Friday, May 16, 2008

Dark Age Review by Brett Boyko

This week I present a product review by LITW friend Brett Boyko.  He is a talented craftsman and burgeoning game designer whom I have known for several years.  He keeps tempting me with samples of newer game systems and has nearly won me over on many an occasion - with this review of Dark Age that balance may slip well and truly in his favour... Enjoy.


Why would you enter the Dark Age?

I can’t answer that.  But I can tell you why I did.

When James asked me to write about Dark Age Games, I couldn’t say no.  If you’re a gamer who likes dark fantasy blended with twisted science fiction and skirmish battles, then you’re in the right place.

I stumbled on Dark Age when I was online hunting for something “different.”  The miniatures were beautiful; the world crafted around BROM and the dual faction Force Books seemed to fit the bill. So I took a risk, placed an order and never looked back.

I admit the game flows very differently in Dark Age.  Players take turns moving units instead of their entire forces.  If you win an initiative, you can be sadistic and even choose your opponent’s unit to go first. The fact that this is a D20 system means that I have to be twice as cagey and four times as ruthless if I don’t want to be devoured alive.  

Force organization is easy to grasp: there isn’t any.  With no mandatory troops (not counting Dragyri) or leader requirements, I find a lot more flexibility in designing my war host.  It’s the same kind of feeling you get in an armory when holding a credit card with no limit.      

Aside from all of this, the real acid test of any good game are the minis.  When I took up Dark Age, there were only a handful of miniatures for most factions.  Some of these were hit and others miss.  Since then, the number and quality of the miniatures has risen dramatically.  I don’t impress easily.  In this case, I am impressed.  If you take a look at original Skarrd Warhead compared to the original release, the quality speaks for itself.

 Despite the laurels I’m throwing at Dark Age, there are some faults as well.  To begin with, there are no Canadian distributors and getting the product requires ordering from an online store.  This isn’t a bad thing, but given that Canadian Customs is so tight it means you could be waiting two to seven weeks for your order.  Players in countries outside of the US have had similar concerns.  This cuts down on exposure, which means that some days finding a Dark Age player is a daunting task.  Also, Dark Ages’ high standards can be a double-edged sword.  This is a small company, and unlike others, if their high standards aren’t met they will push back a release date several months until it is.  It really comes down to: “Am I’m willing to wait for that cool mini in October that was to be released in August?”

If I had to score Dark Age Games: 

 Game Design  8/10         Miniatures    10/10        Customer Support  7/10         Retail/Distribution  6.5/10                          


Well there we have it - a great review and an intriguing game - If you want to add a review of your own here just contact me directly at Thanks to Brett for his contribution and I will see you all here again next week for another installment of LostInTheWarp!!!!

No comments: