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About vardamir

Angrod Vardamir (aka Kris Ardianto) started his board gaming journey in 2011 when a friend asked him to play Monopoly, which He dislikes. After that He went to try His first 'true' board game in Arkham Horror and fell in love with the hobby. He found out His passion in board gaming and joined IBG (Indo Board Games) community during it's pinnacle moment, exploring hundreds of titles with other members. Now He is sort of a board game connoisseur though there are still a lot of things to learn. He plays, collects and manages blog review about board games (https://myboardgamejournal.wordpress.com). Vardamir has been an avid gamer since the beginning but his true taste lies on games with Euro-style, constrained luck and non-abstract. Of course despite of His taste, he still likes great epic Ameritrash or Hybrid games like Twilight Imperium, Chaos in The Old World and others.

Solving Cases By Following Leads

DeadlineDeadline Review
So you are into detective stories, mystery or crime cases but do not want to get into long paragraph reading like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detectives? Well Deadline might be the one game for you. Deadline is designed by A.B. West and Dan Schnake, published by Wizkids in 2017. The story setting is New York City in 1938 and players take the roles of Detectives (private ones at that) under Buckminster, New York Detective Agency. Its a cooperative game where players will hand in hand trying to solve the case in front of them. The game has 12 cases to choose from with various difficulties from one case to another. There are also 8 different characters to choose from, and like other cooperative games, these characters have different abilities that they can use once in the game. It also provides the players with a Case Book, Case Question and a Solution Book that hold as integral parts in the game. Each case has a story that can be checked on Case Book and Clue cards for the players to get information. To start the game, players choose which case to play and prepare the clue cards related to it, do not read the back of the cards since it’s crucial and give case related information. Players decide what characters to play and choose the first player, give him the detective badge, he will be the lead detective for the first round. Set aside the three bullet tiles and four matchbook tiles face down. Shuffle lead cards and place it face down to form a draw pile. Each player gets 3 cards from that pile. The lead detective then read the chosen case from the Case book aloud so all players can hear. At the end of the page, take and set aside the starting clues from the deck and place it face down. These clue cards are the clues available for players to check at the start of the game.

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The lead detectives start the round by choosing which clue they want to follow and choose one action from the available three actions, whether to play a lead card, use their detective ability or use hot tips. If they do not want to or cannot take one of those three actions, they must Drop Out.
The active player may play a Lead card from their hand, if they play the first time in a round, they can play any lead card. But if they are following an already placed lead card, they must place their card overlaying one of the existing lead cards on the table by matching the symbols between the two overlaying cards. Blank space is wild, so any symbol can overlay it or it can overlay any symbol. The goal is to play lead cards with matching symbols shown on the chosen clue card.
The active player can choose to play their unused character ability. Each character has a different and powerful ability that can help them completing a clue card. The active player can also use Hot Tips. Hot tips can only be used if there’s more than one light match on it. The four different colors of the matchbook have a light match on the back side. Players flip this tile to the light match side when they play a lead card with a matchbook symbol on the left corner of the Lead card. When they play a card with this symbol, they can flip the corresponding matchbook tile face up (if it’s already face up, ignore it). The effect of the hot tips are different based on the amount of tokens they use. With two hot tips, they can draw a new card from the pile, with three hot tips, they can remove 1 plot twist card in front of any player and with four, they can remove 2 plot twist cards. Once used the matchbook tiles are flipped back face down and can be flipped again in later turns.
If by any means that a player cannot or choose not to take any action, the must Drop out. In order to drop out they check if there are any Plot Twist card in their hand. If there is, they must play the Plot Twist card in front of them, unless they already have two in front of them (the maximum number of Plot Twist a player can have in front of them is two) and then they discard their hands. Dropped out player cannot take any more turn in the round.

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The round ends when all players have already Dropped Out and they fail to follow up the clue. Or when all symbols on the chosen clue card covered up by the symbols shown on played lead cards. If they fail they remove one of the bullet tiles to the box. Once there’s no bullet left, the investigation ends. If they succeed, they discards the played Lead cards and flip the chosen clue card, read the information aloud while take new clue cards listed (if any) and then they keep the completed clue card as reference at the end of the game. Players draw their hands back to three cards and then the next player clockwise will be the next round first player. In the next round, the lead detective may choose which clue card they want to follow, considering their hands of lead cards.

At the end of the investigation, players will review what information they’ve gained from all the clue cards and they will check the case question book to answer the questions related to the case. There are 2 different questions, critical and bonus questions. Critical questions are strongly related to the case that usually involve who is the criminal, what motive and the weapon of choice, etc. While bonus questions are something that players pick up along the way. How well they answer these reflects their performance / rate in the case they check this on the Solution Book where the answers lie. There are 4 different kind of levels, ranging from Master detectives to the lowest level, Gumshoes.

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Final Thoughts
I find the game to be pretty simple. The rules are easy to discern and straightforward. There are 12 cases and by the looks of the game play this gives you 12 time replay value cause once you figure out the case, then you won’t be playing it again. Unless you are in for the mini game. Okay, what mini game? Yes, the game really revolves around you putting up mini game to get information. Why I call it mini game? Because it’s not related to the case itself. Players completing the lead without any context about the case at all, it’s not incorporated with the story or case you are dealing with. Alas if you compare this with Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, I must say that they are both different in many aspects except cooperative game play and criminal mystery case solving theme. SHCD has a very strong theme that blends well with how the players act as detectives, unlike this game where players just handed out the information once they are done with the mini game. SHCD requires them to actually think, to decide where they should follow the lead. SHCD has a very long, tedious but masterpiece writings in its paragraph provides a very compelling story of the famous Sherlock Holmes cases. Deadline in the other hand, provides an easier alternative to the same spirit of crime-solving detective theme. I found the game to be quite similar with The Grizzled where players have their own hand and when taking their turns, need to play the correct card as they see fit, if not they need to pass / drop out. While works slightly different the plot twists in this game almost work the same as the trauma cards in The Grizzled. While dropping out might be a good idea to secure the lead chain for someone else, having a plot twist in hand might not be a good idea to do that since plot twists are mostly bad and give other players hard time to clear the clue card. The detective abilities are quite interesting cause they do a lot better / meaningful than the abilities in The Grizzled.

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I like the game so far, unraveling the mystery of the case always interests me. Though you do not need to be a detective to enjoy the game. Though once I played all of the cases, I think about to let the game go cause there’s nothing much you can do. Unless the mini game is the appealing factor for you. Played the game once and there’s not enough variation in the game that makes you need to play it several times to really get the hang of it. I played the first case, easy difficulty and it’s just that is. The story is interesting if you like the genre. I call this game as a tea time game, where you can spend time with friends, having tea and solve crimes. A time well spent. But of course not the game that you really want to play, that leaves something behind from your last game and pull you closer to play it again. A game that makes you always talk about it, leave that impression that you always remember. A game that makes you eager to play it again though it’s a once a year game.

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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in Card Games, Reviews, Uncategorized

 

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The Magic Lamp of Randomness

Tales of The Arabian NightsTales of The Arabian Nights Review
I just recently took the experience of both playing this game and owning it. I already heard or knew the game for quite a long time. Its quite famous among board gamer’s communities. The very distinct thing in this game is no other that the story-telling element that drives the game. The game was published around 2009 by Z-Man Games. My wife had played it one time before me, which was a bad experience from her testimonial. The persistent main issue she kept saying over and over again is the long play time. It took ages to finish (if you can finish it) and dragging the game long enough makes it pretty much a boring voyage that even Sindbad feels tormented.

But as some of my friends who like the game keep telling me that the game is best playing with 3-players, not more. Though up to 5 players is listed on the box, they all agreed that with 4 and 5-players, its not recommended due to the long downtime and game length. So putting my faith on their testimonials, I jumped into the magic carpet and tried the game with my better experienced friends on the subject. My wife liking the game is essential for my plan for this game, so if I ever get the game, she must like it cause I intend it to be a couple game at least.

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So the game comes with a really pretty looking game box (black background with beautiful Arabian decorations and stunning illustrated covers that involves genie and other Arabian tales. Inside, you can find some of the key components in the game which are the Book of Tales, the map board, Reaction Matrixes, player mats, cards and some punch boards for in-game tokens. The map board shows a huge world map with interesting places and the wide networks connecting them all. The center of it is Baghdad, this is where players start the game. But before that, players get a board (more of a reference) some tokens to keep track things like Wealth, Destiny and Story markers as well as Quest, Destination and Origin markers. They also get 3 random skills, drawn one by one (must be different). Then players must decide the amount of Destiny and Story points with the total of 20 (this amount can be adjusted as desired), which they kept it hidden from other players, these are their goals to win the game. The last thing before starting the game, they also draw a quest card. Each player takes turns in clockwise direction from the starting player, move from their current location (they cannot stay unless stated otherwise) based on their Wealth marker. This Wealth gives movement amount limitation in sea or land. Once a player decide to stop their movement, they draw an encounter card and resolve it. To resolve it, the encounter card shows a certain number which will be check in the Encounter book and the active player rolls a die, add the value with the location modifier and destiny modifiers if any. The result will determine the encounter, which then the active player and another player will check the matrix related to it. The active player then decide how they want to interact with that, based on the available actions listed in matrix. Once decide, they roll a destiny die and apply any modifier. The other player then check what paragraph the result is refer to and open that paragraph in the Encounter book (other player can help to do this) and read it aloud to the active player. Usually the reading will show the outcome of the encounter, though some encounters provide options or lead to another paragraph.

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So how the paragraphs work? They’re random and the subject of this review title. Once your fellow partner read the paragraph, you just let it flow and move on. You start with 3 skills (drawn at the start of the game) and as the game progresses you might have more. The skills might help you on your encounters, the key word is might. Yes, you enter the encounter blindly and just hope that the skills are useful. The paragraphs have a chance to have skill or treasure related to it, in which somehow may help or do the opposite. Master skills are different, they’re some sort of upgraded skills, but better in such a big time. Why? Because when you have master skills, the paragraph readers will check whether the three available paragraphs have that master skill inside and the player doesn’t need to roll the destiny die. If there is none, then roll the die. So basically master skill helps you get the best outcome from it. So your freewill and composition of your skills quite likely determine the action you will choose, though there’s no restriction at all to go nuts and feeling lucky (if it is luck) and choose whatever the hell you want to do. Once you gain the required amount of Destiny and Story points, you need to go back to Baghdad and complete an encounter there in order to win the game.

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Final Take
The game is a random fest, you will not know for sure what happen in your encounters. The randomness is high off the chart in this game, you think you know what to do and what will happen but in the end the game might prove you wrong. The game really focuses on the adventure / storytelling aspect, where the fun is. Your characters will have a crazy fun (or not) encounters that will shape the whole adventure in the game. So if you are okay with strong storytelling element that lead your gaming experience, this might be the game for you. It appeals more to players that really treasure the gaming experience and how the theme blends in with character’s progresses than to those who really take the final outcome as the utmost important thing out of the game.
On a side note, I do think that the components fall into more of a mediocre level, it’s kinda bit on the middle of things, not bad but not good either. Despite the beautiful game box cover, I found that the board is a bit drab (as map should be I guess) and the color tone is a bit heavy to my eyes. The cards, okay the encounter cards have illustrations, but it could have been done better with full illustrations instead of drab looking background. The quest cards is just a card with full of text pasted on it, but I guess that serves it’s purpose. Player standees, well cannot complain though, it’s just okay. In overall, this is a game where the components not really evoking how people see it visually but rather immersive to the story it provides. So if you cannot get pass through that visual boundary, maybe you can close your eyes and rely on your own imagination. In the end, I do like the game, it provides a unique gaming experience despite its huge luck factor.

dav

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Reviews

 

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Essen Spiel 17 Highlight Preview Part 4

Wow, it’s already part 4 and to be honest we (or is it just me?) just moving still. There are still many, many… (I emphasize on many) new games out there need to be previewed and I am ashamed with my speed. But no good whining about good stuff, let’s savor it the best way we can and buy it eventually.

pic3646165_mdRAJAS OF THE GANGES
This game is one of the games that I got my hands into. A friend got me this directly from his Essen trip. Bless you and your games man! Okay, this game is designed by Markus and Inka Brand, the couple behind Village, La Boca, Orleans Invasion and the famous EXIT series. The box cover in this game is breathtaking, I love it very much though the font type of its title is not so much, but hey as long as its inline with the theme. The cover shows a landscape of the famous Ganges river with looming figure of the God, Kali with colorful dice in her hands. In this game, players will take the roles of Rajas / Ranis in the 16th century of India and try to expand their province in order to gain fame and riches. Player that cleverly does so that their fame and riches intertwined, wins the game. The game uses some classic mechanics with added twist. The core is a worker / dice placement game with tile laying element. Players will have a province board and a Kali statue board with one die for each color (4 colors) with 3 workers at the start of the game. Players take turns to place their workers with the possibility of spending dice or coins in several places like Marketplace, Quarry, Palace and Harbor to do different things. Players can get province tiles from the Quarry by spending money and dice to add them to their province board. Players can also get money from Marketplace based on markets that they have on their province board. Palace gives special benefits that requires the cost of die of a specific value and also the place where players can get dice or convert dice to another color. Harbor is place where players can move up their Ships on the Ganges river. I found the game to be very simple, easy to learn and setup. It has the same feel like The Voyages of Marco Polo in the aspect of dice utilization. I’ve played several times and I like it so far. It’s one of few games that has a racing feel that I actually like (Lewis and Clark is still the best though).
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pic3582920_mdTHE CLIMBERS
Okay we head on to an abstract game. In this game you will try to climb a pile of wooden blocks as high as you can and get rid of your opponents. So the game comes with lots of different size wooden blocks with different colors on one side. These colors represent player colors. Before the game starts, players need to arrange the wooden blocks to a single pile (in any way they want) of course with certain requisites. Players take turns to move their climber from the bottom to the top of the blocks. To do this they can move up a level (shown by their climber’s “neck” level), if above this limit, they cannot climb it. Each player also given a pair of ladders, one small and one large. These ladders can be used once each to help them climb onto blocks that are higher than them. And also a blocking stone that can help them hinder their opponents for a single turn. But as it’s not enough, players also can only climb / move onto a block with the surface of their colors or neutral (beige wooden color). If I recall correctly, this game uses player elimination, since it’s possible that players can out of their movement. In this case they are out of the game. The game is actually not a new game, the listing page on BGG suggests it’s from 2008. I found the rules are very straightforward and easy. And the components are wooden blocks (so I expect it would be heavy) and can make a spectacle on top of the table. So if you like tactical movement with tolerance of abstract theme and a small direct conflict to block others, this might be good for you to check out.
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pic3489123_mdFLATLINE: A FUSE AFTERSHOCK GAME
This is a sequel game of FUSE, designed by the same designer, Kane Klenko. As you know, in FUSE, players work together to defuse a bomb, this time the bomb exploded and players need to save the casualties. They work in the medic bay of the (broken and crashed maybe) space ship just barely getting the equipment running to save the critically injured or dying due to severe explosion. Unlike FUSE, this game has more components (it has bigger box and definitely heavier) and meatier. In this game, players get their own dice (by colors) and there will be an exact number of rounds (8 rounds) in which they need to save all the patients before the last round or they lose. In the game one player will be assigned as the Chief Medical Officer, who will keep things up based on the round breakdown. The first one is to remove a round marker and draw cards. These cards are (yes) bad for the players. There are two types of card, orange (stat) and blue (emergency) cards. When they’re drawn, they’re placed separately based on colors. Then the CMO roll the emergency dice to determine which emergency cards are active. Then they discuss the plan this round. Okay before move on to the next phase I want to explain about the board. There are 4 sick bays (medical pods if you like) to hold the patient tiles (a different number of players determines how many tiles that players need to save). And in the center, there’s a dial with 4 connectors, with each of them connected to a sick bay. After the discussion, the CMO will start the timer (one minute) and players roll their dice and assign them all into various spots. Once the one minute time is over, players must stop distributing dice. Okay, not only to cure the patients, but also different places such as the cards and recharging stations (there are two of them on the board). These recharging stations can bring back one round (delay the game) but there are only 2 of them. The different color cards have 2 different effects. Orange cards must be solve in that round, if not they’re placed on fail space and a number of failed cards can make the players lose the game. Blue cards in the other hand, is not as devastating as that but when triggered they can hurt players quite bad. And the bad news is that there can be 2 rows of 6  blue cards present in the game (and that’s a crowd). Treating the patients is as simple as assigning dice based on the symbol, but this must be done in inline fashion (they must clear it line by line). The other restriction is that who to place the dice, must be one player only, 2 or more or each player. This will surely keep the players busy with their dice allocation. When this hit the bottom, players can also use cards from Triage (cleared orange cards have their good effects) or submit a die to have all players the option to re-roll their dice, but the die locked in it for the rest of the game (also its limited to submit a die here). And about the connector, once a patient has all lines covered up, they are removed and the effect column that connected with the connector will take effect (black means nothing, green means good effect and red is the opposite). These connectors are set up in a way that each patient’s tab will get connected differently with each other, this adds another element to consider about timing to clear the patients. I played this game for several times, with 2, 3 and 4 players and these plays were memorably fun and crazy, lots of hilarious and chaotic moments. I guess it’s not that easy as it looks, to assign dice among players. As people say, “more minds, more problems”, can’t argue to that. But I must say that the game is beatable, we beat it once with 4 players, though it’s just in training mode. But amidst all that, the sole thing that drawn me into getting this game is the dice, the custom dice. Yes, I am a sucker for it. I love the colorful custom dice, period.
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pic3606262_mdMEEPLE CIRCUS
Okay lets head on to a dexterity game. In this game, your motor skill will be tested. In Meeple Circus, players need to pile up meeples and the likes in order to get points. There are different shape of meeples, from basic meeples, animals and different objects. Players will do a great performance with 2 rehearsals (3 acts). In each Circus acts, players will go through a preparation,  presentation, evaluation and end phase. In the preparation phase each player takes turn to take a component tiles and act tile (in the order they choose). After that players must show to their best what the public demands with their acrobats and other components, yes you stack ’em up! Of course there are some restrictions, you need to stack them inside your circus ring, place it on their side (not lay it down) except barrels and beams and all components on the ground must carry at least one other components. Players do this against time and other players. The time is from an application with circus music themed (very fun and lively), once the music stop, they must stop. In evaluation players will gain applauses by their presentations through public demands, acrobat meeples and speed bonus tokens. Public demand cards are somewhat like objectives that player can follow through to get points (these cards have different categories shown by different colors and each act will have different cards available). Next are acrobat meeples, which have 3 different types of acrobats, beginners (blues), intermediates (yellows) and experts (reds) and they score points differently, interestingly it’s thematic in some way. The beginners score points as long as they touch the ground, while the intermediates score points as long as not touching the ground. Now the experts have very unique and interesting scoring mechanism. Experts score by using a custom designed ruler (provided from the game). They score based on their heights. Higher they’re the bigger the points are. The second rehearsal (act 2) works similar with the first one with small difference, there are guest stars that can give points in specific ways. The great performance has some changes, speed tokens are not used, double points from guest stars and each challenge will give points when completed. I think its a simple dexterity game, you can find similar games in this genre such as Animal Upon Animal, Rhino Hero and others. But in this one, they managed to make it interesting both in terms of theme and game scoring, totally well done. This is definitely on my must have list.
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pic3718275_mdAZUL
This one is one of the most stunning (if not beautiful) games released in Essen 2017. Azul is an abstract game with a very loose theme of aesthetic decor ceramic tiles originated in Alhambra palace, in southern Spain, called Azulejos. It was introduced by the Moors to King Manuel I when he visited. The king was mesmerized and awestruck that He began to order His architects to redecorating His palace in Portugal. In this game, players will be the King’s architects and try to decorate the walls of the palace. Each player will get a player board and the goal of the game is to be the player with most points after the game ends (which is triggered when a player successfully complete a horizontal line in their player board.). The gameplay sounds simple, in a player’s turn, the player takes tiles of the same color from either the factory display or center of the table and place them on one of their pattern lines. When all players already take tiles, next they place the tiles onto their 5×5 wall grid from the pattern lines and scores. The basic mode has a pre-definitive pattern shown on the grid, while on the back side of the board, there’s a blank grid (a variant, as expected for this kind of game). Scoring is unique, players will score the row and column of each tile placed. Players get one point for each tile currently exist in the same row and column line of the placed tile, and this is done separately between row and column. But the twist is that those points will be deducted with the tiles laying on the floor lines. More tiles, the negative points are bigger, so this put a huge consideration to the player’s choice when taking tiles. I found the game to be pretty unique, complex in the outside while the real thing is quite simple and pretty much 5 minutes rules explanation. This game required a great knowledge and plan further because the pieces placed going to affect subsequent turns greatly. I am not a big fan of an abstract game, but this one surely caught my attention due to its beautiful components, thanks God they didn’t go with card board tiles, that would be so lame. The tiles are gorgeous, beautiful, stunning and amazing (I am out of words), the game visual presentation is out of the chart, its an aesthetically work of art. I found it quite unnecessary for the score track in each player board, a single score track for all players would be more suitable since players can observe others and it surely mitigates the chance to knock or slide player markers off their place.

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I included two photos of Azul, in my defense, the game is worth it. So this has to end and I need to prepare with the next list. It’s been slow but I hope you can understand, since I also has couple of new games coming (though sadly not all of them are Essen releases). Also shamefully, my game review posts have been pending due to a lot of things (this is one of them). So until next time, with part 5.

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

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Events, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen Spiel 17 Highlight Preview Part 3

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

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

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

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

 

Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 2

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

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

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

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

 

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Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 1

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

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

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

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

 

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Counting Spells GO!

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

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

dav

Game components

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

dav

Life tokens, player markers and a six-sided die

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

dav

Spell tiles

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

sdr

Game in progress

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

sdr

Spell board

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

 

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