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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Resistance is Futile

Box Cover

The Resistance Review

You’re in the middle of the room, panting while observing everyone around you. Sweats run through your forehead, set one of your eye blinked, not because the room temperature’s hot, it’s chill instead. Chill stab into your skull and deliver the shivering that slowly weigh you down. Your comrades quarreling about the mission, yet you didn’t hear any sound, only silent, the only thing you can hear is your heavy breathing that slowly required you to put efforts into it. They demand you to decide what is best for the team, something is not right. We starting to divide and conquer each other. And now, not only you cannot trust them, they also don’t trust you. They suspect you, talk behind you even you’re the leader. Dark is brooding inside the room, no one is safe, no one. You’re alone and you need to do something! You need to decide! THIS IS THE RESISTANCE!

So, in this game of The Resistance, players will play as resistance members, who try to accomplish 5 missions. But, while they try to take on the missions, there are spies among them, who want to screw the missions. This backstabbing, social deduction and secret identities game was designed by Don Eskridge under Indie Boards and Cards. A party game with serious theme and pointing fingers. It’s climbed quite really quick in BGG rank and becoming one of most favorites game among both party and casual gamers alike.

In here I will describe you the reason that this little hotshot achieved all the fame and fans.

The Theme

The theme in this game is about the freedom fighters /  The resistance group who try to take down the government regime of tyranny and injustice. By doing so, they need to carry out 5 missions. By achieving 3 out of 5 missions, they will be able to succeed. I found out that this serious cold gripping theme really absorbed into the game play. The designer really succeed to implement the theme into the game which resulted into a serious, thrill and deception feeling of the game. A party game indeed but, how can you party while the person right next to you is a spy? Now, that need an answer.

Character Cards – Spies (red) & Resistance (blue)

2. The Artworks

Obviously, the artwork does not influence the game play much, but considering the synergy on the game and it’s components, there would be suitable decision to make the artworks somewhat supporting the game. But personally, the artworks are far from compelling. One suitable word I might spill is ‘standard’. I even made the re-theme of the artworks using artwork from Mass Effect universe, which I like and maybe one day I’ll print those re-theme and substitute the original one.

The Resistance Character Cards – Mass Effect Retheme

Plot Cards – Mass Effect Retheme

3. The Game Components

In this kind of game, game components are not essential, though needed. So in this case, the game components, yet not really have direct impact on the game can be substitute by other components that we all can found in our daily activities. The most simple example are pen and paper. Though the publisher is just a small company, yet the quality of the components are surprisingly nice.Thick cards with linen finish made it more sturdy (you don’t need sleeve for this one and also you don’t need to worry that the cards will easily worn out). The board is not really important, since it just contains list of game setup and mission slot, which can be unused in a game. Nice wooden token, not spectacular but good enough for this game.

Game Components

4. The Game Play

The game can hold from 5 to 10 players (which is good enough if you play with 10). The more the merrier they said, but I say, the more the hectic the game is. So, get ready and observe your partners real carefully. Based on the number of players, the game will be set on different amount of spies and resistance, you must consult with the rules or the list of players from the board. At the start of the game, each player will be assign a secret character card face down. Only he can look upon the card and place it into safe place face down. After all the players look and realize their roles the fun starts. Random the starting player (leader) and he will lead the game at the beginning. The leader will announce all players to close their eyes and after that the spies can open their eyes and look at each other. This will give the spies advantage point for who’s on their side (oh yes, it’s Werewolves alright).

Game in Progress

After that the game is on. The leader consult the mission list and select a number of players which he would assign for the mission. He as a leader can also choose himself. After the team assembled, all players will enter the vote phase. They must vote either agree or disagree with the leader’s choice of team. If most of the players vote agree (being equal is not enough), the team pass the test and will carry out the mission. If not (the disagree votes are equal or more than the agree votes), the team composition is fail. If this happen, the leader will be pass into next player clockwise and black marker is placed on the first place, then the process is repeated again. If the black marker is placed in the fifth place (5 times failure composing a team in a row) the resistance is considered fail to carry out that mission (place red wooden marker on that mission slot).

Team members carry out their mission by submitting one of the two mission cards given for each member. The two mission cards consist of success card and failure card. Unlike the voting phase, in this phase when there is one (even only one) failure card in the submitted mission cards, the resistance is considered to have failed the mission. The first side who placed 3 wooden markers on the mission slots, win the game.

It’s a simple game which played quick enough. About 15-30 minutes max.

5, The Replay Value

I say the replay value is undeniably high. Maybe you can see some pattern here and there, which slowly begin to rise into the surface after lot of plays. The thing is, since you got the grip of the game and how it’s usually works, you can build your own mindset and possible cause in the behaviors and hypothetical theories. But I won’t worry about that, since the interaction between players really subdued all of them into a serious thrilling experience with sots of laughter around the room. While I still recommend to play this game with player with the same experience or enough experience to make the play at it best. So, the key point is the player interaction. Since the nature of the game is somewhat a party game which evolves around secret identity, social deduction and bluffing as the core mechanics, this really depend heavily on the group. Each players really down to contribute with the play and more perfect group means more perfect game. The game (newer version of the game) include the small expansion (The Plot Thickens) which gives not a small impact on the game play. The expansion introduce new element to the game, Plot cards. These cards really bring the game into another level of depth and frankly if your gaming group had already accustomed with the basic game play, this expansion is a must, to deliver more challenge, adding more tense and depth to the game.

My Though of The Game

Well, this is one of my jewels. The best at it’s category so far, compared to other secret role, deduction and bluffing games. The game really shine with 7-10 players but still playable with 5. At first i bought this game blind, since it didn’t cost me much. And when i read the rules, I just didn’t get it without playing it first. After first play, the rules just became quickly and crystal clear. A simple game, which need practice to understand it completely. So, even though this game is not easy to win, there are measures to be taken and this depend on the players and groups. When we divide the two roles, The Resistance and Spies, we could clearly see that they have different goals. The Resistance need to carry out missions successfully while Spies need to sabotage missions in order to take down the Resistance. Sometimes players as The Resistance tried so hard to uncover the spy’s identity and this let them to forget what their objective really are. The spies in the other hand, facing more difficult situation, since they must perform, speak, and present themselves as The Resistance while fulfilling their objectives. They must gain others trust to be able to sabotage the mission without alarm anyone. Even when they succeed to do so, their job is not done, they need to make 3 missions failed. So they must try to keep under the radar even after they sabotage a mission, since if they’re on the spotlight and others put their suspicion onto him, that’s gonna be to late. His work here is done.

This kind of game sometimes need some kind of agreement, a house rule to clearly set the game play and avoid in game misunderstanding and disagreement. The most common topic is table talk. Either the group is agree on table talk or not. Table talk let players to explicitly observe the mission and describe the situation and their hypothesis into the table. This sometimes create uneasy situation for some people, which led to think that the game essence was exposed and lost it’s interest. Other thinks that without table talk, this game has somehow lead into serious lame condition. For me, table talk is a must to make this game shine. We’re at war aren’t we…so cut the crap and be a man. Face the condition whatever it is and whatever it takes.

Though the theme is seriously serious and darkened with deception and political affairs of the government, it doesn’t keep the game out of laughter and hilarious actions from each players. This game maybe one of the game that could make me laugh out loud, sore throat and stomachache.

On A Mission

*) some of the images are courtesy of BGG Users

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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Board Games, Card Games, Reviews

 

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My Recent Played #01 – And No Wonder It’s On The Top

Well, today is 21st February 2012. In the middle of Tuesday morning and just caught with all the things i had recently. Looking through my record of plays (Board Games of course), which led me to think that being a game that I played a lot, 7 Wonders did a significant effort to be placed on top, right in front of Rune Age.

7 Wonders

Come to think of it, looking at the statistic it was quite a numerable gap with 5 plays differences. They’re different games, though basically rooting from the same card game material. But mostly when you compare those two, you’ll get lot of differences, with 7 Wonders being a card game with card drafting mechanic, while Rune Age is deck building. 7 Wonders is played up to 7 players, with a civilization theme and unique game play though lack of direct confrontations / interactions. Meanwhile, Rune Age has a bit of fantasy theme and also 4 different races with special abilities and powers, 4 different scenarios for game play variant, it works well with 1-4 players. Each scenarios gives different feeling to the game and less luck than 7 Wonders.

Maybe one of the simple reason that why both of those games are in the top of my played list is they play quick (with 30-60 minutes per game). This can really boost the amount of plays. You can play 2-4 games in a row.

Rune Age

There are something to think about, I have 7 Wonders way before I have Rune Age and this make 7 Wonders has more advantage time to be played than Rune Age, but I also regard that I haven’t play 7 Wonders quite a long time, first day of the year (new year), played it 3 times. There is no doubt that 7 Wonders is easily one of the best simple, attractive and outstanding filler game, but my gaming groups might as well as kinda grow weary with it, that’s the reason it’s seldom hit the table anymore. While for Rune Age, I played it last week with 3 players and I still liked it.

But when playing with new players, I have my own considerations. Rune Age rule is simpler to teach and not really fiddly but, most common people (new players) somewhat well off unaware about the strength of the theme influence on the game, which is most likely set an unabridged gap for me to teach the game. 7 Wonders is different, though I might as well as get a bottle of water ready after the explanation, the rules is streamlined and easy to comprehend by new players. Though the only obstacle for newbie is get to know the icons. More thorough and clear explanations are needed and this means 15 minutes minimum game explanation at your doorstep exclude the questions afterwards.

Agricola

Okay, lets now look the rest of the list. Unsurprisingly Martian Dice is on the 3rd place with 17 plays. Looking by the nature of the game, it’s acceptable. Quick and easy, though has totally different feeling. Right below it, is the famous Agricola, which came to my surprise, since it’s a long and fiddly game (2-3 hours), I even played this one 4 hours long (oh that cruciating pain). 12 plays are marvelous, I didn’t even realize and remember. Agricola is one of the game that requires you to enjoy the game flow (at least for me). One does not simply over think the victory from the beginning of the game. Once you enjoy the game flow, you will realize how jewel the game is. Very suitable to play this with close friends or family, enjoy the evening and of course play through it with some snacks. Don’t you agree? Akrham Horror and Balloon Cup stay right behind with also 12 plays. What can I say, Arkham Horror is epic and though it’s leaning down to the dull curve, I still wanna play this if I have the chance (oh that memorable times). On the other hand, Balloon Cup was a black horse, never thought this kind of 2 players filler got my attention. Quick and easy with small table space gives you more reason to play this one. Now with 11 plays, If Wishes Were Fishes and Quarriors, two games that Quarriors being one of the games that I don’t have. It’s one of my friend’s and he lent me for quite a while. So what’s interesting with these two games? If Wishes Were Fishes is one of my earlier games, bought it just because of the components (quoting from my review of the game “Who doesn’t like gummy worms?”. Too bad lately it’s unfairly rarely hit the table and come to think of it, maybe I need to bring it to the table next time. Now, Quarriors is an interesting dice game, with innovative and unique mechanic which brought the game to it’s fame. Quick, simple, easy and very interesting for kids, though the theme is kinda less prowess in the stand of time. I found that to explain this game, it’s easier with a player mat which then I made custom player mats. The bad about this game is, sometimes players will be able to tell the winner just by looking at the possibility, which makes the game quite a bit anti-climax.

Ankh Morpork

After those two, Discworld: Ankh Morpork and Thunderstone are right behind with 10 plays. I am optimistic about Ankh Morpork, to climb the ladder with a serious pace, since my girl and me like this game so much. It’s chaotic and suspicious feeling really shoot you to the gut. Entertaining, full of laughter and of course this kind of game need a perfect gaming group. So, let see where this one stand in the near future. Unlike Aknh Morpork, Thunderstone has been quite a jobless game, and I am in deep concern. Since the existence of Rune Age, Thunderstone just couldn’t get out from the shadows cast by Rune Age, with similar mechanic, Thunderstone was beaten from several aspects such as the setup, the fiddly rules, the less interactions and no scenarios. Even nowadays there are lot of variants on the forum, but it seemed Rune Age won outstandingly. Plan to play it again in the near future. Just hold on Thunderstone!

Drum Roll

Drum Roll, Pickomino and The Resistance follow with 9 plays. While Pickomino is a simple mathy game of dice for kids but some of my friends and me found this game to be hilariously fun. But for some reason it’s just seasonal. Not in my collection and never play it again since it’s returned to it’s rightful owner. Drum Roll in the other hand, has the same mathy feeling though heavier with the salary aspects. Great game, a bit of overwhelming but suit me right into it, great artworks importantly. This one will surely still climbing it’s way in this list. The Resistance is kinda end up in an unfortunate situation, which most players in my central gaming group just rather feel enough of this one. To make the case worse, it really shines with lot of players and with specific gaming group. But nevertheless, always look forward for a session and resistance is futile.

The rest of the list are being end up in the bottom, though I won’t say they’re bad or not good. They just circumstantial not in the best position to begin with. Lack of times, no perfect gaming group that are willing, no chance and other hundreds of reasons. Instead some of them I am hoping to get them played more often like as Caylus, Chaos in The Old World, Troyes, War of The Ring, Brass and many others.

Dungeon Petz

By looking at my board games collection growth, I just wish that i could be able to fairly divide the playing proportion for each game. There are quite many games in my list to be seriously played for their flying time. New games like Dungeon Petz, Belfort, Panic Station, Conquest of Nerath and more of it the upcoming game of Eclipse (this should be EPIC) that I back ordered recently.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Article, News

 

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It’s A Small, Small World After All

Cover Artwork

Small World Underground Review

Some people says that this world is a small world. This kind of phrase usually said when people meet others in different place or situation, or when we’re connected to others via others. A friend of friends or a colleague of colleagues and so on. Network, a web of relationship that intertwined each other which driven by fate or decisions. In this game, God created the world small, with of course, big problems. Now what kind of small and what kind of big? It’s small because sharing is not an option, and big because conflict lead us to war against each other. This game is a stand alone sequel from the famous game Small World from the same game designer, Phillip Keyaerts and Publisher, Days of Wonder.

I chose Small World Underground instead the original Small World for this review because Underground was my first official game of Small World, which led to series of play with it. But I am gonna explain the differences between the original and the Underground for comparison.

1. The Theme

The theme of the game is about land conquest with different special races and different various abilities. Each player will choose one of the available races and the ability attached to them and conquest the land to gain points at the end of his turn. Small World Underground has the same theme like the original game, the only difference is just in Underground, like the title says it, the map is on underground, with underground river and volcanoes, muddy fields, mines, mushroom fields and crystal mines.

2. The Artworks

The artworks, undeniably are awesome. The cartoon illustrations of the characters, detailed maps which brought contrast and crisp look of the game. You won’t be disappointed with this one from artwork aspect and in my opinion and personal taste, i prefer this one compare with the original one way better. The original one is kinda bit standard and light on the eyes with lighter tones while Underground is really in the opposite with darker tones (being mostly black as the majority color) but full of contrast collision with other colors. For most of the character illustrations, this one has managed to fully grasp the general audience interest. Who doesn’t like fantasy characters with funny and cute illustrations? Even girls like those, and when girls like it, how could you not like it, boys? It’s battle alright, but cute ones. Maybe you can even pick your favorite races by only judging the illustrations. So, this game is a plus for the artworks alone. And guess what, the artist is Miguel Coimbra, the man behind the wonder arts of 7 Wonders.

3. The Game Components

Now, what component lies for this kind of game? Well, this game use tiles instead of tokens or minis.Lot of tiles. Let start with the map. A beautiful map mounted in board (double sided). Wait, you’re not only get 1 board, but 2 boards. Wait, 2 boards? Yes 2 boards, one for 4-5 players game and smaller one for 2-3 players game. The reason, well for compatibility I guess. A good thing, for this easily create perfect game without hurdling with fiddly setup to adjust the game balance. 15 race banners, also in double sided, active and decline version. 179 race tiles (compiled from the 15 races). 21 special power badges also in double sided. There are also lots of game pieces like mountain tiles, popular place tiles, relics and other special tiles. 106 Victory coin tiles in 1/3/5/10 denominations, a 6 sided wooden reinforcement die and round marker tile, great quality print rulebook and 6 summary sheets (5 sheets for players and one for the whole group).

Game Components

The tiles are perfectly made, with distinguished colors for different races to make them easier to be recognized on the board. A good and innovative idea with the badges and banners, which are in perfectly attachable shape between those two. A great component game indeed and to add more, the game comes with an insert tray to contain all the components (which are hundreds of tiles) in a neat and organized way. It even has plastic cover on top of it, to make sure the tiles don’t go spilling all over the place. But it doesn’t end here, the insert tray also has double function as an easy display rack for the tiles during game play. So you need to get the tray out and you’re ready to play. Every time you need race tiles, you can easily pick those from the tray (easy to find also). What a convenience, right?

Insert Tray

4. The Game Play

Though by the theme presentation of the game, it directs you to assume it’s somewhat has an Ameritrash smell but I must say it’s not, not even close. It is an Euro game and using Tile Placement and Area Control mechanics as it’s core. The goal of the game, like most Euros, is Victory Points, which called Victory Coins. The player with most Victory Coins by the end of the game win the game. So, how you collect all the coins? The game last for several turns / rounds (call whatever you like) depending the number of players. During these turns, players take turns to deploy their selected race into the map and conquer regions with their previous selected race. The last reqion to conquer can be reinforced with 1 reinforcement die. Once a player deploy all his available race tiles, he can allocate his tile distribution (leaving at least 1 tile in a region is possible) and then he score some Victory Coins based on how many regions he control at that time plus other bonus based on his race special ability and advantage. The Victory Coins are kept hidden / secret, other players don’t know how many coins a player has. After that his turn ends and next player moves.

Game in Progress

The play of the tiles are simple, to conquer a region (empty regions), normally using 2 race tiles (check the region types and the race ability and advantage, sometimes there are modifiers for this). In other cases, if there is another tile (enemy race tile, mountain, monster / neutral unit) in the selected region, a player needs 2 tiles and plus the same equal amount of available tiles in that region to conquer it. For example, if there are 2 neutral unit tiles in a region that a player want’s to conquer, he need to place his 4 race tiles instead of 2 tiles.

Sometimes during the game, a player may have a specific consideration or condition to decline his selected race, This means, he pass his turn (conquering regions) and remove all his race tiles except one tile in each controlling region. The rest of the tiles are flipped out as an in decline sign same with his race banner and badge. After that, he score normally based on his controlled regions (please note that while in decline most of the abilities and advantages are not active). In the next turn, that player can choose a new race available by paying the cost of Victory Coins. The amount of cost are different based on the position of the races drawn. What I mean by position is, in the beginning of a game, there are 6 visible races opened on the table. The rest are still closed. To achieve one of the races, player must pay coins, with the bottom level is free, and 1 coin for each level above. In the beginning of the game, each player will be given 5 coins to purchase his first race. This 5 coins can get you the most top of the race by spending all of the 5 coins, so the races available still a balance, though generally often considered as a luck element of the draw and timing.

Available Races

A player can have 1 in decline and 1 active race during the game (unless stated otherwise). If he wants to acquire new race, he must remove his in decline race first, before getting new one.

5. The Replay Value

This game is very interesting, fun, highly interactive, direct confrontation yet simple. The Underground version though very similar like the base game (from game play point of view), it has different races and special abilities from the base game. But all of these races can be combined, mix or replaced between these two games. So you can play the races from the base game in Underground version or vice versa. This open the games to a wide range of selection, which you can combine, mix and match all the races and abilities. From this, players can feel new races and abilities interaction, new kind of combos and other stuff. The game is supposed to be played quick, around 60-90 minutes. But, sometimes players interaction prolong the game much longer.

Not satisfied by the various different races and abilities? Underground version gives you new elements and components like Popular Place and Relics which can be brought into play by conquering regions with neutral units. Popular Place and Relics are drawn random and can be activated by a player that own them (these new elements change the game play quite a bit. You can add more fun and variants from the expansions. Event cards, new special race that allows 6 players game and also others.There is new expansion (Tunnel) which can connect the 2 maps from the base game and the Underground version (so now you can play 2 maps in one game), or the latest expansion of Small World Realms, which players can assembly puzzle maps in different scenarios. So I would say the game has high replay value and to add more of it, each game has different feel by playing with different groups.

Other Special Tiles

My Thought of The Game

At first I don’t like Small World (base game), had tried the iOS game apps and didn’t like it very much. Maybe it’s mostly because the apps interface. But, when my friend brought The Underground version to the table, I gave it a try and instantly interested. This led into another several plays and like the game. I had great time playing this with my group and they’re hilarious. We let table talk in our plays and this might be the key to outstanding and fun experiences of the game. And yes, we usually makes this 60-90 minutes game into 120 minutes game only because the table talk. Worth having in your collection, and the reason I don’t have this jewel is because most of my friends in my gaming group has already own it.

Victory Coins

*) some of the images are courtesy of BGG Users

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Board Games, Euro Games, Reviews

 

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