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Category Archives: Ameritrash

In general, this means games that emphasize a highly developed theme, player to player conflict, and usually feature a moderate to high level of luck.

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.

dav

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.

dav

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.

dav

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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The Offensive Catan

Box Cover

Box Cover

Wiraqocha Review

In 1995, Klaus Teuber released Settlers of Catan, a Euro game that revolutionized the board gaming world. The game is almost 20 years old and already played by most board gamers worldwide and had once become one of the obvious choice for Christmas present by a lot of families over the world. Many other board games were inspired by it and take some mechanics of the game and also improve it more and more. The game itself applies the core mechanic of dice rolling with hand management, networking and also trading. This is a new and fresh approach to the game system that everyone know about at the time (looking at Monopoly, Game of Life and Risk). It gives a more friendly approach with interesting play for families and friends. Roll and move had become boring and stale at the time, creating a mindset that player’s actions dictate by the result of the dice. Direct conflict has become more and more responsible for conflicts in relationship. Settlers of Catan offers an interesting decision factor in more friendly situation for casual gamers (at the time). In 2011, Henri Kermarrec released Wiraqocha, a board game with the similar aspects found in Settlers of Catan. I found the game from boardgamegeek and don’t know why I just hooked. I ordered the game aside from the game’s rank on boardgamegeek and users’ feedback. I like the presentation of the game. So what kind of game is this? A Settlers of Catan copycat? Not a chance.

Back of the box

Back of the box

1. The Theme
I do not know how to classify the game, into Euro or AT but it has both styles in it. It surely has a good portion of theme and background story to give the game a good sense of flavor. The game takes place in an alternate world where England found a new and secret entrance to the long lost realm of Wiraqocha. It’s like Atlantis but it’s Wiraqocha. In this game, the Queen of England delegates several conglomerates to share the land and reap the benefits for her. So player will be those conglomerates and compete to be the first that complete one of the three objectives given. So it’s basically a race game, the first one to complete an objective win, simple. There are three objectives within the game, by collecting 4 relics throughout the land you will unlock the secret treasure of Wiraqocha, which I bet gonna make the queen very, very happy. The second objective is the collect a number of Somnium crystals that prove to be very powerful energy that can affect matter and even time. The third one is to acquire enough scientific knowledge to build Leviathan, a war machine based on the ancient and lost technology of Wiraqocha’s civilization.

2. The Artworks
The game has nice looking arts that really popped out throughout the game. The arts on the land tiles, cards and sticker tokens really show it nicely and perfectly integrated with the time and style of the theme. The artist that made this work of art was Yuio, a great artist who also behind the artworks of Karnag, Rockwell and Takenoko. Artworks in Wiraqocha has a strong conceptual feeling and not particularly set for main stream audiences, the design concept of the buildings and inventions are unique, different from common sense and also strange and alien from the normal idea of them, which can be found easily on the Juggernaut, Flying Fortress, Transport Tunneler, Android Explorer, Battle Exoskeleton, Mechanical Miner and more.

The Juggernaut Art

The Juggernaut Art

3. The Components
The game comes in sturdy box with 12x9x2 inches dimension, which was chosen perfectly by the publisher to store all the game components nicely, no extra space issue (I still think the expansion would also fit into the base game box, but I don’t have it so not much a reliable info). The game comes with wooden discs and punch-board tiles, 11 6-sided wooden dice, some cards, some cubes and crystals, 22 hex tiles and stickers for the wooden discs. The game components are top notch, good quality card stock material for the cards (it’s okay not to sleeve the cards, because you won’t get to shuffle the cards often in a game). My copy of the game had bad production wooden discs (some of them were cracked) but replacements were quickly sent by the publisher, thumbs for Sit Down! Games. The stickers could be better in color contrast aspect and paper material, it’s in matte finish, glossy should be better but can’t complain it’s still good. The rulebook is printed on a fine paper stock material, one of the best rulebook quality I have ever seen. The dice material could have been better, instead they’re using wood for it (I know it suppress the cost) which really lack the feeling of accomplishment when rolling them (maybe it’s just me).

Example of game in progress

Example of game in progress

4. The Game Play
To play the game, players need to assemble the hex tiles to form the land (you can choose to form it randomly or using predetermined setup from the rules. The designer suggests to use the predetermined setup for first time play (the friendly landscape for new players). Shuffle the cards and draw 4 cards face up. The game starts from the first player clockwise. Each player chooses a color and take all wooden tokens (units) with his corresponding color. These wooden tokens / discs are player’s units, there are 7 unit discs in total per player, 1 Base Camp, 2 Zeppelins, 2 Drills and 2 Explorers.

The Base Camp token
Imagine this token as the main camp or headquarter for your expedition. You need this unit presents on the game board in order to take other actions. The unit’s sticker has a 5 value pips symbol that referring to the natural protection of the Base Camp. This means, the unit has a natural protection with a value of 5. During the first turn, players must firstly place this unit onto the game board before taking any other actions. On the next turns, player then can place another units onto an adjacent tile (conquering a tile) and / or move the existing unit (including the Base Camp) to any tiles on the board.
Zeppelin tokens
Each player has 2 Zeppelin tokens at their disposal. This Zeppelin units are used to enter a Mountain tile (white), the other units cannot enter / conquer mountain tiles. So the only way to place a unit / conquer a mountain tile is by using Zeppelins. Of course, thematically, Zeppelins are airborne units, and thus it can only be attacked by another Zeppelins, but it can attack ground unit as well (think of Zeppelin unload bombs and such). And another crucial advantage of this unit is that this is the only unit that can deploy other units into mountains. Players may “disgorge” one or more of their Zeppelin(s) during the preparation phase to deploy a unit either from a supply or from the game board onto the tile where a Zeppelin exist.
Drill tokens
These units also called miner, because they extract / harvest Somnium for players. For each miner / drill unit that exist on the board, players will get one extraction points. For each two extraction points, players receive 1 Somnium crystal. If a drill unit is on a tile with Somnium veins, it generates 2 extraction points instead the normal one.
Explorer tokens
Explorers main use is to collect Relic tokens from Ruin tiles (there are 4 Relic as well as there are 4 Ruin tiles on the board). Each Relic token are placed on a Ruin tile matches the corresponding color. One of the three objectives is to collect all the Relics in order to win the game. This Relic can only be taken by Explorers, if  a player has an Explorer token on the Ruin tile with a Relic token, he may take the Relic token immediately (without cost).

Player Tokens

Player Tokens

Players take turn in clockwise order, where in each turn players will follow these 3 phases:
A. Preparation Phase
In this phase, players harvest resources based on the tile they control (there are tiles that generates one or two resources). They take the resource cubes from general supply to their personal supply. They can also activate some cards that can be activate during this phase. The important part of this phase is players have the chance to “disgorging” their Zeppelins out from the game board, which players oft to forget, and if they already pass this phase and continue to the next phase, it would be too late to do it. The last thing is players prepare the dice to roll in the next phase. At first, players receive 3 dice by default (the minimum number that players are allowed to roll) and possible to get extra dice from hex tiles.

B. Action Phase
In this phase, the active player roll his already prepared dice and then take some actions. There are several things that a player can do for their actions, one of them is conquering a tile. Players can conquer a tile by allocating their die/dice. The dice allocation is based on the type of the tiles, either by the dice value or by dice pips. If  a tile requires a dice value to conquer, the player must spend a die or a combination of dice with the exact value of the cost. (so in order to conquer a tile with the value of 7 or higher, a player must use at least two dice). But if a tile requires a set of dice with specific numbers of pips on each die, then the player must spend the set with the exact same pips. If the tile that he conquered is adjacent to his own controlled tile(s) then he can place one of his unit tokens from the supply (minding the type of the tile, hill or mountain) or any unit from the board. If it’s not adjacent, then he may only place one of his units that already on the board, not from the supply. This regulation means to limit player’s movement, so players cannot easily place units from the supply into the board. If there is an opposition unit on the tile, the active player conquer the tile as normal (considering there is no protection dice on the unit) and place the opponent unit to the graveyard (except if it’s a Base Camp).

A Player's area (relic, wooden tokens, somnium, resource cube and invention card)

A Player’s area (relic, wooden tokens, somnium, resource cube and invention card)

Players can modify their dice by spending 2 resource cubes to adjust a die value by one, higher or lower (without limit) and also buy an additional die with a Somnium crystal (limit to one).
Players can also buy one available technology cards from the row, the cost to purchase is listed on each card (the cost are resources and Somnium crystal). There are two kinds of technology, an Invention or a Building. Inventions can be stolen, while Buildings cannot. These technology cards have various uses and effects that can be used to help players gain benefit during the game and also complete the Leviathan.
Players also can place a protecting die on one of his units. This protecting die is used to give protection for a unit to make it more difficult to be attacked by other opponents. The protecting die is work just like a die cost in a hex tile, players who want to conquer a tile occupied by a unit with a protecting die must spend an additional die which is higher than the protecting die. In which a protecting die with the value of 6 can only be conquered by spending extra die with a value of 6 and 2 resources to modify it into 7. The restriction of using a protecting die is each unit is limited with only 1 protecting die at any time. A player Base Camp has a natural 5-value protecting die (you can see the Base Camp token’s sticker shows a die image with 5-pips). So using a protecting die to protect a Base Camp is really useable when the protecting die value is 6, better than the natural protection from the Base Camp. Strictly from the rules, that a unit cannot have more than 1 protecting die, so if the Base Camp is only reasonable if the natural protecting die is replaced by a 6-value die.
Players can also modify their dice result by paying 2 resources for 1 value modifier. This modifier is only limited to a value of six. Players may only modify up to 7 if they want to defeat a protecting die with a value of 6. There is no limit how many times a player can spend resources to modify his dice. Modifier is essential, since it’s a dice allocation, the dice roll results are usually need adjustment (if they cannot, it would be very frustrating).
Players can also sacrifice 1 of his Somniums per turn to get an extra die to roll. Once per round players can also recover a unit from the graveyard (this is the only way to get units back) by paying 3 resources.
Players can steal a Somnium crystal, an Invention or a Relic from an opponent. This works precisely the same for conquering another hex tile controlled by the opponent’s Base Camp, the only difference is the Base Camp token is not destroyed (since you’re only stealing). Movement restrictions are applied as normal for this action.

The game in progress

The game in progress

C. End of Turn Phase
After a player had taken all of his actions, he must take End of Turn phase, where a player harvest Somnium with his Drilling units. Each Drilling unit on the board provides 1 extraction points in any hex without the Somnium symbol, if there’s a Somnium symbol, the unit provides 2 extraction points instead of 1. For each 2 extraction points, the player receives 1 Somnium crystal. As mentioned above, players can use these crystals during action phase or to fulfill two of the three winning conditions. After this, a player must discard excessive resources from his supply. Player can only keep 3 resources by the end of this phase, the rest are returned to the general supply.

The game immediately ends when one player fulfill one of the winning conditions and that player wins the game.
The game also offers one expansion and a mini expansion. The expansion’s title is The Way of The Feathered Serpent which adds several new units and new cards for specific winning condition, new hex tiles and also player screens. It’s not considered as a big expansion but packs a bunch of elements that really improve the game in some way. The stickers give players optional units to start the game which is good and provide new gaming experiences.
The mini expansion gives 4 tokens that can be achieved by controlling a ruin tile. This token can be used to counter a protective die with a specific value.

5. Replay Value
It’s definitely has a great replay value. Playing with different people gives different experiences. Not mention the modular board during setup can provide different challenge and situation. The game is quite quick in general, it could last 45-60 minutes with experienced players and has a medium learning curve. It’s basically a racing game in disguise, and more to, it sounds Euro but Ameritrash at heart with three winning conditions. Unlike Euro games, this game doesn’t have programmable choice of actions and players are freely to take available actions to win the game. Playing with different number of players also gives huge impact on the game. Playing with two players will definitely brings tactical elements very crucial with only a single opponent to fight off. When playing with 3 and 4 players, negotiation and table talks would surfacing the game experience while players need to carefully plan their actions against not one but 2 or 3 enemies at once. The game comes with predetermined game board, but since it’s modular, you can use different kind of setup which really-really enhance your experience. You can set it randomly or maybe determine different combinations of terrain tiles.

Game board hexes

Game board hexes

My Thoughts of The Game
My fondness towards the game has been growing since the first time it entered my wishlist. I love the game, it’s not perfect but love this more than other good games because it has values in my opinion. The rich theme and nice artwork really do the game some good. Some players might get fooled to think it is an exploration game, when in real it’s not. Players need to find one spot that they think the best place to put base camp and conquer some spaces that give them resources and defend it. Once players get the best place, they can focus to reach one of the objectives to win the game. In my opinion this game have a Euro feel while it’s really an Ameritrash from the core. If you like direct conflict and ever changing board situation, instant win and stuff, this game might be perfectly fit for you. But if not, you might as well pass the chance to try the game, since the dice roll and other players picking on you are what you will get for the entirety of the game. I love it and it’s definitely has managed to get privilege spot on my collection.

 

Some of the cards

Some of the cards

Note: Images are courtesy of BGG users

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Reviews

 

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Night of Chaos!

Illegal Session – Wednesday, 12th September 2012

Chaos In The Old World

Chaos In The Old World

Without further ado, it’s one of a chaos night when we held illegal session of Chaos in The Old World. I lead the game to teach 2 new players, Yongkie & Ivan. Willys was the other player, who had played the game couple of times. So, the rules explanation was done around 30 minutes give or take. I played as Nurgle, Willys as Khorne, Ivan as Tzeentch and Yongkie as Slaneesh.

So let us get down to it. The first chaos card made the peasant tokens placed in each region and they counted toward the resistance value of the region. Khorne moved first to summon one of his Bloodsworn in Tilea after analyzing the Old World tokens position. I guessed with empty board, he just tried to take the most flexible position. Then Nurgle (me) started the invasion of my Lepers away far from Khorne in Kislev (populous region) followed by Tzeentch with one of his Acolytes, since there’s a Warpstone presence. Slaneesh was the one that summoned his Seductress in the corner of the map, on The Badlands. This really lured Khorne to join the party, he summoned his Bloodletter there to break the first battle. But, after I (Nurgle) summoned another Lepers in Kislev, Tzeentch conflict in demand really made the game more interesting (though I wasn’t sure the benefit for him) by summoned a Horror to deal with my Leper. So after readying for the battle, we started the first battles. Khorne did really well in put Slaneesh’s Seductresses out of the game. The battle in Kislev did not end up eventful since both sides produced no hit. So, after all sides counting domination and placing corruption tokens, we advanced the dial. Khorne, Tzeentch and Nurgle advance 1 step, while Slaneesh did not.

After Bretonnia Ruined!

Next round, Nurgle and Tzeentch continued with their conflict over Kislev and Tzeentch expanded his reach to next region of Troll Country, which also had a Warpstone. Slaneesh found himself cornered and need to get into better ground by crossing The Border Prince Region into The Empire. This move, provided Khorne an interesting option but he still focusing his battle driven mind toward The Badlands (which still had 1 Seductress left). So, in answer to this condition, I decided to join Slaneesh in the corruption party at The Empire, which of course I (accidentally or incidentally) taunted Khorne to live up the party. And yes, he did come to bring blood into The Empire. After several round, the regions were filled with Old World tokens like Nobles and Heroes. Several regions were corrupted near ruination (Kislev, The Empire and Bretonnia also Troll Country). Khorne was trying really hard to postpone the ruination of The Empire. Bretonnia ruined first, followed by Kislev. Me and Slaneesh were the majority players who corrupted these 2 regions.

When Kislev Ruined!

In later rounds, most players had already have upgrade cards. I had Plaguebearer upgrade card, which allowed them to inflict 1 hit to any figure when killed, and also additional chaos power. Khorne had his Bloodsworns upgrade which let them roll and resolve the battle dice first in each battle and also his Bloodletters can join the battle. Slaneesh in the other hand, upgrade his Keeper of Secret and his seductresses had better defense. In The Empire, I played The Final Rotting card which led me to kill each warrior / cultist for each Nurgle corruption token available in the region at the end of the battle phase, too bad that time I was only managed to kill 2 out of possible 5 tokens. I could place another Final Rotting card at Tilea but Khorne filled the slot before I could done so, which if I could, the damage would be more chaotic. The last round, happened precisely when the last old world deck was drawn, the game ended when there were 5 regions ruined. Following Brettonia and Kislev, Troll Country, The Empire and Tile were ruined. Mostly because Slaneesh and Nurgle. But, of course this really boosted up Slaneesh points (though he was already in front at that moment) even he got ruination points from secondary place. I was on majority in Tilea and The Empire but could not got nearer to Slaneesh, and followed by Khorne and Tzeentch in the back, respectively.

Ivan / Tzeentch (left) and Willys / Khorne (right)

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Session

 

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Betrayal On Mecatol Rex

Session Report Twilight Imperium REX: Final Days of An Empire

Regular Meetup at B’Steak Green Ville, Friday April 13th, 2012 (6 Players Game)

Players (starting from the first player in order)

1. Madi – Emirates of Hacan

2. Willys – Barony of Letnev

3. Robert – Xxcha Kingdom

4. Chris – Lazax Empire

5. Daniel – Federation of Sol

6. Kris – Jol-Nar

During the first round, there wasn’t much happen. The Sol’s Dreadnought Fleet started at sector 1. Everyone didn’t have any target at the beginning but hunting influences. At the 2nd Round (Sol’s Dreadnought Fleet moved onto sector 4) Letnev and Sol hunting for influences. Jol-Nar didn’t move from the stronghold. Lazax generated many influences from the bidding phase, while Xxcha gained full free units in Galactic Council from others deployment. At the start of round 3, battles erupted among Lazax, Letnev, Hacan, Sol and Jol-Nar. Xxcha still maintained peace as long as he can. But Jol-Nar made it to sabotage Sol’s fleet and moved it 10 sectors forward. This resulted massive destruction in the fleet’s path, destroying all Lazax, Hacan and Xxcha units (more than 20 units in total) on Scholara Imperialis and Hall of Records. Nice reward for Jol-Nar.

At the fourth round, temporary ceasefire was occurred. 2 Alliances were made between Hacan, Letnev, Jol-Nar and Sol, Lazax, Xxcha. At this round the target of the game became more clearer. The Hacan, Letnev and Jol-Nar alliance controlled 3 strongholds while The Sol, Lazax and Xxcha alliance control 2 strongholds. But that was change in the next round. The Lazax, Sol and Xxcha alliance rapidly mobilized and deployed all their units onto the board. Their advantage of influences really gave them benefit against the other alliance, which short in influences. The condition was change drastically, The Sol, Lazax and Xxcha alliance control 4 strongholds, they need to control another one to win the game.

During the sixth round, they’re able control the other stronghold but lost a stronghold (imperial space navy) from Jol-Nar. At this point the end game possibilities rose to the occasion. The Hacan, Letnev and Jol-Nar alliance was having hard reality to win the game with alliance victory condition. They need to prolong the game into end and make sure that Sol’s special victory condition is not meet. Jol-Nar reaching the 10 influence from a location, to support his plan next round. During this round The Sol, Lazax and Xxcha alliance had ran out of influences and their hands of strategy cards were near at it’s limit. Now this decisive time brought advantages to the Hacan, Letnev and Jol-Nar alliance.At the bidding phase, the Hacan, Letnev and Jol-Nar alliance won several strategy cards with low prices. Even Jol-Nar acquired 2 fresh recruit cards in a row with the price of 1 influence each. That was a great deal and opened up chance for Jol-Nar in the recruitment and maneuver phases. With 2 cards of Fresh Recruits, Jol-Nar was able to recruit 10 free units from the game and deploy units to Imperial Navy Base, in order to reclaim the stronghold from Xxcha control.

At seventh round, the fleet was in favor to the Hacan, Letnev and Xxcha alliance, by moving into Mecatol Power South (which controlled by Hacan). This made the stronghold safe from other players attack. This round the Sol, Lazax and Xxcha alliance cannot win the game. They need to try it again in the next round. At the last round the fleet moved into sector 18, blocked the access on the Imperial Space Navy, which also restrained the Sol, Lazax and Xxcha alliance victory (again the fleet was in favor to the Hacan, Letnev and Jol-Nar alliance).

They started to think another way of victory, which was by Sol’s special victory condition (having Sol or no other player control Mecatol Power South and Imperial Palace).This was proven difficult, since Sol’s unit is on the other side of the board (Civilian Spaceport) and there was the fleet barred the road to the Imperial Palace. But, alas they found a way to made the plan work, at least they thought it would. Lazax moved all his units from Imperial Palace into Mecatol Power South (head to head with 2 Hacan units). And Sol played rapid mobilization to move all but one his units from Civilian Spaceport 8 spaces into Imperial Palace. With this move, they can win the game if during the battle for Mecatol Power South, Lazax sacrifice all his units which would resulted in no one control that stronghold.

But for whatever reason, they’re not supposed to win the game, after Sol’s turn, Jol-Nar, moved 4 units from Cultural Sector to Civilian Spaceport and deployed 4 units to it. This gave the condition 8 to 1 against Sol. While Hacan made a critical move which threw Lazax down. Hacan moved 2 of his unit out of Mecatol Power South, he evaded the battle, which broke Lazax plan to sacrifice all his unit.

The battle resolved, though with 8 units against 1, Jol-Nar could not won the battle, since Jol-Nar was unable to play Atmospheric Ionizer (because Xxcha ally advantage). The Hacan, Letnev and Jol-Nar Alliance won the game because the game end and no other players and Sol had won the game. But, Hacan was treacherous, he betrayed the alliance by revealing the Betrayal Cards (number 2, with having the least units in the casualty pool). Hacan won the game over Letnev and Jol-Nar whose did not realize Hacan’s evil and treacherous plan.

If Jol Nar had won the last battle on Civilian Spaceport, Jol-Nar would be able to override the Hacan treachery with level 7 betrayal cards. Jol-Nar, made a wrong move, he forgot that he had a spaceport, which gave his units the ability to move up to 4 spaces that round. For that reason he could recruit 1 more units and the result of the battle would be different. Great game nevertheless, tense and full of intrigues.

Game in Progress

image courtesy of Willys Octavianus a.k.a Camolatte

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Session

 

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Critical Miscalculation – REX: Final Days of An Empire

Session Report – First Play of REX: Final Days of An Empire

Last Sunday I Played REX: Final Days of An Empire for the first time with 6 players in my gaming group (in fact this was everybody’s first play of the game at our board games community gathering event (18th March 2012). I came out as the first player and chose one race to play with, the rest followed by setup in order according to the races placement on the table. The order of play were:

1. Kris (me) as Emirates of Hacan

2. Marisa as Xxcha Kingdom

3. Timothy as Barony of Letnev

4. Jopy as Lazax Empire

5. Karno as Universities of Jol-Nar

6. Ricky as Federation of Sol

Game in Setup

Everyone has already done their setup, including Xxcha (Marisa) with her prediction tokens. The first round begun with Temporary Ceasefire (early in the game). Alliances were formed and resulted as 3 alliances, Barony of Letnev with Emirates of Hacan (Timothy & Me), Lazax Empire and Universities of Jol-Nar (Jopy & Karno) and Xxcha Kingdom and Federation of Sol (Marisa & Ricky). In the bidding phase, Jol-Nar always looked at the strategy cards, which kinda annoying throughout the game, with the addition that he was in alliance with Lazax. So he know the good and bad cards and did not have any trouble with the influence cost (backed by Lazax).

So in the first round Lazax had already generate a huge pile of influences from other players bid, including me. So he had the advantage on the maneuvering phase. Deploying mass units to the board. He targeted influence generated space, Vel Terro Residential. Hacan did not move or deploy his units, since I was the first player and being one was not my advantage in this phase. Decided not to move from the setup space, Adminus Imperialis (sector 7), for Sol’s Dreadnought fleet was in sector 5, quite near. Other players were deploy and move around the board. Xxcha deployed 3 units on the Scholara Imperialis space. In the bombardment phase, Sol’s fleet moved by 2, and stopped at sector 7 (Hacan units at Adminus Imperialis were trapped inside).

"Your argument is not valid, I won't set alliance with you!"

At round 2, Xxcha was the first player. Again, Jol-Nar and Lazax enjoyed their retribution of the influence in the bidding phase. Others (Letnev & Hacan) started to realize their growing threat. Hacan pay 6 influence to Lazax for a strategy card on the bidding phase. Lazax deployed 7 units (with 1 mechanized) into Scholara Imperialis followed by a series of deployments from other players. Letnev deployed units into Vel Terro Residential to confront Lazax. Sol deployed units in Adminus Mecatol. Hacan followed Lazax into Scholara Imperialis, with massive 10 units in order to harness it’s influences (having the advantage of other deployment cost). The battle begins. Xxcha units flipped out and Hacan lost the battle against Lazax. It’s Leader, Master of Lies (3 Strength) was killed by Lazax strategy card. All units were destroyed. Lazax harnessed most of the influence. In the bombardment phase, Jol-Nar controlled the fleet by not moving the fleet in Admiral Imperialis, to blockade Hacan setup units.

Considering the odd

At round 3, Letnev begun his aggresive movement into Jol-Nar’s position, followed by Jol-Nar reactive respond by rallying into battle. Sol prying on Letnev movement in Vel Terro Residential. Hacan, still having others deployment cost, decided to hammer 10 units into Mecatol Power South, where Xxcha units resided from the beginning. The great battle begun, Between Sol and Letnev with the victory of Sol, while Letnev had his mind on Jol-Nar’s. The crucial battle of Letnev against Jol-Nar took place on Civilian Spaceport, where Jol-Nar made a critical miscalculation on the battlefield and lost. The light at last shone upon the alliance of Letnev and Hacan, which only small Xxcha units left between them and the victory. Hacan hammered Xxcha hard and control the Mecatol Power South. Which led them to victory with 3 strongholds in control. Xxcha miss her prediction slightly, for she predicted Letnev’s vicotry on round. She was unable to foresee the Hacan’s important role in the beginning.

No secrecy!

Great game, great players, great alliances!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Session

 

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Comprehensive Components Overview of Twilight Imperium REX: Final Days of An Empire

Comprehensive Components Overview of Twilight Imperium REX: Final Days of An Empire

Unboxing

Fantasy Flight Games had just recently published it’s new game, based on the famous and out of print Frank Herbert’s Dune combined with the Twilight Imperium universe as it’s background story and theme. Still using the same mechanics and game system created by Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge & Peter Olotka, Corey Conieczka and Christian T. Petersen tweaked the game rules and system to created more simplified, streamlined and balanced new game called Twilight Imperium REX: Final Days of An Empire.

This re-implement 6 players game has 6 different races to choose to, taken from the Twilight Imperium races which were more likely have the closest resemblance with the original Dune’s races / factions. These 6 races are Jol-Nar which represent Atreides, Letnev represent Harkonnen, Lazax represent Emperor, Sol represent Fremen, Hacan represent Guild and Xxcha represent Bene Gesserit. These races also apply one of the special powers the original races possessed.

Rex: Final Days of an Empire, a reimagined version of Dune set in Fantasy Flight’s Twilight Imperium universe, is a board game of negotiation, betrayal, and warfare in which 3-6 players take control of great interstellar civilizations, competing for dominance of the galaxy’s crumbling imperial city. Set 3,000 years before the events of Twilight Imperium, Rex tells the story of the last days of the Lazax empire, while presenting players with compelling asymmetrical racial abilities and exciting opportunities for diplomacy, deception, and tactical mastery.

In Rex: Final Days of an Empire, players vie for control of vital locations across a sprawling map of the continent-sized Mecatol City. Only by securing three key locations (or more, when allied with other factions) can a player assert dominance over the heart of a dying empire.

Unfortunately, mustering troops in the face of an ongoing Sol blockade is difficult at best (unless, of course, you are the Federation of Sol or its faithless ally, the Hacan, who supply the blockading fleet). Savvy leaders must gather support from the local populace, uncover hidden weapon caches, and acquire control over key institutions. Mechanically, this means players must lay claim to areas that provide influence, which is then “spent” to (among other things) smuggle military forces through the orbiting Sol blockade. Those forces will be needed to seize the key areas of the city required to win the game. From the moment the first shot is fired, players must aggressively seek the means by which to turn the conflict to their own advantage.

While the great races struggle for supremacy in the power vacuum of a dead emperor, massive Sol warships execute their devastating bombardments of the city below. Moving systematically, the Federation of Sol’s fleet of warships wreaks havoc on the planet’s surface, targeting great swaths of the game board with their destructive capabilities. Only the Sol’s own ground forces have forewarning of the fleet’s wrath; all others must seek shelter in the few locations with working defensive shields…or be obliterated in the resulting firestorm.

Although open diplomacy and back-door dealmaking can often mitigate the need for bloodshed, direct combat may prove inevitable. When two or more opposing forces occupy the same area, a battle results. Each player’s military strength is based on the sum total of troops he is willing to expend, along with the strength rating of his chosen leader. A faction’s leaders can therefore be vitally important in combat…but beware! One or more of your Leaders may secretly be in the employ of an enemy, and if your forces in combat are commanded by such a traitor, defeat is all but assured. So whether on the field of battle or the floor of the Galactic Council, be careful in whom you place your trust.

This time I am going to do a break down overview of the component of this little baby. Start from the box and to the rules to make an easier description for other gamers who need information for getting this game. By the look of it, I would say Fantasy Flight Games did it again. Not only they created such a great game, but they also produced extraordinary components one could expect from their games.

1. The Box

A simple medium box (Mansion of Madness, Chaos in The Old World size) with great and compelling artwork (yellowish tone colors in all sides), and like their other game boxes, it’s good quality linen finished which is awesome (you can tell by the visible linen texture). It’s quite heavy, 2 kg estimated weight. In the right bottom of the cover you can notice that there is a credit to the original designers of Dune (a good way to show appreciation and also a copyright thing). The lid cover was really fit and tight, it really need effort to uncover it, which has good and bad side. The good is, the game is quite tightly covered and you don’t have to worry that the game might spilled when carried around. The bad is, it’s quite difficult to open it and need extra effort to do so. But I guess, it’s a good thing, since I don’t mind the bad side and really vote the good side of it.

Game Box

Inside the box, you can see the rules on the top with character sheets inside a zip lock bag (perfectly fit) and guess what, a piece of errata, the same one I found in Rune Age. Little bit a let down to have such an imperfect rulebook that you need to perfect it with an errata. But then again, it’s not really minor, only few corrections. Under those thing are the punch boards covered in shrink wrap the board and beneath it there laid the insert tray (thick carton) with miniatures in a baggie and set of cards with 2 sizes. The box dimension is 295x295x70mm.

2. The Punch Boards

Major components on this game are tiles. These tiles were came from the punch boards (4 punch boards with different set of tiles). The punch boards were sealed together with a shrink wrap. Good thing that they thought over this. So the tiles won’t fall apart while being transported or delivered. This [prove quite a bit annoying in some other cases, with you unboxing a game and you find out that some of the tiles were already fall out of the boards. With a shrink wrap, the tiles are safely and perfectly stay on place. The punch boards are thick enough with linen finished, easy to punch with no left over tear on the print papers. The problem with these thick punch boards, once you punch them all, what will be the fate of them? Straight on the trash can or else? Well, this create another problem with component storage. In the first place, these thick punch boards give the box, depth and perfectly fit. Once they are removed from the box, you will find a gap inside the box which lead into displacement of components inside while handled. I suggest you don’t throw away the used punch boards and place it under the insert tray, to fill in the gap.

Punchboards

3. The Board

Huge board (Chaos In The Old World size) with 4×2 folds. Linen finished print out with black linen on the other side. Great quality print and artwork. The map shows the places of interest in Mecatol Rex, 28 key spaces with connectors to other spaces. The arts are stunning, but overall it’s look alike the map of Arkham Horror with circular frames around space illustrations. In the right side of the board you can find Influence Pool, Strategy Deck, Influence Deck and Casualty Pool spaces. Nice decision from Fantasy Flight Games for using a ziplock bag to store the board, so it’s stored neatly and easily and also protected from scratch and friction inside the box.

Game Board

4. Character Sheets

You can find the character sheets inside a clear transparent ziplock baggie which perfectly fit the size of the sheet. Quite neat but you need to carefully take the sheet out of the bag, cause it’s very tight. There are 6 character sheet, each represent one of the 6 races available (Lazax, Hacan. Letnex, Sol, Xxcha and Jol-Nar). The front side of the sheet consist of basic information for each race, advantages and setup. The other side contain a background story of each race, very useful to create thematic experience in the game. Players are suggested to read this first too understand their significant role in the theme and the game itself.

Character Sheets

5. The Miniature

Well, it’s not a miniature game, so you must well aware that there’s only one (kind of) miniature plastic figure on this game. It’s Sol’s Dreadnaught Fleet, which consist of 5 dreadnoughts assembled into one fleet. It’s unpainted (so you need to paint it if you want to get serious into the theme and story). It’s come with  plastic stands to create flying effect while placed on the board. The dreadnoughts were highly detailed sculpted and even though it’s the only miniature, it’s really eye catching. Guaranteed, every eyes will look at your direction just for having this miniature displayed in front of you. Need to spare my time to paint this badass.

Sol's Dreadnought Fleet Miniature

6. Battle Dials

Now, this make the components quite special. The battle dials are rather unique, by using thick card board as dial and at the right side were placed a slot for leader tiles. This is unique and cool but the downside is that the slots are kinda hard to place the tile on. Which need extra effort and pressure to make it fit right into the slots. There also a problem on how to remove it, for you need another extra effort and energy to pull of loose. This will surely wear of the slot and eventually it will loosen up. By that time, it’s gonna be such a waste of components for not working as they’re supposed to. The leader slots are used for units reinforcement during battle and also a means for using the strategy cards. When I assembled these dials, there was difficulty on applying the plastic connectors through the wheels. Since the hole aren’t the same size with the other hole on the back plates, it’s smaller. So need extra caution when apply more power to pushed it fit.

Battle Dials

7. First Player Marker

This large circular shape marker from thick board is used as a first player marker. The artwork is quite the same at the cover of the box and it is kinda over sized. But it’s good nevertheless. Though it’s not necessarily important (you can use any other component as marker) but it is a nice addition to the game.

First Player Marker

8. The Influence Tokens

Influence is the only currency in this game, and it comes in 3 denominations (1, 2 and 4) with unusual geometrical shape. Each denominations are mark by different color lines (green, yellow and blue) quite a thin line but somehow it’s easy to spot on with the color lines and big number on the center of the token and it’s also double sided.

Influence Tokens

9. The Unit Tiles

Each race has unit tiles in different colors and each logo on it (hexagonal shaped). Printed double sided to make the application easier to recognized during the game. These tiles will often come in and out the board during a game, for these unit tiles represent each race military power. While each race logo is shown, the tiles are color coded to each race, which make it easier. Hacan has yellow color tiles, Jol-Nar is purple, Lazax is red, Xxcha is green, Sol is blue and Letnev is white. Special for Lazax, there are 4 bigger unit tiles which are counted as 2 strength unit each (mechanized).

Unit Tiles

10. The Leader Tiles

Each race has 5 leader tiles with different title and strength. These tiles are shaped uniquely so they can be placed on the battle dial slots. Each tiles has it’s own name and different strength. Each race also has different set of strength leaders. This ensure variable player powers element in the game. For example, Xxcha’s leader tiles have the same amount of 5 strength, which are easier to guess but this don’t let others easily use the traitor cards on it.

Leader Tiles

11. Demolished Location Marker Tiles

This huge tiles is used only in special circumstance which is when playing with 4 or fewer players to prevent units from entering Mecatol Power South space of the game board. Very nice looking artwork.

Demolished Location Marker

12. Destroyed Shield Token

This small circular token is placed on the board by a certain strategy card. While on the board, it negates the presence of a shielded icon. The thing is, this token is so small and being the only one token that doesn’t have companion makes it a bit hard to store. You need extra small bag for storage, which still can be lost. Or if you put it with other tokens, you might also lose it during the game. But, I guess it’s still not a big deal.

13. Prediction Tokens

This tokens are used only for Xxcha to predict the game play which also as another means of stealing victory from other race if the prediction was true. There are 13 tokens, with 5 of them show the 5 race logos and the rest of 8 tokens are numbers based on the game round. Xxcha player use this tokens to predict who’s gonna win the game and in what round. When the game ends and it’s won by other race, Xxcha player can steal the victory if he’s prediction is shown to be true. What a unique idea and to be honest though it’s hard to predict anything before the game starts, it sure looks fun!

Prediction Tokens

14. Influence Cards

The size of these cards is 57.5x89mm (I used Chimera sleeves from Mayday Games) which contains 16 cards. Other than to determine where and how many new influence tokens are generated on the board, it also used to mark the game round (8 rounds). These influence cards has different type of cards, Normal Influence, Temporary Ceasefire (time to form new alliance or break alliance and trade influences) and Sol Offensive cards (while this card is played, The Sol’s Dreadnaught Fleet will move to bombard every locations on it’s route). Sol Offensive card doesn’t count as round marker, since after drawn and resolved it’s effect, the card is discarded and another Influence Card is drawn.

Influence Cards

15. Strategy Cards

With the same size of the Influence Cards, these cards (42 cards) are played during the bidding phase. Each player will want to get these, since this will help them during the game a lot (especially during battle). At the bidding phase Strategy cards drawn based on the amount of players, and start from the first player, choose the card he wants (Jol-Nar can look at this card first before the bid start due to it’s race advantage) and start the bid with influence. The winner pays the influence to Lazax (due to it’s race advantage) except Lazax must pay the cost to the influence pool. These cards has 3 types, Offensive, Defensive and also Normal Strategy cards. Offensive and Defensive cards are played during battle with the presence of a leader tile attached to one of the battle slots. The Normal cards are used situational mentioned on the texts of the card.

Defensive & Offensive Strategy Cards

16. Ally Advantage Cards

Also with the same size of the Influence Cards, these cards are used to track which players are in an alliance together and provide special abilities to the allied player. Each race has 2 Ally Advantage Cards (total 12 cards), that can be exchanged during the Temporary Ceasefire to form diplomatic relation and alliance with other races. The front side of the card is the text describing the alliance advantage achieved for being an ally to that race and the back side is the illustration of each character’s race.

Ally Advantage Cards

17. Betrayal Cards

There are 8 Betrayal Cards with the same size of Influence Cards. These cards are used to steal victory away from a player’s allies under specific condition mentioned on the card. This cards also optional during the game, which comes the variant play into the table. So different game modes to choose is always an interesting idea.

Betrayal Cards

18. Reference Cards

Same size as the Influence Cards and each player get one of this to helm them during the game. The 2 sides have different information. The first side has the game round broke down in phases, and there are leader strength list of each race at the bottom. The back side shows the list of which Offensive Strategy Cards and negated by which Defensive Strategy Cards. A very useful during the game, especially the leader strength lists and the Strategy Cards list for new players.

Reference Card

19. Traitor Cards

The traitor cards (30 cards) has the size of a Mini USA cards which is 41x63mm (Should fit with Mini USA Card Sleeves from Mayday Games). These cards are given 4 for each player randomly and they must choose one and discard the rest (except for Letnev, due to his race advantage, he keeps all the four cards). There is a leader image with it’s corresponding name, race logo and leader strength at the front side of the card. This card is used during battle against that specific race. Of course there is a gambling element to guess which leader your opponent is gonna use, but it;s better than nothing. Another innovative idea which I don’t know if this was used in Dune or not.

Traitor Cards and Corresponding Leader Tiles

20. Bombardment Cards

With the same size as the Traitor Cards, these cards (6 cards) are used only by Sol player, to determine the movement spaces of the Dreadnought Fleet during Sol Offensive. Which Sol’s race advantage is to look upon the next bombardment card before the round begins and also, Sol units are not affected by the bombardment. The value of the cards are range from +1 to +6.

Bombardment Cards

21. The Rulebook

Fantasy Flight Games always provide their games with stunning rulebook. Mostly known as Ameritrash games developer, they create comprehensive rulebook (even this mean thick rulebook and heavily barred with texts) to support the game play. And their rulebooks are great visually with stunning thematic artworks and layout designs. This one is no exception, a top notch, 32 full colored pages of rules with 210x280mm dimension, but they screwed up with the existence of the errata.

Rulebook

Overall, I valued the game components. All the components are in great quality, a benchmark for other publishers to give a chrome presentation to their games. I have one word, SATISFIED. Great job guys!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Insight, News, Reviews

 

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The Ares Project Insight

Please note that this post is not a review.

Friday, 16th Dec 2011

My friend brought this game to the meetup, he just got the game and wanted to play it, so did i. So we played it with 3 players. First he taught me and my other friend the basic game with 2 players. Since he said it’s best to get around the game and it’s complexity with 2 players game and playing it as Kahoum and Terran, then we played 3 players game with other races.

So, what’s The Ares Project anyway? It’s a new released game from Z-Man Games by Brian and Geoff Engelstein. The game’s background theme is centered on sci-fi theme of strategies. There are 4 races in the galaxy that struggles into each other for domination. The Terran, Xenos, Kahoum and Collosus. These races are similar to the races in the game of Star Craft. These races has their own variable player power and unique distinction from each other. The game itself provided closer feels from the core mechanic toward Real Time Strategy genre. This really embedded to the game play and created new feeling on the game itself. So to speak, my friend told me that this game is best with 2 players and with more players need to be played by experienced players. Cause in 1 on 1 play, the game really concentrate on 2 players conflict, but the multi player version could really distract the pure confrontation among players which can lead to one player being assaulted by others.

The game components are in good quality but one thing about the player screens. There’s no way you can screen all your private inventory with that small screen. You need big ones and also tall enough.

I played 2 games, first was 2 players basic game with Kahoum versus Terran (Terran won). And 3 players normal game with Collosus against Kahoum and Xenos (Collosus won). Great games and looking forward to play it again.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Insight

 

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