RSS

Monthly Archives: June 2018

Not The Fairest of Them All

pic3780045-2Fairy Tile Review
Back in our childhood, fairy tale is a very common thing for us children. It had driven us mad with curiosities, interests and loves. The idea of a brave knight in shining armor goes on a quest to rescue a beautiful and ill-fated princess on some tower held captive by a fiery and evil dragon really embodied in our mind and soul. It’s a true definition of fairy tale if not all. So with children as it’s major market, Iello published a board game with that spirit and called it Fairy Tile (designed by the duo Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert who made their names from Elysium, Pyramids, Prof. Evil and the Citadel of Time, Pioneer Days and many more) okay they made pun out of its title but that’s okay, “tile” because it’s using tiles for playing. So lets go jump into the pages from the fantasy book and know the game more.

First of all, they (Iello) surely know how to attract people with their awesome beautiful-looking artworks and nice-looking components. The illustrations are truly gorgeous (the cards, tiles and even character figures) and it is hard to resist the appeal of it. The first thing which made me want the game is the cover, full of deep rich green and yellow colors. It didn’t sell me right on, but it made me look the game components and behold the cards really destroyed my wall of resistance (of course, it’s Miguel Coimbra’s work of art, who can resist?). Illustrations from the cards are straightly taken from a fairy tale book, lots of beautiful and captivating scenes. And then you also get three nice-looking pre-painted character figures. Well, way less detailed than miniatures from Blood Rage or Mythic Battle Pantheon, but hey it’s good enough for a children game (and to be honest, there are many games that have worse minis than this).

DSC02232

The game comes in a small square box, with nice insert to hold the cards, tokens, tiles and figures in their place. There are wooden tokens for players, naturally colored (unpainted) with an etching of a star painted in gold (nice touch). The cards are nice, though it would really make the illustrations even better with linen finished quality.

So what the game is about? They presented the game in a story book manner where there’s a story that involves a knight, a princess and a dragon. You see that right there? Now the game can be played from 2 up to 4 players and surprise, surprise… a figure is not assigned to a player but can be controlled by anyone. The goal of the game is for a player to finish their story first and win the game. The story is represented by cards, dealt at the start of the game based on number of players. This cards will form a player’s deck and kept in a face down pile. At the start of the game there are 3 starting tiles with figures on them. Each player then draw one card from their deck, this card is their active story to complete. During their turn, each player can choose one of the two actions, Develop Story or Turn a Page.

DSC02246

Develop Story means that players Go on an Adventure by moving a character or adding a land tile. And then check to see if they can recount the adventure. These are done in order to fulfill the objective shown on the cards. Moving a character is different based on which character they move. The knight must exactly moves two spaces away from its location, while the princess must move exactly one space away. Meanwhile, the dragon moves in a direct straight line until the last map tile on its path. Adding a land tile gives player room for figures to explore. This is needed to complete the objective from terrain and location aspects. Recount the adventure is optionally done once a player has taken an action as a chance to complete the objective, they place the completed card aside in a face up file and draw another card from their deck.

Turn a page is done when a player doesn’t want or cannot complete the objective on their card at this moment. They place the card on the bottom of their deck and draw another one. And then they also flip their magic token face up if it’s not in the upside position. This magic token allows player to get an extra action which it is possible for a player to take two actions in a row, which is often very powerful to complete the objective.

DSC02252

The truth to this action-point-movement-system and tile-laying game is that the game is a racing game. The first player to empty their draw pile wins the game. It looks simple, clean rules and very suitable for children. But behind all of that, it hides the true nature of take that and tug of war game where players pulling the characters to complete their objectives. There are only 3 characters and all objectives require one or more characters to be in specific condition or location. This truly problematic since mostly each player can only take one action in his turn (except using a magic token) but need several actions to fulfill an objective conditions. It’s inevitable that players will hinder others in their quest. It could be a tiresome ordeal to fight over these characters and lead to a frustrating end (more players means more conflicts). So though I have not play this game with kids, I am not sure they will always enjoy this kind of game, but it’s definite that I did not enjoy all my plays, though for less serious play it’s still within tolerable level.

DSC02256

Once the game ends, players can sort (in ascending order) their completed cards based on the numbers shown on the bottom of the cards. And they said (the rules) you can recount (read) the flavor texts and those will form a story. I did that and to be honest it’s hard to see how it could be possible and to be honest, it’s just a lame attempt on connecting the story telling aspect of the game with the theme. While you can connect each sentence with another from card to card, there is nothing real in the story that could make you feel that you’re building that story in the game.

Sad to say, this is not a very good game for me. Though you can introduce your younger ones into board games with this and they could enjoy this better than I did. It has cool aspects when it comes to introduce tile laying, action point movement and other in-game rule set application such as when you can apply the magic token and how you complete your objective with several options in front of you and etc.

DSC02320

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 24, 2018 in Board Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Countdown to Panic

pic3895016-2Meeple Circus Review
Right after Flip Ships, I acquired Meeple Circus and its a blast. Meeple Circus just like it’s title is a circus game in the world of meeples. Yes you heard it right, the meeples are doing circus and you need all your best with your hands and the skill of not-knocking-out things.  The game was released on 2017 by Matagot, designed by Cedric Millet (French guy).  What this game is about? Well, players will compete with each other to successfully perform their circus act within 3 rounds. In each round, players will take circus components and acrobats. There are different components throughout the game each with it’s special scoring condition. And also the performance also have special set of scoring cards that players need to fulfill in order to score them.

DSC02497

Game Components
But first, let see the game components.
It has standard square box which I think it’s a bit oversized consider the game components inside. Well it has plastic insert tray to hold the components but honestly it’s not very good and usable. You still need baggies for wooden components if you don’t want all them scattered inside the box. There are stickers for the wooden meeples to add more thematic appeal, and the cards are in nice quality. My biggest disappointment is in the tiles. Surely they could use standard thickness with the tiles, but instead they used thick paper for it and called it tiles (ridiculous).

DSC02502

Artworks
As thing like circus and entertaining performance goes, the nuance of the illustrations are full with bright and contrast colors, mostly red and yellow (or golden colors), filled with overcrowded decoration elements like stars and colorful banners. But one thing that really stand out from the crowd of illustrations are the characters, personified wooden (alive) components like the acrobats and animals. It’s not just cartoony but their shapes are also resemble the wooden components. I found it lovely and cute. Thumbs up from me on this aspect.

Game Play
Okay, lets get down to business. Circus life is no joke, except the clown. So in this game you need to carefully be the fastest player to get everything done and score the best you can. Of course what you need is a pair of fully-functioned hands, speed and necessary components to complete the job. You see, without one of those things, you might lose your job, literally speaking. Each round, players will take turns to get components from the available display. The components can be found by getting act tiles and component tiles. The components can be acrobats and animals (wooden meeples) and also (wooden) objects like barrels, beams and balloons. Players need to take exactly one act tile and one component tile. Once they do that, they can start to perform (the first and second rounds are considered as rehearsal rounds, where the third would be the great performance, but in general all three rounds are the same in game flow).

DSC02508

When all players are ready, they set aside their components beside the circus ring board and one player start the music. It will determine as timer for players to complete the acrobatic challenge that they have to do with the components they have. They stop once the music ends and a scoring takes place. Now before scoring, I would like to mention that beside the scoring board, there are 4 cards face up to determine how players can score points (these are the challenge that they can do, called Public Demands).

Aside from the Public Demand cards, players also scores from several aspects. In order to be scored, components need to be inside the circus ring of a player, and they need to be place on their sides except beams and barrels, and every component on the ground must support at least one other components. Each blue acrobat will generate 1 point as long as its on the ground, while yellow acrobat gains 1 point if it doesn’t touch the ground. Red acrobat is different, they generate points based on how high they are. There’s a long tile that serves as ruler to measure height. The first two players who finishes their performances also get bonuses, 2 and 1 point respectively. So getting it done as soon as possible is a good thing. Public demand cards allow players to score in different ways based on the requirements listed on the cards. These cards involve players to specifically arrange the stacking of specific components in order to be scored.

DSC02503

Once the score of a round takes place, the player with least points will be the first player of next round. The second round is the same as the first with one notable difference, the act tiles (green border) for second round provide players with special one-of-a-kind guests with condition to score it and how many points. Once the game enters the third (final) round, players will perform the great performance one by one from the first player. This is done because some act tiles from round three required them to perform specific action that need to be supervised by other players. The blue act tiles work different from the rest of the act tiles, they introduce new element to the game where players have to meet certain condition (they do not get components from these tiles) and most of these conditions are hilariously funny and hard to complete.

Replay Value
Honestly there are not many, aside that the blue tiles have enough variation so that it won’t be always available in each play. You can play the game several times and find different tiles in play. But aside from that, the game is doomed to forever be the same, its what you can expect for this kind of game, though there’s no harm in that. It’s definitely fun for every age and you can always play the game once in a while to have a blast.

DSC02544

My Thoughts
Oh I love it. I did mention in Flip Ships review that I like / have a knack for dexterity games. So this one fit the bill and to be honest, more than Flip Ships because of one essential reason, this game is competitive unlike Flip Ships. Do you guys agree that competitive is always better than cooperative? In terms of the word ‘fun’ it must be better. I definitely recommend this game to anyone who don’t mind hand coordination, dexterity skill along with time limited challenges. The theme really works well and how it plays out, it is super fun. Definitely not a serious game, so if you overly competitive this might be a let down, because you will ask yourself or anyone that the blue act tiles seemingly unbalance. Yes based on my personal assessment, some blue tiles are more difficult than the others, but maybe that’s because I perceive myself incapable to do those things which might be different with other’s capabilities.  Another thing is that the first player of the next round will get to remove one Public Demand cards out of four, I think this is done out of necessity of runaway leader situation or perhaps last position helper. The removing of one Public Demand card would led to balancing the over powered players with necessary components to score that card. Of course it’s possible that the first player remove that card to let new card in, hoping it would aligned better with his components. But I wonder if removing one card is enough, why not two? I guess you can always house-ruled it with a variant, remove all the Public Demand cards, so each round will have different cards, this might change the round scoring a bit since all players affected by this random change.
I did question Matagot with the act tiles quality, it’s awfully uncommon and really make the game looks cheap.  At least they made the act tiles the same as component tiles, or even use cards instead. The box is oversized, not that the insert really works. But overall, this game is totally my favorite dexterity at this moment.

DSC02539

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 6, 2018 in Board Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Taking Dice Roll to A New Level

pic3477004Dice Forge Review
Dice Forge is a new innovative dice building / dice rolling game from Regis Bonnessee, a French game designer that came up with Seasons and Lords of Xidit. I found Seasons to be amazing, played it several times back in the day and I really love the dice. Though the dice present the game with resource generated drafting mechanic that visually popped up among other components, Seasons is a game of tableau building, there are many card chains and combos within it that players can explore exponentially once they knew the basic. I found the cards have high interaction and pretty much take-that. I am not a fan of the later, Lords of Xidit which focuses more on the programming aspect, I found it to be painful or I must say brain basher to figure out what your next moves are. Dice Forge is kinda bit evolved from Seasons to say the least. The dice are truly the essential components where players will improve their dice throughout the game in order to get points in several ways.

Theme
There’s no strong theme in here, though as French games usually do, they get help from the visual department. You can see it oozes with theme and flavor with their beautiful illustrations. In Dice Forge, players take the role of champions who will compete to be the best among them, to earn glory and rewards by the Gods. They will visit temples to get blessings for their adventures, finishing quests or tasks (cards) by defeating monsters and such from one floating island to another, gaining Glory points from the Gods. Well it is have better theme than games with city name and doing something there to get points (theme wise).

pic3637811

Artworks
There is no doubt, beautiful illustrations are presented in the game throughout the cards by a French artist, Biboun. Oh I know what you think, it’s not Naiad. There are many many great artists from France and their works are peerless among them. I must admit that the box cover is one of the best cover in board games. Thank goodness it’s changed from the original version, which more look like the cover for Loony Quest. The cover is so simple, clean and elegant. Yet in details, it conveys the important element that supports the theme. You can check it out from the reflection on the red ruby (kind of) image in the center of the cover. And let’s get into the cards, there are many many interesting characters decorating the cards. Though most of them lack their backstory, they’re still amazingly illustrated.

pic3477004

Components
Now this is the best among the physical parts of the game. The artworks are good, but the components are better than good (if not great). The first components on the list are the dice. Aside from being big-chunky plastic dice, the dice can be customized. Yes, you can change faces of the die with different faces. The general idea of the game is that players can improve their dice for better roll results. In order to accomplish this, they need dice that can be customized, broken apart its faces and change to another one. They did it pretty well, applying the idea from a previous game called Rattlebones. Unlike Dice Forge, the game has several customized dice as a smaller part of much more bigger mechanic combinations. It is there but not really stand out. Dice Forge changed this and came up with a very interesting way to pop up the dice customization element. At first there were some concerns among the dice performance. Considering the material, would the dice durable enough to stand through time and uses? They turned out okay I guess. Now there are some cases showed difficult process to change the faces and I was quite aware of this. The next part is the game board, which has a pretty much unique shape unlike common traditional square / rectangle boards found in other games. The boards have several die cut shapes to hold the cards around it. Its totally cosmetics, but still add attractive value to the public eyes. The player boards are simple, a single board with die cut holes to hold the cubes, sadly most of them came up bowing / not flatly lie on the table surface, perhaps because of the storage solution. Speaking of storage, the pre-built plastic tray really works well with the game components. They let you organize the components neatly without a fuss of spilling all the bits out of it’s place. A good job from the publisher.

DSC02307

The Game Play
Dice Forge is playable from 2-4 players, within 45-60 minutes. It’s played rather quite fast due the continuous rolls from the players. The game lasts for 9-10 rounds, but each round played very quickly. Roll dice, activate cards, and take an action(s). Players take turns in clockwise order. In a player’s turn, all players roll their dice in Major Blessing phase, and then the active player take his turn to activate their cards, then take one or two actions. Major Blessing is players rolling their 2 dice to generate income in the form of Sun and Moon shards, gold and Glory points. In this phase all players take the Blessings, regardless who’s the active player is, this give players constant interactions even it’s not their turn yet. Then the active player may activate one or more of His cards before taking an action. The active player action is simple, He need to choose one of the two available actions, whether to upgrade their dice or buy a card.
Players upgrade their dice by spending Golds in the Temple. They can buy more than one die face, as long as it’s not the same ones and they have enough Gold to spend. They must immediately forge the newly purchased die face(s) to their dice, placing aside the replaced ones beside their player board.

pic3376303

Cards are acquired by spending Moon and Sun shards based on the card cost. They can only buy one card at most during their turn, but they can have more than one card of the same type. Once bought, they place the cards face down in front of them, resolving any immediate effects of the card. Players also may at most spend 2 Sun shards per turn to get an extra action, in which they can use it either to buy a card or upgrade their dice. This extra action works the same as their regular action. When buying a card, they move their player marker into the related spot, if there’s another player marker in that spot, they got kicked out and return back to its original spot and get to perform Major Blessings (re-roll their two dice and gain the results).
Cards have different effects, immediate one-time effect, once per turn activation and also end game Glory points. The game comes with 2 different sets of cards, basic and advance sets. For first play it’s recommended to use basic set, but don’t let that stop you to use the advance set from the beginning if you and your group are frequent gamers. The basic set cards have more simple and straight-forward game, while the advance offers more fluid and interaction between players. There are some die faces that can be acquired only by purchasing cards. After the game ends, players tally up their Glory points from cards and Glory track. Player with the most points, wins the game.

pic3952201

Replay Value
Being a fast-paced and simple game, it leans to the fact that the replay value might probably goes down the drain after several plays. There are some things you can explore though, there are some strategies on it, what kind of cards you get, upgrade your dice in different focus also make a difference. First, the basic and advance set surely give you different plays, and you can also try to mix the cards between sets to give more different plays. But among all of the above, it’s still a dice rolling game, you cannot mitigate the luck aside from increase your dice probability with better die faces. It’s a 30-45 minutes game, so you can play back to back and explore your strategies. I found the game to be very simple, though luck plays a great role in the end.

 

My Thoughts
It is undoubtedly one of the best medium (of not light) Euro games with dice rolling mechanism that plays very fast and constantly engaging to all players. Not to mention the components are beyond standard and really attract people to look over. The illustrations are great but also offers clean design with its white dominant background. Luck plays a great role but for a 30 minutes game, I wouldn’t mind. Plus, rolling the dice are so fun, even if you roll bad (I found this experience to be particularly different for each person), you always wanting to roll again and again. There are some meat in the game despite the easy and simple game in the surface where the aim is to build your dice as effective as you can and get the right cards to build your engine and grab huge points along the way. It is very suitable for both casual and gamers alike. The only issue I have with the dice is the fact that I found it kinda hard to remove its side with my bare fingers (its a fact that I have injured my fingers trying to remove its faces during play). From my experiences, sometimes it’s hard to change the die faces, you can use your nails but beware, you might hurt yourself. They suggest to use the corner of the die face to remove the die face. Its doable but I found it still difficult to do. Luckily I have a component from custom dice promo from Rattlebones that has the sole purpose to remove the die face, and it works pretty well. Sadly I only have one, so need to pass it on to other players during the game. I recommend this game, it’s fun, it’s great and plays fast!

pic3935154

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 5, 2018 in Board Games, Dice Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: