniest and face mangiest of games.

This time it’s the turn of Dying Star Oblivion from Superfluid Industries based on the fantasy novels by Samsun Lobe.

For the uninitiated here’s the blurb from the first novel:

As the life-giving star, Shu, slowly makes its transition from a white to a black dwarf it changes the ocean planet of Gebshu and its moon beyond all recognition.

We follow Var of the Enki ocean tribe as he is thrust into a world he is struggling to understand. As Var battles against the elements, the unstable Emperor sends his two sons on a treacherous mission. We follow the characters as they encounter strange creatures, ancient races and each other. 

The bloody and violent action unfolds as the prophecy becomes entwined with Var’s destiny. Through his actions he will unknowingly decide the fate of the fading system.

Needless to say much crunching of heads and manging of faces ensues. And best of all you get to do it on a table top now. Huzzah I hear you shout.

Dying Star Oblivion looks so rather sexy. And, more importantly, it seems to be something a bit different. There’s not shortage of skirmish games out at the moment, each offering something unique but at the end of the day how much originality can there be when probability and dice are involved? Sometimes you just have to look at the premise and the toys and say ‘that makes me hot and hard’. DS: O is 28mm Techno Fantasy game and with its hugely differing tech levels and cultures it’s promising some very diverse factions with units and styles of play to match.

The Enki Anchorman

Granted it has the compulsory dwarf like blokes and something that looks a bit like a Chaos warrior, but as it has the bloke above and the critter below, so I’ll forgive it.

Kekken Murmur

Personally I’m really excited about this game. I like that it’s based on a trilogy of books and that the author is supporting it whole heartedly. It’ll only mean a continual enriching of the canon and new and exciting models, scenarios and campaigns which means it won’t stagnate. I like the premise of a far distant future in which technology has been lost, abandoned or forgotten so what little tech remains is jealously guarded or barely understood. I also like the fact that you can, if you so choose, play a small game on a 2×2 foot board or go all out on a 6×4 foot board.

I really think this project has legs so get your muscular butts over to the Dying Star Oblivion Kickstarter page and give them all your money.