Everyone is a know-it-all in this game!

pic4037705Cryptid Review
First of all, I have to say that I really, really like deduction games (although not all type of deductions). I love Codenames, Abraca…What?, The Resistance: Avalon, H.I.D.E, The Name of The Rose, Word Porters and others. So when I heard Osprey Games would release Cryptid, I was super stoked and excited. I was not sure how the game would work (despite me reading the rules before hand). It’s super abstract game and would really turn off people who likes a bit of thematic spice in their games. Cryptid in fact has an interesting theme (okay I would say it’s a back story not a theme).

So when it was available through my friendly local game store (I could get it online and cheaper, but I chose to support my FLGS, lol), I immediately bought it. Surprisingly the game is quite heavy, and I did have a look through the components inside from a friend’s copy, which I must admit, not bad. The game mainly uses wooden components such as discs and cubes. Important thing to note is that these wooden components are kinda bigger than the usual, which is a plus. The box is very sturdy for a small game like this, I like it! And in addition they print the insert with green color, a small step to make it inline with the overall box / art color tone. The booklets are kinda flimsy, thicker paper would be nice.


Players’ discs (that represent YES information)

So what is Cryptid? Let’s start shall we? In Cryptid, players will take the role of competing Cryptozoologist, trying to be the first one to discover the natural habitat of a mythical / urband legend creature (such as Yeti, Chupacabra, Loch Ness and others). But their task is not an easy one as each one of them is only given one partial clue that point out the possibilities of the creature whereabouts. So players are forced to work together, sharing information in such a way that they gain more than what they provide for each other. I like its story setting, it feels right as a game and works really well.

In each game, players will have to set the game map using one of the cards (randomly choose one and follow the map setup). Once ready, flip the card to see the available clues and what colors will be played based on how many players you are playing with (3-5). Give each of them booklet, wooden discs and cubes of the corresponding color. They will have to check their booklet for the clue given secretly (do not share this information to anyone). Starting from the first player, they have to place a cube into one of the space on the map that is not the habitat of the creature based on their given clue. Once all players have place their starting cubes, the first player takes their turn. On a player’s turn, they have to choose either to ask a question or to search (you cannot do both actions in a single turn).


One of the modular map tiles (which will be combined together to make one big map)

Question – To ask a question, a player must point out a location on the map (with a black marker provided) and ask one of the players if whether the location could probably here according to their clue. If the answer is a YES, that player have to place one of their discs on that location. If it’s a NO, the player have to place a cube, and in addition the active player have to place one of their cubes to another location where they have not have a marker, this location must not be possible to be the location of the creature based on their clue.

Search – If the active player feels convinced with their guess, they can Search. Search is done by point a location on the map by using a black marker, and place one of their discs on that location. Other players in clockwise direction, must give their answers by placing a disc or a cube on top of it. The Search ends when one player place a cube in the location, thus the active player must place another cube as a penalty. But if all players place their discs on that location, the player taking the Search action then wins the game. One reminder though, there is only one location on the map, so it is impossible to have more than one location for the creature, if there is more than one, one or more players must made a mistake during the game. I also have to point out that some of the game has misprinted rules, so make sure your rules are not misprinted one.  Check this link for to get the clarification.


Decks of Setup cards (Advance and Normal)

This is a simple logic game, which can be boiled down to a YES or NO question game, where you ask other players and based from their answers (on the board / map) you try to eliminate the impossible locations until it points out to a single location. I really like the idea, at first this game could be difficult to understand, players must build the mind on how the deduction works out and how they should get the information out of the situation. Once you get the idea things will just flow and only time will tell, though it is not easy and sometimes processing that many information at once could burn your brain to ashes. To be honest, this game is like a racing game, you will have to finish deduce the possibilities before anyone else. There is a tension and you can feel the excitement and nervousness waiting for your turn to come.

The game plays relatively fast, like 10 minutes per play and you would want to play another. The game also provides advance mode (more like setup), using different deck of cards for setup. The advance clues are reversed, that say negative statements of where the location is not, which made the deduction and elimination process more difficult. It also adds a new color of building structures into the game (black). With this, the advance mode requires new deck to setup the game.

Osprey Games also offers a digital game setup in case you don’t want to use the booklet and cards. Unfortunately it’s in their website and not available in the form of an app.


The game in progress

I really like the game. First turns you might be confused of have no idea about the location, but that’s okay turn by turn things will be revealed. Anything that players do here reveal some information to everyone else, just like H.I.D.E Hidden Identity Dice Espionage. It’s just this game doesn’t have direct conflict like H.I.D.E. I can play the game back to back, its short and when you successfully Search the location, it’s really a satisfying feeling. I bet you can play this with casuals, non gamer friends and families as well as with serious gamers (though it might be a filler game for them). It’s easily one of my favorite deduction games. Some people say it shares similar mechanic from Tobago, though I have not yet have the chance to try Tobago.

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Posted by on January 30, 2019 in Board Games, Reviews


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Having Fun in Jakarta Tabletop Expo 2018


Last weekend I was attending the first, Jakarta Tabletop Expo in Mall @ Alam Sutera (located in Tangerang, which is not Jakarta, but suburban area in the edge of Jakarta). Th event was organized by Blue Moon Board Game Community, which is a board game community that consists of college students from Prasetiya Mulya University. It’s a three days event, starting from 30 November until 2 December 2018. I was there as media partner of the event, thanks for inviting me.

I’ve managed to get a nice interview with community’s representatives, Bro Aka and Sis Katherine. Basically, their purpose of creating this event was to increase awareness of Prasetiya Mulya student (along with everyone else) about board games, so they can grow their community.


Catan Tournament

Despite that their community is solely for Prasetiya Mulya students, the event was open for public, anyone can join. With a low one pass ticket price, people can enjoy playing board games and even participate in different tourneys such as Splendor, Onitama, and many more. There were also D&D Sessions and Warhammer Shadespire and the last but not least an open play of Keyforge: Call of The Archon (a new game from Fantasy Flight that has very high hype at the moment). There were also game auctions and trades.

The event was supported by major distributor in Indonesia, Mitra Nirwana and local publisher, Cuaca Cerah Games. There were also some game stores and communities that participate, such as Folks, The Maple, Grouplay, Hobo, Callesa Vault, and many more.

Despite attending the event every day, I wasn’t there all day, my time was limited. But with the limited time, I’ve the chance to talk with some great people, played some games and take photos. I think Saturday was the most crowded day among the three, there was barely enough space to move through the crowd of people playing games.

Thanks to Mr. Reza Kadir from Cuaca Cerah Games for introducing me to Trellis (their new / soon-to-be localized title) and talked about their coming project involving local game designer with Emerson Matsuuchi (Century: Spice Road and Eastern Wonder) as it’s game developer. Special thanks to The Maple Board Game for allowing us to play with your great board game tables (Vindication played on that hexagonal board looks amazing!). Also thanks to good people there who made their time to say Hi to me. Definitely a great event and hope in the future there are more events like this, bigger and better of course.


Brendan (Mitra Nirwana) and Billy (Chiveus)

Games that I played: Vindication, Sentient, Trellis and Tokaido.


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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in Article, Events


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Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 6

Let’s move on to part six, where the good things are keep coming. Essen Spiel 2018 is over and now we need to thinning the herd and make them count. So which games you actually interested on?

A new release from HUB Games (the one that published UNTOLD: Adventure Awaits and Rory’s Story Cubes). In this game, players will take the role of Nurses in a Palliative Care Unit of a hospital in London. And the hospital receives a transfer patient of a massive heart attack, with the name of Billy Kerr (60 years of old), which is surprising that he still alive. The players will need to take turns to be shift manager in days of work on the hospital. Each player will have a nurse pawn of their colors and there are also assistants and On-Call Assistants that they can use to allocate medical or palliative care to the patient. Medical care is given to maintain the patient health condition, where palliative care is given to build trust between the patients and the nurses so the patient can open his memories. The game comes with 10 scenarios and players will try to complete them in order. The goal is to complete the objectives of each scenario while maintain Billy’s life. To achieve these objectives, players will need to piece together Billy’s lifetime memories while being drawn into his troubled past. It is a worker placement cooperative game, with unique elements. The round is broken down into 3 shifts, Morning, Day and Night shifts. In these shifts, players will take shifts to provide care for Billy. The worker placement aspect is unique, the nurses (workers) can get stressed from covering shifts. Having stress restrict Nurses to work, being overstressed forced them to take on leave (unavailable). A card board ring is used to mark stress on a nurse. Also when trying to give treatment to Billy, players need to decide whether if they want to treat palliative or medical. Palliative gives players closer to their objective, when Medical gives players to maintain Billy’s health condition. Players cannot provide both treatments for a day, so this is the huge decision on planning. When I read the back story of the game, I am hooked. It is unique regardless it is a cooperative game. Of course, cooperative aspect is still a huge warning for me so this need further research or maybe tryout, but this one has potential.


pic4227674BAD BONES
Bad Bones is a Tower Defense game from Sit Down! Games where players are trying to defense their villages from horde of skeletons while averting those skeletons toward their neighbors. Personally I really like the game art cover. It has a similar look as Tokaido, with white clean background and a piece of illustration in the center, a dragon on top of a tower facing a skeleton. Each player will have their own board (it’s a 5×5 grid with a tower in its center). Players will have to defend their villages and tower with their hero and traps (one of those is a dragon, how cool is that? Of course these are only tiles except of the hero figure). The game comes with a lot of tiles (lots of skeletons) so it’s going to be quite a heavy box. In the game, players will move their heroes around, place or retrieve traps, move the skeletons and spawn them. The skeletons are moved by a certain command based on the movement icons printed on the squares while they are spawned from cemeteries into the board. Illustration and specific symbol on the skeleton tiles will determine where each skeleton tile is going to show up on player’s board. Aside from defending their villages (tiles that worth points if not destroyed by skeletons), they should change the skeletons on their board to move toward their neighbor. I think this is the interesting aspect of the game, where players need to plan carefully with movement programming to do two things, defend their villages and let their neighbors get attacked. Also the game has two modes of play (A for basic and B for advance with cooperative play, advance and skeleton chiefs). The advance version adds a new market phase where players have to buy traps and weapons and also there are coins in the game. The skeleton chiefs add new special skeletons into the bag.


(Skull isn’t included)

In this abstract game of network building (kind of), players will compete to be selected as the heir of the throne. To do this, they need to travel around the world and erect sacred bear steles (statues). The game board depicts some sort of a map with routes and spaces where players will place knowledge tokens on these spaces during setup randomly. And before the game starts, they must replace all (four) the bear tokens with random bear steles (statues) from the bag. There are 4 colors of bear steles (black, blue, white and orange). Players will have a personal board and random 3 starting Steles from the bag. The goal is simple, be the first to collect 2 tokens of each type (A set collection game? You can say that).


Now the game is very simple, in players turn, they chose one of two available actions which are getting new steles or acquire a knowledge token. To get new steles, they can either take 2 steles from the temples (supply of steles divided by colors) or 3 random steles from the bag. To acquire new knowledge token, they have to place stele on that space and then pay the cost. The cost is the twist part of the game, it varies depend on the number and color of adjacent steles from the space you place a stele.


They need to pay the cost to the temple. Placing steles on the temples may trigger a ritual when a stele is placed on the last space of a temple. All steles on that temple will be returned to the bag and that player will get one stele chosen from one of the other temples. When players manage to get 2 tokens of a single type, they will get a seal card that can help players during the game. Despite the game has a racing element to trigger the game end, it has certain scoring if more than one player managed to finish their tokens during the last round. The winner is player with the most Dragon seals, which can be found in some of the tokens and the back of the seal cards. Though the chance to get this situation is like Istanbul or Viticulture? The illustrations are beautiful (lots of colors, mostly green), not to mention the steles (plastic or resin? I bet it’s not wooden).

A new game from Alexander Pfister, the designer of Great Western Trail. To be honest, I was kind of surprised with this game visual presentation. It’s a unique theme and visual approach for Alexander Pfister. He mostly designed games with classic themes but this one isn’t. Briefly I thought this one is a cooperative game (it really reminds me of Pandemic in term of visual appearance). The game takes place in Hongkong (the near future 2020) where a massive blackout happened on the entire city. Players will work their ways to secure districts by placing their markers on locations that will enclose a district. To do this they need to gain resources (which is designed in the form of dice rolling combined with a rondel. There are 3 resource dice (each has a specific color and symbols on them) that will determine what resources are available for the round. Players then will choose cards from their hands to their board (up to 4 slots of cards). Following the turn order they will reveal the assigned cards and carry out their plans. There are two kinds of cards, specialists and volunteers. Specialists let you do special actions while volunteers allow you to procure things (resources) based on their colors (place cubes on the rondel based on where the same color resource die is). Players may procure resources other than shown by the dice by spending transport tokens. Players also can complete objectives by paying the requirement. Completed objectives allow players to get points, coins and place cubes on the map. The game comes with campaign mode and can also be played in solo mode. The campaign mode offers certain challenges and what objectives the players need to complete. This is surely unusual kind of game from the designer, personally I am not really into this, the overall game’s visual is not appealing to me, but I am kind of curious on how the game play really is.


The forest is corrupted, the trunks are blackened and the sap is toxic. The animals are dying and it’s up to the druids to save the forest and fight back the darkness. In this game players will be druids who will try to heal the forest by creating Nemetons, a sacred ground for brewing purifying potions. The game lasts for 10 or 11 rounds and in each round there will be Night, Dawn, Day and Dusk phase. In the night phase players will take turns to place a forest tile from their stack to the board face down (with moon side facing up). This tile will determine what tiles in straight lines are activated. Players place plants to empty tiles showing plant symbols. In Dawn phase, the Moon tiles are flipped on its day side, this may trigger a special tile to be placed onto the board. In Day phase, the druids will have to move one or two tiles in a straight line and then may use the action of the space it ends movement. Players can collect plants on the tile, brew potions (to get points), earn animal’s trust, or benefit from one of the two powers of the oak. Once per turn players can also use the animal spirit that they’ve collected. There are several kind of animals, each has its own ability. The game is a tile placement game with point to point movement.  Players also may complete goals that are shown on the common board, the first player to complete a certain goal will get a plant from that space. I think Nemeton is quite a light Euro game with moderate complexity from the different kind of tiles and available actions. It might be a good addition if you are looking for a tile placement game with a set collection.


pic4012064-2TALES OF GLORY
In this game you are heroes that hungry for adventures. You will visit different places to defeat monsters and gain treasures. In this game players will get adventure tiles and add them to their hero tiles. In each round players will assign a card to determine their destination for the round (which adventure tile that they want) and reveal it simultaneously. Then they need to pay for the tile in order to place it on the table in front of them, adjacent to one of their placed tiles. These tiles must be placed in upright orientation and the side with a diamond must connect to other tiles with the same diamond side. Once the tile is placed, players will get rewards depend on the tile. Some tiles contain chests which can only be opened with a key token. Players can get key tokens from rewards or discard a tile instead of placing it. The game ends after 10 rounds. I think it’s a simple tile placement game with simultaneous action selection. I love the cartoony illustrations by Miguel Coimbra. I am not sure the game will have high replay value (though it also comes with Quest tiles that give more replay value than the base game). I think this is a nice addition to my collection, though the big question is if this game is good enough to be in my collection or not.


This game is another interesting game that uses the core mechanic from Codenames and Mysterium. In this game, players will play in two teams. Each team will have one player as the Intelligence Officer while the others are Detectives. You can say that Intelligence Officers are the same as Master Spy in Codenames. These players will get a screen and a map card. To win the game, a team must win 2 rounds of the game. To win a round, the team needs to find three different pieces of evidence and deliver them to their client. The game is played in real time, so there’s no turn for each team. To find the evidence, the Intelligence Officers use Intel cards to give their detectives a clue to where they should move on the map. The Intelligence officers may not speak or gestures to avoid giving extra clues. You can find similarities of this game with Codenames. As word cards from Codenames are changed to hex tiles with images that form a map board. Players will try to guess these locations based on some Intel cards that the Intelligence Officer is using. I think the game is really interesting, they use a unique mechanic from a famous game and modify it with different approach. Though my concern is that somehow players can see the direction of the Intelligence Officer is looking at on the map board as they constantly check their map card behind their screen, this will surely give away important information for their detective agents.


From one of the designers of Lorenzo il Magnifico (Simone Luciani) and Nestor Mangone, CMON brings Newton, a new game about scientists in the 18th century and their efforts to make a mark in the world. In this game, players take the roles of young scientists who eager to be great geniuses of the world. Players will travel around Europe, to visit universities, study to discover new theories, create tools and also work to earn money. The game lasts for 6 rounds, where in each round players will play cards to do some actions. The actions will be progressive as previous played cards will improve those actions. Though the core actions are simple (involving Work, Technology, Travel, Lessons, Study and Joker actions), there are lot of things to keep in mind. Each action has multitude of considerations that players need to carefully decide. These are probably what make the game complicated. Adding cards to player’s tableau represents the tableau building mechanic of the game. Though briefly the game offers many things at once, there are many things to keep track in a single game. There is a map that shows universities across Europe, income track where you keep track of your works, Bookshelves in players’ study board to keep track your studies, also space to keep track of your inventions. I just thought that with all of these, it would really be interesting to see them fit altogether as a giant big machine. This is surely one of my most anticipated titles from Essen 2018.

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Posted by on November 9, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews


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Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 5

Wow, already 5 parts long and we’re not barely scratch half of the list. Well, considerably it is a long list (as expected from Essen Spiel). So let’s see what I have here, maybe some games that also in your list? Let me know in the comment.

Following Uwe Rosenberg signature of agriculture games, Reykholt brings new or fresh theme out of it, an icelanding gardening business. Tomatoes seemed particularly essential there. Judging by the rules, I guess it falls into the lighter and less complicated side of Rosenberg’s designs. In Reykholt, players will compete to make the best green houses. Unlike other Rosenberg’s agriculture / farming games, this one doesn’t have player boards and also building tiles (instead it uses cards as tiles placed in front of players). The game board comprises several action spaces that players can assign their workers. They will mostly seed vegetables, harvest them and attract tourist with their beautiful gardens. I am not really familiar with the Tourism track, which I think the game lacks of components to mark the player’s achievement if they completed the track and go back to the beginning space of the track with a reminder that the cost still accumulates (in addition this is how to track the winner of the game, farthest on the track; so it’s all about Tourism!).


The components seemed minimalist here, but against all of Rosenberg’s agriculture games, this one is by far has the most beautiful illustrations. And moving out of the usual tradition, the game will be published by Renegade Game Studios instead of Z-Man, Mayfair or Lookout Games. But the real question is, does this game offer new game to the agriculture lines? Or does it replace one of his older games? I am also curious about it. I heard this one is very similar with At The Gate of Loyang, Uwe’s older game.


This is the first game expansion that made into this list. I am so excited over this. Love the base game and this expansion is a must-have for me. This expansion brings new elements that considerately improve or change the game play of the base game. The first one is a new sixth characters (character with orange color named Vector). This way, you can play with 6 players. pic4339874But not just that, this sixth character allows the game to be played in team play, whether you play it 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2 or 3 vs 3, you will use all of the characters in the game. Yap, team play as the name suggests. So there will be black and white team in team play and it will be using a new way of dealing damage, with buffers. The instance you deal damage to your opponents, they’re not instantly receive wounds, but instead all the wounds are collected with their own wound tokens in their team’s buffer board, which when it’s full the wound will then be distributed. I am not sure why they designed it this way, but I am certain they have a good reason for it.

And there are still more new things, such as the Adrenaline Rush mode, which players can adjust their hit tracker (shifting it to the left) which reduce their hit points (easier to be killed) but it also gives them certain benefits. You know they surely want to emphasize the point of Adrenaline rush into the game (like it’s not enough in the base game). Last thing, there’s also dedicated weapons for each character which I think it’s awesome. They bring the asymmetric element while the base only offers variable player weapons.


This one is the successor from Tzolkin: The Mayan Calendar. From the same designer but snot from the same publisher. Teotihuacan (wow, that’s hard to pronounce) is still wearing the same theme as Tzolkin, which is Mayan ancient civilization. In this game, players will utilize their workers/dice to take available actions around the board, so it seems like a giant rondel thingy, remember Great Western Trail? Though in this one, the rondel isn’t improving as the game progresses. But the game variation is surely high, since you can have different actions to choose for during setup, so you will have different set of actions in each game. Aside from the rondel, the way players use their dice is kinda unique, they move their dice and the action is determined by the total number of pip from all the dice in that location, which I think gives another level of consideration while choosing what action to take. On top of that, there’s this wooden block pyramid in the center of the board (it’s like the eye candy of the it all). This is not just a gimmick, but I am not sure if design-wise it’s essential to be made as it is. The pyramid is shaped by numbers of square blocks with some icons on the top side. I would guess those are resources. I am not really into the illustration, hopefully it’s a functional design decision. I am on the fence about this one, since I am not really into Tzolkin, but let’s see how it goes.


Phil-Walker Harding strikes again. After his successful game of tile placement, Barenpark, he released another tile placement game, called Gingerbread House. It still using tile placement mechanic but the form / shape is consistent with this one, domino tiles (2×1 tiles). Player will compete to build their own gingerbread house by placing the domino tiles on their boards (3×3 grid). Squares that they cover will generate resources (sweets) or actions. These sweets are used as bait to capture fairy tale characters. If you are following the story, the witch is using her Gingerbread house as traps to nail rude fairy tale characters who pass by and eat a piece of her house. I found the theme to be cute. As I know this one is more random than Barenpark, since players will get random domino tiles to form their house. But I love the illustrations, they’re cute and funny.


pic4328782THE BOLDEST
This is a new game from designer Sophia Wagner (the designer of Noria), which has fascinating illustrations from Max Prentis. The game is about a savage world called Iron Valley and the forgotten creatures of the forest. The goal is to get the most experience by the end of the game, which players get from collecting forest tiles from the main board. To do this, in each round, players will assigning 3 groups of cards (starting with 17 cards of their faction) from their hands into their planning tables. These groups will be revealed simultaneously one by one starting from the left to the right. Players will then compare their groups to see who will execute the expedition first based on the group class (from Warrior to Technician, to Hunter and then the last, Cook). If there are more than one group of the same class, the group strength will determine which player will execute the expedition. If it’s still ties, the tie breaker is the position of player’s flags from the king’s tent. Doing expedition allows players to take forest tiles based on what class is the leader of the group. Warrior allows players to take a monster or an item, while Technician allows players to take an artifact or an item. Hunter on the other hand may take up to three forest tiles from a single column but only with a cross hair symbol. Cook allows players to take Adventurers of their choice from the camp, this how players build their hands. There are also pets, which can be assign to any group, though it may not be a leader of a group. I think the game is quite simple, there are certain plannings that players need to think about, their hands are mostly where the plan is. Carefully organizing how they form their group is essential, not also to mention that you don’t get your used card right away in the next round. I found the game is more appealing because of the illustrations instead of the game play, so don’t really have a high expectation for this one.


Most of us know Martin Wallace with his classic Euros such as train games, historical civilization and such. But he also has some games with fantasy theme such as A Study in Emerald, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, The Witches, Mythotopia, A Handful of Stars and many more. Now he releases another fantasy theme game called Wildlands, which has unusual genre. Yes, unusual because it’s a take that, racing and skirmish game. In the game players will have 5 heroes (characters) that will enter the board one by one. These heroes will have a starting space where they enter (which is done during the setup in the form of drafting). Player’s turn is very simple, first if the player still have an unrevealed character, they must reveal at least one of them. Then play as many cards and reveal as many characters as they wish. Then they draw 3 cards and pass the active player market to the next player. The game may ends in two conditions, whether one player has successfully get 5 points or one player loses all their characters.
The card play is the heart of the game. Each character has a specific symbol that will show up in the cards. In a card there are a column of scales and a column of flags. If the character symbol is on one of the scale, than that character can move using this card. Symbols in the flags are specific actions that the character can take instead of moving. I found the game to be pretty simple and straight forward. But somehow there are things that are not easy to grasp. There are certain limitations with the maps, such as high ground and line of sight. Players get points by collecting crystal shards and knock opponents’ characters. I am definitely interested with this one, and its already have 2 upcoming expansions to add variety into the base game.


Now not many of us know about Pantone, personally for me, Pantone is quite familiar. Pantone is color books, it is mostly used in printing industry or any other fields that uses paints and colors. In this game, players will get 3 character cards. On their turn, the player will be the artist and must design a representation of one of the cards they have by using color swatches. Yes, Swatch cards are basically colored cards (the game comes with 15 different colors) and it uses a plastic tray to easily store all the swatches. Players get 3 cards, meaning the game lasts for 3 rounds. In the first round, players may use all the swatches available. But in the second round, they may only use one swatch card of each color to design. In the last round, they may only use 3 swatch cards in total. After the artist is finished the representation, each other player has exactly one guess. If a player managed to guess the character correctly, the artist and the guess player score full points that shows in “NO HINT” label. If no one able to guess, then the artist will give the next clue that shown on the character cards (if a player managed to guess this, the artist and the guess player will score less points than before). I think the game is fun, given this is a social game that has similar genre as Concepts, Charades or Pictomania. The downside is that when you play with players with different generations (age) some of the characters might not really identifiable by them. And to be honest, the components are kinda meh, it’s just a bunch of colored cards. You can practically home made this game. But having this game is kinda worthy from my line of work because I am a creative person. Hell, I don’t even have the real Pantone color book (I am feeling guilty and this might be the solution, errr…).


pic3730607SPY CLUB
Detective theme games are selling like hot cakes right now. Following the success of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detectives, there are games with the same case solving theme as Watson and Holmes, Detective, Chronicles of Crime, Deadline and many more. Now there’s Spy Club which targeting more younger audiences. Spy Club is new game from Renegade Game Studios with more brighter and colorful theme (instead dark and grim tone of the story from the other crime solving games). In this game players will work together in a club that they formed by themselves to play spies and investigations. Although the game is not a legacy game, this game offers a campaign mode (5 scenarios that connected with each other) as well as one time play, which players can reset the game back to the beginning easily. In this game, players need to find the solution of 5 aspects of the game (Motive, Suspect, Location, Crime and Object). To find a solution of an aspect, players need to place 5 cards of the same aspect type in the center row. In order to do this, they need to take some actions to move around cards from their hands. Players may take up to 3 actions during their turns to Investigate, Confirm, Scout and Shift Focus. Each player hand consists of 3 cards (or 4 cards) that they place on the table in front of them within their player board. The clue cards are double sided (there are no front and back side) which they carefully not to see the bottom side when move the cards, they can flip these cards with Investigate action during their turns. At the end of each player’s turn, the suspect will move (and escape marker may advance) and will trigger special event depends on what type of card the suspect marker is on. The game also uses a resource called Ideas, from time to time, players will get or spend Ideas. If playing a campaign, players will unlock things and carry things over to the next campaign providing some sense of progression. The game is definitely an interesting set collection, puzzle game but I am not sure of the built-in story may differ in each play.


Note: images are taken from and full credit to their owner.

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Posted by on November 5, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews


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Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 4

I am back with the fourth part of the preview. There are some interesting titles here and some of them are going to be in my collection. Curious what games are those? Just read on!

It’s a 2 player game of Mad Max. The game title is taken from the word of Kerosene, which is a scarce resource in the future. Each player will take the role of a rival clan, struggling to survive and explore new territories. The game lasts for 3 claim rounds, which is determined by the draw pile. Players take turns by fueling up with Kero, roll dice and collect resources to take cards, visit the native tribe or explore new territories. The unique element of the game is the Kero resource which represented by the hourglass timer with the shape of a truck. Each player keeps their trucks for themselves. When fueling up their truck with kero, opponent player will roll 8 dice in real time while the active player hold their truck in an upside down position (truck head downside). When the dice roll shows all fire symbols, the player must stop fuel the truck and place it flat on the table. The player then may spend Jerrycans to add additional dice from the shack to improve their dice results. Once ready, the player place their truck on the table on upright position so the Kero starts flowing and the player rolls their dice. The die is locked if showing a fire symbol. If the player ran out of Kero, they must immediately stop and gets nothing. When the claim card is revealed, the players claim new territories based on area majority. After the third claim card is revealed, players finish the round and check who has the most points. I think the game is quite unique with the hourglass timer and it’s implementation. Having your opponents rolls dice to determine the time for you to fuel your truck is very interesting. If only it is possible to play with more than 2-players.

In this game, players will place terrain tiles on their river board to generate resources and storage spaces. They also have pioneers that they can assign in worker spaces to gain resources, build buildings, swap resources and gain tiles. It’s a very simple worker placement game, with limited resources in the game. What makes the game unique is the river board owned by each player. Briefly the tile placement is in a 3×4 grid (12 tiles) but the placement is following the river direction, which is from left to right down to left and then lastly, dow to right. This will affect players to gain score based on the terrain type scored per column. Matching terrain tiles from the tile of the top column in each column score points. Not sure the replay value will be good or not. I noticed that each player starting tile is drawn from the stack of tiles, randomized at the beginning. This give me the general overview about the tiles. The tiles are mostly balance, no sense of progression, so you just adding quantity to your board instead of quality. But maybe the game is intended for lighter getaway games.

pic4308140CARPE DIEM
Another new title from Stefan Feld, which I think a lot more simpler than Forum Trajanum. Carpe Diem sets the game in a medieval Roman civilization, where players play as noble patricians set to build and improve their city districts. The game consists of four phases (7 rounds in each phases) just like in The Castles of Burgundy where they use the term ‘phase’ for ’round’ which sometimes could be misinterpreted by players because of the common use of the term ’rounds’ instead of ‘phases’. In this game, players will move around their marker on a circular (mancala-looking kind of board) spaces to take tiles based on the connected lines of those spaces. These acquired tiles are placed on the player’s board to complete a certain landscape, dwellings, market, bakery and fountain (which have different treatment). Once the mancala out of tiles, the phase is over and scoring begins based on the players’ progresses on Banderole track. Player who advance furthest score first, by placing one of his marker on an empty spot between two scoring cards and score points based on these cards (related with his board). So basically the game has tile placement (like Cottage Garden, Barenpark or the likes), very simple. The art is bad, period. Definitely an abstract, as opposite with the art cover. Not to mention the title is overwhelmingly generic, Carpe Diem, is latin for “Seize The Day” which I could say can be applied to anything, regardless the background setting fo the game.

Here we go, a word game. You know that I love word games and I am really excited with this one. I guess there’s nothing new in this except that this is an improved version of Letter Tycoon (not having Letter Tycoon on my collection gives me a good reason to get this). Unlike Letter Tycoon, this game has theme, which players take the roles of heroes who fight monsters by crafting spells. The game has 7 rounds, which in each round there are 3 phases, prepare words, battle monsters and then visit the town. As you might already guessed, players craft letters to make a word (spell) to deal damages to monsters. Letter cards have damage value and type that will affecting the damage total based on the type of monsters. During prepare words phase, players are simultaneously craft a word with letter cards (also with the help of Armor and Weapon cards) and simultaneously reveal their words. Then they check their initiatives (most letters to fewest), longest one will go first and choose which monster they will be battling. After dealing damages, players gain rewards, suffer wound or complete quest based on the monster. Wound works quite unique, where players draw a wound card from the deck and add it to their hand. Wound card can be used to form a word, but generally they’re a combination of letters and harder to form and tricky to use in a word. There are ways to remove wound card, by playing it in a word or by using Shaman ability. During visit town phase, players draw 2 quests and keep one (max 2 quests at any time) and then they can visit 1 building such as Shaman, Tavern, Guild, Armory and Alchemist. It’s a unique take on a word game, the general concept that players can fight any available monster and accumulate damages (basically reducing points in the form of coins) on them is quite tactical. Having that said, this provide piggy-backing feature for players to see which monster is dying so that they can take out, though some might not like this concept. Overall, I definitely getting this game, great word game and illustration by the Mico, really peak my interest.

pic4215812-2SYMPHONY NO. 9
I found this game by mere chance, and upon looking at the game description, I am interested. It’s a game about classic music composers (like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and etc). In this game, players are taking the roles of music enthusiasts and will support composer to hold royal concerts. The game lasts for three rounds, where each rounds there will be three phases, Sponsor, Concert and Clean up. During Sponsor phase, players will taking donation cubes three times. These cubes represents reputation of each musician. Players will gain composition tiles from musicians based on the majority of these donation cubes. The movement of these cubes could be fiddly to analyze. After then players will finance the royal concert by spending money (wagering) simultaneously, the total money spent by all players will decide whether the concert is a bust (failure) or a success. The concert can fail because the money gathered is under the minimum value or to much above the maximum value. If it’s a success, there is still 3 levels of concert (low, medium or high). The level will determine which musicians will perform and players will get income based on their donation cubes of that musicians. In the Cleanup phase, musicians might be dead (if there is no longer donation cube in their career track) but their works can still be enjoyed by the public, as their works are immortalized through compositions. Players also have furniture tiles, which they can (at any time) sell to gain more money. But of course, keeping furnitures are essential in the household and give points at the end of the game. At the end of the game, players score points based on the scoring methods available on the game (there are different sets). I think the most interesting part of the game is the wagering part, which it can have different outcomes depends on the players as a group. The second one is the theme is kinda unique. Definitely on my top list.

The first thing I have in mind when I read the rules is Codenames! This game reimplemented the core rules of Codenames into a more interesting game with suitable theme. I actually kinda fond of the theme of first encounter. This is a game of deciphering code of alien (foreign) language, translate them and fulfill the needs. Unlike Codenames, in this game players still divided into teams but, there will be only one winner from each team at the end of game. The background story is really interesting, one team will be earthlings while the other is aliens. Alien had come to ancient Egypt and they want to take things from Egypt civilization to be sold into intergalactic market (you can say it like that). But both Aliens and Egyptians do not understand each other languages and cannot communicate using words. So the earthlings need to find a way to translate the Aliens’s needs and offer it to them.
The general game play is still using codenames core deduction, but I think it has enough similarity as Word Porters as describing the nature of the goods. Basically earthling players need to figure out the symbol of certain characteristic from some goods available, the aliens will assign the symbol based on their interpretation, and what is good they want by drawing some symbols. Then after having enough information, earthling players will offer the goods by voting the requested one. If they are correct, each will get a benevolence token from the Alien player. This game is definitely in my must have list. I might prematurely said this, but this might be Codenames killer.

A new game from Friedemann Friese (you can play solitaire in this one). As the title suggests, this game is about the utopian future, where people want to live leisurely the best they can. For this demand, they need the most sustainable system to accommodate their life and players need to build the fulfilling condo. In the game, players can expand the living quarters of their condo, which can sustain more people (for each people they need to provide their own bed). To sustain their life, people need to work (at first) but they need to improve, meaning let the robot do the work and they can relax and leisurely spend a great life. More needs means more resources, food and energy, to provide these they need generators. To keep the generators running they need to work, or install robots to work the generators, but that also means more energy needed for the robot to operates itself.
I think this is quite interesting, players will need to make a sustainable and profitable engine for their condo. I kinda like the idea and how the game plays. It uses action selection mechanic where each player has a set of 5 action tiles that they can choose for each turn. Chosen action tile is placed face down and cannot be chosen again before they use all the action tiles. So there is a small action programming / planning to take into account.

Solenia is a game of hand and resource management. The premise is simple, each player has the same set of cards ((16) which all of them will be played throughout the game, 1 card per round. They place cards on the board, which consists of 5 pieces of double sided strip tiles (day and Night). There are certain rules about the cards placement, which affecting the position of the giant airship, card adjacency and using resource to lengthen the voyage. What tile the card is placed will determine what kind of effect the players get. If it’s a floating island, they get resources, if it’s a floating city, they must fulfill one of the available delivery tiles (day or night depends on the tile). Acquired delivery tile will be placed on player’s board slot, grating them immediate rewards. When a player plays a value-0 card, then the Giant Airship will move 1 space forward and the cards on the first strip will be resolved and the strip tile is flipped and moved to the back line.
The game is very simple, find ways to collect resources, then spend the resources to fulfill delivery tiles. The concept of day and night is also interesting, because after a cycle, the strip tile will change rom Night to Day or vice versa.

Note: images are taken from and full credit to their owner.

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Posted by on October 11, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews


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Essen 2018 Highlight Previews Part 3

Back to part three of my Essen 2018 Highlight Previews. There is a long list of new titles and we’ve just scratching the surface, so let’s get down to it and take them all up.

I bet this genre is on a hype this year. Following the hit trend from Santa Maria La Granja Dice Game, The Castle of Burgundy dice game and many more, this year Essen will be filled with games that involving dice roll with pen and paper such as Railroad Ink Red and Blue, and the another one is Sunflower Valley. The game is targeted for children with bright colorful illustrations and simple game play.  The game play is almost similar like other games of the same type, roll dice, choose a die and draw it on a sheet. Very simple idea, but apparently it’s not wholly simple for children to build good-score network of sheeps, houses and sunflowers. It requires a good deal of logic to connect these hexes in order to score good points. The game provides a ruleset for playing with younger players, which count adjacency placement instead connecting with railroads. I found the game to be cute, but not really think it would overstay its welcome.

This is a mix between a Stonemaier Game (Between Two Cities) and a Bezier Game (The Castles of Mad King Ludwig). Somehow both publishers can manage to combine these two and Stonemaier games get all the glory to publish it. Personally I found Between Two Cities lacking the gaming element and regardless all the decisions, is decision-less) but I do like Castles of Mad King Ludwig if not because the ugly in-game component artworks. The major differences about this one is that it incorporates Between Two Cities game system but in a 2D side scrolling style where you look at the rooms in side-view instead of top-view as in those two games. The golden rule is that when you place a room, you need to place it from bottom up (each room need a foundation just like in Dream Home). The scoring system works similar like The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, interesting. And to be honest, I love the illustrations of the rooms in this game. The illustrators of Dream Home also contribute in this game visual appearances, so that explains partially.

Dicium is a very interesting dice rolling game combination. Why combination? Because the game offers 4 different games by using the same core mechanic of dice rolling and allocation.  Each game offers different game play such as racing, cooperative dungeon exploring, civilization conquest and confrontation skirmish game. All these games are using the same principle of 2-2-2, which are roll two times, take 2 actions and store up to 2 dice. The dice shows different colors and each color has corresponding value (from 1 to 5) and one side showing a spiral (wild number). These are related to what actions that player can take by grouping the dice based on sets (color or number). I think four games offer simple approach in the mechanic but the idea is neat, to offer 4 games in one game.

Atlandice is a dice rolling/ drafting game with it’s main board (dial) looks like the player’s lab in Aquasphere (the game plays differently). In this game, players will take a die from one of the location, get the corresponding resource and activate the effect. And then move the clock hand forward. The goal is resource collecting, where there are several resources available in the game, each is located in different district, though during the game, these resources may be moved around the board. When a district is out of resource, the scoring happened and player with most of the resource wins the district tile (and opens up new tile, if any). The tiles have different effect and they will affect resources on the board. I think it’s a very simple and straight forward game though the heart of the game lies on the effects of the tiles, which I am not sure how they work and affecting each other. The downside is the overly well done art cover, which is kinda misleading when you check the components.

It’s basically a card laying game. Each player has their own deck of cards which they shuffled and draw 3 cards from the top at the start of the game. On their turn they must play a card (place it on one of the eligible spaces on the city which is formed by blocks and rows (with 8 blocks and the number of players determine the number of streets). The placement rules are: The card must be placed on the first block of a street, or must be placed to the right of previously placed card. Player must not place a card which lead to a 3 in a row of a single color. Once placed, the played card is compared with the card on it’s immediate left. Which will affect the orientation of the previously placed card (the value of the card). In the end of the game, players count the value of their cards, player with the highest value wins the game. There is also an advance variant in the game, which using a different set of cards.

In this game, each turn players will draft continent tiles and place it on empty side of their planet core. Then starting from the third turn onwards, players will contest who will get the animal cards that are contested on the given round. To do this they need to pass the habitat requirement for that animal. Basically you must provide the habitat by placing continent tiles in specific pattern which allow you to get them. It’s a very simple game of area majority, light strategy game that is casual gamer friendly. Though the general idea is interesting, in addition of the eye candy planet cores, I don’t think the game is gamey enough and warrant nice replay value, let along it’s kinda fiddly to check your continent looks like, rotate that core every now and then; not to mention you need to constantly ask other players about their planet cores, since the main mechanic is area majority or control.

pic4122624BLUE LAGOON
Another new game from Reinier Knizia. The goal of the game is to expand your tribes throughout the islands. The game has two distinct phases / stages, exploration and settlement. At the end of each phase, there will be scoring. In the exploration phase, players place a token into the board to make a wide network of their tribes. There are restrictions of course, players place settlers in a sea space in the boat side (they can place it anywhere) and to place a village or settler, they need to place it on adjacent space of their previously placed settlers. In the second phase (settlement phase) the villages that on stone tiles, will be removed from the board along with all the settlers, and then new resources will be refilled on that stone tiles. And then after the second phase, the same scoring will take place.
It feels odd, I don’t know why but the scoring mechanics looks boring and tedious. The settlement phase lets players expand their tribes from the villages that they have placed from the exploration phase which could give different stand point from the first entry points in the first phase.

Ruthless is an interesting pirate themed card game that combines a deck building with a poker (suit). In this game players will recruit pirates (card from the display) to their ranks and try to make a raiding party by making a set as can be found in poker (such as pair, straight, three / four / five of a kind, flush and full ship). The interesting part is that there are Command actions that players can take from their starting set of cards, which are Trade, Brawl/Bury, Plunder and Board. To make it more interesting, there are also special abilities provided by Pirate cards which immediately take effect once the pirate is recruited. I usually not really into a poker style kind of game but this one looks pretty interesting, and if you are looking for a more compact deck building game, this one is a good one.

Note: images are taken from and full credit to their owner.

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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews


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Essen 2018 Highlight Previews Part 2

Back again with me and this time I will be giving you guys the next part of my Essen 2018 Highlight previews (another 8 new board games that currently on my list). Let’s start with the big guns!

pic4196818-2FORUM TRAJANUM
Forum Trajanum is the latest design from Stefan Feld and it might be the most complicated (not hardest) one yet. After reading the rules it gives me certain approach that the game uses a well-blend of mechanics from his previous games. I can see some mechanics from Trajan, Amerigo and also Notre Dame. The core concept of the game is tile placement, which centers in two main part of the game, the Colonia (player board) and Forum Square on the main board (the same thing you find in Trajan, the construction area). Players will take turns to draft tiles that they take from their Colonia (based on the street cards on a given round). They choose one to keep and pass it on to the next player (like Notre Dame cards). Then they will choose which one to use / activate (take the bonus) . If the tile is a Citizen tile, you place it on the Citizen row. Other tiles are placed based on the owner of the tiles, if it’s a player owned tile, it’s placed on the Ship space, if it’s other player’s owned tile, it’s place face up right next the colonia. Then players can build one building per turn by spending the required worker / builders / assistants on the vacated space on their Colonia. There are different kind of Buildings and like Amerigo, there are colored and neutral Buildings (which give different effects during scoring). Placing neutral buildings allow players to advance their marker on the respective benefit track or gain points from Triumphal column building. Colored buildings allow players to send envoys to the Forum square. These envoys will be placed in different squares in the forum based on the color. Completed colored group will be score and provide benefits for each player that has envoys there. At the end of each phase, players need to pay their citizens, if they don’t want or cannot pay, the unpaid citizen became inactive. And then there are construction crane scoring for buildings of the same color as their available face up crane. Colonia Scoring for neutral building based on the citizen row and Forum scoring based on players envoys on the forum square. In overall there are so many little things to remember, it’s not a heavy game but too many things to keep in mind.

I was sold by the game main concept. Originally the designer wanted to make a game that she could play with her blind uncle, so she made this game.
In this game, 1 player will play as the hunter while other players as the hunted. The hunted players will play with blind glasses in which they cannot see a thing. They take their action by using perception and touch of game components. The goal is to survive from a hunter that hunts you down. You run in the dark, try to get away from the hunter and find your car, but you don’t know and cannot see it. So using you hand (naturally) you reach out in the dark and find out your surrounding. How cool is that? I would say, it’s very cool. Okay there are questions of course, the first thing came to mind is the hunter, how the hunter player moves? Since he’s the one with a clear vision with everything on the board, logically the hunter could move freely. But not exactly, while he can see everything, the hunter has a set of cards that determine their actions, and there are also some restrictions in their moves. For instance, hunted players can throw a rock somewhere on the board, this will cause noise that the hunter must move towards. How cool is that? Very cool, I know.
The game use mainly dominant black and white color and offers not a very beautiful illustrations (minimal at the least), but the game pieces might be a good one with plastic player pieces, terrains and a plastic board. Now in the base game, there are 2 hunters that players can play, an ax-murderer and an evil mage. Both have different sets of cards, which the game play would slightly be different one from another. And if you are curious there is also another version that is Target exclusive which has a different hunter than the base, a Vampire. But this means you need to get another game for this.

It’s nice looking game, with colorful components and the helper meeples are super unique and cute. In general, the core mechanic is pool building with area control. Players will spread around their assistants based on their helper leader position on the board. Which has hexagonal spaces with different terrain types. On players turns, they choose a monument tile based on turn order, and then place a helper and take an action. The actions are BUILD, EXCAVATE, REST and READ.
Build allows players to place a monument tile in a given space (following the requirement on the monument tile). Monument tiles give players points based on the Monument track of each player. Excavate allows players to gain a resource from a space where they place a helper. Rest allows players to take 2 coins by placing one helper on their personal supply on it’s side. Read a Monument. (this is like activating one of the monuments available on the board). Pay the cost shown and gain its effects (if it’s another player’s monument, the owner gains 1 pt). After all players have taken their turn, they recollect the income based on the tracks of their player board. Update Inspiration and Defensive tracks and gain coins. They can also spend inspirations to gain Miracle tokens. Miracle tokens give players immediate points, and end game or on going benefits. Last, there is Nightmare phase which players will face monster based on the position of their helpers on the board by using their defensive traits. I think the game is pretty simple, I just don’t really see the point in facing the monsters. For thematic reason, it’s kinda loose or doesn’t have strong relation to the game. And the game is a bit straightforward, not sure there’s enough game within.

Gizmos from Phil Walker Harding is a new game that re-introduce marbles again after the presence of Potion Explosion. The idea is still the same, you pick one marble and boom everything explodes. The main difference is the explosion. In Potion Explosion, matching marbles will explode and you can get more marbles from just one that you picked. Of course you can also use potions to help you out. But in Gizmos, it’s not marbles that exploded, it’s the cards. Yes, the game is about card combos, it’s more like a programming or tableau building. During players turns, they choose one out of 4 actions available and the cards within that action will be triggered, thus you can place cards into your tableau and get more chains throughout the game. At first, I think it offers something different, you can control or there’s a freedom to build the engine that you really want. But, I think Potion Explosion is more simple in term of game play, while Gizmos requires more thinking in the engine building aspect, and in addition with more cards to handle in your tableau, you need more time to think and it could be very long if there’s a lot of cards under your action tabs.

pic4118864pic4097632RAILROAD INK (BLAZING RED + DEEP BLUE)
Railroad Ink, as the title suggest is using a marker on a piece of sheet to draw railroads. Its the kind of pen / marker and paper game that was brought to famous from Doodle City (Doodle China and Doodle Island) by Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Ostby, who also designed Santa Maria which takes another level of the same mechanic. In this game, players basically must draw the dice roll results onto their sheet of paper which shows 7×7 square spaces. There are different type of routes, highway and railway with special connection like overpass and station that will be combines in placement to draw a connection from one exit to another. Players also have 6 special routes on their sheet that they can use to help them connect the routes, though each special route can only be used once per game. The game has 2 different version, Railroad Ink Blazing Red and Railroad Ink Deep Blue, each version provides 2 different variations that slightly changed the game.
Railroad Ink Deep Blue adds Lake and River into the game. Players will have to choose one variation to the game and cannot both. Lake variation adds 2 lake dice that is rolled with the other regular route dice. Players may draw the lake into their sheet but not mandatory. In the end game, Lake areas will be scored in how big the area is and open side will not be counted as errors. While the river variation adds 2 river dice that can be used as another route and score based on the longest river route, but open river connections are considered as errors.
Railroad Ink Blazing Red introduces 2 different variations, Meteor and Lava. Lava variation adds lava dice that works similar as lake die, but open side of lava space is considered an error in the scoring. The Meteor variation adds a unique and different game play, with Meteor dice, one showing distance of the meteor and another showing the direction the meteor will hit. When rolled, the meteor will hit a space on player’s sheet and and continuing from the first space it hits based on the distance and direction in the future rolls. A space with drawing that hits by meteor, must be erased and be drawn a crater instead. In the scoring, each route will score points based on how many open end connected to a crater.
I found the game to be refreshing, unique and very simple yet difficult in the same time. Though luck plays a great role, I found it exhilarating to draw the routes and see if it connects. Sadly, my experience with Doodle City wasn’t really a colorful mark. My group wasn’t amused and they thought it’s as a weird game. So this is also a interesting one but need a caution.

Ceylon reminds me of Gold West, though it’s strikingly different. As in oppose of Gold West where players take resources from the board, in Ceylon, players are filling the board (planting tea fields). It has very simple actions, on players turn, the active player will play an action card, he decide the orientation of the card in the discard pile because each card consists of 2 actions (top and bottom). The upright action is the main action that will be taken by the active player, while the downright action can be taken by other players. Or else, the can take the alternative actions available in each card. The goal is to fulfill contracts of tea which is divided into 3 types / colors. Black cubes as tea leaves harvested in low height plantation, Green cubes as tea leaves harvested in medium height and White cubes as tea leaves harvested in high altitude. The fields on the game board is divided into 4 districts and during setup, players will randomize the different height plantation field by using modular board. What interesting in this game aside from the card action is that in order to take more contract cards, players need to plant teas. This is shown by the leaf markers as restriction to place contract cards of different companies. If players want to have access to more companies, they have to plant more to unlock these leaf markers from their board. Another thing is the different level of fields to differentiate what kind of tea is being planted. I like the theme, it’s quite unique and the illustrations are nice.

Fireworks was actually released back in 2017 but they somehow will be present in 2018 Essen Spiel. It’s a dexterity game from Li-He Studio, designed by Aza Chen, who is quite famous with his Cat-themed games such as Cat Box, Cat Tower, Kitty Paw and other dog-themed games with cute cartoony characters. In Fireworks, players will be one of the 7 characters of cats that must perform their skill in shooting fireworks into the night sky. The game involves player to drop a die into a box full of face down firework tiles. If after the drop, the dice flip a tile or more, they take it based on the result of the die. There are also action cards that dictate on how they drop the die (the dexterity element of the game). If they cannot make a tile flipped face up, they have failed and end their turn. When they acquired a tile or more, they place it on their board, to form a big image of fireworks in their sky which will be scored based on the patterns and set collection at the end of the game. The game seemed fun and simple enough to be played and I was intrigued with the game for quite a while now, mainly the way that the cards dictate how players should roll the die.

One word, beautiful. Everdell is a beautiful game about forest realm and the animals on it. Players take the roles of critters and will build cities on Everdell. The goal, build the greatest city in Everdell. The game has a really standout components, the big tree made from card boards placed on top of a big round board. Honestly, the tree is not really an essential component and can easily be replaced with just a 2 dimensional flat game board. But, for this game, it really looks beautiful and amazing. The game was actually on Kickstarter and was a hit. There are so many great, beautiful and nice looking components and illustrations. The critter characters are so cute looking. The game is break down in seasons, from Spring, Summer and Autumn. In players’ turn, they choose either play a card, place a worker or prepare for season. At first each player will start with 2 workers and several cards in hand, they can assign their workers in different part of the board (or cards) to gain the benefit of that action space or play a card from their hand to their city (which will be made naturally in 3×5 grid of cards).
The core mechanic on this game is a tableau building with worker placement. Players naturally place workers on the main board, but they can also place them on the worker slots on their city cards, in addition it is possible that they can place their workers in some of other player’s city cards. The greatest feat of this game is the superfluous components. It has really great looking components. The resource tokens are not something that you found in other games (such as pebbles, resins, berries and twigs), the card illustrations are so beautiful and the worker meeple is a unique wooden critter-shaped meeple for each player.  The game is quite simple, you place workers to gain resources, pay resources to play cards and use that cards effect to help you do something else. Some cards also using the same chain connection as found in 7 Wonders. As you can play a critter card for free if you already have the prerequisite construction card. Players will get to place workers in some event tiles when they already complete the building requirement and so on. Despite this being on KS or maybe already available on GenCon, I think it’s suited to have this here since the publisher also opens a booth in Essen.

Note: images are taken from and full credit to their owner.

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Posted by on October 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

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