Dark City Games Oracle’s Breath Now Available for iPhone

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 | Posted by John ONeill

o-breathWe’re big fans of Dark City Games’ terrific line of solitaire fantasy games. We’ve wasted many hours with these little wonders on the Black Gate rooftop headquarters, when we should have been plotting the overthrow of the entire publishing world.

Instead, we searched for the buried archives of long-dead sorcerers on The Island of Lost Spells, stood alongside Roman Legionnaires at the border between Gaul and Germania in Wolves on the Rhine, and plumbed the depths of an ancient ruin for a powerful relic in The Oracle’s Breath. There are publishing barons in Manhattan who owe their Perrier to Dark City Games, and that’s a fact.

Subscribers may even remember that we published a complete solo adventure from Dark City Games in issue 12 of Black Gate: “Orcs of the High Mountains,” by Jerry Meyer, Jr. Don’t tell me we don’t share the love.

Now comes word that Questland Games has made one of Dark City’s best adventures available for the iPhone: Oracle’s Breath.

Yes, now you can journey to a rich world of fantasy while everyone else in the staff meeting thinks you’re checking stock prices.

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Solitaire Adventure with Victory Point Games

Monday, May 30th, 2011 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

astra1This February I sat down with a copy of the excellent solitaire game Astra Titanus and shared the review with Black Gate web site readers.

Astra Titanus wasn’t the only great looking game in the Victory Points Games stable, but it’s taken me a while to clear my schedule so that I could try out some more of their products.

Today I’m going to introduce you to two more, one which puts you in command of what is arguably the most famous submarine in history, Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, and the other which pits you against a horde of fantastic creatures assaulting your castle.

Be warned! You may not return alive!

Well, okay, YOU will, but you might lose the game.

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Twilight Sector & Astra Titanus

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

astraWith Black Gate 15 just around the corner I thought I’d start devoting some time to some products that arrived too late for us to cover, or that just didn’t fit into an issue nearly as large as issue 14.

I was particularly taken by two science fiction titles. The first is a campaign setting, and while it utilizes the Mongoose Traveller rules, it’s in a completely different universe from Traveller itself.

The other is a solo tactical board game. If, like me, you name “The Doomsday Machine” as one of your favorite classic Star Trek episodes, it’s a must have, but it’s pretty darned cool even if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

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Solitaire Gaming

Monday, January 10th, 2011 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones


Another great adventure from Dark City Games.

I blame the whole thing on John O’Neill.

A few years back I asked him about the solo Dark City Games adventures that Andrew Zimmerman Jones and Todd McCaulty had reviewed so favorably for Black Gate. John happens to have a larger game collection than most game stores, so I’d come to the right person.

Solo games were great fun, John told me. “Here’s an extra copy of an old game you’ve never heard of that’s really cool. Go play it.”

That was Barbarian Prince. And yeah, it was pretty nifty (you can try it out yourself with a free download here, along with its sister solitaire product, Star Smuggler).

I started playing and enjoying the products created by Dark City Games, which the rest of the staff and I have continued to review for the magazine.

barbarian-prince3But what are these solitaire games like?

The most obvious analogy is to say that solitaire games are a little like computer adventure games played with paper, with dice and cards taking the place of a computer game’s invisible randomization of results.

My first thought was something along the lines of “how quaint,” but it turns out that while the play experiences are similar, the flavors are slightly different, even if playing them stimulates similar centers of the brain.

It’s like switching off orange pop to try some root beer, or vice versa. You may not drink one or the other exclusively, but they both sure are sweet on a hot day.


"You mean your only plan is to stand behind a few feet of mealie bags and wait for the attack?"

While playing a solitaire game you may not see any computer graphics, but your imagination will paint some images for you.

And there’s the tactile pleasure of manipulating the counters and looking over the game board and flipping through the booklet and rolling the dice.

Solitaire in no way means that you will get the same game play each time, and to my surprise I’ve discovered that a well designed solo board game has better replay value than many computer games.

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Dark City Games Christmas Special

Thursday, December 16th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

raid-on-cygnosaWe’re big fans of Dark City Games at Black Gate. Todd McAulty first reviewed their solitaire fantasy adventure The Island of Lost Spells  in Black Gate 10, and Andrew Zimmerman Jones picked up the thread with a look at Wolves on the Rhine (BG 11), and Void Station 57 (BG 13). Howard Andrew Jones carries on the tradition in the upcoming BG 15 with a review of one of their latest titles, The Oracle’s Breath.

We even included a complete solo adventure from Dark City Games in Black Gate 12, Orcs of the High Mountains, and posted a short solitaire SF adventure by Dark City here on the BG website, S.O.S, a prelude to their At Empire’s End.

Dark City have re-captured the spirit of the best solitaire adventures from the dawn of role-playing, particularly the classic Metagaming titles like Death Test. Their games are easy to learn, quick to play, and a lot of fun.

To celebrate their success during the year, Dark City Games is offering a buy 4 get 1 free special on their website — a 20% discount.

Select any four games from their extensive catalog of Ancient World (fantasy), Time and Space (science fiction), or Untamed West (western) titles, and receive a fifth game of your choice free. The sale even includes their newest titles, such as Raid on Cygnosa and At Empire’s End.

And tell them Black Gate sent you!

Review: Night of the Necromancer

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | Posted by Jackson Kuhl

Bela Lugosi's dead.Night of the Necromancer
Jonathan Green
Wizard Books (384 pp, ₤5.99, CAN$12.00, April 2010)

One of the many things I admire about the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks is how little space is wasted establishing the scenario. In Night of the Necromancer, you are a crusader returning home after a three-year campaign against vampires and diabolists when an ambush at the foot of your own castle leaves you slain in a ditch. But the dead shall be raised! A paragraph later you are reborn as a ghost, launching you on a quest to avenge your own murder.

Over the course of a single night, you explore a wonderfully atmospheric English countryside haunted by things worse than you, a landscape that is half M.R. James and half Ravenloft (you may even encounter a ghost hunter named Van Richten). Rather than a linear course, progress is made from crossroads to crossroads, allowing you to explore areas branching from a central nexus, then return to that nexus to investigate other avenues. When you’re ready, you move on to the next node, and so on.

Night of the Necromancer is a new addition to Wizard Books’ reprints of Fighting Fantasy from the ’80s and ’90s, and nearly 30 years of evolution shows in Necromancer‘s sophistication.

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Ye’d Best Start Believin’ in Ghost Stories

Monday, June 14th, 2010 | Posted by Jackson Kuhl

We're naught but humble pirates.Bloodbones
Jonathan Green
Wizard Books (240 pp, ₤5.99, CAN$12.00, April 2010)

In 1982, Puffin Books unleashed The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first in the Fighting Fantasy line of gamebooks. The book was conceived and written by Steve Jackson (the British one) and Ian Livingstone, co-founders of Games Workshop. Although predated by solitaire RPG scenarios, Fighting Fantasy combined a choose-your-own-adventure decision-tree structure with a simple dice mechanic to mimic an RPG experience. The quick-start rules, brisk pacing, and art by New Wavey fantasists like Iain McCraig, Chris Achilleos, and Richard Corben, all bundled in a mass-market paperback retailing for $1.95, made Fighting Fantasy wildly successful. The series ran until 1995, along the way spawning ancillary media like novels, computer games, even a full-blown Fighting Fantasy RPG. Fan enthusiasm still burns bright today, with a downloadable fanzine and its own wiki.

Screw Narnia; had I ever discovered some magic wardrobe, I would have jumped with both feet into Titan. As it was, chores were done and allowances scraped together in anticipation of infrequent family expeditions to the mall bookstore. There I could pay to wade through the mire of the Scorpion Swamp, survive Baron Sukumvit’s Deathtrap Dungeon, rally freed slaves to overcome the sinister Gonchong on the Island of the Lizard King. Now I’ve been playing the books all over again, this time with my young sons, imparting to them the same vital life lessons I learned as a young boy: don’t trust strangers; never put your hand in someplace you can’t see; and if you kill someone, you might as well go ahead and take his wallet.

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Play a science-fiction mini-game from Dark City Games

Sunday, June 13th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill


To promote their new science-fiction role-playing game At Empire’s End, Dark City Games has created S.O.S, a short solitaire SF role-playing game. We’re pleased to reprint the game in its entirety here on the Black Gate blog.

You can either read the text as choose-your-own-adventure style paragraphs, or grab some dice and play according to the short rules. Experienced role players, or those familiar with The Fantasy Trip, should be able to jump right into the action.

Without further ado, we present S.O.S, a Legends of Time and Space science-fiction role-playing adventure by George Dew.

You come out of hyperspace around the barren, rocky, waste-planet of Lemm. It orbits a distant star, and lacks an atmosphere. As a result, the inhospitable grey surface boasts temperatures hundreds of degrees below zero.

Your sensors scan for traces of the distress signal, when suddenly, an alien contact flashes across your navigation screen. Do you want to hail it (001) or attack with initiative (002)?

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Special Subscription Offer – Dark City Games for only $2.95!

Sunday, August 17th, 2008 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

The Sewers of Redpoint
For a very limited time, we’re offering a selection of Dark City Games for just $2.95 to new subscribers of Black Gate magazine. That’s $10 off the regular price!

Dark City Games are complete fantasy role playing adventures, perfectly suited for solitaire play or an evening’s entertainment for up to four players. They’re easy to learn and fast to play, even if you’ve never tried a role playing game. Available titles include The Crown of Kings, Gates to the Underworld, The Island of Lost Spells, and many more.

If you’ve played Orcs of the High Mountains, the free game included with Black Gate 12, or seen the rave reviews of Dark City Games in our recent issues, you know that they are some of the most exciting things to emerge on the fantasy gaming scene in years. Now’s your chance to try one of the best new games in the industry — and to subscribe to Black Gate, your source for the finest in short fantasy — at an unbeatable price.

Receive one Dark City Game of your choice for just $2.95 (plus shipping) with a 4-issue subscription to Black Gate, or any two for $5.90 with an 8-issue sub. Want to learn more? Read the feature reviews of The Island of Lost Spells by Todd McAulty (from BG 10) and Wolves on the Rhine by Andrew Zimmerman Jones (from BG 11) .

But please hurry! Quantities of most titles are extremely limited. Click “more” below to see a full list of available games — or subscribe now!

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