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Survival Has A New Name

dav

The Grizzled Review
Okay, just bought this recently and I already logged many plays over this one. So what is The Grizzled anyway? Truth be told The Grizzled is a cooperative game (yeah, I don’t like coop games, but this one is among the exceptions) that sets in the first world war timeline, where a bunch of village men (from France) were forced to take arms and go to war against their will. They promised that if they survive the war, they will get back together to their village. In case you don’t know, this one is based on a true story, historical! The game was published by Cool Mini Or Not (which is unusual for them to release a game without minis, hey it only has cards and some tokens) around 2015 and has garnered quite worldwide attention (a positive one).

The Theme
As you already know from the above description, The Grizzled set in WWI timeline, where some group of village men in France were forced to go to war. They had no choice, but fought for survival, not about winning the war, but how to stay alive together until the war ends. This story was told from the characters themselves, surviving the horror of life called war. And the game recreates that story, which they described as a living hell. In the game players will take up one of the roles of the characters, fight to survive alongside their teammates. They must survive until peace comes or one of them die before then or they lost their morale.

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The Artworks
Simply authentic, since the game was adapted from famous graphic novel, it also used the same talent, Tignous. I did not familiar with the name, though maybe Europeans or French might. But whoever Tignous is, his works are amazing, the style is very fit to represent the era and situation. Warm but rough that represents familiarity and the hardship during war. Sadly, he had passed away in the Charlie Hebdo shooting, may he rest in peace.

The Game Components
Nothing special I must say, though the small box really suitable to say the least. The cards are good, with nice linen finish, but I advice to sleeve them since you will be required to shuffle them often. The tokens are good enough, no complaint. They also provide a square game aid board for reference but not that is really necessary. They also provide a stand we for leader player, a nice addition, though also unnecessary.

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The Game Components

The Game Play
The Grizzled is one of those co-op games that shares partial information to the players, keeping them unknowingly about the situation of other players’ hand aside from what is on the table. Though not knowing other players’ hand, players can figure out some clues along the way, which I must say this one requires more subtle and advance deduction and card-guessing than games like Hanabi or The Resistance (well no bluffing though).
In the game, players will undergo missions and working together until peace is resolved (there are 25 cards form a trial deck on top of the peace card, they will removed these cards so that peace card is revealed and they win). The restriction is that no one get killed or before their morale runs out (which is a morale card beside the trial deck with some cards on top of it). These cards are their morale indicator, when the cards in this deck run out, they died.
At the start of the round, the leader will declare the mission intensity, which is how many cards that each player will be dealt from the trial deck. More cards they deal the faster they go towards peace, but more difficult to finish the mission.
Then starting from the leader, each players take an action. The action could be playing a card from their hand, using their lucky charm or speech token. Playing a card from the hand could be either playing a threat card (cards with threat symbols) to the No Man’s Land (center of the table) or playing a hardknock card beside their character card.

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Using A Speech Token

When playing cards to the center of the table, players must play a threat card, nothing else. Threat cards are cards that consist of one or more threat symbols on them (there are 6 threats, Whistle, Mortar, Gas Mask, Night, Snow and Rain). These threats represent obstacles that the group has to overcome through the mission. If at any time there are at least three threats of the same kind present in the center, the mission is failed.
Aside from playing cards to the center of the table, players can play cards toward themselves, which is to sacrifice themselves by playing trauma or hardknock cards. Trauma punishes the group by adding virtual threat (depicted on the card) as long as the player is active on the mission, while hard knock punishes the group / player during mission in many ways.
Another actions are using a speech token or lucky charm. Players can spend a speech token they have to get rid of cards from their hands that share the same threat that they declare. Very handy but speech tokens are limited, so not to be used carelessly.
For lucky charm, each character has their own lucky charm preferences. Players can use their lucky charm (once) while their character card is still face up. Once used, the card is flipped face down and the lucky charm cannot be used again until they flipped it face up again in later turn.
If they cannot or do not want to play an action, they must or can withdraw from the mission. When withdrawing, they play a support tile (if available) face down and will no longer take part in the current mission. This means they do not take another turn and also their hardknock and trauma cards do not take effect.

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Samples of Threat Cards

The mission is over if it’s completed or fail. Players completed the mission if all players have passed. In other hand, they failed if there are 3 or more threat icons of one kind present in the center of the table. Failed mission is not the end, it just makes the road to peace is further away, which lead to morale drop. Check support tiles, the player who receives the most support tiles this round will get the benefit to either remove 2 hard knock cards or refresh their lucky charm. If they failed the mission, the player only able to remove 1 hard knock card and cannot refresh their lucky charm.

After support phase, there is a morale drop. Each mission the group will always remove 3 cards from the morale deck and place it on top of the trial deck. If the sum of cards in players’ hands more than 3, for each excess card, players add a card to be removed from the morale. If the morale deck runs out, the group lose the game.

dav

Sample of Hardknock Cards

My Thought of The Game
I think the game is very refreshing, unique but stays simple and easy to learn. You can explain the game in 5-10 minutes and start playing the game. The game also plays quite fast, 15-20 minutes per game and you can play back to back if you have more time. I usually don’t enjoy cooperative games (mostly because of the decision making and alpha male issues) but this one is different, players do not share all the information and they were kept in the dark about other players’ hands. I like the simple idea by playing cards with symbols on it, and the catch is easy, they failed the mission if there are 3 symbols of one kind present in the game. This is a controlled situation (mostly) since they have full control what cards to play (aside from the trap effect). So given the situation, there are many times that players were forced to play bad cards to themselves or withdraw even they still have cards in hand.
The interesting part is they need to determine how they treat the missions, either they want to reach the peace in a hurry (but risky) or keep calm and do small steps. This is interesting since players cannot just fooling around since there’s a morale deck that keep on reduced on each mission. But if players rushing it in, the difficulty rise up. So they need to find a way to keep the balance and survive. Yep I haven’t told you before about it, the game is about survival. And the game play really reflects that in many ways.
I just like how they integrate such a small and simple game into a theme with strong flavor and very immersive from it’s characters’ point of view. I find the game to be relaxing and fun playing with friends or family (nope, never try with family before) disregarding the theme context of war. It’s about survival and nothing is bad from that.

dav

Sample of Trauma Cards

Replay Value
I don’t think there’s many replay value in the game, but of course since the beginning the game is not really that easy to win, so players will struggle to take up on winning and with different players, there are different feels. But the good thing is that there are some modules and variants to keep you entertained for some time, enough until any expansions released (wait, there is an expansion). The expansion will greatly add replay value to the game, haven’t tried it yet but looking at the preview, it surely damn interesting.
In fact the game’s difficulty can be adjusted, though I am sure the default difficulty is hard enough, it’s good to know that even if you and your friends beat the game at default difficulty you can step up on the game with harder ones (moving cards from morale deck to trial deck).

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Characters that you can play in the game

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Card Games, Reviews

 

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You Can Get Choked Drinking This Potion

dav

Potion Explosion Review
Warning, choke hazard, if you drink any potions on the game! They come in marbles, colorful marbles (okay only four colors, but still…)
Potions do explode, which based on my experience, I know none of this thing, never ever I brew a potion, worse make it explodes. So, when a potion explodes, what that leaves us, a good thing or not? In this game, explosions are always good if it’s your turn. Others, not so much. The game is about making potions (that’s obvious). The game had been on my wishlist since last year, which the game had made it’s debut in Essen 2015. Finally I got the game from an online store in Italy (it’s an Italian games, so that explains), which I gave up to wait for English version, and got the Italian instead.

What made me drawn into this game anyway, aside from the marbles? Well, the marbles, I mean the dispenser (they call it that) that hold all the marbles looks spectacular from my seat or anybody’s. The dispenser is unique not also in form and shape, but also how it works. It holds all the marbles and can slide them over for game purpose, so a design with purpose is always a plus on my side. Plus the game play seems simple enough to produce fun with casual friends (when I don’t do heavy Euros but need something to occupy my time around 60-90 minutes).

The Theme
This is very abstract, so don’t expect much but it’s theme is applied perfectly. Players are chemistry students learning about the reaction of mixing potions. Now the test begins and they will compete with each other to prove that they’re the best among many in front of the professor. Player with the most points at the end of the game wins the game to be the most talented student of the professor.

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Inside the Box

The Game Components
Marbles (of course), the dispenser, some tokens and potion tiles. The marbles come in four colors (blue, red, yellow and black) and the colors are not solid, so they are kinda different from each other. The game comes with two extra marbles for each color, substitutes if you lose a marble or two, a nice gesture from the publisher. The potion tiles are fun to look at, colorful, but a bit thin than it should, but then again, if its thicker than it is, the pile would be very high and won’t fit into the inserts. Sadly the holes in the potions weren’t cut perfectly in place, many misses that some OCD players will find them annoying. The marble dispenser need to be assembled for the first time, and it’s quite fragile, so glue it down is a good solution, since you can store the assembled dispenser back into the plastic insert (yes they provides a very useful insert) without the need to disassemble it again. One last thing is, the box quality is not very good, I own the first Italian edition from Ghenos / Horrible games and it’s kinda thin, flimsy and easily torn, luckily the game is not that heavy.

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Playing The Game

The Game Play
It’s very simple, on your turn you must take one marble (ingredient) from the dispenser, and you take any explosion caused by your action (2 or more marbles of the same color collide with each other and explode). These marbles go into your hand and you must allocate these marbles onto your available potions (which you will always have 2 in your brewing desk) based on the matching color. When a potion tile is complete (all the slots are filled with matching marbles), you flip it face down and remove it from your brewing desk and return all the marbles on it back to the dispenser.
This complete potion can be consumed (aside giving you points at the end of the game) to gain it’s effect (which could be varies depends on the potion types). Once you consumed it, you turned it upside down to remind that you already drink it.
You also can (once per turn) ask help from the professor, which allow you to get additional ingredient from the dispenser (but keep in mind, no explosion will happen even if 2 or more marbles of the same color collide with each other) to help you finish your potion during your turn, but of course it’s not free, you must take a -2 token which will count against your points at the end of the game.
You can also get achievement token by completing 3 potions of the same type or 5 different potions. Each achievement token will give you 4 points at the end of the game, and these achievement tokens also what trigger the end game aside from the available potions from the pile. So once the game end is triggered, each other players will have one final turn, including the player who triggers it.

dav

Brewing Dry Potions

My Thoughts
It’s a very fun game, light and easy to play. What you do is take a marble and see the magic from marble explosions. Then try to complete your potions, maybe with the help of the professor or your own arsenal of potions. Though its quite straightforward, there are some way to arrange your moves to get the best chain combos outcome, timing is essential. Either by asking help or using potions in the right time can change the outcome  of your actions big time. Because of this reason, some might found this game prone to AP players. Personally I take this game as it is, a light game that you can play with your family, non casual gamers and other friends who thinks winning is not the real purpose but to have a great time playing and seeing marbles explodes (not literally). I found the game to be very easy (or not punishing) since you still count the points from completed potions even if you already consumed it for its effect. I think you can try the game without counting the points from used potions, that could be more challenging.
Talking about practical time for setup and tear down, I think this one has a problem (at least for me), since preparing the game is kinda fiddly and long when it comes to sort all the potions when you randomize potions to use in the game. There’s no other way, you have to choose either take more time to setup or more time to tear down. Or maybe you can play it with all the types (in which I don’t know how it affect the balance of the game).

Replay Value
The game comes with 8 different kind of potions and you only play it with 6 potions, so 2 random potions won’t be in the game. Aside from that, there’s no other element to add the replay value.

dav

8 kinds of potions

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Board Games, Euro Games, Reviews

 

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Rock Paper Scissor With A Bull

IMG_20160401_191716[1]Rodeo Review
My friend gave me a review copy of the game. It’s not a final copy, still prototype (but the arts are already final). He designed this game for quite some time, never take part in the process but I am quite honored He asked me to review his (first) game. He published it under his own banner, Red Vanilla Games which still has a very small print run. The game is now available only through pre-order with minimum quantity.

The game comes with (mostly) cards, tokens and rule set. It has a compact small box size like the box of Citadel or Red November (small). The art is simple, grunge brush style from Ivan Pratama (also a friend of mine), pretty neat. But sadly I thought the game title could be better in terms of font choices and colors. The rules also suffers the same fate, to crowded and the font for body text is not very easy to read. I think the rule structure can be improved, and it might be better with more examples of the game play. I do believe the rules can be greatly improved to make it more attractive and clear.

dav

Game Contents

How To Play
Each player gets a deck of movement cards and a set of duel cards. One player will starts a the bull (each player will be the bull once in a game). They shuffle these movement cards and draw a number of cards (6 for cowboys, 8 for the bull). The movement cards has 4 directions, UP, DOWN, LEFT and RIGHT. The bull play a card first, then other players must follow the bull movement on the card by playing a card with matching direction. If they cannot, they can discard any card and draw a card from the pile hoping it matches. But if not, they fell down (eliminated from the game) and the bull gets some points for it’s overwhelming effort to knock down the cowboy. But no worry, the player’s out but he can participates again in the next round.

Cowboy’s movement cards have 2 arrow icons to trigger a special action when these arrows match the bull’s two latest movements. With this special action cowboys and the bull can get points by playing a duel card. Before dueling with the bull, the cowboys can even play a matching movement card to add multiplier. Duel is basically a Rock-Paper-Scissor game. Players involve in duel play a duel card (either Rock/Paper/Scissor) and reveal simultaneously.
After the duel, the round continues again with the bull playing another movement card. Each player will take turns as the bull once, if the last player already finished the round as the bull, the game ends. Player with the most points, wins the game.

dav

Playing the game

My Thoughts
This is a very simple, light-hearted game. Basically it’s a RPS game (Rock-Paper-Scissor) inside a hand management game. It plays quick and easy and guess what you don’t even have to think. I have quite some fun with the game, though I must say that it’s not my kind of game. There’s not real decision at all in the game, since everything is about luck and random. When you’re dueling, you choose one card to play, either a Rock, a Paper or a Scissor card. This turns out doesn’t work at all, based on my plays we decided to shuffle the three cards and draw one (yes, that random), the positive thing you can get with this way is that you add a surprise element to the game. When we simultaneously reveal the cards, we have a good laugh over the result. I recommend this game for children or playing with family. It’s simple, easy to learn and also plays fast. So if you’re looking for a 30 minutes game with a lot of fun and easy to learn, this could be it. Why don’t you give it a try.

dav

I love this cute Cowgirl character, kudos to Ivan Pratama

I just thought the game deserves some improvement, in terms of components and design aspects. The VP chips should be in different denominations, in order to keep the supply small. And the rules could do a rework with body copy fonts and more game play examples. Also, different card backs could help a lot.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Card Games, Reviews

 

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Above and Beyond Expectation

pic2398773_mdAbove and Below Review
Red Raven Games hit the Kickstarter again with their title, Above and Below early in 2015 and it’s a huge success. It had garnered more than $ 142,000 from the expected goal of $ 15,000 (that’s a huge success I tell you that). Ryan Laukat is the man behind Red Raven Games and the game itself and managed to get himself  a quite established fan base in the board game hobby. I pledged this one right like instantly just because I knew in my heart and mind that it was the perfect time to back one of his game (after missing out Empires of The Void, City of Iron, and The Ancient World). Maybe partially because that his illustration skill was totally developed into an amazing one and the other was because the game offers something unique than other games in the market.

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Unboxing the game (Kickstarter Edition)

So what is this Above and Below and what kind of game is it? As it is on the title, Above and Below is a storytelling board game, and what I mean by storytelling it’s not like Dixit in any way (that’s the first thing came to my mind in the first place, Dixit). It’s a different storytelling than Dixit but honestly come to think of it, I failed to understand why Dixit is called as a storytelling, it’s a bit far off I think. Yes, you can tell a story, but the real essence is giving out a clue. That clue might be a story. But enough about Dixit and more about this game.

In this game, storytelling may be the strongest factor of the game, which makes it unique from other games aside from the simple worker placement and resources collecting. The storytelling aspect comes from a specific action in the game, which is explore / exploration. When players decide to do an exploration action, they will be read a specific story from the encounter book by on of their fellow players. From this story / encounter they will choose to react / what to do given the options available to them. Though each story / encounter that players have is short and unrelated to each other, it’s up to players imagination and will to make up a connection to those encounters they have for more better immersive game play (but that’s not affecting the game play in any way), in fact you can even ignore the stories and just go for the mechanic (though this isn’t the real intention from the designer).

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The Theme
Above and Below offers a mesmerizing world of fairy tale and imaginative world with beautiful universe created by the designer himself. His illustration style has brought him the title of Hayao Mizayaki’s of Board Games and it’s not exaggerates at all. The background story (might be a follow up from his previous game, The Ancient World) is that each of you lead a runaway villagers from their beloved home which had been invaded by either titans or maybe disasters or ravagers. In search of a new home, you’ve come to a place where you think it’s suitable / best to be your new settlement. As you starting to settle in that place, you found that it has an underground tunnel system that already been there for quite  a long time before your time. Now the sense of adventure engulf you with excitement, hence the game begins. So you will send some of your villagers (or all of ’em, it’s all up to you) to venture the underground hoping it will gives you fortune, interesting results and such.

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My first play

The Artworks
Another compliment to the designer, Ryan Laukat for making such a breathtaking universe, his own original universe. What I like the most about it, aside the beautiful scenery (peaceful blue sky and dark blue underground walls) is the villagers. The villagers have their distinctive feel in each one of them. They’re not only human, there are many other interesting races, Hogman (I guess this following the same universe from City of Iron), Glogos, even robots. The way that it’s made to be uniquely general makes it uncommon in the worlds of races (like elves, dwarfs or orcs and such) which I found it to be more masculine but not this, this can be enjoyed rather by anyone, male or female or children.

The Components
Aside from having a beautiful artwork, the game also comes with a top notch component quality. The cards are linen finished, tiles are smooth and the box is very sturdy (love it very much). And for the KS edition, it has exclusive custom shaped wooden resource tokens that replace the resource tiles (and you still get the tiles). Of course this upgrade the game components by a mile, since the presence of the wooden resources really add a stunning vibe on the game presentation, and gosh touching wooden instead of cardboard tiles are definitely way way much better.
But of course not all components are perfect, I consider the player mat and game board have minor issue on the finishing. The surface is smooth, which is good, but unfortunately it is not durable, easy to worn out by scratches and frictions (so be sure to keep it safely when storing and playing them).

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Wooden Resource Tokens from Kickstarter Exclusive

The Game Play
Though the game centers on the story-telling side, it also offers interesting good mechanic for players. The game last 7 rounds, yes too short. I am not talking about the play time ‘short’, but more about how short players to build their engine to get really started, but that’s make the challenge in the game. I just feel it’s not enough, want to play more and more, finish too soon. In each round players will take turns taking an action with their active / ready villagers. They can send 2 or more villagers to explore the underground tunnel or recruit another person as new a villager, send them to work labor to gain coins, harvesting resource from one of your buildings or build a structure (building or outpost) in your village. The round ends when all players already pass. Villagers that already used to take an action are send to the exhausted area in player’s board (or injured area).

Since the core of the game is about exploring, I will start with that first. Exploring action is the only way to develop your underground area. By exploring new caves, you can build outposts available in the center of the table. To explore the main requirement is having at least 2 villagers, they’re too scared or maybe not that stupid to go venturing to uncharted tunnels (and dark) alone. The player rolls a die and consult on the result table listed on the top most card from the cave pile. This will point out what encounter that player will have. Another player will have to go through the encounter book and find that paragraph, read it aloud to the active player. This paragraph contains a short backstory of the encounter to set up the scene and gives the player a set of choices to make (without saying the rewards and penalties). The player must choose one and resolve it. This usually requires the player to gain a specific number of exploration points in order to succeed, by rolling  a die per villager that participate on the exploration. If the result is equal or higher than the required amount, it is a success, but even if it not, the players can still  choose to exert their villagers (work extra hard) to get 1 point from each villager to count toward the result. But, as consequence those exerted villagers are injured (players will have to heal them with potions during the end of the round). Villagers have different values and chances of success, some of them also have special bonus for certain actions. If the exploration is a success, the player gets the card and the rewards listed, if its a failure, the action is wasted.

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Player’s Villagers, Ready and Exhausted

Another action is to recruit more villagers. In their turn, players can send a villager with a scribe icon to recruit one of the available villagers by spending a certain amount of coins listed. The new recruited villager cannot be used until next round, they place it on the exhausted area.
Another action is build. Players can choose to build a building (above the ground) or build an outpost from their completed exploration cards. Yes, outpost can only be build if there’s an empty exploration card in the player’s table. Players can choose from the available buildings, the starting star buildings, key buildings or from the draw lines. Players can also pay one coin per turn to discard all the cards from a line and draw another set of cards before or after doing this.
Another action they can do is to send villagers to harvest resources from their buildings. Some buildings provide resources and they need to be harvested first in order to be used or considered owned.
They also can send villagers to do labor. Labor is getting a coin per villager sent to do labor. The first player to do this action on a round, gets a cider token from the main board.
Once a player do not want or cannot do any action, they can pass for the round.
Once the round ends, players will get income based on their resource tracks. And they can spend potions to heal the injured villagers. And then the villagers that have a bed can sleep and rest to be ready in the next round. If there are more villagers than the number of beds, the rest are not be available next round.

dav

Playing the game, very enjoyable

Aside from the storytelling, the game also emphasizes about the village building aspect. Players can do actions to make their village better and generates points for them in the end game. So basically players get points from building that they’ve built, end game points from buildings, reputation track and advancement track. Let’s focus on advancement track. In this track each space contains 2 different information, points and coins. As I already mentioned before the coins are generated during income phase in the end of each round. Points from this track are only counted at the end of the game. This points work by set collection. Players can place one kind of resources in each slot. The slots are limited to eight, as many as resource kinds in the game. These slots aside from opening your income raise but also worth points at the end of game based on the number of resources in the slot. The more slots you occupied the more income you will get (up to the maximum of 8 coins). You open these slots by placing one kind of resources in each slot. For example you place a fish token on the first slot, and the next slot you must place another resource that has not yet been placed in previous slots. So if you get an already placed  resources, you place it on the specific slot.  At the end of the game, each resource worth points based on the  value listed on that space. So getting many resources in slots further along the track would give you a lot of points.

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Resources comparison between KS Exclusive and Retail version

My Thoughts
I definitely love this game. All of my plays were amazing, with lots of stories, interesting encounters and fun simple resource collecting. I like everything about the game, nothing less. Even down to the box quality I just cannot hold myself to not give out my thumbs.
The game is simple, easy to play for casual and non-gamers but also offers a good deal of Euro-ish style game of worker placement, set collection and tableau building. I always thought that the game really answers on two sides, the casual side which leans heavily on the story telling aspect of the game and the avid side with enough meat inside the game. But getting only one of them is still balance throughout the game. You can totally ignore the Euro aspect of competitive game and just focusing the story you are trying to complete in the game or you can ignore the story and just dive in to get maximize points from your actions. For me I like the story aspect so much, you can get very immersive with the story. Even though the encounters are not related to each other, but you can relate them with you own ways, to make it more interesting. There are a lot of encounters in the book to build your own story in each play, but if that’s not enough for KS edition, its backers have a small expansion that consists of a separate book for new encounters. This should keep you busy to arrange a good and interesting story by yourself.
I like the choices that players must take during encounters and the consequences and rewards behind them. But of course you want to win (but that’s not priority for me in this game), by doing things right.
So the game really fits for casual players that really want to enjoy the story, and for gamers that also demand some meat inside it.
So for me this game is easily one of the best games out there, definitely one of the best in 2015. Lets just hope there will be more encounter expansions, I hope in PDF so you can just download it.

dav

A quite successful village

 

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Cute Animals Can Be Watchmen Too

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Watchmen of Destiny Preview
Watchmen of Destiny is currently on Kickstarter, you can check the KS page here. In case you are wondering what this is, it is a card game from Lukas Litvaj about cute animals as something called Watchmen supposedly to watch something. And to my surprise as I looked where was the publisher name, it’s self published. So good luck to him!

Let’s get down to it shall we?
The game components are mostly cards (hell it’s only cards), hence it’s a card game. Don’t stop reading please… cause I think this game is great. Small games, only cards but interesting to play. The background story is that players need to hire watchmen (cute animals with different races and classes take on the world of Ninjas, Assassins, Warriors, Mages and etc) in order to protect the so-called Tree of Destiny. The player who hires the best army to protect it will win the game. The game ends after one player managed to hire 7 watchmen (still finish the round), but that doesn’t mean that player wins the game, there’s a scoring to decide who has the highest point.

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Each round, players will take a turn to do four steps (or less). The first one is using an item from your disposal, this step is obligatory, so a player must play an item card. Item is very important, it determines the number of cards a player can draw this turn and how many action points they have aside from having a special effect. Each player will be dealt a number of item cards based on number of players at the start of the game, but the first player will have a necklace item already played in front of him as a marker to be the first player this turn.
The second step is purchase tent cards. Tent cards are used to accommodate your recruits. Each tent card can accommodate a single watchman. So basically a player need to purchase 7 tent cards in order to hire 7 watchmen. Each tent card cost 1 gold coins, which can be paid by spending a watchman card with at least one gold coin symbol. Players can buy more than one tent card at once, sum up the total cost and pay it with watchman card(s), but keep in mind, overpaid value is lost. Based on Rahdo review, He has a good idea to set up 7 face down tent cards in front of each player. So when a player buys a tent card, he just need to flip one of his face down card. This makes it easier to track each player progress from time to time. Good job Rahdo, you’re the best!
The third step is hire a watchman (which can only be done once per round). To recruit a watchman, a player must play it from his hand and pay the cost listed on the top left of that watchman card. Put the hired card on top of an available tent card in your display but show some space on the above to track activation available in this watchman (how many activation this card can be used is listed on the bottom center of the card).
The last step is to perform the actions available. As I already mentioned before, players will gain action points from using an item card and the available actions are listed from their watchmen based on their classes.
At the end of each round, the player with the necklace item will have the first pick to choose one of the items used by players (he cannot choose his own item card) in that round. If a player choose a necklace card, he will be the first player next round and this is the only way that a player may end up having the same item card he played in this round. If the necklace is not changed hands, the first player doesn’t change.

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The Scoring
When the last round is over (a round when one player or more hire the 7th watchman) it’s time to do the scoring. Each player sums up all the cost of their hired watchmen. And add modifier from Warrior card (+1 point for each warrior hired). Then subtract one point for each pair of watchmen who have the same race and class. And finally each player score points from majority of each race. The last scoring is unique since the amount of points from winning this majority is equal the total amount of cards of one race in play.

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My Thoughts on The Game
The first caught my interest is, of course the artworks. Super cute animals (I love animals, and my girlfriend loves them too) really done the job. Checked the price and shipping and it’s not really expensive, BAM! here I am, a backer. At first I thought it’s just a simple (mindless, empty and so ordinary take that) card game, but when I read the rules and watched Rahdo’s review, I was wrong. This one hides quite a powerful punch in the game play. Yes it uses hand management, but honestly the main appeal is not in the hand management, but how to efficiently put your cards to use. The mechanic of the tent cards and action point allowance is so good. It forces you to think your next move, your actions are limited based on the item card you choose to use at a given round, yes the item card is very interesting, players will be given the dilemma to choose which item to use because it provides them several benefits to be considered. How many cards they can draw, how many action points and also what effect the item has. This really affecting the outcome of the game. And the available actions from the watchmen are fewer from time to time, force players to consider the timing and plan their moves. I like the idea of having watchman cards that are limited and at some point will no longer can be activate. It’s like they’ve done their purpose and we shall hire another if we still want to use a specific action. I love the distribution rules on the item cards in each round, this way mitigates the luck of the draw from the item cards.
So I think this one is a pretty little card game that offers quite interesting game play. A bit of “take that” feel from the Ninja action but overall the game is about efficiently use your cards. I definitely think this is a good one to back if you like a  card game since the components are, of course, only cards. And not to mention the art is superbly amazing, cute animals! But of course it could be more interesting with name for each character, that would be more attractive, easy to mention the characters during the game if they have names.

So let’s take a look about the project and what’s in store in the upcoming days (13 days to go). Here’s the stretch reward goals.

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At this point there are already tons of stuff unlocked, a whole new race, more cards in each class, better card quality. And multi language rulebook (which I found to be pretty much useless). I guess me being Indonesian is used to use English as a main language when it comes to board games. But that’s how it is. The latest one being unlocked is an interesting one, a better box. Well, sleeved cards fit into the box is really something for me, since I will definitely sleeve this one. They also added some Kickstarter exclusive SGs but I don’t think it really important, unless if you’re being a completionist (I have that feeling). So I hope these locked SG’s will be unlocked in the next days. Hurrah for the project!

 
 

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[mini review] Trickerion: Legends of Illusion

Mini Review of Trickerion: Legends of Illusion
In which I know this doesn’t do justice to the game, because there’s nothing mini in the game (except the crystal shards compared to the stone). But nevertheless I was so excited about the game that I thought it would be nice to make a short review about the game.

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Kickstarter Edition with Legend Box (Exclusive box sleeve)

This game was released in 2015 via Kickstarter (in 2014) and had garnered some buzz among the geek. I backed the legend box with exclusive contents (dark alley expansion along with magician powers). The game is heavy, there are a lot of components stuffed inside, hundreds of cards, tokens and trickerion shards, huge player boards (yes not the game board itself, let me make myself clear that when Rahdo claimed this game as “devourer of tables” I was wrong to think the game has huge game board, in fact the main board is kinda small considering my expectation to that title).

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Game Components

 

I love its visual presentation (basically one of many reasons why I backed the game) with a bit classic and fantasy touch bring the glorious past time full of magic and wonders. But the character illustrations are another thing, not really fond of them.
The game is looking fairly complex from a glance, many components and bits scattered around that in the same time it gives you amazement and confusion. So how is the meat really taste?
I’ve played it twice in full mode with the expansion (one of them also with Magician powers), we hit it right off the bat with full mode just because we’re arrogant bastards, yes we are. How on earth we cannot handle this game, if we already beaten Kanban or The Gallerist? Well, we’re kinda mistaken. In the game each player will take a role as magician, who will compete in such prestigious arena where the legend himself (Dahlgaard) being the host. In order to perform, you magicians need to learn tricks and prepare them before the shows begin. But to prepare tricks, player need to have the required components, in which if they don’t have them, they need to get them in the market row. Once prepared they also need to set the trick into the stage located in the theater, where players will book stages to perform the best they can. Once they perform they will get fame and coins based on their tricks and other bonuses.

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Game in Progress (Downtown)

 

In the game players will assign their characters (Magician, apprentices and specialists) to run errands across the town’s 4 locations (5 if you are playing with Dark Alley expansion). Placing the characters are purely worker placement but with innovative twist (with assignment cards). These cards are assigned face down in each characters and players will reveal them simultaneously, this will create tension and mind reading play as players will guess what other players will do in a round. Also each character also has a base action point that they can add with the slot modifier based on where that character is placed. This combined mechanism give players interesting decision making during the game. A headache to begin with. Also the assignment cards are limited for each location, so players cannot as they wish, send all their characters into a single locations to abuse the usage of that location in a single round, in other words, your management is crucial.
Another interesting part is the trick cards. There are 4 trick categories (Escape artist, illusionist, spiritual and mechanical) that are available and each magician has one of these categories as their personal preference. By learning tricks, players build their engine on their board so that their tricks can gain profit (of coins, fame points and shards). But preparing the tricks is another headache, you need to mix and match the components required among the tricks you have so that you can get the components from market row as efficient as you can be. I found this to be the most challenging part of the game (though it’s not the only one).

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Stage Performance on the Theater

When you want to perform, you need to go to theater, where in a round (one week) magicians will fight for stages and performance schedules so they can gain the most out of the performances. First of all, if magicians want to perform they need to book the stage (their magicians do nothing with the 3 action points) and also set up the trick (although two actions can be done separately in different weeks). When booking a stage players can choose to book the day they will perform (turn order) from Thursday to Sunday, where Sunday will gain extra profit while Thursday will gain less (very thematic, I like that the theme are tailored quite well into the game). Setting up tricks let players placing their trick markers into the performance cards (it’s like a mini puzzle where players will match the trick into slots and creating links). These cards will then be performed by magicians on the stage. All tricks placed on the chosen performance cards will be scored (regardless who activates them). So order of activation is very important, not mention that performing also get bonuses from the links, specialists supporting the performance and also the card itself. The game is complex, though it’s look simple by the game phase breakdown. Players need to build their tricks arsenal and put them in the right spots and in the right time to steal the highlight from anyone else.

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Player Board

Honestly the game takes a very long time, we played both games in 4 hours plus (exclude the game explanation) and there were lots of errors because of the complicated and fiddly rules. But in overall, I love this game very much. It scratches that itchy feel to build something and tinker with it. The interactions are high where players will battle positions on each locations and when performing. I love the theme, and how it integrates very well into the game. This game is surely one of the best games in my experience.

 
 

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Kickstarter – Heldentaufe

Hi guys, with this post I want to introduce you about a new game that’s on Kickstarter right now, called Heldentaufe. This game is from a new publisher, Board Game Circus, from Switzerland. You can check the project here.

Heldentaufe Box & Components (rendered)

The Game


You can read the brief description right below:
“Heldentaufe – An adventure board game for the whole family
 
Two worlds – One game: The unique experience of Heldentaufe arises from two distinct but connected realms: The Upper World and the Netherworld. Heroes can travel back and forth to the separate worlds through portals. Events and activities in the Upper World are mostly serene and peaceful. You will harvest natural goods, carry out missions and trade items that you find. Somewhere hidden in the Netherworld lies a bright and shiny treasure – but what underworld would be complete without monsters and traps?
 
Heldentaufe is easy to learn and has all the key ingredients of a true adventure game (discovering treasures, collecting items, completing missions, and battling monsters).”
 
It is an adventure game for the whole family, judging by the visual you can see why. The illustrations are beautiful and you can see the similarity with Dixit in a way. So what makes this game unique? Let’s find out.

The first time I checked about the game, the illustration hooked me instantly, now you know how illustrations or visual presentations really matter. It’s colorful, beautiful, cute and fun in the same time. They are toying with cute chibi children characters and also scenes with vibrant colors.  When I read more about the game, apparently the game offers more than it looks, interesting game play and accessible to wide range of audiences (children to adult, male to female). Of course it’s about dungeon crawling hero adventures and treasure hunting (which is more likely attract males), but of course they made it as friendly as it is so the opposite sex also interested on it.

In the game, players will play as adventurers who will venture to find monster teeth (somehow these teeth are something of great value in the game). Player who collects a certain number of teeth will win the game. Of course in order to do so, they need to explore, find and battle monsters. And maybe they encounter treasures along the way. Those teeth can be collected in some ways, mainly by defeating monsters or maybe by completing missions.

Here’s my thought on the game’s strong points:
A. Two Worlds.
They explicitly stated that in this game they offer the players two world in one game. The Upper world and Netherworld. Upper world is here, our world, in the surface of earth, such as forests and meadows, and of course portals which are the entrances to the Netherworld, an underground world under the Upper world. These two world provides two type of gaming experiences, where the Upper world is a place where players will go venturing around (peaceful and serene), while the Netherworld is where battle takes place, players will battle monsters here.

Heldentaufe Area Tiles, Figures & Dice (rendered)

The Upper World

Heldentaufe Netherworld Map (rendered)

The Netherworld

B. Great illustrations.
As I already mentioned before, the game has beautiful illustrations all over it, the characters, maps, items and backgrounds. These amazing illustrations are works of Mathieu Leyssenne, the illustrator behind the game Jamaica and The Hare and The Tortoise. He did a great job for this one, it has Dixit feels on it but more 3D-ish.

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Beautiful illustrations


C. Wide range access.

Yes, this game attracts not only gamers but also casual gamers alike, and children, or females. The friendly nature of the illustrations really did a good job to make this game accessible to children and female. Even with dungeon crawling aspect, this game offers something interesting. And also the game play is really simple. In each turn players will have some Action Points to spend and with those points they can choose from the available, either reject a mission, move or attack. So children can basically play this game with some guidance.

D. It pleases gamers in some ways.
Okay, what if you’re a gamer? This looks children game and not challenging and not satisfying as your kind of game. Maybe not, but it has characters with different stats. So you can explore play style of each character. It also offers variability on the game setup, like the monsters different stat in each setup.
Like the monsters, if you defeat a monster, you will get some teeth and this affecting that monster stats in the next encounter because each time they’re defeated, they worth more and more but also stronger. It’s like monsters in video games, the more you defeat them, the stronger they are.

Heldentaufe Hero Cards (rendered)

5 Different Heroes

E. Immerse into the game.
Yes, this game can be played in a certain way that you feel like it’s a dungeon crawling Dixit. The cards i the game have illustrations that can be relate with each other as free as you want it based on your imagination. Of course it’s not affecting game play, but it can be fun for some people who like this kind of story telling element in the game.

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The Game

Sounds neat right? Well, I like the game already, but I’ll be honest, frankly put this game is not perfect, it’s far from it but I also don’t think there’s a game that is perfect in my eyes. This game is beautiful, we all know that, interesting and looks very simple. Not let’s look upon it’s downsides.
A. The shipping.
Okay you all know where this is going right? We’re live in a place where board games are not cheap, aside from the generous price they offer us below the MSRP, board game prices are in general, never be like it is. Yes, we live in Asia, where to get games, we need to import them from European countries or US. The thing is the shipping price is bad (most often) and that hurt us so much. This game has a US $40 price tag and we can live with that, it’s quite normal from what you’re getting, a good game with a good components. But if you add the shipping cost, it’s like getting another game. Unfortunately they charge $40 for this game’s shipping. And we’re like “what the…” and be done with it. I know this, I dismissed my plan to back the game because of this, but do not lose hope, they offer a pnp pledge level and that’s quite affordable. I am looking at the game components and I think it’s fairly feasible to do the print and play. Some cards, boards and tiles. The pledge level is US $12.5, not a cheap one but judging what you will get is fairly modest (with all those great illustrations). I pledged this level by the way, not final yet but it’s a start. Maybe you guys can consider backing this level if the physical shipping is way beyond what you can afford.

B. Character standees.
Okay, another classic issue. I know for some, standee is disgusting and miniature trumps it anytime. I agree to this, but if they use miniatures instead of standees, the price would be higher than it is. I already brought this issue to them and their reason is reasonable. Even with small number of miniatures in the game (5 heroes, 3 monsters and a boss), getting these with miniatures, will make it hard for them to be flexible to add more characters or possible expansion in the future with limited print run.
Heldentaufe Box & Figures (rendered)

C. Variability.
Okay I already mentioned this in below as one of the strong points but the truth is, for me as a hardcore gamer, that kind of variability is not really affecting the game in a huge way. It’s just randomization, but practically it’s the same game. The characters have different stat, but that’s it. Okay they have equipment that can be upgraded to higher levels, this should offers something during the game, but I think it will wear off quickly. The random setup of the monsters, I must say it’s very minor just like the random setup of the Netherworld. What I want is branching out story lines, different monsters or bosses that could change how you play the game, objectives that will drive you to constantly adapt from game to game. If they could offer these, it would be amazing. And I almost forget, the battles  in the game use dice, yes dice rolling and high results. That could be a problem for more advance gamers. This luck based battle resolution some times not in our favor. So this is worth to be mentioned, but I understand the necessity of using this system to resolve battles, after all it’s a family game.
Heldentaufe Netherworld Map, Monster Card Closeup (rendered)

I hope you guys can find out more about the game from my observation and if you are interested you can pledge the game or maybe print and play files on Kickstarter. If you want to know about the game, you can check its rule here (not final though). Or check their facebook page.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Board Games, Kickstarters, Previews

 

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