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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Play Tennis Anywhere!

Box Cover

Box Cover

Grand Slam Review
So, you want to play Tennis but don’t want to get sweaty or tired because of running back and forth the court to return services or even smashing? Someone told you to do some sports but you’re too lazy? This one is a solution for you, Tennis for lazy people some say. Grand Slam is a small card game about Tennis from Korea Board Games and designed by Ariel Seoane (the artist behind Ground Floor). It’s published recently (2014) and managed to hit Essen 2014. I managed to get a copy from Essen through my friend that was attending the event. It’s a pocket-sized game with mainly cards and tokens. The game, of course, is about tennis (obviously), which the game’s original title was “Love Means Nothing”, yeah I know, what a weird name for a Tennis game. So what’s about the title? Love means nothing derived from the word “love”, a term that commonly used in Tennis scoring to show blank score or zero or none. Now the phrase really shows the real meaning “Love means nothing”. If you only have love, you don’t score which is not good for you. Once you score, than your score is no longer “love”. Something like that.

The Game
The game comes in a pocket-sized box, easy to carry for travel purpose. It contains 4 decks of cards, 2 parts of court cards, 8 ball tokens and bi-lingual rulebook (English and Korean). The game can be played with 2 or 4 players. With 2 players, you have single game of Tennis, while with 4, you have double match, thus it’s a tag team game, 2 vs 2. Before the first game the ball tokens need to be punched from the cardboard, but I recommend not to throw the punched board, for it can be used to placed the ball tokens again for storage purpose. With the current box it’s impossible to sleeve the cards, the cards wouldn’t fit back into the box.

Game Contents

Game Contents

How To Play
Players will get a symmetrical deck of cards that they can play from their hands. First set up the court cards so it resembles a tennis court. Players sit on face to face where the court is and shuffle their own deck. While playing singles, draw 6 cards to form a player’s hand. Set aside the ball tokens to the side of the court. The first player will have to serve to start the game, draw a top card from his draw pile and place a ball token in the corresponding space of the opponent’s court. Now the opponent must receive the serve with cards from his hand by placing receiving and direction cards. The receiving card have to cover the space where the ball is. The direction card determines where the ball will be returned.
Players can also use Smashing when returning the ball, to do this, the player needs to play another direction card that has the same direction from the first direction card. When this happened, flip the ball to it’s back side (you can see the red-flaming ball, instead of the normal ball). To receive smashing, a player need to receive with two of the same receiving cards, and if he wants to return that smashing with smashing, he needs to play two of the same direction cards. In total, he play 4 cards in a single turn. After taking a turn, players will end their turn and draw cards into his hand up to a total of 6 cards.
If a player only has one card to receive an opponent’s smashing, he can play it but this will make him off-balance. While off-balance, the player cannot draw cards back to six at the end of his turn. Players also can make a diving receive if they don’t have a matching card to receive, they must discard a card from their hands and play the top card of the draw pile. If that card is matched with the ball, then the diving receive is a success. Players cannot draw more cards and cannot play smashing to return the ball (this rule is not available when playing double matches).
If a player cannot return the ball, then the opponent scores. Place a ball token to one of the slots as a score. The round is reset (players shuffle back their deck and start again with 6 cards) and player who receive the service in previous round make a service.
The first side who gains 4 points, win the game.

Double Match in Progress

Double Match in Progress

The double match has similar rules with few differences, in double match, players take turn to receive the ball and there is a deuce when the score is 3-3. Players cannot use diving receive move but can help their teammates to return the ball out of their turn. To do this, the active player must discard one card and the teammate can cover up as he’s the one to return the ball. The catch is, he doesn’t refill his hand back to 6 cards, but the active player does.
This way, when the next turn the teammate has to return the ball, his options are more limited than normal.

Final Thought
It’s a simple fun and quick card game, has a unique theme (not many games with tennis theme). It’s pretty much a straight forward take-that card game, players luck is heavily depends on what the cards they draw. But how you manage your cards as resources can have a bit of impact on your performance. Smashing is a good move, but if with smashing you limit your options to receive the ball next turn, it’s not wise to return the ball with smashing. Hand management also plays important role, along with memory. You need to know what cards have been out from your deck and what not. Playing with a fun group can make the game shines, but if you play seriously the game just wouldn’t work.
Playing double matches are hilariously fun and interesting, since the players interaction would also emerges among the teammates or even opponents.
The game does not have high replay value, since each game would likely be the same game over and over again, but considering this as a small pocket game, having this one in your pocket while traveling or waiting someone would be very handy.

*some images are credit to BGG users.

End Game - Single Match (4-3)

End Game – Single Match (4-3)

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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Card Games, Reviews

 

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The Best Game Each One of You Should Have!

Box Cover

Box Cover

Snake Oil Review
Okay, what is the real definition of Snake Oil? Snake Oil is an expression that originally referred to fraudulent health products or unproven medicine but has come to refer to any product with questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. So how it’s named Snake Oil in the first place? Now that’s when the story comes in. In the past (I mean, long time ago), Real Snake Oil did exist. It was introduced to the US in the 1860’s by Chinese laborers working on the Transcontinental Railroad. After hard physical labor, they would rub some muscles with an ointment made from water snake oil and they shared this ancient remedy with their American co-workers.  As the years went by snake oil was commercialized. In 1917, a sample of Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment was tested by the US government and found to contain no actual snake oil. As a result of swindlers making false product claim and using misleading labels, the phrase “Snake Oil Salesman” was born! Until today, the term usually refers to used-car salesman, politicians, or anyone who likes to stretch the truth just a little bit to sell something.

Judging from the appearance, with more than 350 cards, can be played with 3-10 players and also within 20-30 minutes it’s safe to say that this game is a party game. It’s published by Out of The Box Publishing, designed by someone not mentioned in the box or even the rules, oh wait they listed the designer’s names on the end of the rules, Jeff Ochs and Patricia Hayes Kaufman. I picked this game during my trip to Singapore last October (when I visited Paradigm Infinitum on Midpoint Orchard), mostly because there were nothing of interest aside this game and its price is quite reachable for me at that moment, though I must say I already interested on the game before (it’s on my wishlist). So I made a blind buy with this game. I wondered this as a party game that might be fun for my gaming group.

The game only contains cards, 336 word cards and 28 customer cards (so yes, it’s a card game). There is a plastic tray to hold the cards inside the box and I think it’s good, they made some kind of holder from card board to hold up the cards inside the tray so they wouldn’t scatter around when the box was moved around. It really works well. The box is a bit of a let down, not a standard box for board games, but it’s made from thin corrugated carton that easily worn off. But other than that, it’s very good.

The Game Play
Okay, anyone can play this game, seriously. When I read the game description on the back of the box, I was immediately understand how to play the game. So, you can jump right in after reading the back of the box without consulting the rules (either way, the rules are only in a sheet of paper). In this game, each player will get 6 cards from the draw pile. The first player will be a customer in one round, draw a random customer card and decide which side of the customers he would like to be. Once he decide, the other players will need to combine two words from their word cards as a product they want to sell to the customer. In a brief of time (estimate 30 seconds, give or take) players turn by turn will try to convince the customer that the product he’s trying to sell is the most perfect choice for the customer to choose. After the customer gives chance to all other players, he needs to decide which product is the best for him. Once he decided, he gives his customer card to the player who sell the product of his choice.
The game ends when each player has been the customer once, the winner is the player with the most customer cards. In case of a tie, play another turn.

Selling your product has never been this hilarious!

Selling your product has never been this hilarious!

My Thought About The Game
This is a game that winning does not matter, the experience is what it really counts. What I mean is, no matter who win the game, as long as players were having fun the game hit the jackpot. Every player will find his two-words combination is not really-really perfect for what the customer wants in reality but with that obscurity players need to find a way to convince the customer, and by this, we often find hilarious things to be laughed at from player’s imagination and creativity. While others find it weird, queer and such, others might find it hilarious, surprising, refreshing and unnaturally perfect. This led to a very memorable experience with friends. How they react to such ideas and how you can outwit those ideas, the product does not matter, what really matter is how you can convince the customer with your words and reasons.
I’ve played the game several times and those plays have been hilarious, lots of laughter and fun moments, exhausting indeed, but worth playing every time. I can understand this game is not for some people, people that cannot tell stories, people that cannot make ideas in a blitz or who doesn’t like to play roles, so if you don’t like Dixit, this might not be a good game for you.

Choose two cards from your hand to create your product!

Choose two cards from your hand to create your product!

The Good
It’s a party game, so you can pack up to 10 players with this game. Never played with 10 players though.
It also plays very quick, 15-30 minutes, and you can easily adjust the challenge, for example how many rounds and such.
It plays very simple and easy to teach, just read the back of the box.
It gives you better knowledge on English vocabulary.
It also fun and hilarious game to play with friends or even family.
There are thousands combinations of words you can find.
It’s easy to setup and clean up.

The Bad
It’s just consists of cards (not sure if this is bad).
It requires good vocabulary skills, because for the wide range of words, some people with low vocabulary skill would find it difficult to understand the definition, but of course it’s easy to mitigate, they can ask to others what the word means, hence new vocabulary to learn.
It exhausts your voice for consecutive plays, I only managed to play twice in a row, after that I’m exhausted and almost lost my voice.

*Images are taken from BGG, all credits are belong to owners.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Card Games, Reviews

 

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