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Essen Spiel 17 Highlight Preview Part 3

Next on our list for Essen 17 releases, some new games that come from what you might already know it before, and some do not. Without further ado, here you go.

pic3464108_mdPALACE OF MAD KING LUDWIG
After moving on from The Castle of Mad King Ludwig, Ted Alspach (One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Werewords, Werebeasts, Colony, Suburbia and etc) redesigns it to a new game with the same theme but quite different game play. Now in this game, players do not have a personal castle to build but they share the same palace and in turn placing tiles from the display into it or placing tiles to their player board. Okay, the offering mechanic is no longer used, but instead players buy tiles from the display by paying money (or swan tokens) and then place it adjacent on one of the tiles already placed. When placing a tile players get a swan token if the color match and then if the room is complete (all the entrances are connected with another room) it is scored. Players build the palace together, so there will be some take that to block opponents scoring chances. It looks fiddly with all the player tokens, flipping them on the board. So if you guys are into it, make sure check it out.
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pic3339551CENTURY SPICE ROAD
If you like Splendor, you might want to check this out. Designed by Emerson Matsuuchi, Century Spice road is an Euro with strong abstract element, where players play cards to get spice cubes and use that cubes to get more cards and eventually scoring cards. It plays very quick and simple, definitely has rules has can be explained under 5-minutes. The game is supposed to be the first part of a three series under the Century line, which those parts can be used interchangeably. The next two parts are not yet announced though. Another thing is that the game comes with plastic bowl for spice cubes. Though they also has dedicated game mat but not include in the base game (which makes the game only consists of 4 plastic bowls, cards and cubes. If you like Splendor, this might be right down your alley, or it could be better than Splendor.
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pic3767148_md-2NORIA
This is the first game from designer Sophia Wagner, which she developed together with its illustrators Michael Menzel and Klemens Franz. It sets in a steampunk world where the city is floating on the sky. This one is surely one of the most interesting games from Essen 2017, mainly because it has a new unique component called the wheel, hence the game is using it as the main mechanic, the wheel building mechanic. In the game players will have in front of them, a player board with a wheel consists of 3 rings (small, medium and large) stacked together with several disc slots on them. This component is very essential element during the game. At the start of the game, players will have only a few of the slots on their wheel equipped with action discs. There are several (8) type of actions on the game and players will try to build their wheel with the combination of these actions. Activating these discs will allow players to get some resources, take actions on the board and improve their wheels altogether to create more efficient wheel engine that they would possibly want.  As the game progresses, players will take actions differently which lead their wheels and goals to be quite different (or not) which lead them to choose differently each time they take their turns.  The goal of the game is (of course) most points by the end of game (fixed rounds based on number of players) and  this is done by multiplier from the six paths available. You move up your ambassador and work to improve the track value in order to score big. To move up in the paths you need resources (its a resource conversion game). There are different resources in the game, from the basic to more complex types, which are used to get your ambassador move up in the tracks.
I found the game to be interesting, lots of new choices, it has strong programming element in the game with all the actions on the wheel. So if you are into programming, you might like this one. I just kinda slightly disappointed with Menzel’s involvement in developing the game (expecting that he’s not just doing the art) more than just creating a visual aspect of the game which is amazing. I feel the game is a bit dry to what you expect from that kind of amazing illustrations, there’s no thematic ties with the game.
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pic3584961_md10 MINUTE HEIST: THE WIZARD’S TOWER
Lets change the menu for a bit, this time it’s a 10-minutes game, called 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower. Its a small game of set collection, card drafting and modular board with a fantasy theme (a hint) designed by Nick Sibbicky. Players are thieves trying to steal treasures from the wizard’s tower (Fools? Well maybe there are valuable treasures inside). Players will take turns to move from room to room starting from the top floor (yes, they enter the tower from the roof). From then they will choose which room to visit and take the treasure there. On players’ turn, they either choose to haul a treasure or exit the tower. If you choose to haul, you can take a card from the same level (row) or the card below your marker is. After taking the card, move your marker on the card’s space. If there’s a power in that card, resolve it immediately (you cannot take the card if you cannot complete the power. The card taken is placed in front of you and it will be scored at the end of the game. It’s a set collection game where you will collect different number of treasure types. At the end of the game, players reveal their face down cards and do the score tiles. The game also has different modes to play, if your group needs challenge, you can do drafting with the starting light card in players’ hands. This will create tension and small deduction element whether what card your opponents choose.
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pic3485529RED SCARE
This one is a social deduction game like The Resistance with a unique twist, yeah the twist is that the game is using decoder glasses (you know, like the old style 3D movie glasses made from paper, blue and red plastic screens. You can play with 4-10 players with this game and as you can guess with that amount of players and the nature of the game, it plays quite fast (around 30 mins). So in the game, players will become the agent from Soviet or Patriot based on their alignment cards given at the start of the game. Half of the players also given decoder glasses. They also get 3 citizen cards from the draw pile. The goal of the game is to get as many as points by exonerate citizens of the same side or exonerate the opposition citizens. But the twist in the game lies on the citizen cards. The citizen cards have different settings. The cards have 2 parts, JUDGE and ID parts, and these parts also have symbol on which players can see these parts (players with decoder or without decoder). During a player’s turn that player may choose to do an action or pass. The available action is ID, TRADE or JUDGE. When taking an ID Action, that player may show their citizen cards to another player to ID. Basically they show these cards to the player that’s in opposite view ability than He is. If he’s using a decoder glass, he showed the cards to player without the glass and vice versa. This is done because there are cards with ID part having a glass or without glass icon, which means a player without a decoder glass cannot cards with ID part showing only an eye symbol. But that player can JUDGE these cards (always in the opposite situation). The player that was shown the cards to ID must identify the cards, but He may not telling the truth depends on his alignment. TRADE action can be taken by trade some of the cards in hand with someone else with the condition that the other player agree to take that trade and trade the same amount of cards. When taking a JUDGE action, players must be able to JUDGE all 3 cards on their hand, meaning if he wore a decoder glass, the 3 cards must have a JUDGE part showing a decoder icon on the. To JUGDE, that players decide whether to exonerate those 3 cards or deport. The game ends when the JUDGE markers are already used a number of times or when a player Accuse. All the judged citizen cards are scored based on their identities and the track is adjusted.  Accuse is an action taken from out of player’s turn. This may only be taken once the accuse countdown token is already revealed. The player who accuse must accuse 3 alignments, Soviet, Patriot and Unaligned (only used when there is an odd-numbered of players). If guessed correctly each alignment give 1 point to the accuser alignment, but -2 points if the guess is incorrect.The game also has a special mode that adding another element into the game, which is profession cards. These cards give players special abilities that they can use based on the requirement listed on the cards.  I am quite interested on this one and would love to try. The concept is good but not sure it really works. Since the players who wear decoder glass can peek outside the glass to know things that they shouldn’t make the game has high chance to miss. That’s why I need to try it first to make sure of this.
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pic3592167_mdCUSTOM HEROES
This game is designed by the guy who also designs Downfall (which is currently on Kickstarter right now), John D. Clair. As you can see that the title has a big Japanese characters on it instead of the English title, this is because the game is currently one of the games in AEG’s Big In Japan lineup. And I don’t really know why they place this game into this lineup since the designer himself is apparently not a Japanese, maybe the Anime thingy for the theme? Unlikely.  But anyway, let’s ignore that and go to the game. It has very interesting components (though not the first), which is plastic cards. Already used in Gloom, the card game that first using this kind of components where players stack cards on top of other cards to get different effects. The different is that players stack /overlay their cards and keep it in their hands. So the game comes with enough special sleeves that work as a carrier for stacked cards (easier to handle). In this game players will have to get rid of cards from their hand as fast as possible. While at first the game comes as trick taking game, it’s not. It’s a ladder climbing game such as Tichu or Maskmen. The starting player will start the round by playing a set of cards (can be 1 or 2 or 3 of one kind) and the next player must be able to play the same value of that set or higher. If he couldn’t, he must pass. The player wins for the turn will lead new turn. Once a player discards all cards from his hand, the round is over and deal scorings. What interesting about this game is that players can customize and modify their cards by stacking other cards into another card (inside the sleeve). This allows player to modify the value of that cards or maybe give special abilities. Quite interesting (just picture Gloom if you know that game) right? But that’s not all, since each round all cards are discarded, players will start the new round with all different cards in their hands, this might lead that your cards in previous round (the one that you modified) might be end up in other player’s hand in the next round or subsequent rounds. Player wins the game by collecting 10 points.
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Okay, enough for now. Again I need to research more.
So happy hunting for new games, until next time with more new exciting games.

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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 2

Following the previous one, here is part two of Essen 2017 Highlights Preview. Last time I showed you some good games that you would probably like, and now I hope you would like my next picks. Without further ado, let’s start with,

pic3489147FLIPSHIPS
It’s designed by Kane Klenko (Covert, FUSE, Flatline and etc) and illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya. The game is practically Space Invaders: The Board Game. Yup, you and you partners will team up (okay it also has competitive mode) and defend the city against hordes of alien ships invasion just like the video game. What makes this game unique is that you need to flip your ships out to the outer space in order to shoot (more like a kamikaze move there) the enemies. Yes, you can flip the ship token (it’s made of cardboard in case you are wondering) from the edge of the table or they provide you with a wooden base to put your ship as a launch pad of some sort. The enemies are cards, form in rows and columns, they have different abilities. But the real deal is the mothership. The mothership is the boss, if you and your friends cannot defeat it before the deck runs out, you’re practically dead (it gives you 20 damage points). Worry not, you have plenty things to use in your disposal such as different level ships with different abilities and the game difficulties can be adjusted to players liking. In order to unlock the different levels, players need to trigger the condition, which usually from the City defense track. I think the game is very interesting, action dexterity game with nostalgic feeling where you flick ships to defeat enemy. I know like other dexterity games, it has 50/50 chance that it could be a hit or miss game. But even players with lousy flicking skill could improve with experiences and strong will. Hope you do not give up with one try if you perform badly flicking you ships. All in all, the game is super fun for friends, family and children alike.
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pic3611025_lgSANTA MARIA
The duo Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby are back with their latest game called Santa Maria. This game is still using the core concept from their previous games, Doodle City and Avenue. Imagine a city building game with placing tiles in grid spaces and dice placement to activate buildings in a column or row. The game plays over 3 rounds and in each turn, players will take one of the 3 available actions, expand, activate a building, activate a row/column or retire / withdraw from the round. Expand action gives you more space to work on your colony than you can use to activate. They usually produce resources or other things when activated. Players also has the choice to use an available die to activate a column or use their own blue die to activate one row. The twist is that after activating the row or column, the die used is placed on the last vacant building in that row / column. This building, cannot be activated again in subsequent turn. So players need to be careful and consider this factor in their actions. It has good variations in the game which is a plus. Plays very relatively quickly and falls into light-medium Euro category. There are a bit of set collection, resource management, tile laying, and dice placement in the game. The artworks are good and very friendly, it’s definitely worth checking out.
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pic3671706_mdALIEN ARTIFACTS
Is a new release game from Portal games. Designed by relatively new designers, Marcin Ropka and Viola Kijowska (Taste of Poland). The game take the theme of a space 4X card game. Players will have a character which gives them variable player powers and starting tableau. It is a tableau building game, with the similar feel of Imperial Settlers. Each player has a player board in the table, which separates 2 sides of their table, left and right. The left side is used to place cards that is not yet come into play (under construction or some sort) and the right side is for cards that are already built. The cards have three different types, Ships, Technology and Planets. And the unique about this game is that these cards can be used in two ways, Logistic and Operational. Logistic has an orientation of giving benefits during the game, where Operational mostly gives more ways to score points. From the logistic side, Ships increase the assembly limit, Technologies give you cool abilities while Planets gives you more extra resources. On the Operational side, ships allow players to attack Alien ships, Technologies give players more ways to score points and Planets produce resource cards. I find these flexibilities unique and can provide different strategy and ways to play. The game looks great, it has resource engine, tableau building, variable player powers and that 4X feels in it. I think they kinda look unattractive with the art direction, white dominant background with minimum icons and colors. The objects are not really standout as oppose with the white and clear background, it’s less evoking. But hey, they actually have really cool illustrations if you look closer.
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pic3443532_mdPRINCESS JING
Is a 2-players game from Roberto Fraga (Captain Sonar, DR. Eureka, Doctor Panic, Spinderella and etc). Its a nice looking deduction game / hide and seek game where one players will be the Princess Jing and other player as guards. In the story (I hope I am correct) that Princess Jing needs to escape from the palace and in order to do that, she needs to evade all the guards chasing her with the help of the pillars and her assistants. The game uses interesting mirror reflection (yes, there will be a working mirror component in the game that is used to search the princess). Players will sit in two opposite sides, and Princess Jing can hide herself behind the pillars as she moves which cannot be seen from her opponent’s side. The guards need to make a smart deduction, cover some areas to corner the princess while also placing the mirror to locate the princess. While the princess is not by herself, she has help from her assistant that will act as a decoy for the guards. The game is very unique take on deduction element while incorporating interesting component into the game which formed a nice simple hide and seek game. It plays relatively quick and simple. Sadly, the publisher (Matagot) claimed that it’s not yet ready for Essen 2017 and they only have demoes for it. So while you still have to wait to get it, maybe putting it on your wishlist would be enough to make you wagging your tail, or not.
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pic3534426_mdMINI PARK
This one comes from Taiwan BG Design (which represents SoSo games). They have nice looking titles for Essen 2017 releases and this one looks cute and attractive in such a very simple way. It’s colorful (greens and other colors). The game objective is about building park and score points from it. The game is simple, on their turn players choose whether to place a tile or a character. To place a tile, they take from the available two tiles in the display or take the top most face down tile from the draw pile. Place it adjacent with the existing tiles on the table. The roads on the tile must be connected and cannot be blocked. That player will get 1 points for each tile connected to the newly placed tile. Or they can place an available character from the display into one of the tile already in played. This is for scoring more points based on the park condition. The game comes in 2 different modes, basic and advance. As in advance mode, more complex elements are introduced into the game such as the placing character action will gives an end game scoring opportunity. And players are able to take this action a few times based on number of players while in the basic mode, only once. So the nature of the game is about building park together with other players while watching carefully when to take the action to score with a character. The characters scored differently based on different elements available on the park, while these will determine what players are after to score during the game. In short it is a racing game to score first while trying to score big. If you score too early in defense getting it before someone else, you might score small, while if you trying to hold back and score late in the game, other players might probably take that chance away. It’s an interesting game for sure, simple but creates a growing tension between players, which also gives precedence that this game has a strong take that feel since once your scoring chance is taken, your plan is blown and have to take the plan B instead. The game has a small box and everything is small, but it has some nice looking shaped wooden characters in it.
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Well enough for now, hope these nutritions fit you well to get through today. I personally waiting for Princess Jing, want to try Alien Artifacts with that cool looking card uses. Mini Park is a nice addition for what it is, and definitely getting Flipships, while still on the fence for Santa Maria concerning how the game really fit into the theme and replay value. Until next time with more new releases games straight from Essen 2017.

Disclaimer: all of the images shown are taken from boardgamegeek.com, I do not have the rights for all the images.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Article, Events, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 1

I’m trying my best to cover as many games I can in the wake of Essen Spiel 2017 so you can get better preview on what games interest you more and what you should be getting.
I’m starting with part one, which covers some of the games. Be sure to check out more parts along the way after this one.

ClaimCLAIM
Okay this one is a small game, it’s a 2-players game to be exact. Claim is designed by Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Coaster Park, The Great Dinosaur Rush, etc) and consists of two different halves like For Sale or Biblios. It’s a trick taking game where players decide to play a card to win another card in display. Players with the highest suit win the round and each suit has slight abilities that matters on timing. Like any other trick taking game, the other player must follow suit if they have or use a specific card that can break the suit. After collecting the cards, they will use those cards to gain favor of the suits / factions. In the end the scoring uses majority in each faction. It plays quick and simple, and the artworks are also look very good, done by The Mico (Raiders of the North Sea, GOT Hand of The King, etc).

pic3584297_mdMICHAEL STROGOFF
I am really excited about this one. It is based on novel adaptation from Jules Verne with the same title. In the game, players have to deliver the message of an imminent Tartar invasion over Moscow. It’s simply a racing game, player who managed to get into the destination and defeat the traitor Ivan Ogareff before He successfully invades Russia with Tartar’s army, wins the game. The game plays in rounds where each round players will take turns to do one of the possible action (advance, rest and resolve dangers) followed by the movement of the traitor. Players need to advance in order to get into the destination, but advance will force them to encounter many events in the route which usually have bad things on them. The route cards work in similar with trial cards in The Grizzled where the same danger icons cannot be present. If there are more than one icon present during this time, they have to bear the penalties where all route cards player has in their display, forcing the players to discard action cards or lose energies and flip route cards face down. Here comes the rest action where players can draw cards, recover energy or flip a face down card. The other action is resolve dangers where players need to deal with the dangers on their route cards shown in their tableau.
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MontanaMONTANA
The game is about building settlements in Montana (obvious to the max) from Rudiger Dorn (Istanbul, Karuba, Jambo, etc). So as expected it’s a Euro game, medium weight to be precise. This is another racing game, where player who manage to build all of their settlements, wins the game. In this game, players will take turns to get workers, assign those workers to get resources. Where these resources will be used to build settlement. It has modular board setup with networking in the tile laying mechanic, resource management and worker placement and a small bit of auction in the worker placement segment. What unique about this game is that there are multiple types of workers and they do different things, and the main way players to get workers is through the spinner. Yes it’s like a luck-based rondel system where players spin the arrows in the wheel and see what workers they got. The component quality is good, each player gets their own player board to manage their workers and resources (not necessary but a plus) and the visual presentation is off the chart, it is beautiful and rich of colors. It plays relatively quick and the rules are clear and simple. But the main concern is that I think it has low replay value, where players are obviously do the same thing over and over again without any significant difference in each game. The modular board during setup doesn’t help cause it just gives variation but doesn’t change the game play even a bit.
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ora01_box_leftLEGACY OF DRAGONHOLT
FFG latest game, they claimed it RPG without the need of a game master. Their new Oracle system provides the game that works without a game master, with its intuitive game play capturing immersive storytelling of a role playing game while adding the legacy mechanic inside the game. In short, they want to look cool with this new called system as it is practically a legacy game. It has character creations in it, some scenarios and mostly books full of paragraphs.
Corey Konieczka is the man behind the game, who also designed some notable games from FFG (Rune Age, Battlestar Galactica, Runewars, etc). I must say that I am interested on this one, surprisingly it still doesn’t have a listing on BGG. FFG announced it will be available in late 2017. I am not sure this will be on Essen 2017, but it’s new and was on Gen Con, so I just thought that this would be interesting to wait and look for.
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Ex LibrisEX LIBRIS
Adam P. McIver (Coin Age, Kingdom Land) new game, called Ex Libris. In this game players will become book collectors and in the event of Grand Librarian held by the city, you must show that you are the greatest one in the city. So in this game players will manage their book shelves with a series of books and score points from them. The game has worker placement mechanic where players sent the workers into places in the city in order get books that you want. In the end players will score based on the alphabetic order of their book shelves, variety and banned books.
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The game surely gets more interesting with variable player power instead of the basic mode. What more unique is that these variable player powers grant players with specific shaped worker meeples. By golly they have a gelatinous cube as a meeple (yes, it’s true). The gelatinous cube assistant meeple is in fact literally a gelatinous cube. It also has a snowman, but who can top a gelatinous cube meeple? I find the game to be quite interesting, finding and sorting stuff. But there are some detriments in the game, like aside the game has a very good range distribution of books category, nice clear category icons, beautiful artworks and flavors in it, sadly it has a bad in-game texts that hard to read. A classic mistake to place a white small texts in front of a colorful illustrations. Players will constantly check these texts to know what exactly the actions and how it works since the game play requires the routine rotation of the action tiles. And about the variable player powers, they seemed not balanced and also there are quite a bit of luck on the draw of the cards.
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pic3712277_mdCOASTER PARK
Another game from Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Claim, The Great Dinosaur Rush, etc). In this game, players build roller coaster park, the best on wins the game. The main attraction of this game is the 3D card board pieces of roller coaster. Yes, you actually build roller coaster rides from tiles. It uses the similar mechanic in The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, where the active player choose a tile and offer the tiles to other players with certain amount of value. If there’s a player interested on that tile, they pay that amount of money to the active player. If no one interested, the active player get the tile. Some tiles have different effect in scoring and at the end of the game, before scoring, players will get maximum three attempts to see if their ride is totally works or not. Yes, you will check if your coaster works or not by testing it. Each player has a marble which used as a roller coaster cart and they will let the marble slide from the top. This is a very unique take from the game, and while there’s a loop part of the coaster, it can really work to make the marble circle 360 degrees. Very interesting game indeed and of course the presentation off the chart. No one will not see this on the table.
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Disclaimer: all of the images shown are taken from boardgamegeek.com, I do not have the rights for all the images.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Events, Insight, Previews

 

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Counting Spells GO!

pic2209219_mdAbraca…What? Review
This game is hilarious. It’s from Korea (Dive Dice / Korea Board Games), designed by Gary Kim and illustrations from Marie Cardouat (Dixit). I got my copy from South Korea and I love to play this with hilarious casual group with spontaneous reactions.
Abraca…What? has a nice theme with a bunch of wizards trying to remember their spells correctly in a competition to be the best wizard in town. The interesting part of this game is that players will have to cast spells without knowing their own spells. Huh? Okay let me break it down to you. You can play with from 2 up to 5 players in the game and usually a game takes 30 minutes or so.

In the game, there are 8 different spells (number from 1 to 8) and the amount of each spell is the same as its number (there are only one spell of Spell number 1, two for Spell no. 2 and so on). The spells come in the form of plastic blocks (with thin insert to place the spell tile inside each of them) and these spells will be randomly shuffled face down. Players then will take 5 of these randomly and place it in front of them with the front side facing outward without looking at them. So players cannot check their own spells but can see their opponents’ spells (This would remind you of Hanabi from Antoine Bauza). Place 4 spells face down in the game board and the rest in the center. Each player choose a color and receive 6 life tokens with the respective color.

dav

Game components

The game is played in rounds. In each round, starting from the first player clockwise, they must cast a spell. If they guess a spell that matching their spells, they managed to cast it and that spell effect is resolved. Place the spell in the game board on it’s corresponding slot. After that, the active player can choose either to cast another spell or end the turn. If they choose to cast another spell, the restriction is that the spell cannot be lower than what was already cast this turn (same type of spell can be cast again).
If the active player incorrectly guess the spell, that player’s turn ends and lose a life token, the player then refill their spells back to 5 spells.
The round ends in one of two conditions, either one or more player runs out of life token (by himself or the active player managed to make at least one player run out of life tokens) or the active players managed to cast all the spells on their hand.
Player who managed to eliminate a player gets 3 points, while surviving players get 1 point each. Eliminated players gain nothing. Each Secret Stone that the surviving player have also gives one point. Then next round begins from the start, shuffle back all the spells. The game ends when one player managed to get 8 points.

dav

Life tokens, player markers and a six-sided die

The game involves deduction from spells that are available to check, you can check these spells from opponents’ hands, the already cast spells and the secret stones. It has pretty interesting deduction element, not just by eliminating the available spells but also by judging players’ guesses. It also has a very small bluffing element in the game, not really major but can still give interesting touch in the game. It’s a hilarious game, light and players very quick. Easy to teach, learn and play, has a high take that and push your luck element, leader bashing but restricted). Spells have different abilities, lower spells have more powerful effect while higher spells are less powerful, this is balanced by the amount of each type of spells. Spell number one has a very powerful effect that can force all players to lose some damages but there’s only one in the game, and it’s pretty hard to cast among all other spells if you not pretty sure you have it. But I have seen several players managed to cast this spell early in the game, which I believe a pure pushing their luck. Even if they managed to cast that spell, they also have to roll a six-sided die to determine the amount of damage (range from 1 to 3).

dav

Spell tiles

The game feels fresh at first though repeated plays might force the game experience to feel samey and boring after a while. Different group plays differently, though playing it with a group of casual, non-gamer, family or children can be quite fun.
From my experiences, the pattern usually starts from spell number 4 or 5, getting a winning streak in a single turn is very rare. My tips for the game, appoint a person to check active player’s guesses (usually the player to the left), this is to ensure that no one else pointing the spell which could lead to break the game if there’s more than one spell that the active player guess and more than one person pointing to different spells. And do your best to play in a round table or round formation, since checking everyone else’s spells could be difficult in certain angles and in some degree you could accidentally see your own. You mainly target your neighbors, targeting another player other than your neighbors can only be done with spell number 1 and 2, and there spells are only 3 in the game, so rare.
Also playing with different number of players are surely different. If you are playing with less than 5 players, there are some random spells removed from the game (with 3 players, remove 12 spells, 4 players remove 6 spells). So playing with 5 players assures all spells are used, while in 3 or 4, there is uncertainty which spells are not used in a game. If having control over the game means important, playing with five is surely a good option.

sdr

Game in progress

The 8 spells are:
Ancient Dragon (1): roll a die and other players lose that amount of life tokens.
Dark Wanderer (2): gain 1 life token and other players lose 1 life token.
Sweet Dream (3): roll a die and gain that amount of life tokens
Night Singer (4): choose and take one secret stone from the board, place it aside in front of you face down.
Lighting Tempest (5): player to your left and right lose a life token.
Blizzard (6): player to your left lose a life token.
Fireball (7): player to your right lose a life token.
Magic Drink (8): you get a life token.

sdr

Spell board

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Board Games, Reviews

 

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Information Breakdown

pic3407521_mdH.I.D.E Hidden Identity Dice Espionage Review
H.I.D.E caught my attention a while back and when I had the chance to visit South Korea, I picked it up cause it’s quite interesting enough for me. It’s from Korean designer, published by Dive Dice / Korea Board Games. It can be played from 3-5 players. The minimum player count did make me hesitate at first, but since it’s a very quick game, why not? And what the acronym stands for is pretty neat, thematic and fit nicely.

The Theme
In this game, players are spies / secret agents who are trying to gather as many intel as they can. The goal is to have seven ranks to be a legendary agent or have the most rewards at the end of the third round. If you judge from the visual presentation it’s more like a James Bond secret agent kind of thing. You are trying to get intel from different locations and sometimes there are other agents (players) that also want you dead. Eliminate other agents seems give them better ranks. There’s nothing special about the artworks. It’s plain simple, not really that stunning. Fortunately the symbols look clear.

Game Components
Colorful dice, yes… lots of them (there are 4 colors, with 8 dice in each colors). The dice colors are vibrant, yellow, blue, red and purple. It has good material and finish, smooth to touch and has rounded corners, to make it easier to roll. Each player has a thick player board (pretty nice considering that it serves less important role to the game play) and screen (this one is important), and the rest are cards.

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Inside the box

The Game Play
In the game, each player gets a player board and one screen. The game lasts for three rounds where in each round players will get a random gadget card (placed face up in front of them), one rank card on the respective space (right space of their board). The start player then reveal one intel card in each of the four locations (there are helmet, nuclear, submarine and satellite symbols, each symbol represents a different location) on the location board. These intel cards have different value rewards, range from $3000 to $10,000. Starting from the first player (clockwise), each player randomly take a single die from the dice bag (without looking) and secretly hide the drawn die behind their screen, and then decide which side they want to set (this is their identity die). The dice have 6 sides with different symbols (Submarine, Helmet, Satellite, Nuclear and 2 Gun symbols). Players must set their die to any symbol they want except Gun, they cannot set the symbol to Gun for this purpose, cause Gun symbol doesn’t refer to a location. After they set their die, they no longer can change it until the rest of the round.

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Colorful Dice

After all players already set their identity die, the starting player draw a group of dice from the bag randomly (with the total of number of active players plus one) and roll them. Then in clockwise direction, starting from the starting player, each player choose a die from the available. The die then must be placed either in the player board or on top of the screen. To place the die, there are some restrictions to keep in mind. To place it on the player board, the die must not share the same color AND symbol of that player identity die. This action shows that the player’s identity die is surely not of that color and symbol. While in the other hand, to place a die in the top of the screen, the die must share at least the color OR the symbol of the identity die (though it can share both color AND symbol). After placing the die on the top screen, the player then guess an identity die of another active player (still active in the round). They must correctly guess both color and symbol. If the guess is correct, that player takes all the rank cards from the chosen player, place one rank card to their ranks and place the rest face down as a reward on the left side of the player board. The chosen player is eliminated and no longer participate in the given round (this player is not considered active). Then, the turn change to the next player. If the guess is incorrect, the chosen player just say no and the turn change to the next player. After all players take a die, the starting player card change to the player to the left of the starting player and the leftover die(dice) is returned to the bag and the new starting player takes another group of dice from the bag and roll them. Players can also use their gadget card (once in a round) to change one of the available dice to any side (not the dice that already taken by players), ignore the symbol on the card for this purpose, it’s only used during a showdown. This can be done before or after they choose a die, tap the card sideways to show it’s already been used.

This is repeated until all the active players have already taken 4 dice, where the round ends. All active players then reveal their identity die. If a player is alone in a location, that player takes all of the intel cards on that location. But if there’s more than one player in a single location, showdown must take place. In a showdown, the players who participate add their identity die to the top of the screen along with the dice that they already placed during the round, and if their gadget card has the same symbol as their target location, then they add another die to the top of the screen. These dice count as their life during showdown. In a showdown, players roll a single life die, when a gun symbol shows as a result of the roll, that player successfully shoot their opponents (other players in a showdown lose a life die). They do this repeatedly until there’s last man standing, in which that player takes one rank card from the draw pile and add it to the ranks and take all the intel cards on the location. Then the next round begins. If it’s the third round, the game ends and player with the most money from intel cards wins the game.
It is possible that there’s last man standing before the round ends, if this happened, the last man standing can decide to take intel cards from any one location ignoring his identity die’s symbol. Also if during the game a player have seven rank cards, that player immediately becomes a legendary agent and wins the game.

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Gadget Cards

My Thought About The Game
Surely the game is a deduction game, from dice. In turns players are trying to guess other players identity dice without revealing their identities, while whatever players do, they involuntarily give information (possibly valuable) to the others. The game is simple if you already get the gist of it, which usually takes half a game to know clearly what you really should do. The game really lies heavily from information gathering, where you need to carefully observe what players do, say or think. It’s essential to guess other players identity. Every thing players do give information to other players, so carefully observe what other players do, say or anything could be very useful in later turns. You need to initiate table talk, in order to lure people talk, this is a great way to spill their beans. But be wary, the same thing goes for you. Basically taking a die gives information, though placing it on top of your screen do gives more information, but of course it depends on the current dice you have that determine the amount of information exposed. Getting the same dice over and over is a great advantage.

If you go deeper, there’s another layer of deduction to keep in mind, which is the set of dice left out after choosing a die are very important to figure out why you choose that die. So be careful on what dice you leave and observe what other players leave. The symbol on the gadget cards also give certain information on player’s tendency to follow the advantage given during a showdown, and the other hand, the amount of intel cards available in the locations also plays a great deal to determine which one is more favorable than others.
The game looks very interesting, and it plays better with 4 or 5 players. Though one minor thing that I think it’s pretty much logic, eventually you will get caught from information bashing from many players. Each incorrect guess leads to more greater possibilities until down to one, your true identity. So it’s a matter of time and what you do before you out of the round is critical. Be aggressive and try to eliminate players before they eliminate you is a good idea and a valid strategy the same as playing it safe.
I can accept the fact that that’s how the game works, if you incorrectly guess one’s identity, the next player has the advantage and that’s how it works. This makes the turn order really matter and players should consider this before their action.
I love the tense the game offers, many hilarious moments in the game, the AHA moments and surprise feelings when you got knocked out or fail to guess correctly in a 50-50 chance.

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The location boards and intel cards

Replay Value
Well, the game comes as it is. You play all the contents in the game except some special Intel or Reward cards that can be included in the game or not. So adding them gives more variation to the game, though I do not think it’s not change the game play in a major way. So the replay value is not really high, you should have the same kind of game play over and over again, the only different thing is your group. How players play in your group will determine how the game really works out in the end. Whether they play aggressively from the beginning or play it safe to ensure not getting caught easily.

dav

Game in progress

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Board Games, Dice Games, Reviews

 

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What Would Happened if?

pic1968267_mdCV Review
Have you ever wondered to do something different in your life? To do something else instead what you already did? What kind of life you would have if you change what you did in the past. You cannot turn back time, so it’s impossible to rerun your life from the beginning, but worry not, this game can. Yes, CV, which obviously stands for Curricculum Vitae is a game from the designer Filip Milunski with the vibrant, colorful illustrations from Piotr Socha, published by Granna in 2013, can be played from 2-4 players within 45-60 minutes.

The Theme
It’s very comical, about what will you do in your life. It reflects interesting point of views from different aspects that really matter in life. It stays true to one’s life timeline, starting from the age of childhood, to early adulthood, adult and ends with old age. In this one cycle of life, players will take turns rolling dice (it’s like our efforts and choices in life) and choose whatever set in front of them to take to add those cards to their life. From time to time, players will grow, and can get additional resources to help them in their future turns. It’s quite thematic and the most interesting part of the theme is that the cards have interesting title that are portrayals of life itself in a weird humor serve best with beautiful, cute and colorful illustrations.

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The Artworks
Without a doubt, Piotr Socha had nailed this down. His illustrations are completely stand out with his comical surrealist style and full of peaceful colors. Personally I was first interested on this game solely because of the illustrations. But when I tried the game, it turned out to be good. So if you like Piotr Socha style, stay tuned to know more beyond the illustrations.

The Components
Needless to say, the box is pretty stand out with the cover, colorful and eye candy. It has a square shape and the size is a bit smaller than the usual square boxes. Though I think it could have been smaller with the components being just a board, cards, some tokens and dice.
The game’s main components are dice and cards. The cards are unusual in size, a bit larger than normal and need extra effort to get them sleeved with the correct size. There are seven custom six-sided white dice, these dice are in good quality though the odd amount of dice seems buggering me (I assume it’s about game balance, and for the sake of easier rule reminder, the amount of dice are limited to 7 as it’s the maximum amount a player can roll in their turn), or it’s about cost efficiency.
The tokens are used to help managing your resources during your turns, not really essential, the game can be played without any resource token if all players do not really bothered keeping track of their resources. They also have thin card stock, thinner than the usual card board tokens and also bland white color background with black symbols. Not really interesting I must say, but maybe this contrast combination serves well with the colorful components. The game also provides a score pad and one pencil to keep track during scoring.
It also comes with a plastic insert, to store all the cards, dice and tokens. But… I do not think it really serves that purpose well. You still need to bag the tokens and dice so they will not fall off the trays when carried, and also if you sleeve the cards, those will not fit back into the tray, so you either need to remove the insert or place the cards under it. So not really practical in the end, kinda bit disappointed with this.

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Game Components

The Game Play
Before the game starts, some arrangements need to be made, separate and shuffle each deck (based on different color on the cards’ back), place each deck on the game board on it’s corresponding space. Deal one Goal cards (purple) to each player, place some cards on the game board (depending on the number of players), these cards will reflect as Public Goals. Separate Bicycle card from the Childhood deck and draw a number of Childhood cards based on number of players. Then add the Bicycle card to the drawn cards, shuffle them, place the rest of Childhood cards back to the box, it’s not used in this game.  As I already mentioned above, the game will take players to go through several eras in life, starting from Childhood, Early Adulthood, Adult and Old Age. Childhood is a special era, where players are dealt 3 Childhood cards randomly. Then each player will choose one card to keep and pass the other to their left. This drafting process continues until players choose 2 cards and receive the last card from their right. These three cards form their starting cards on their hand (just say it’s a resource that players receive right after they’re born). Player with the Bicycle card, place it in front of him and receive the Bicycle token, he will be the starting player in this game.
Starting from Early Adulthood, in clockwise order, players take turns to roll dice and buy cards from the available lineup. Starting from Early Adulthood deck onward. By default, each player rolls 4 dice (players can get more dice if they have the responding active cards in their tableau) and use the symbols from the result. They also have the chance to re-roll the result twice at most. If there’s any bad luck symbol among dice rolled, immediately set it aside, that die (dice) is locked and cannot be re-rolled. If a player gain the third bad luck, that player must discard one of his active cards.
But on the other hand, if a player managed to gain three good luck symbols, he can get any one card from the available ones for free. In a single turn, each player can get at most two cards. The cards they get are added to their tableau based on the respective categories (colors) or place it on their hands (if the card is one-time use / grey color).
Slide the available cards to the left and add more cards to the empty spaces. The next player take his turn.
If there’s no card at the current deck to refill the slots, the game is paused for a while. Players check their table and count their cards, if there’s a player who has half or less than the total cards from player with most cards, that players get a social assistance, they can get one card for free from the available ones. This is to make sure the balance or helping out the last position player for future turns.
The game ends after there are a number of cards left in the last deck as many as the number of players in the game. Players then sum the total of their points from their possession cards, public goals, personal goal and also the number of their Health, Relationship and Knowledge cards. Player with most points wins the game.

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Tokens

My Thought About The Game
I like it. It’s pretty simple, light and fun for family or friends that you can play casually over a tea anytime. The rules are pretty straightforward, easy to grasp just rolling dice and getting cards. Players start the game with 4 dice, and if they get the cards, they can roll more dice. Rolling more dice doesn’t really necessary to be good. More dice means more possibility to get bad luck, but of course on the other hand, same chance to get good luck symbols. I like how simple it is, you roll dice and use those dice to get something. And talking about luck, you can re-roll twice at most to get better results. The hard thing is bad luck, yes, once you get a bad luck, that die is locked. Having three bad luck symbols force you to remove one of your active cards, this is a major set back to your tableau. But getting three good luck, gives you any card for free, pretty big deal if there’s a very good card with expensive cost. The downside (which I can ignore most of the time) is that mostly the cards you want revealed after your turn ends, so it’s unlikely still available in your next turn. One of my plays had almost all the Possession cards were ‘filtered’ before me, left me with nothing. But hey, that’s a game of life. Surely nothing goes as planned, no matter how hard you plan or try. Which I said it’s also the interesting part. Just play the game as a nice simulation of life and how life can turns in many ways.
Basically it’s a combination of dice rolling and tableau building, so aside from rolling good results, you need to consider how you want to build your tableau. Possession cards give you huge points at the end, but pretty much useless during the game (most of them). I take the goal cards are not really that powerful, so these might mislead you in your quest. The card collections can generate very big points for you if you can get a lot of cards.

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Available Cards

Replay Value
I don’t think the game has a very high replay value. The game uses the same deck of cards with 4 players. With less than 4, there’s possibility that all cards are not used (Childhood and Goal cards). So with several plays, you probably have already see all the cards. If it has more deck options like Agricola, that would be something. Aside from that, it’s just a simple dice rolling game with a decent tableau building mechanic. Pretty light for casuals and non gamer.

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Player’s Tableau – End Game

 
 

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The Lower The Better

Parade Review
I came across this beauty by chance, yes I heard it and saw it before, but never in my mind I would have the game. Okay what is Parade anyway? At first the box looks cool, it has a fascinating illustration of Chessire the cat in Alice in Wonderland universe, you know the purple grinning cat that can disappear at will? If you don’t know, never mind, it’s an abstract anyway. Parade is a card game, small one (you can judge by the size of the box), but contains a very good game.

Once you open the small box, you came across a handful deck of cards with a scoring pad and a manual sheet. Aside from the scoring pad and manual sheet you will only play the game with only cards, sounds simple. The cards are in good linen finish, with manual sheet is printed on not-so-common paper, it has textured surface, so must be fancy paper. The scoring pad is nothing special, never use it anyway.

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Game Contents

Sadly, there’s a little room to implement a strong theme in this kind of game. Its pure abstract, though I must say that even pure abstract could have a good art / theme. This game use Alice in Wonderland theme as its artworks and they’re beautifully illustrated.

About The Game
The cards consist of 6 different colors (characters) with 11 cards for each color (with its value ranging from 0-10). These cards will be shuffled and deal six card as a parade line, with one of its end is placed the draw pile. This end should be consider the back of the line. Then each player will get 5 cards from the pile. On their turn, players must play one card from their hand to the front of the line. The card played will determine the resolution for that player. The number on the played card shows how many cards are ignored behind that card, so if you play a 5, you will count 5 cards after that card to be ignored and only check the cards after it. For any cards with an equal value or lower than the played card in the rest of the line, that player will take and place them on their tableau. And if there’s any card with the same color as the played card in the rest of the line, no matter the value, that player also take it. Then before the player’s turn ends, draw another card back to 5 cards. Players repeat their turns until one condition is met, either one player collects all 6 different colors in their tableau or the draw deck runs out, the game will come to an end.
Players will play one more card which leave their hands down to 4 cards. Then they choose 2 cards to keep and discard the other 2. Then they add the two cards to their tableau and final scoring begins.

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Color Sets

Unique Scoring
To count the scoring, players need to check cards majority based on colors. Check each color majority, the player with a color majority only count the number of the cards they have with that color. If there are multiple players who have majority over a color, they’re not considered majority, hence need to count the total value of that colors.
While other colors that isn’t majority, players count the total value. The sum value will determine the players’ final points. The winner is the player with the least points.

My Thought About The Game
The game is very simple, easy to learn and offers interesting choices while still maintain interaction and luck. The twist is very interesting, you need to keep your points as low as you can, which means try your best not taking many cards or best not taking at all (yes it’s possible, though you still need to place 2 cards in the end). If you have to take cards, try to take the smallest ones or maybe the cards that could lead you to gain majorities.
I found the game to be entertaining, with 4-6 players, more interactions, more players but the game length still the approximately the same. Luck might play a moderate part in the game but you can figure out what cards still out there once the deck runs out. So in the end, getting to know the cards distribution would give you something to ponder on before the game ends. I always think that getting a majority is a good thing, but way leading in a color might prove to be hurtful, so just keep it in check that other players cannot outmatch your majority, but still keep a back up plan in your hands.
The idea of the game is brilliant, trick taking, push your luck, take that and set collection game with simple math. There’s a good decision making in this and to be honest, I call the game to be a risk-management game of numbers and colors.

Replay Value
It has no variation, so the truth is that there’s no new elements in your plays but the interactions give good replay value. The cards are all the same, there are obvious moves, though opponents might make different moves / plans toward specific colors.  It is a good filler, so keeping the game for 15-30 minutes of free time is always a good choice.

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Playing the game

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews

 

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