Thursday, December 28, 2006

Order of the Stick

Last night, I played the Order of the Stick Adventure Game. The game is based on the Order of the Stick webcomic, one of the few webcomics I read regularly.

The game's production values are high, which was nice to see. It comes with a set of Quick-Start rules in comic form. The Quick-Start comic rules are several pages in length. It also comes with double-sided cheat-sheets with combat rules for each player, filled with densely packed text. These two things, taken together, should have been warning signs.

The game wanted to be Munchkin. It played, however, more like Talisman.

To play the game, you (randomly) choose a character from the comic. The available characters are the member of the Order of the Stick. Each character has a deck full of schticks - these range from standard things (Roy's gets the Greenhilt Sword, Haley gets a Longbow and Sneak Attack, Elan gets a Rapier and Chain Shirt) to amusing things like Belkar's "Probably Evil" and Elan's "Poorly Planned Illusion." You start off with a few schticks and gain more as the game progresses (by trading in loot and slain monsters).

The dungeon is created as you explore it. You go room to room, slaying monsters. There are dungeon room cards and monster cards (in two different decks). The monsters aren't random: they are played against you by other players. Monsters drop loot (another card type). The rules were a bit complicated for a game that centers around stick figures.

Every schtick card and monster card has a small comic on it. Some of them are quite amusing. A lot of the loot is funny as well.

Unfortunately, gameplay was prohibitively long. We opted to go for the game version that was supposed to last 2-3 hours (you can add or subtract dungeon levels to regulate game time), but after five hours we hadn't even made it to the lowest level of the dungeon. The game encouraged a mix of player cooperation and competitiveness, but in our game the competitiveness seemed to win out and we spent some time sniping at each other. I could see the game going more quickly with more cooperation, but the competitiveness was clearly encouraged.

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