Doctor Who: The Card Game, Card Game Review

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Doctor Who holds the Guinness record for the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, airing from 1963 till today. For those unfamiliar with the show (really inexcusable I might say!!) Doctor Who (or The Doctor) is a humanoid alien, a Time Lord, whose planet has been destroyed and is travelling through space and time with a time machine called TARDIS, exploring the universe and helping the helpless. TARDIS looks like a blue British police box, a common sight in Britain during the 60s when the show first appeared. Through the years, it has become a trademark of the show. Doctor Who has faced many enemies through the course of the show, the oldest and most significant ones being the Daleks, an alien race whose sole purpose is to destroy all beings inferior to them. Martin Wallace, a well-known independent board game designer from U.K., undertook the challenging task of recreating the atmosphere of the show in a rather simple card game. Let’s see how the game measures up to its theme and how appealing it is in general as a card game.

Game Overview

Although I am a huge sci-fi fan, I’ve seen very little of the renowned show. However as I sat down to play this game I had in my mind the general concept of “The Doctor”, his time-travelling machine and the atmosphere that the game should have. In my point of view, the fact that I’m not a hardcore fan of the game neither totally ignorant of the theme, makes me more suitable to write an objective review of the game. Let’s go through the basics of the game for starters:

In Doctor Who: The Card Game, players take the role of Doctor Who and his companions, trying to defend locations from various enemies but they also take the role of the “bad” guys, by sending enemies to attack other players’ locations. During each of their turns, players will have the opportunity to perform a number of actions, which involve playing cards. There are four different types of cards in the game:

  • Locations. Players will have to fight for the control of their own locations as well as their opponents’. Each location is worth a number of victory points at the end of the game.
  • Defenders. Defenders will be used to defend a player’s locations. There are actually 4 defenders, all based on the Doctor Who TV-series, each one with their own defense strength: The Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory and River Song
  • Enemies. Players send enemies to their opponents locations, trying to gain control of them. The enemies are well known races and monsters from the Doctor Who universe like The Daleks, Cybemen, the Sontarans and Davros. Each enemy has a different attack value.
  • Support cards. These are allies, special gadgets or events that will help a player or hinder his opponents.

At the beginning of the game, each player must pick a color and get 10 counters of the appropriate colour (5 DALEKS and 5 TARDIS). Daleks are used to indicate that we have placed an attacking enemy at an opponents’ location, whereas TARDIS are used to show that we have successfully defended a location of our own. Each player also gains a starting location which is chosen randomly. The player having the highest value starting location becomes the first player. All cards are shuffled in a face-down pile and 5 cards are dealt to each player except the player sitting to the right of the first player, who receives only two cards. There are also thirty time tokens in the game, which are set by the side of the draw deck.

Each player, during his turn, may play as many actions he wants, limited only by the fact that at the end of his turn he must give to the player on his right 3 cards. Extra cards may be bought during a player’s turn using time counters, that can be gained with a number of ways. Available actions a player may do during his turn are:

  • play a location card in front of him. He receives a number of time counters as indicated on the card
  • play one or more defenders on a location owned by him. The defender cards are played face-down on a location, leaving part of it uncovered so as the value of the location is not hidden. You cannot play two or more of the same Defender card on a given location
  • play an enemy card on an opponents’ location. In contrast to defenders, in general, only one enemy may be placed on each opponents’ location (exceptions do exist). The enemy card is placed face down near the location under attack and the attacking player puts a DALEK counter on the location under attack
  • play a support card
  • discard one or two cards to gain a time counter for each card discarded
  • buy cards by paying five time counters for each one
  • put one or more cards in the reserve. Players may put up to 2 cards in the reserve (face down in front of them) in order to use them in a later round. The size of the reserve may increase using certain support cards

There is no cost for playing any of the cards a player owns and players can perform any number of the above actions. A certain action can be performed more than once. At any case, the active player must end up with 3 cards which he must give to the player on their right. At the end of a player’s turn, he draws 2 cards from the supply and puts them in his hand. After the first player, play continues clockwise as usual.

The most interesting point in the game is combat, which occurs whenever a defender and an enemy card have been played at a given location. All defender and enemy cards are then revealed and their strength is compared. If the defender’s total strength is equal to or greater than the attacker’s, the defender wins. All attackers and defenders are discarded and the defending player puts a TARDIS counter on the location card to indicate that it is under the Doctor’s control. If the enemy wins, all defenders are discarded and the attacker must discard one or more enemy cards with total strength less or equal to the total strength of the defender.

The game ends when a player has all of his DALEK or TARDIS counters in play or when the Game End card is revealed (it is initially put on top of the 20 last cards of the draw deck). In the first case, the game ends immediately, while in the second one an “End Game” period starts, during which players continue to take turns but are obliged to take a single action and they don’t draw cards at the end of their turn. They don’t pass cards to the player on their right either of course. This period ends when a player cannot perform an action. Then all players count the victory points on their locations that are not under attack plus the enemy locations they have their DALEK counters on. The player with the most victory points is the winner.

Components

The game’s components are cards and tokens. The tokens are standard cardboard ones with nothing special to be comment on. The cards however deserve a special mention as they are all beautifully illustrated with much attention to detail. The colors used in the illustrations carry the feel of the game and all pictures are of high detail. All cards enhance the theme of the   game  and the artwork is so awesome that truly captures the eye and sets a  unique  atmosphere, especially the location and monster cards. Design of the components leaves really nothing more to be desired. 9/10

Gameplay

Usually one has not many expectations regarding gameplay when it comes to such “small” games. And when I say “small” I mean having few components and a short duration, usually called “filler” games. It is truly a big accomplishment when a game designer manages to produce a game of enough complexity and depth that can appeal to hardcore gamers out of so little material, while also keeping the mechanics simple enough for more casual gamers. From this aspect I find Doctor Who: The Card Game a rare gem that deserves a place in everyone’s game library, no matter if he is a Doctor Who fan or not or if he is a casual or hardcore gamer. The game starts aggressively right from the start, when everyone’s put down his starting location. The concept of playing cards for free, that means without having to pay a cost as it is usually done in most drafting games, gives a refreshing tone to the gameplay and allows players to develop their strategy with more freedom.

Choices are hard in every round as during each turn players have 5 cards in hand but must hand out to the player on their right, 3 of them. That is the core of the gameplay and the mechanic that gives the game a strategic aspect and depth that you will all appreciate. Which cards should you play and which should you pass? The idea of having a reserve is also interesting and adds to the depth, giving you the opportunity to set your game up the way you want in future turns. Another aspect of the game that I liked is the way conflicts are resolved. Enemies and defenders are placed blindly and are revealed only when both are present on a given location. Very clever idea that maintains a feel of suspense, as you never really know if you have won a location until the conflict is resolved. It feels that Martin Wallace has hit the nail on the head with this one, reminding us how talented he truly is! 9/10

Learning Curve

Despite the many interesting mechanics of the game, rules are kept simple as they should be for a game of this category. The 12-page rulebook can be read within about 10 minutes (in reality the rules are only 9 pages and there a lot of pictures too). At first the mechanics of the game may seem a bit strange but after playing your first game, you will have it all figured out. 7/10

Theme

The game’s theme is supported in every way in the game. From the intuitive TARDIS and DALEK counters to the characters used as Defenders and Enemies and the support cards. The locations all reflect the theme of the game, some set on earth and others on alien planets. Characters from the most recent episodes of the famous TV show are used as the defenders, while the biggest enemies of the doctor have been chosen to serve as the enemies in the game. Support cards feature objects used by the Doctor throughout the years along with special characters and events that boost the thematic character of the game. During my first play, I constantly felt being a part of the Doctor Who universe, I was completely drawn to it. The only thing that felt a bit strange is the fact that you are playing with the “good” guys in general but when you send enemies to opponents’ locations, you take the role of the “bad” guys. That feels a bit strange, disorients you and takes back some of the immersion. I think it would be better if roles were more distinct but that would probably lead to a whole new game. The fact remains that after playing for the first time, it really made me want to catch up with the TV show, maybe try to find some of the older episodes too. 9/10

Replayability

Doctor Who: The Card Game has enough depth and strategy that will ensure that you will have the desire to play it at any given time. It could surely act not only as a filler game but as the main game at the table, with consecutive plays. It’s that addictive! 8/10

Fun:

I really had a lot of fun, playing Doctor Who. There is enough player interaction through attacking your opponents locations and defending your own from attacks and there is a lot of suspense too as you wonder what enemies / defenders your opponents have placed on locations. Every aspect of the game seems to contribute to the fun factor, from the intuitive drafting mechanic to the illustrations on the cards and the feel of the theme. Time will pass fast, with this game, as you constantly have hard choices to make, endless unknown enemies to fight and control of the various locations will change many times during the game. Pure fun if you ask me! 8/10

Pros:

  • A Doctor Who game
  • Excellent support of the theme
  • Simple rules
  • Awesome artwork
  • Gameplay with depth and strategy

Cons:

  • It feels strange to play both as the Doctor and his enemies

Recommended for: Everyone including hardcore “Doctor Who” fans (Whovians)!

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How Long Does it Take to Paint a Wood Window?

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Well it’s all going to depend on the size and the design of the wood window, but you can plan on spending quite a bit of time, painting these intricate architectural items.

Let me give you an idea, I had to paint 7 wood windows, one time and these didn’t have any architectural details to them, they were simply plain old wood windows. The type of windows that were installed through out the 1950s and would need to be replaced or repaired, in the near future.

You’re going to find this hard to believe, but I used to paint the outside of the house, a small house, for $300, and a homeowner would supply me with the paint. I had to buy the rest of the materials, but I could paint the exterior of these small homes, in about a day and a half.

Except for the wood windows, this was a totally different story and I wouldn’t paint the wood windows each time I painted the house. I would often touch the windows up, but the amount of time that it would usually take me to paint these windows, was unbelievable.

Keep something in mind here, I could paint the entire house in about 12 hours, but it would take me about the same amount of time, just to paint the exterior of these windows and more than half of them wouldn’t open, because they were previously painted shut.

If the wood window has any sort of architectural detail, or any grids or divided lites, you could plan on spending quite a bit of time, painting each window. If you’ve never painted a wood window before, plan on spending at the least four to six hours, for window smaller than 3′ x 3′ and plan on spending at least eight to 12 hours, or more, for larger wood windows.

If you’re a contractor, who’s going to be bidding a job, you might want to contact a professional painter or at least get someone else’s opinion, before signing the contract.

If you’re a homeowner, and you hire a professional painter and they gives you a ridiculous bit, now you know why.

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Dish Network Vs Direct TV

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When it comes to satellite television programming, your choice usually comes down to Dish Network vs Direct TV. By comparing these two satellite television providers, you can find the one that works best for you and your television viewing, so that you make the most of the money that you spend. Where do you begin your comparison of Dish Network vs Direct TV?

You will first want to compare the number of channels and the type of channels that are offered from each satellite provider.

Here is the basic rundown of the offerings of each service. For around $40 per month, Dish Network offers a satellite package of 100 top channels with the local channels. For the same amount, Direct TV offers a package of 140 top channels and includes 50 XM Satellite radio channels as well. This price for the Direct TV includes local channels as well.

By comparing the offerings for each price that fits your budget, you can find the right satellite provider for you and your needs.

Another comparison that you will want to make is the price of the components that are needed to get the satellite programming.

For the most part, these components are offered free if you sign up for service for a particular length of time, but sometimes there is a rental fee that is associated with components, which can cause your monthly fee to be more than the programming cost.

Be sure that you read the fine print of your contract to be sure that you completely understand the terms, so that there will not be any surprises.

Customer service is much the same for both companies. They each offer a 24 hour a day, seven days a week customer service line, which will allow you to get in touch with them any time that you need it.

Dish Network is ranked #1 in customer service for cable and satellite providers, but Direct TV is right behind them at #2. This shows you how much they value their customers and work to keep them happy versus cable providers.

One thing that Direct TV offers you that Dish Network doesn’t is some really cool sports viewing ability. This does cost extra, but the bird’s eye view and extra features that you get from these packages may be well worth the additional cost.

The sports that offer you these amazing views are NASCAR, NBA basketball, major league baseball, NFL football, hockey, and more. If you are a sports fanatic, then you will want to consider Direct TV for this programming.

When comparing Dish Network vs Direct TV, you will want to include those parts of television viewing or features that are important to you. If price is your main consideration, then use this as the main comparison. If sports are your thing, then use sports as your main comparison.

By customizing your comparisons to your viewing and needs, you will find the right satellite programming option for you and your needs.

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