Whether your battling an evil cult on a train or wrestling a ring from a dragon, one thing’s for certain; You’re going to be amazing.
If you ask people about what they like most about tabletop role playing games, most people will mention the story they get to craft. Whether it’s an epic battle against the physical manifestation of time or that one time your orc barbarian tried to save face after being tripped by proclaiming “Ha! Joke’s on you! I love eating dirt!”. Then ate the dirt to prove a point (Both things I’ve done, in case that weren’t clear). Tabletop RPGs give us a platform by which we can create amazing stories. That’s the idea being captured in The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance Game.
The Adventure Zone, broadly speaking, is a comedy-first tabletop RPG podcast. In the years since the podcast has started, they’ve delved into a number of different gaming systems, but their first foray was into 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons with what eventually be came to be known as their Balance arc. If you haven’t had a chance and have a lot of free listening time, I can not recommend it enough. What starts as goofy dudes mucking about turns into a deep emotional roller coaster unlike any I’ve experienced that made me laugh, cry and scream all in a few short fantastic minutes.
So they made a game.
TAZ:BOBG is a cooperative light role playing game with a heavy focus on the story. Players take the role of Reclaimers, a group of adventures who seek out powerful artifacts. During setup, each player picks their character class and, rather than rolling stats, they answer questions.
The goal here isn’t to put numbers on a sheet and call it a character. TAZ:BOBG wants to push the players to figure out who they are, why they are on this mission and why they are best suited for it. That way the players can more easily fall into the roles within the narrative.
Also during setup, players will choose among the Challenge decks to create their adventure: By choosing 1 Relic, 1 Location, and 1 Villain from those available.
On each player’s turn, they choose which of the 3 available challenges they want to take on and determine their strength for that challenge. Each class excels at a specific type of challenge, which are all spelled out through the various icons used on the cards. If the player needs a little extra help, they can ask for help from a friend. Each player has a token which they can use once per round. This token can be used to help out an ally, but can also be used for several other game effects, so players need to weigh their options for when to use their token.
Along the way, players will also encounter Surprise Cards, which represent known and mostly loved characters from the TAZ: Balance universe. Surprise cards usually offer a bonus to a certain type of challenge and most can be discarded to provide a bigger, one-time bonus. Again, the game encourages the players to explain the how and how they are helping or even how they arrived on the scene. Each gameplay component attempts to steer the players into building their narrative.
As players complete challenges, they will collect those cards to spend them at the Fantasy Kosco! Unlike Surprise cards, which aid all players, loot cards are held by one player at a time.
No Slicer of T’pire Weir Isles required. Also, apparently that name is a pun.
Failing a challenge will cause the party’s health to decrease. If it reaches 0, they lose. However, if the party is able to complete the entirety of the relic deck and either the location deck or the villain deck, they win!
If you’re looking for a game deep into the number crunching and min-maxing your stats, this game will probably not scratch that itch for you. But if you’re excited about the story behind the die rolls, this is right up your alley. I played through this several times on my own and still had an absolute blast crafting the story with the game nudging plot points along the way.
The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance Game – $39.95 – Available Now
The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance is a cooperative storytelling card game that lets you and your friends build your own stories in the world of The Adventure Zone. It’s accessible and easy to learn, even with zero previous experience with fantasy roleplaying games or The Adventure Zone. No need for a DM:all you need is an hour or so, a few friends, and a little creativity.
- 2-5 players
- 60-90 minutes
- Ages 13+
There’s magic in a bard’s song.
Thanks for reading!